little_tristan: (Bloom County cutter john)
The boys are back at work. I love that the bosses "allow" them to do their own work there on their own time because they know they'll reap all the benefits. The only way the orders get filled is with out machines but the royalty is such a small fraction of a penny that even Russ can't quite figure out what we're actually getting. It comes down to something like a dollar an hour at top speed. At that rate, it'll take about ten years just to break even on the machine.

Awesome.

In better news, I may have a new home for Mom's power chair. Heather called this morning to ask if I still had it. Her mom's fiance at the time of her death is dying slowly of liver failure and needs a little help getting around. He's been a family friend forever and he and Heather are still close.

It's been hard to give the chair away because I let the batteries go flat for so long that they won't take a charge. Batteries are expensive. I didn't want to buy new ones and then send it to Goodwill or something, and no one else will take it since I can't prove it works. The batteries I get are $300 each, and of course they need two. But I get the really good ones that last a long time. I put a lot of miles on my chairs and our insurance only buys them once a year, no matter what kind you get.

But there's usually a fairly cheap option that gets cheaper still when you pay cash. Maybe $50 or $75 each. It depends on the make and model of the chair. I'm going to call the shop I like best and find out how to get them. It'll be nice to get the chair out of the library (it's in the Fiction Closet--YA to the left, horror to the right, literature straight ahead) and back into useful service. I wish the next owner was a little bigger, though. It seems like a waste giving a 600 pound weight limit to a 200 pound guy. But I understand he has a puppy now. Puppy will probably enjoy rides on the extra-wide seat.

And a grandkid is all lined up to take puppy home when Uncle D passes so no worries there. (He's not really an uncle, but Heather's always called him that. If he'd married her mom, I'd have called him cousin.)

I'm bidding on a piece of Billy Martin's--Poppy Z. Brite as was--jewelry on eBay. It's not only beautiful, I really want to own something that was owned and worn by the person who wrote the Liquor series. It breaks my heart, as a person and a writer, to see him selling his little treasures to make rent when his books are so great. And there are so many of them! How can someone so huge and famous and wonderful be forced to suffer this much? Does good writing really pay this badly?

I'm really torn between wanting to get it at a good price and not wanting to disappoint him or rip him off. Maybe I'll be outbid by someone rich. Then I'd be sad, but I'd be happy for Billy.

That's hard to write. I want him to still be named Poppy. But it's not up to me.
little_tristan: (Kitten Halloween)
Heather and the kids got here early. The kids were a huge pain, as usual. How do two year olds even survive? I'm frankly amazed there are so many people on the planet if we all had to go through that phase. Which, as I'm given to understand, we did. Just amazing.

But. Tammy was over to dust and I couldn't be happier! Having tackled the really tough areas on her previous visits, she went over those rooms again and then finished the living room. It's sincerely cleaner than it's ever been. I don't even know for sure how she does it, just that it's not coming back nearly as fast, either. More amazement.

If the events of the day don't seem like enough to fill the time, the rest of it was spent just kind of looking around at how sparkly it all was. I get lost in sparkle.

Heather has a friend who's moving so she unpacked all the stuff that's been delivered since last Wednesday and took the boxes. That was handy. There have been virtually no men in my house the last couple weeks, in spite of the fact that they comprise 75% of the population. That's not amazing, just weird. But now all the stuff is put away and the room is clean! At least to my standards!

The wheelchair guy came in the afternoon to put the new tilt actuator in my broken chair. Which is nice and all. It still worked, but Willow had done so much damage to the wiring that the whole thing was pretty iffy. (Note: When Border Collie puppies appear to be sleeping innocently under your feet, check every ten seconds.) They're still not making any progress on the motor situation--you know, the whole reason I called this circus in--but I think I've finally gotten the truth as to why.

Yer gonna love this. The insurance company is too cheap to take a flier on me actually knowing what's wrong and signing off on the repairs. They want it computer analyzed with the little Quickie programmer that will chat with the chair and give a code for the problem. Otherwise I could just be one of those wacky cripples who demands new motors every time theirs gets, I don't know, dusty or something. Literally, I don't what the thinking is here. Can't even make something up. It's like trying to be funny in a foreign language.

