A Veteran’s final hours at a VA hospital


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Carol Graves knew she needed to get her husband to a hospital in a hurry.  His heart rate was over 150, and climbing rapidly.

“When we got to the VA Medical Center in Shreveport his heart was racing at over 300, I think,” she said.  “He had bronchial emphysema.  I brought him in on a Friday and a week later, he was gone, but it wasn’t because of anything the doctors did.  They did everything they could for him.  They were right on top of everything that happened.

Her 76-year-old husband was known to everyone simply as ‘C.A.’  He was an Army Veteran who, three decades earlier, had been fortunate enough to marry the girl of his dreams.

“There was no doubt in my mind how much he loved me,” Carol Graves said.  “He was an awesome man, and he loved me completely. Even if I got mad and wanted to argue, he would not argue with me.  Even if I wanted a good fight, he would not give me one.  We had 32 really good years.”

About a week before their final trip to the VA together, C.A. confided something to his wife.  “He told me he was ready to meet his Lord,” she said.  “He didn’t want to die, but he wasn’t afraid to die.”

 Army Veteran ‘C.A.’ Graves, his wife Carol and granddaughter Taylor Sky

Army Veteran ‘C.A.’ Graves, his wife Carol and granddaughter Taylor Sky

She added:  “He had suffered for so long.  “Now he’s in a better place.  He can breathe again.  He can walk again.”

The Gary, Texas, resident said she was deeply moved by the care and attention her husband received at the VA.

“I got lots of hugs.”

“The love and caring we experienced was above and beyond anything you can imagine,” she observed.  “During that week we were on three different floors – the medical ward, the intensive care unit and finally hospice —and everyone was the same on each floor.  All the doctors, nurses and staff cared as much about me as they did about C.A.  I got lots of hugs.”

Graves said she stayed by her husband’s side during the entire week, returning home only once or twice to check on their house and their pets.

“I slept in a chair beside his bed,” she explained.  “They made sure I was comfortable.  They gave me blankets, a pillow, everything.”

And there’s another big reason she’s grateful to the VA.

“Some time ago they had given him a chairlift so he could get his wheelchair into the back of his truck,” she said. “I think that really saved him, because it allowed him to continue driving.  He was able to go to church.  He was able to go shopping for groceries, which he loved to do.  The VA justGraves holding hands saved him with that lift.”

That final week spent with her husband may have been an emotional blur, but Graves said she’ll never forget one particular incident that occurred as her husband was entering his final hours.

“One time he didn’t want to take his medicine,” she said.  “Several doctors and nurses came in, and they were all so kind and patient with him.  He was giving them a hard time.  But they were doing everything they could to talk him into taking his medicine.  They were so nice to him that he finally gave in and took it.

“I want them all to know how much their kindness means to me.”

Author

Tom Cramer

Comments

  1. Kevin Myers    

    I have found that care at VA hospitals and outpatient clinics are either going to be fantastic or bad. The Kerrville, TX VA is still the best treatment I have ever received at any medical facility. So it all depends. There aren’t many middle of the road VA’s.

  2. Dan    

    I go to Providence RI VA, great staff, great management, valet parking ,let the Guys take a tip!,for parking your car in the rain. I got hearing aids, go for pulmonary. USMC

  3. David Antink    

    I have had the finest care and treatment at the V.A. clinic in Green Bay Wisconsin and the same goes for the clinic in Elgin Illinois. The Drs. and staff are awesome at both places.

  4. Dorothy McGary    

    There is a typo in the comment I wrote just a few minutes ago. My phone has a mind of it’s own and often changes what I typed. The reply has a line that reads, “condition that causes sleepy screaming” . It should have said, a medical condition that causes such horrific pain I have woken myself up from sleep screaming out in pain.”.
    There is one less important typo at the very beginning of that dame sentence. It has the word “group” placed between the words “I am” and “a VA patient”. Thank you and God bless all my brother and sister veterans and those who do their best to care for us.

