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13 April 2011

A VA appointment, writing, and a little bit about sleep

This morning I had my first appointment with a new psychiatrist; I was transferred from the satellite VA clinic back to the main VA hospital. It's really a good thing, because now I can take a campus bus route instead of having to drive (my car is one of those that requires a safety briefing before driving, and it's a pain to explain all of that stuff to the valet).

The computer system that maintains health records at the VA also schedules questions that a provider is supposed to ask. When you have an appointment, your provider sees a notice pop up that you need to answer a particular set of questions. After a few visits, I've gotten to know most of the questions that will be asked. It can seem like more red tape- didn't I just fill one of these out last week?- but over time I've caught myself thinking about my answers before or on the way to my appointment. I hope that I'm providing more honest/accurate answers as a result.

Today's appointment was fairly routine. We went over my previous case notes, talked about my medications, talked about my current issues with missing classes and trying to catch up. I was very impressed when he asked (unsolicited) if I needed any paperwork signed to help me with figuring out classes. He also teaches at the medical school at my university (which is located next to, and connected to, the VA hospital).

I also got a new card with his contact information. I keep those cards in my wallet, along with a list of my medications. That way if I'm ever in a situation where I can't say "Hey, call the VA for me!", hopefully the police officer or EMT or whoever finds me will see those cards and do the right thing.

I actually prefer being at the main VA hospital over the clinic. It's easier to get to, and there are other amenities that the satellite clinic doesn't have (such as a canteen that sells some good Veteran related swag). Sometimes I'll see someone I know there. Less often I'll see someone wearing something that's Desert Storm related, and a conversation usually starts up.

All of that being said, I'm currently missing a class. I don't feel "bad", but I'm in my apartment alone writing this entry. I'm a little confused on where writing fits into everything-- I've received nothing but good feedback on my writing here. Still, it feels strange to think about my ramblings here as "my writing" because I'm not really a "writer", I'm a guy that scribbles in a blog. Maybe it's my outlet, the same way some people do yoga or paint or whatever. It may be that today, writing a new entry is more within my current comfort zone than going to class. In that sense, I'm using writing as a way to avoid something stressful. Things can be double edged swords sometimes.

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I also went to bed early (for me) last night, shortly before midnight. I woke up on my own around 0830, even before my alarm was set. Being up during daylight felt a little better. I was able to open the blinds and let some sunshine in for a while, which was nice. I'm going to try modifying my sleep schedule so I'm not up as late at night, and therefore up earlier (I still work two night shifts a week, so those nights I'll be up late). I still need eight hours of sleep-- the trazodone sees to that-- but maybe the morning hours will be more productive study time. The sleep / meds / caffeine / therapy / classes / studying / etc equation is one that requires constant adjustment, it seems.

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