The upshot is that this repair company I'm dealing with sees so few Quickie power chairs that they don't technically own a computer programmer, per se. Were there a way to research these shops, I could have found out months ago that their market consists of Quickie manual chairs and Invacare Prontos*. But I still find it odd that I've spoken to them many times, they've been to the house three times, and this is the first I'm hearing that they aren't actually equipped to diagnose or repair the problem. I mean, even if it got through reception, wouldn't someone in the shop look at the form and mention that they don't do that?

Oh, wait. That must be why I also just heard something about no one having written anything down about... Shit.

So I'll probably be calling the inherent liars that I got the chair from and brace myself for the flood of half-truths and broken promises to follow.

Moving on. It's cold and rainy in Oregon now so I've broken out the fuzzy sweaters and heavy skirts. It's nice, except for the whole arch-nemesis in threadbare shirt and flip flops shouting at me to turn up the heat. It's ninety degrees in his part of the house and he's not happy unless mine is, too. So he's perfectly comfortable for the collective thirty minutes
a day he spends walking through.

I sort of hate my fuzzy sweaters by noon. But they're so soft and pretty! I'm determined not to spend this winter like I did last, wearing the same clothes five days in a row, regardless of dog prints and food stains. It was ugly and sad and did not make me happy. Not like my grey skirt with black roses does. Except I just got it this summer and it's already too big. But that's a good thing, too. Heather has a friend who can alter the stuff I still want to wear next year.

This morning got off to a rocky start when I pulled a Kleenex out of the box, wiped my nose, and then saw the dime sized black and grey bug of horror clinging to it. Creepiness-wise, that's right up there with the time I washed my face with a washcloth that was discovered to have an earwig in it. This house is full of surprises.

I won't spoil the one about the spiders. You have to see that for yourself.;)




*If you or someone you love has an Invacare Pronto and wonders why it seems so damn cheap and crappy, it's because it is. $4000 at Walmart.com. Anybody can have one. Insurance approves them when they don't think you need a power chair but they want to get you off their backs. Respect for you? They haz none.
little_tristan: (Kitten Horror)
Hopefully it will be a while before I lose the use of any more digits. First it was the Murphy bite on my right thumb that got infected within seconds and cost me the use of my right hand for typing purposes. I got an antibiotic that I was told could cause mild stomach pain if taken without food. Substitute mild pain for agonizingly violent, inside-out level vomiting and it would be closer. But it's working, and Mark has almost forgiven Mr. Sloane. I don't need to forgive him. He gave me a warning. Not quite fair warning, imo, but the cat's opinion of fair is the one that counts.

On Sunday I shocked my left thumb trying to plug in the battery charger for my broken chair and it was numb for the rest of the day. I didn't get anything done after that. My only consistent internet presence is Twitter, because I can use my phone and it's super easy. (You can follow me @bonnybedlam if you want to keep up. It's kinda boring, though.)

The good news is it's making it easier to read and catch up on tv. I'm on book 3 of The Dark Tower, The Waste Lands, and I'm pretty sure it's my favorite. But I haven't read the newest one yet, which goes between 4 and 5. It's very exciting having new Roland stories to look forward to. Now that I can comment again, I might even take a whack at LJ. Probably still too tired to resume writing--it's a terrible strain on my hands taking up for injured digits--but maybe soon.

Criminal Minds is fascinating me to the point where I wish I was still completely irresponsible so I could buy the whole series on DVD and watch it in a week. This one disc at a time Netflix thing is getting old. Maybe I can drop some of the cable channels we never watch and go up to two at a time. It's a tough call, since the cable is shared with people who don't get to add discs to the queue. The real villain here, of course, is A&E, which refuses to air the syndicated eps in order. Maybe they're getting a cut of the DVDs.