  5. John L McIntyre II    

    The new VA Hospital in Las Vegas Nv is doing an outstanding job. The only problem is the limited hours from 0700hrs to 1600hrs. They are so back logged they will never catch up it literally takes 30-90 days to get an appointment for anything. So instead of increasing the number of hours and provider’s they send you outside to the private sector wasting money that would be spent better increasing hours and provider’s at this beautiful new hospital.
    “I ALWAYS SAY TREAT THE PATIENT/VETERAN AND NOT THE ILLNESS OR DIANOSIS.” We veterans are extraordinary individuals who have been there when needed to support and defend this beautiful country. God bless you all.

  6. Anthony Heuermann85sl    

    The HOUSTON VA, Michael De Bakey Hospital and the local VA clinic in TOMBALL TEXAS, have literally saved my life. I and my family know, I wouldn’t be here now if not for the great care I’ve received. The doctors the nurses and the PA’S are the best at these locations.
    I constantly try to let people know all they have done for me, due to AGENT ORANGE issues, I am running the gauntlet of health problems today, but I feel they are on top of all my issues and are very proactive with my care.
    THANK YOU VA, I feel very good in your care, keep up the great work.

  7. Anne Clark    

    I was so happy to read of the care both you and your husband received while he was in he VA. Hospital. They have changed through the years for the better and our Veterans and their families deserve it. May the GOOD LORD give you peace and comfort in your time of need. Your memories will always bring you joy. Bless all at the VA Hospital Dr.’s and Nurses who took such good care of both of you. Blessings to you and yours

  8. Bairbre Ryder    

    My husband is in the hospice unit at Brockton VA Medical Center, MA. I am very pleased with the care he is getting.
    The nurses and docs are very nice, they keep me informed, and he actually likes it there! Bless all of them for the care they are giving my beloved husband.

  9. winthrop g warner    

    the va can not please everyone,you want less to do with the v a?take care of yourself,loose weight,quite smokeing,don,t blame va for payne when you choose to smoke or drink va has saved my life two times now,people weer better than great ,the were awesome,I beleave jesus is the savior,what if there is life after death???escape hell,beleave in a God that loves you and died for you now??thank you veteriaans and God.

    1. Dorothy McGary    

      You seem to think that someone must be obese, a smoker and someone who drinks and does not take care of themselves if they have pain or complain about some of piss poor care that is given in some of our VA hospitals. You say we blame our pain on the VA. Here is a reality check for you. I am group a VA patient with a condition that causes sleepy screaming. Not just once or twice, but many times.and this has been going on for many years. Other than year after year of attending “Pain support groups”, hearing the same stop your own pof ain, it’s mostly all in your head the VA has done little to help my pain. Also like you, I beleive in Jesus and pray daily for relief. You have no concept so please think before you lash out at those who feel the VA has been lacking in providing the care they need. We are mostly non-smoking, sober, intelligent people who do the best they can to take care of themselves and their conditions. We are mostly people of faith and all we are seek from the VA is timely, thorough, highly competent health care from experienced, dedicated and caring medical personnel.

  10. Larry Link    

    I have received nothing but outstanding treatment at the Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska hospital and out patient clinic as well as the clinic in McCellen, TX and the Harlingen, TX hospital. Great people to work with including the volunteer, nonpayed help!

  11. Mabel Kelley    

    This is a wonderful story of how caring VA employees work. I’m so thankful her encounter with this VA was one that made a difference in the care her husband received and his passing wasn’t a horrible experience at this VA. Not all VAs are bad. I would love working at a VA like the one she’s talking about. What an awesome group.

    I don’t think any person should tell you how you are to feel. We as VA employees should listen to our Veterans, they’ve earned the right to be respected. No one should be allowed to work with any patient if this is not what they really want to do. The medical field is tough, but you have to love what you do in order to make a difference in someone’s life. Mabel

  12. JR Ruiz    

    My condolences Mrs. Graves, may our Lord comfort you. Rest in peace Soldier, you’ve earned it. Thank you for the wonderful story, and it’s great to hear about the treatment you and your husband received.

  13. John C Tithof    

    If they are doing so great, send them to my VA in Saginaw Mi. I have pain full cancer and all I hear is THEY know best and I have no pain. So I guess all must be just in my head. Guess what my head is the only part of my body that does not hurt.

    1. Tim    

      If they’re as bad as the Va clinic in Benton Harbor, Mi. Your in trouble my friend. God bless you and I pray that you will recover soon. Regards Tim

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