For my wheelchair. Fun little obstacles.
And, son of a fucking bitch!
For my wheelchair. Fun little obstacles.
And, son of a fucking bitch!
I feel like hell today. But, this is why I have this chair. I can still do something.
I ran into my neighbor, and her daughter, in the driveway. They were happy for me. Then, at McClintock, I caught the bus to Southern. Forcing myself to go beyond self-consciousness. My first surprise was learning that the bus is not free to wheelchairs. I thought it was. My bad.
And now, here I am. First time, in my favorite coffee shop.
In my wheelchair.
I received it yesterday afternoon. In my driveway. Running, again, into my neighbors. I was very grateful, but I felt guilty. I felt well enough, in yesterday’s hot afternoon, to question whether the chair was a necessity.
But, after dark, with a strong, spring, wind blowing, I took it for a spin to the corner store, for a bag of chips. Just to have something to do on a dark and mysterious evening.
And yes. I was high.
I caused a bit of a headache for the store owner, by trying to breach the front door from my seat. It took a minute of struggle, before he came to my aid. He apologized, profusely. But, I insisted I needed to learn how to do these things. And then.
I got stuck. I made it through the door, and down the first tiny aisle, brushing some few snacks to the floor. And, I turned the corner, to find myself.
Cornered. No path, back to the counter, except from where I came. I had to back up, because he had crowded the floor so tight with merchandise. But first.
I grabbed a bag of Lay’s. Then, the owner spent a couple, more minutes, backing me with hand signs and instructions. Pronounced, Bengali.
I was embarrassed, because I could have used my cane and my car, if I really wanted those chips. Instead, we enjoyed our own private circus, because I was curious to do this, once the day had cooled.
I hope he enjoyed it. I thought it was fun, except for putting him out.
But, by the time I returned to the garage, and plugged it in, I had decided that, I only made the trip because I had the chair. Otherwise, I did feel crappy enough that, before yesterday, without it. I would have rationalized.
I wasn’t very hungry for chips. And here I am, this evening, in my favorite coffee shop, writing. This definitely would not have happened, feeling like this, before yesterday.
This is wonderful. I am beyond self-conscious. I am happy.
I’m happy. Although these last few days have been unproductive, in a writing sense, several good things happened this week.
Yesterday, I cashed the check from my disability insurer. Cigna has decided to honor my policy, after reviewing my functional capacity evaluation.
There was no explanation from them. No correspondence. Just a check, arriving in the mail, the night-before-last. All the money they owed, since December. (Here is my last post on this saga.)
Even with high-confidence in my case, I carried a low-grade anxiety into this new-year. I guess that’s natural when no in-come matches my out-go. Now, I can dismiss that emotion.
For some reason, I anticipated a letter explaining why they chose to make my life difficult. But, nothing says, we’re sorry, like a check. I suppose I could call them, to confirm that this will now be honored for the life of the policy. I don’t want another, bad, surprise from them, next year, or next month.
I also got fitted for my wheel-chair. Health-insurance will pay for most of it. The features on my model will be determined by another type of functional evaluation. Insurance requires justifications for costs.
I had a couple of choices, between manufacturers. One is Chinese-built for American overlords. The other is American-made for Swedish overlords. I chose the Swedish model. It was recommended as more reliable, with more apparent-thought behind the engineering.
The Chinese-American model left motors, and other moving parts, exposed. The Swedish-American model has those things largely hidden inside of casings. Both chairs share the capability of changing postures and heights. For instance, the seat can rise, so that I can work at my kitchen counter.
The Swedish-seat lifts directly from the base, on a metal rod. The Chinese-seat lifts with a scissors-jack.
One looked like it was designed by experienced engineers. The other resembled a lab-project by engineering students.
Some of the capabilities of the chair might be non-functional, depending on what insurance is willing to pay. A fully-featured electric-chair could cost something on the order of $22,000. A less-abled model could be as low as $16,000. I should have new mobility, in roughly a month.
My motivation for it has more to-do with leaving the house, than living within one. In-home, I still can cope. But, leaving the house intimidates me now, on most days. I don’t have confidence that my strength will hold up for these trips. Mostly, I shop for groceries, or stop at a coffee shop.
I’ll get around by bus. Between buses, light-rail, and my chair, I can begin enjoying some public spaces again. I’m anticipating the opportunity, just to visit a place like Mill Avenue, on a nice day. Right now, I don’t do this anymore. My life is mostly spent at home, with brief trips to break the day into logical pieces.
And, this past Monday, I met with a doctor I have never met, because social security is still making a decision on whether I am disabled, or not. I didn’t choose this doctor. I received a letter instructing me to see him, at 9:30 AM.
I offered them my functional capacity evaluation. They declined. Instead, they had me meet with a doctor, who interviewed me, while performing the most-cursory of physical-evaluations. I think his task is to determine whether my story makes sense.