My broken chair, btw, is still broken. The repair guy brought new batteries and wheels, but the seat tilt actuator the other guy ordered was wrong. Like, nowhere near the right size or shape. And the last guy didn't even write down on the work order that the motors and trannies are bad. That's why it needs fixing. The drive wheels don't even turn at the same rate anymore. If I'm going down a ramp, the right wheel will start to go faster than the left and it'll whip around in a left-hand circle if I don't stop it in time. Stopping is also a problem with worn gears, btw. I got out of it when it started rolling down curb cuts on its own.

Apparently insurance companies are tired of paying for the motor/tranny replacements every year, though. At 2 for $3000 I'm not sure I blame them, but their solution sucks donkey. The guy wants to come back with a programmer for the computer (which he didn't have with him yesterday, because why would you carry a programmer for a chair you're going to be working on?) and see if he can make it "compensate". Meaning the programming is correct but the parts are worn, so maybe he can fuck up the programming so it brakes more sharply or the left wheel turns faster or something. Not that it will solve the problem, the parts will just get worse, but it might mean Providence won't have to pay for it until later.

The repair guy, if that's even the correct name for someone who would suggest such a solution, seemed quite calm about it. I'm scared almost to death. I mean, even if I do survive the winter depending on a doubly-fucked machine, what about when it does get fixed? Will they even remember what they did to the computer, or bother putting it right? Somehow I doubt it. These are the same people who used to give me loaner chairs that were literally broken worse than the ones I brought in for repair and tried to tell me they slewed and dog-tracked because "the speed is set too high". Which makes exactly the same amount of sense as passing off a car that automatically self-destructs at 50 mph. If it can't attain factory approved speeds without jittering around like a bug on a skillet and slamming into walls, THAT MEANS IT'S BROKEN, ASSHOLE. But what do I know? He's been out of Screwdriver Turning School for five minutes and I'm just a cripple who's been living in the gorram things for 12 years. How the hell would I know when something's wrong? And why do I deserve to have it fixed when he can just fuck it up worse and write the job off as complete? Which will also make it a lot harder to get it fixed for real later. Actually, given the sheer number of wheels they tried to slip through on this invoice (10! for a 6 wheel chair that actually got 4 new wheels), I wouldn't be surprised if they were planning to charge for the motors anyway.

I've looked the other way on a shitload of Medicare fraud over the last 12 years, but if they do that, I'm SO turning them in. There comes a time when the line must be drawn. This far! No farther!

And on the subject of broken down stuff, the a-n has decided to grasp at straws in spite of his apparent determination to die. Heather and I are taking him to Portland next month to meet with a vascular surgeon and see if he can be saved. His doctor told me that the only procedure that can be used on him doesn't always work and isn't possible to do on everyone, and his chances of survival were summed up with, "His health is not good, you understand." But he wants to do it now. (The a-n, not his doctor.)

I've explained all of these things to him, how he may not be a good enough risk, and the replacement part might not fit him anyway (it's very new still and they just have the one size), but his only question, repeated ad nauseam, is, "Are they gonna do the procedure the same day [as the initial visit]?" The one time I got him to comprehend that they might not do it at all, he asked what they would do instead. Being me, I told him the truth. Nothing. They won't try if it means he dies right then, where it's their responsibility. He didn't seem to understand the implications, that medical intervention has its limits, and went back to asking if they'll do it the day of the first meeting. I'm not entirely certain they'll even find him competent to consent at this point.

He's considering giving me medical power of attorney. I wonder what I'd do with it.
little_tristan: (Hamster Spaghetti)
Mostly an excuse to break out my new userpic. But I did say I would say something about the book club meeting last weekend. I still don't quite know what to say, except that it was weird. Like, hamster at a horse show weird. The women were lovely but intimidating. We met at Judy's house out in the country, but not like the country where I grew up, with farms and grain fields. This was Tasteful Country, with winding paved driveways, fishponds and fountains in the front yard, casual weekend outfits that cost more than everything I own (combined), and extremely polite horses looking picturesque along the roads. When we weren't talking about my book, they were talking about the various countries they'd visited so far this year and the places they'll be going before they return to teaching and antique store managing and whatever else tasteful, educated people do. It was hardcore.

