My Stay at the VA

          Let me start by saying that I served in the US Navy from December 1963 till August of 1967.  This my story that leads up to my stay at the VA hospital in Houston, Texas.  A lot had happened since last January that I felt I had to tell you all the story and not just part of it.  I hope you enjoy reading it as a compliment to your knowledge in the medical field and your abilities as Doctors, Her Associates and Nurses that I came to know from my visit at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC.  I want to say thank you for all that you did for me so here is my story.

          Through out my life here in New Orleans we must see a doctor ever so often and I was no exception to that rule.  Most of my visits were mostly work related for one reason or another.  Later in life I started seeing a private doctor as we all must do and during that time I had a chance to go to the VA hospital here in Naw'lins as we say it here to have some problems taken care of.  From the time I left the service I must have went to the VA numerous times for one thing or another til about 10 years ago I was at the VA and a representative ask me if I had a Doctor here at the VA which I replied no.  She then told me that I was entitled to see a VA doctor when I needed to or in an emergency come directly to the emergency room.  So I signed up and then was assigned to a Doctor Rayes who was my primary before Katrina destroyed the Naw'lins hospital and after things settled down and the hospital in part reopened I was then assigned to Doctor  Denard who for the last 5 or 6 years has been my primary Doctor at the VA. Thru His examination I found out that I was a diabetic and with proper care and medicine was able to get my sugar count under control. With proper diet and weight loss I was able to bring those numbers down to normal levels for my weight and age.

          Since we get older other things where age influences different things to take place I began having other troubles and they began last year in January with a UTI.  I told that to my Doctor where he sent me to Urologist for an exam and specimens were taken and medicine was given to me to cure my troubles but something else happened and they found some red cells where they should not have been which led them to further examinations.  They had to look inside my bladder and found something that later turned out to be benign.  Later last year these things turned up again and another exam followed and again benign was the out come.  It was towards the end of last year when they did a Cat scan and part of my lungs the lower parts were included in that event.

          This is when they found something in my right lower lung something I have referred to as a "china ball" on a stem attached to the inside of my lung.  Well to you Doctors you had a fancy name for it but to me that's what it looked like to me.  Well I was sent to Tulane hospital where the previous procedures for getting into my bladder took place for what was called a needle biopsy was to be preformed but after a few attempts they were unable to get a sample.  After the Doctors here had some discussions among them selves as how to precede they informed me that they were setting up my procedure to be done at the Houston VA hospital were they have had the greatest success in these matters.

          So in March I was called by Anthony Riffel to discuss what was happening there concerning the biopsy they were going to perform there.  I was told that to expect a call from a Lady who was setting up my visit and quarters for myself and a friend who would be my care provider while I was staying there and to transport me to and from the hospital before, during and after the procedure was done.  Back around Mardi Gras I received my first of many calls from Ms Anissa Kirkling RN a Administrative coordinator in these things. I was even called the Saturday the 19th the day before I was to check in at the VA hospital on the Sunday the 20th to make sure I was still coming there for my Monday's appointment on the 21st.

          On Monday the 21st is when I meet Doctor Lorraine D. Cornwell and her two associates Anthony D. Riffel and Marie ? ???????? . It was then that we discussed what they were planning on doing to investigate my "china ball" growing in my lung and what condition it was in and what they were going to do to it after a needle biopsy was perform on it.  But before the biopsy I was to have a PET scan and this is when I found out that the drug used in the PET scan and a medicine I was taking called Metformin did not go together but would react adversely to one another.  So the PET scan was postponed to Tuesday where they were able to get a sample of the "china ball" but was not enough for the Pathologist to examine so this is where Dr. Cornwell informed me that they were going to make a small incision in on my right side to take the the "china ball" out for a closer examination.  After the operation was over and I was awake Mrs. Cornwell came to my room with a big smile on Her face to exclaim that both Her and the Pathologist  agreed the that little thing was not cancerous but a begin object and for me not to be concerned about it any more.  Doctor Cornwell and Her associates came by each day after the surgery to monitor my progress.  Well I was a fast healer well enough that I was allowed to be discharged Friday night and was allowed to go home Saturday.

          Before I go further I must tell you about the wonderful Nursing staff there on 5A.  I was checked constantly for my vital signs.  Was checked on for my sugar levels since I was a diabetic and proper medicines and pain relief was all taken care of by a most proficient staff of Nurses I have ever been taken care of before in a hospital.  If I knew where I could send a letter to Michael E. DeBakey VAMC about the way I was taken care of by the Doctors and the Nursing staff I would not hesitate to send a letter appreciation and thanks for the care I received while there in the hospital.  All the testing and picture taking by the staff there was nothing less than perfect.  I must tell you now that I had to have a blood samples taken before and I watched the Nurse slide the needle in so smoothly and totally with out pain I asked Him if that vial of liquid He used in the area where He drew the blood was a pain killer but no it was just alcohol and I looked up at Him an said that was the slickest I ever got and He was the greatest I ever had to draw some blood from me before. 

          I must mention here that my care giver Mrs. Kim Henry was my care giver in all the preceding visits that I made to Tulane all three times I needed to be there for each procedure and was there the next day while I was getting better.  When we went to Houston She was my care giver there to make sure I didn't do anything wrong while I was in the hospital or resting in the Fisher house where we stayed while there at the VA in Houston.  My last trip to Houston I was taken there by a very close friend Bell Ledet.  As you can see from the photo's from below He was enjoying himself while I was being checked out by Doctor Cornwell and Her staff.

          I hope you all enjoyed my short story of thanks and appreciation for all the work you did for me and that of my friends who took me to your fine Hospital.  Through out all the photo picture catalogs I have here in the Southern's Photo section there is a link in each an every one that you can link to and send me an email.  I would appreciate it very much if you would send me an email if you like this presentation of my web site and that of your section here at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC.



My Surgeon Dr. Lorraine D Cornwell M.D.

Assistant Professor

Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Michael E. DeBakey

Department of Surgery


Anthony D. Riffel PA-C, MPAS

Member of Doctor Cornwell's staff

Ms Marie

Member of Doctor Cornwell's staff

To the Nurses and staff on 5A

I just wanted to thank you all again for the great care I received while I was there under your care. If I may ask did anyone claim that they got the little baby in the King Cake?

Michael E. Bakey VAMC

Ladies and Gentleman retired or other wise if you ever have a chance to visit or be admitted into this hospital believe me when I say I had the best treatment and care you would find anywhere else in the world as I had received while I was here.

A very great friend Bill

When I went back for my 30 day check up I needed some one to drive me there and back. Meet Bill Ledet a friend extrax ordenaire whom I have known for over 20 yuears.

Bill and computer

When ever Bill travels He is not alone but has His computer with Him all the time. You know that old saying,"Never leave home with out it"? Will he never leaves home with out it. hehehe

The Fisher House

This is where Kim my professional driver stayed, while I was in the VA hospital being operated on. There is a very interesting story behind this building.