Same location, different topic: EMG and Prosthetics.

Posted on by

I’m sure my no-readers-at-all will be disappointed that I am not posting an update about getting glasses, but, hey, that’s what you get when you have to experience the VA through me. Filtered inconsistency, and a lot of waiting.

Today, I had a totally different appointment: an EMG.

We got off to a slightly late start, even though I over-prepared and was ready to leave three hours early. Traffic was standard Denver traffic, and we used a more annoying back way in, and got super lucky in the parking garage.

By that, I mean: we got to a point just around the second turn as someone was getting ready to leave, and there was nobody behind us, so we could back up, let them out, and take the spot.

We got lucky again at the elevators–there was one open, and the guy in it held it for us.

Extra lucky, even, because all four were operational.

You were shit out of luck if you wanted water, though, because, well, look:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I brought my own water. I always do, because, well, this is normal. And, even if it weren’t, would you use a water fountain in a hospital?

I sure as hell wouldn’t. There’s a reason why they have these little stands everywhere:


Because it’s a fucking hospital. Hospitals have a specific subsets of people in them, mostly Type A: Sick People, and B: People Who Will Soon Be Sick People.

But that’s just how things are, and I’m running late, so I follow the slightly helpful signs down one hall, around a corner, and down a much longer hall…behind these guys pushing these big damn metal rolling boxes that left behind a warm haze of ‘Mexican Food Smell’, and I finally found the right room number.

Some day, I may tell you how I managed that, but I haven’t fully ironed out the technique. Now? I’m checking in, which means basically shouting my last name and last four through the glass window to a guy sitting three desks back. And then I’m sitting down in the…waiting room?


Sure. I guess you can put chairs behind a pillar and call it a waiting room.

Chairs behind a pillar in a hallway full of people who are clearly inpatient-care people, being shuffled around on slow walks by nurses.

Nerves plus water conspire, and I have to go find a goddamn bathroom now. Except how the fuck am I supposed to find a bathroom without getting utterly lost and is this how everyone else ended up as a patient? Did they waste away and go mad looking for a fucking bathroom?


I find one, and wait for one of the possible-lost-bathroom-seekers to be shuffled past by another nurse-or-maybe-mad-scientist-running-terrible-experiment-involving-lost-bathroom-seekers, and briefly panic about leaving the bathroom because what if I walk into yet another patient? And those halls are so tiny. I don’t want to make things weird.

Shit’s already weird. This whole fucking floor is weird. I can’t live in the bathroom now that I’ve found it. I have to go get my arm zapped and possibly have needles inserted into various nerves.

I get called by some guy who peers around the pillar in a way that makes me think he’s still not used to this whole waiting room arrangement, and also makes me think that maybe, sometimes, people sit down behind the pillar and then fall into a horrible pocket Waiting Room Universe and are lost forever because some aspect of reality just slipped a little when that person was out of everyone’s line of sight, and the lack of Everyone Else Observing Them allowed them to just…pfft, off into their own little parallel VA Hospital…but that’s just my brain, and my brain is weird like that. We’re not here about my brain; we’re here about my arm. My good arm.

My right arm.

Which has developed an annoying habit of losing feeling in the last finger, and exactly half of the ring finger.

Which I told my doctor about back in July, and…now here I am, following this man down a hallway and past the elevator lobby turn and down another hallway and….

Fuck. I’m lost. I’m so fucking lost, but it doesn’t matter, because here’s the room and the little bed and the machine that will make my arm twitch.

Questions are asked, answers are given, records are looked up, and measurements are taken.

The pen comes out, and…a man who went to med school and graduated is now drawing on my arm with a pen.


He’s also tearing tape like a fucking pro.

The tube of goo that gets squirted on various things is a challenge for him. I’m not sure if it’s because it was almost empty, or if it’s because that goo is a skill best left to nurses, but it gets everywhere.

He wires me up, and the twitching begins.

And let’s take a moment to discuss how this works: there are these two little pads that can be moved, and also these two looped coils that spent some time on my fingers. The electricity, as far as I could tell, was delivered via this funny hand-held thing with an adjustment wheel, and these two metal prongs. It was a bit like a taser designed for medical use.

At one point, he accidentally spun the wheel while zapping me and delivered a very painful shock. And he had a hard time pinpointing the nerve.

It all worked out in the end, and I only got most of the clear goo on his pantleg. I also learned some things:

  • I do not have carpal tunnel, and there’s really no reason why anyone should have said I did.
  • There is no nerve damage, either carpal-tunnel-wise or cubital-tunnel-wise, so I caught it early, and may not be at risk anyway.
  • I have [I think] Martin-Gruber Anastomosis. A totally safe and normal thing that turns up in a small number of patients.

Because of how well the test went, he saw no need to jam needles into me. I was pleased, but also a little disappointed because I really wanted to record the sound of my own nerves.

I was done. Sort of.

Done with the test. It was now time to go all the way back down to the basement, to Prosthetics, to be measured and fitted with a pad to protect my elbow to keep the problem from becoming a real problem.




Now, let’s step back for a moment, and talk about you. When you think of ‘disabled veteran’, what do you think?

No, really, what do you think? Be honest: you probably think ‘man who lost a limb or two’, right? In other words: someone in need of prosthetics.

You would expect, therefore, that this would be a pretty large, well-staffed part of the facility.

Inside that door are maybe six chairs–one is an extra-wide type chair. The room is tiny.

There are three receptionist desks behind the dividing wall. Two are staffed in a sort of ‘there then not with no warning’ sort of way.

The room is tiny.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I spoke to the receptionist about being sent down after my appointment. I was told to wait.

I waited.

I heard people sent off to various places, until a man came in looking for optometry, which reminded me: I have my prescription, and I was going to do that today!

I got back in line to talk to the receptionist again, and asked when optometry would be open. She took my prescription and stapled it to several forms, which she then handed back.

I sit down and go over the forms. I get up and ask if the list of places meant I could go to a similar place in a different location. She seemed to say that it had to be those places, but: I’m going to try anyway, for reasons I will go into in another post.

I wait.

I wait some more.

Waiting is just this thing you do.

The chairs could really stand to be comfier, what with all the waiting.

I get called into the Prosthetics Guy’s office.

And here’s where it compounds: probably the most in-demand facility in the VA, you’d think, right?

It is basically a closet. Well, half a storage container, really. And it’s just one guy, as far as I can tell.

I’m measured some more, and fitted for two wrist braces, and these knitted, padded things that are intended to be worn either on the feet or the elbow.

And now I really am done. I can leave. We can leave. We can go to our regular after-VA food stop.

…which is closed due to…no fucking idea.

Whatever. I’m tired. I was tired, I am tired, I will still be tired tomorrow. I have stopped caring, and just wish to rest.

At least I finally have wrist braces again.

Tomorrow, I will begin working out what to do about the glasses issue, and I’ll probably end up posting about how much that’s changed, too.

This entry was posted in Basic Inane Bloggery and tagged , .

Go on, say something....