These people read my book. They talked about it among themselves. Then they served deli food from an adorable cafe in town while I talked about it. Not being educated, I've never had to present a paper or defend a thesis, but I did get to analyze the exterior symbols of my heart and soul with people who had opinions about it. I sort of wish I'd become an engineer or a physicist. You know, something easy.

Hopefully one day I'll have recovered enough to remember what was actually said. Or maybe it's better if I don't.

The rest of the week was up and down. The weather's been great so I've gone out as much as possible. Steve's been a good sport about it and I've been letting him get away as much as possible. Thursday the boys hired him away to work on their machine and Friday he left early in the morning to go camping. The boys have been home since Wednesday so they can get lots of work done. I haven't really seen them much, but Mark let me pick the colors for his touch screen controller last night. It's terribly difficult programming and I'm very proud of him.

This coming week Steve's supposed to be finishing up at the shop. I'm supposed to go with him where I can be properly supervised, but I feel bad about it. It'd be a good chance for him to not be near me, but I think he's scared of Mark or something. It drives me crazy when people don't talk. All I can do is guess and I never guess positively.

Friday morning I got a call from the bank letting me know that they'd been alerted, either by a merchant or law enforcement (she didn't know or wouldn't say which) that my debit card number had been compromised. I assume an ATM camera caught Steve using it and reading the PIN off his hand or something but without more information I couldn't risk it. So they're sending me a new card and I just won't have one until it gets here. Whine. Except I still have Russell's from the grocery store.

The wheelchair repairman came over and explained why I have to use a crap-ass controller forever, but maybe not with an external view screen. Those are for people who can't move or raise their heads to look at the box and the salesman was just being a dick when he made me take it. And why not? He was a dick about everything else. I'm using my old chair now and it's kind of nice. Like a proper exoskeleton should be.

Last night I decided to look for my step-grandma whom I haven't seen or heard from in about ten years. She moved to CA to be near her kids and grandkids, and probably great great grandkids by now. I found her, but it turns out she died nine months ago. That was kind of a bummer. I mean, she was only technically my grandma from 1980 to 1994 (my dad stopped counting when his dad died in '87; I give her until she remarried and moved away), but still.

I don't know if I'm getting depressed again or if it's just PMS. Either way, there's a pint of Ben and Jerry's in the freezer that should help.
little_tristan: (Bloom County cutter john)
The new chair is here! It's exciting, but tempered with my usual hatred of change. In many ways, it's exactly the same as my old one. The body styling and color and all. But the seat was made by someone else so I could have the tilt and recline, and the electronics are totally different. The toggle switch is gone, so no more quick flips up and down to change modes, but also no more hitting the switch with the side of my hand and turning it off by accident when I hit a bump in the road. And no more speed knob. It's all push button now, and there's a separate box mounted on a long arm in front to tell me what mode it's in. I anticipate dozens of nosy, ignorant people asking me what it is, and I fully intend to tell them it's a micro-computer that allows me to update my FaceBook from the main control box. I'd bet any money that the majority of them will believe me.

The recline is really cool, but it has a decided drawback in that when I ask it to tilt or recline, it seems to have to go a certain distance before stopping. I can't give it a flick and move half an inch. Even the slightest touch makes it go two or three inches, and then I can't double back and undo it because it will go just as far in reverse. And worse than that, it will tilt back, and then it will only tilt forward again. I can't tilt partway back and then decide to go farther without going forward first. That just seems like a crap design to me. I'm also wondering why it reduces speed at random moments. It has five lights to tell me how fast it's set to go, and of course I want all five lit. But after I turn it off and back on, or just sit for a while, when I look it's on three or four. I suspect it doesn't trust me.

It also doesn't have push handles, which will make it hard to push should it be necessary, and worse, there's no place to hang anything! I swear, it's like they're not thinking at all. But at least my Kindle bag fits on the armrest. That's a break. And the headrest is a different design, so it doesn't have that pokey bar sticking out that, on my other chair, reduced the windowsill in my bathroom to splinters. (Seriously. Powered wheelchairs: Devaluing your home a little more each day!)