He has my diagnosis, and my doctors’ notes. But, a lot has changed in the last year.
The doctor collects fees from SSI, to determine if my condition is truly disabling. The entire visit took place in about a half-hour. Although I could see the necessity for some type of verification, SSI’s procedures seemed lacking in credibility.
The low-point of the visit was when the doctor took apart his pen, and asked me to put it back together. This was the ‘dexterity test’. He told me to pretend I didn’t see him take it apart.
I wondered whether seeing the pen being broken-down helps my dexterity. I have been taking pens apart since the second or third grade. Visualizing, how a pen should be assembled, is more of a cognitive test.
But, I didn’t argue. SSI needed the results before they can rule me disabled. And, somehow, assembling a pen speaks to my ability to earn a living, or not, programming computers. At least, the doctor seems to think so.
These events served to occupy some of my attention. The better-part of this week, dictated by insurance.
Good thing, too. I’m fighting my way through an inspiration-drought. I blame some of this on my condition. But, if I didn’t have these moments to anticipate, this week would have left me less to say.
I have been quiet the better part of a week. Possibly, the best week of my life, in many ways.
Since my previous post, I have been in wheel-chair prescription-limbo.
It’s bizarre. How strange our worlds?
Become, when insurance enters our lives.
It’s not my control. It’s shared control.
In order to gain control, I have to learn how insurance companies think. It’s what I imagine before.
The alien, suddenly, in my dreams.
And this has been possibly the best week of my life, because, for the rest of it, I have only been writing, and meditating on my manuscript. I am now in full book-writing mode.
Beam me up, Spock.
To a heavenly place.
Each day, when I begin to type.
Thoughts. Not my own.
=== 5:33 PM ===
I’m probably too weak to be here responsibly. But, I only realized after I was here. Might as well make use of the trip.
Today I spoke to Aetna, my health-insurer, after speaking to the woman at the wheel-chair store. Same woman as yesterday. She’s in a scooter. She told me.
She also told me my insurance is not accepted at their store. Only Blue Cross.
My plan does cover some of the costs. But, there’s a $600 deductible, and some other things I don’t completely recall. They also only work with specific vendors. The voice gave me the names of three businesses in Tempe.
I spoke to one of them. I learned. I also need a prescription.
So I called my doctor. The secretary asked the purpose of my call. After I explained, she turned me over to the physician’s assistant.
I left a message. I think she was gone for the afternoon. I never got a call-back.
It has been an interesting day. It feels like winter again. I think it last felt like winter in December. This is Phoenix.
Overcast and chilly. Oh Rain, you could complete this day.
We know you won’t. But, you could. Just try a little harder.
The morning was spent changing positions, from one couch to another. Then some time outside, on the patio, to soak up memories of cold desert.
Handy. Come summer.
Each time I moved, I limbered my limbs, until I was ready to leave.
Had to go to Mesa. Or, Meza, as a self-described Mexican girl pronounced it, for fun, in her call to a local radio station.
Language changes, in the fascinated minds of youth. Maybe, Meza is cooler than Mesa. Or maybe she was just being silly.
I found the shop easily. Seen it before, from the road to my mom’s oldest brother.
I don’t know when I actually started paying attention to wheel chair dealers. But, in the last six months I noted the store, in passing.
Yesterday I brought it up to both Anne and Wen Ling. Sometime soon, I’m gonna need one. Best to start thinking about it now, than to start shopping after it’s already necessary.
The store was probably an old 7-11. Like Lawson’s, to me in my youth. Which of the two, neglected, handicap spaces should I choose? And why was the official one furthest from the entrance?
And, why do wheel chair dealers need handicapped parking spots outside? Who else would be parking here?
Inside was down. Most of the wares were used and grey. Painted sad, as if happy were forbidden.
Purple and banana would be wow.
But, the woman who helped me couldn’t have been nicer, or more helpful.
I will need a chair, not a scooter. I insist on a high back with a head rest. And motorized. Can’t push myself when a mug of beer is too heavy to hold while talking.
She told me things to consider.
I sat in a few used ones, and thought of their previous, anonymous owners.
She also pointed me to a number of resources in the community.
She suggested I pay a visit to ABIL, the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living.
Another place I have passed, countless days past.
Never noticed once. But, what a great idea!
There were more resources. But, I told her, thank-you no. The booklet she gave me, an index to local resources for the disabled, was plenty.
More thoughts for the road. My Civic is probably too small to carry a chair.
Consider a van.
As I left, I studied the neighborhood. It’s fun to imagine myself in the places I visit.
This neighborhood in Meza has been home to entire lives lived.
As children, my friends and I would ride our bikes to Lawson’s, to buy bubble gum and baseball cards.
And I imagine this store, and kids who bought theirs here. As teens they might have made their first under-age beer purchases inside.
Is it possible to purchase a wheel chair from the same building where you once bought bubble gum and beer? How weird if you did, without thinking.