"Suffering the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune"

Our wheelchair assessment went very well yesterday and I am breathing a sigh of relief today. I was a little worried that I would have to fight hard for it and was kind of worked up over it. (I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t worry, so that isn’t a news flash!) The good news is I didn’t have to convince anyone that a better chair is necessary – yet. Insurance will almost surely require a fight but we will just take one step at a time.

The appointment went much like I expected (in my more hopeful moments) and there were no big surprises. Having an inside view of the process is helpful, although, I didn’t really pick Andrew’s brain on this one since he was still dealing with the emotional aspect of his daughter getting a real wheelchair.

On a side note, sometimes being a patient at therapy is just plain weird – the rehab building is a place my kids have hung around frequently since they were little, waiting for their dad to get done with work so we could go out to eat or popping in after running errands to say hi. Em knows many of the therapists as her dad’s co-workers and used to play on some of the very equipment she has had to do therapy on.

So, having my husband’s boss do the wheelchair assessment for Em is just a little weird for all of us. Not a bad thing, just surreal sometimes. For Rick, too, I think – I later found out he called Andrew at noon questioning if the Emily on his schedule was Andrew’s Emily and did she really need a wheelchair? Which, of course, was a very loaded question for Andrew to try to answer. I think people – even people who deal in wheelchairs all day long – are shocked that Em is so bad that she needs one. PTs really are people too.

Anyway, Rick did a brief assessment – really just took down some basic info and talked about what Em needs. He is going to make an appointment for us to meet with a vender so we can discuss our options and he can get help on how to phrase it so that insurance will agree. I got the impression that he thinks a better chair would be a very good idea but that we may have to battle insurance to get it. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

The only big news from the assessment is that he is leaning towards an electric chair instead of a manual one. That wasn’t a surprise to me, although I fall squarely in the anything-would-be-better-than-what-we-have-now camp. Em, however, is less than thrilled with the idea of an electric chair. I am just asking her to keep an open mind and see what is available. Her shoulders are so bad that just the weight of her arm dislocates her shoulder – Rick tried to explain to her that even propelling herself in the lightest weight chair on earth could destroy her shoulders. I get why she wants to have the ability to rely on her own power and not a battery, but hopefully we can offer her some options she can accept. Another part to take one step at a time.

The other revelation was that our perception of Em as not being prone to falling is a bit off. She doesn’t fall/faint, but apparently stopping a faint by lowering yourself to the floor in a controlled manner is considered a fall. (I knew that, but just hadn’t made the leap to applying that to Em.) So, instead of being able to say that she doesn’t fall, we had to estimate that she had ‘fallen’ 50 or more times in the past year. I guess the truth is just the truth and if it helps her get the right chair that is all good, but that was a bit sobering.

Andrew didn’t seem too upset by the suggestion of electric instead of manual but he didn’t have a whole lot to say about it, so who knows? He did say that he told Rick she probably just needed a lightweight manual one but left it at that. I think he needs some time to process it. Funny how all of his professional knowledge goes out the window when it is his kid or himself.

I don’t know when we will be able to meet with the vender – hopefully we hear soon so we can get the ball rolling. I don’t want to think this is going to be a long process, but I have a feeling it will be. I am buckling in for a long ride – if it happens quickly and painlessly, well, it will just be a pleasant surprise!


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