Anyway, there's always a breaking in period where the chair and I get used to each other. You can't really tell anything the first day. Except that it's easier to transfer in and out of, harder to wash my hands at the bathroom sink, and I still think that for 30K, it should be able to carry a shopping bag.
little_tristan: (Bloom County cutter john)
I just got the call that my new chair is in! Willsonville! That's nowhere near here, but they're going to deliver it next Tuesday, only 2 short months after telling me it would be a week to ten days! Now I can't decide if I'm glad I kept track or not...
little_tristan: (Bloom County cutter john)
It's finally really coming! In seven to ten days! I just got the call confirming that I'll be able to cover the co-pay before they actually have it shipped. So all this waiting has just been them getting insurance approval. Wankers. What's really sad is that the co-pay is pretty high (the chair is about $20K; Medicare will pay 80% and Herr's work insurance will pick up the rest, but it's so early in the year that we've hardly paid anything toward our deductible with them yet) and I'm guessing a lot of people are having to turn down their equipment lately. But I can pay, so I'm going to be happy about that. Yay tilting and reclining seat! Yay solid tires that won't go flat! Yay replaceable parts! And a BIG yay for getting the current chair fixed well enough to use it when the new one is in the shop next year!!

And, really, just yay for a little good news before I officially enter into estate probate hell this afternoon.
little_tristan: (Denis Leary)
Actually, I've been awake for a long time. I've officially run out of positions to sleep in that don't inspire unbearable pain, so I read in bed for a while and then got up at one. It's brutally unfair. The Thing That Hurts isn't supposed to hurt when I'm already lying on it, so when it does, there's nowhere left to go. Sitting up doesn't really help, I just feel more in control and better able to cope when I'm wearing my exoskeleton.

Of course I expect to be ridiculously tired in twelve hours, but for now at least I'm getting some writing done. It might even help me finish Les Miserables on time. (No, the irony is not lost on me. It never is.) And later today, I'm calling about the new improved exoskeleton. March is almost half over and I haven't heard from them since December. But I think I might be able to sleep in that chair.
little_tristan: (Daria: Mr. D)
I think I posted a while ago about a conflict I was having with a medical supply company over money they felt I owed from June 2009. It's been a complicated and stupid fight, and I surrendered last week after my repeated requests for proof kept resulting in irrelevant pages of invoices, accompanied by handwritten notes in place of statements from insurance companies. They were threatening my credit rating, and there was enough of an air of plausibility to it (in spite of the fact that they wouldn't explain why it took a year and a half to send the bill, or why the initial invoice was for a rental chair rather than repairs), and it wasn't that much money, so I ended up paying it.

Although I sent with it a letter saying that I wasn't happy, that I thought I deserved those answers, that I was insulted by the billing manager's insistence that the invoice said repairs when it clearly said rental ("some months of rental", it said, and that doesn't really translate to "some months of repairs"; especially when it was a one day, while you wait, job), and that I was paying it without getting those answers only because I might have to do business with them again and I couldn't afford to be penalized by them for having made trouble. Insurance companies decide where you go, and Herr's boss could switch companies on us again at any time. And I also made a note about "questionable billing" on the check, in case any proof came up later. You know, so I'd know which check it was when I hit them up for a refund.

So they got the letter, and then I got an email. I didn't read it (although I did stick it away in an email folder in case I need to later) because I hate conflict and I've been sick over this thing long enough. Then I got an envelope from them, with that woman's handwriting on it, and that made me sick again. I let it lie around for a couple days before asking Herr to open it last night. I told him if it was a letter, I didn't want to hear it. Anything else, he could decide for himself if I needed to know about it. It was another copy of the bill, apparently crossed in the mail. I threw it away and figured that was the end.

Then, just now, she called me. Now that I've paid, she wants to know if there are any other papers she can supply me with. Do I still want to see the insurance statements that I asked for five times before I gave up and paid? I said, Look, you got your check, right? Aren't we done? Her response: We just want to make sure you don't go away unhappy. I said it was too late and hung up. But now my stomach hurts and apparently I have to live in fear of follow-up calls. And emails. It might never end.

What the hell's wrong with business people in this country that getting their money, which they may or may not even be owed, doesn't shut them up anymore? It's not like they need my goodwill for future business. It's the insurance companies they need to suck up to for that. And I'm sure they do.
little_tristan: (Murray in Shock)
Remember this entry? It's sure coming in handy now. Yesterday I got a bill from CARE Med, the people I've been lamenting not being able to patronize since we switched insurers because they always got the work done so quickly and efficiently, and now I have to admit there's no winning. Yes, they do a good job. Yes, they're fast and wonderful. In the shop, at least. But the insurance fraud and robbery just isn't worth it. Why, you ask? What was that bill? It was for a wheelchair rental. They're claiming that on that date, the 19th of June, 2009, the date I went in and got my chair fixed in three hours while reading Small Miracles of the Holocaust, I actually rented a wheelchair and kept it for several months, which they now expect me to pay for. Seriously. I've read it 12 twelve times and that's what it says.

And before you guess that they got their years mixed up or something, no. For one thing, this was a year and a half ago and this is the very first bill I've gotten. Normally they sent statements to me before the insurance is done paying, just in case I can be fooled into ponying up and they can get paid twice. And for another thing, I've never "rented" a wheelchair from anyone, ever! The ones I get while mine is in the shop are loaners and I'm not charged for them. I also have never had a loaner from CARE for longer than a week or two, and I certainly didn't get one in June. Providence HMS stuck me with that awful loaner for three months this summer, but again, I don't pay for those. And, again, it didn't come from CARE. So this whole thing is bullshit, plain and simple. They figure I won't remember what I was doing a year and a half ago, or what chair I was doing it in, so they sent a bill just to see what would happen.

A doctor my dad had never seen tried the same thing on him not long before he died. Billed him several hundred dollars for all sorts of in-office cardiac stress tests. We have no idea how he even got Dad's name, but when Mom pushed him in there in his wheelchair and asked how long their records showed he'd lasted on the treadmill, they muttered something about a clerical error and tore up the bill.

Me? I'm going with email.
little_tristan: (Catloaf Cloud)
Sparky's new switch came yesterday, a day ahead of schedule, so Herr put it in last night. Making me wonder anew why they replace the whole control box when he was able to open it up, cut out the old switch, solder in a new one, and put the whole thing back together in under twenty minutes. In the living room, while watching Dharma and Greg. You'd think a guy with a shop and some practice could do it even faster (especially if he's not watching tv), and save everyone involved a lot of money. But the repair men aren't electricians or solderers or anything, they're people who know how to change parts on a wheelchair. They never fix anything, they only replace it. Unless something obvious happens, like a broken wire sticking out somewhere, they never even know what's wrong. There may come a day where we do all our repairs at home. Because seriously? It's as good as new, and it cost way less than the deductible on a new box would have been. Even with the three day shipping.

My terrible book is back on track, and picking up a little now that I'm getting to the sexy-fun part. After that is the major h/c part, and then the climactic surprise ending and I'm out. I'm pretty sure that I had an idea last night for some kind of police work, a homicide of some sort, but it's escaped me now. Probably when I re-read whatever I was writing when I thought of it, it'll come back to me. Or I'll think of something else. My whole writing philosophy is based on the sage advice of the immortal Steve Dallas: Just wing that mother. So far so good.

Sometime this year, I will finish reading Vanity Fair. Probably not anything else, because of the book, and The Losers fandom, and the fact that I get to see The Losers tomorrow(!), but I will finish Vanity Fair. Maybe right now. Unless I start writing as soon as I post this, which could very well happen.

Also, I miss my Riptide header, but I love my new layout, too. Every time I see it, I feel renewed in my dedication to bore the crap out of people. And really, that's what writing is about 90% of the time. If I'm boring you, at least you're reading. And that other 10% can be a lot of fun.
little_tristan: (cutter john)
Herr wasn't able to get a switch at Fry's because when he got there, he just didn't know exactly what kind Sparky needed. So he came home and opened up the control box, which was all kinds of scary for me. There's nothing quite like sitting in a power chair without a joystick. On tv they make it look like you can just start pushing when the power's off, but it's not that simple. Not only does Sparky weigh 200 pounds (not counting me), we were never even taught how to put his gearboxes in neutral. So the wheels wouldn't turn and I'd need a mule team just to get to the bathroom.

Anyway, after he unplugged it and got it off the arm mount, it was just a matter of taking out 4 screws and the thing came open like a plastic egg. That was way scarier. All those wires, and what had to be the tiniest circuit board that I've ever staked my life on. Then he pushed the switch through so we could see it and held the whole thing up to the light until I figured out what all the letters and numbers on it were. (Being the youngest member of the household, and the only one who doesn't need glasses, I'm the official tiny-things-reader.) Unfortunately, he doesn't have the tools to take apart the switch itself, but we were able to find one online. Express shipping is fearfully priced, so we're shooting for Tuesday. And then it's just a matter of him taking it apart again and soldering the tiny wires to the tiny connectors.

I know he can do it. He's smart and he's very good with these things. Keen eye, steady hands, all that lovely stuff. But I still don't want to watch. It's fun when he's working on other things, but this is different. Like whatever spot he chooses to work in, might end up being the spot where I spend the rest of my life. Or at least the next few hours. However long it takes him to find the release levers on the gearboxes.
little_tristan: (Sheldon WTF)
Okay, so wheelchairs are like cars and houses. They know when they're going to be sold/traded/replaced. Unfortunately, they lack the complex reasoning skills that would allow them to handle this in a mature, responsible way. Take my current chair. We'll call it Sparky, because it's purple and sparkly and has electrical issues. These issues are new. They started last week. )
little_tristan: (cutter john)
Yesterday we met with the sales guy, Rob, and a physical therapist, Justin, to talk about what I want in a new chair. That was different. The first one I got, a salesman showed up, showed me a chair and said he thought it was the best choice for me. Based on not knowing anything about me or my condition. And I, not knowing anything about my rights and options, said okay. A year later it needed a major overhaul to become comfortable and useful, but I always kind of hated it. The powerbase had a plastic cowling that was supposed to make it blend with your furniture (because everyone's furniture is bright red plastic, right? It didn't even come in black), but in reality it just got hung up on everything and over the next five years became a fractured, jagged, filthy mess, largely held together with duct tape. My next chair, the current one, was an old demo that the supplier had on hand and needed to unload because the model was discontinued, so the saleswoman told me it was all my insurance would pay for. Luckily it had some of the features I needed, but again, I didn't know what I was allowed to demand. Or even that my insurance would have paid for a new one, which they, in fact, thought they were doing.

So this is my first experience doing it right, and it's kind of fun. We discussed all kinds of things--what I have to have, what I'd like to have, what the trade-offs are for getting, say, a reclining back versus the armrests that I prefer (I can have both, but I have to sign a waiver stating that I'm aware that I could hurt myself), and where on the proposed model I can leash a 70 pound German shepherd. There are even a wide variety of color options, although I of course asked for the dark purple. Unless it's not dark enough. Then I want black. (Darkity darkity dark.)

There's still a lot of paperwork to get through, and when it's all approved, the chair still has to be built (every prescribed wheelchair, power and manual, is custom built because every single person needs something slightly different), so we're looking at mid-February at the earliest. Possibly early March. But there's a loophole in the insurance regs that may allow them to give me a substitute of equal cost soon (which I wouldn't use--call it a placeholder) so it can be billed this month and take advantage of the fact that we've already met our insurance deductibles for the year. If it doesn't bill until I actually get the real one, we might have to pay some up front. But I'm less worried about that than I am grateful to be dealing with people who know what they're doing and are on my side. (Also, Justin? Very cute.:)
little_tristan: (cutter john)
Quick update: We scheduled the evaluation with the Providence power chair people today. It's not until the 30th, meaning this process will take even longer than I predicted, but this is typical. Apparently there have to be a lot of people from different organizations there and it's hard to work with everyone's schedules. Herr, in a totally unprecedented move, authorized me to make it for two in the afternoon. He'll have to leave work at noon, but since he'll be skipping lunch, that's still a six hour day. (I tried to make it later but the woman said, "We don't do that." I guess they all need to be home by five.)

I hope we do the test drives before then. That's the fun part. :D
little_tristan: (cutter john)
I'm counting from today, because it's the day I officially met the salesman/caseworker, Rob. So we'll see how long it takes from this point to actually get it here. Some highlights of the visit:

Rob was stunned that someone actually sold me a discontinued chair. (His assistant was not, because he used to work for the company that did it.) Apparently, while I got it 5 years ago, it was actually discontinued 7 years ago. And the reason the parts are suddenly so hard to get is the law allows the manufacturers to stop making parts--you guessed it--seven years after the model is discontinued. It all fits together.

They're talking Permobil this time instead of Quickie, which is interesting. I actually remember when Permobils first came out. They were problematic in the beginning, but still top of the line. I never thought I'd have one, but it seems like a real possibility. They just have awesome features, like seat tilt and recline, electronic footrests, seat lift that just raises you up for seeing/reaching things, and front wheel drive for better cornering.

At the same time, Quickie has just brought out a new model that's basically what I have, so I might stick with that. What's great is instead of just picking something and selling it to me, they're going to bring over two or three chairs and let me test them out so I can actually choose what I want. Then they go back and order the exact right one, with my measurements and color choice and everything. I never got this level of service before, which now seems strange, considering these things cost tens of thousands of dollars (Permobils can run 100K) and I basically have to live in it a minimum of 15 hours a day for five years. Seems like I should have some say.

On an unrelated note, I got a new pair of shoes today. Mono black high top Chuck Taylors. Why does this matter? It doesn't really, except that this is the first time in 5 or 6 years that I've been able to buy a standard sized pair of shoes off the shelf. The new diet hasn't really lost me any weight, but my feet aren't swollen anymore. I can wear any shoes I want! I don't have to wear slippers all the time! So the Chucks are sort of a normal-foot celebration.

My life is extremely ironic.
little_tristan: (Firefly Jayne's Hat)
Two weeks into God knows what's wrong with me and it's still kicking me brutally in the head. Seriously. Headache City, population: Me. But life goes on.

Tomorrow I meet Rob, the new wheelchair guy, who's coming to start the process of getting me a new wheelchair. He might even have the gel mattress thing, which just can't come soon enough for my hip, which is actively battling my head for the big blue ribbon of pain. Luckily Herr is talented at rubbing both of them.

Thursday is furnace day. The furnace actually got here last week, but Herr discovered that it would take him weeks of research, and sheet metal fabrication, to get it installed. So it's been in the basement, not doing a damn thing, while we figure out who's going to do the job. At first, I was being extremely efficient and taking bids to get the best price, but that didn't turn out so well, either. Apparently it's furnace season here in the Great Northwest, and out of three pages in the phone book, I could only get one company to even come out and do the estimate before Thanksgiving. So I don't know if they're competent or competitively priced or anything. All I know is they're available, and it's getting cold.

It's kind of a huge job, though, so we're not expecting to actually have heat right away. They'll probably have to finish it Friday morning, and then there's no telling when we'll be able to get the inspection. Perhaps with a real contractor, we can assume it's done right and use it while we wait. I have to say, I'm looking forward to that programmable thermostat.

Today, I'm just watching King of the Hill (NetFlix has all 13 seasons available for streaming) and working on my book. When my head gets too achy for writing, it's on to 'Salem's Lot on Kindle. Halloween may be over, but I still love a scary book. The clouds and rain (and really fierce winds) make it so cozy and shivery inside. It's one power outage away from perfection.
little_tristan: (cutter john)
It went pretty well. We decided that my meds are good for now, although I'm still having some problems. I think they're most likely hormonal, so I don't want to mess with the brain stuff until after I see the gynecologist and talk to him about that. We also talked about the increasing pain and the benefits of having a different wheelchair. He said that the safety issue of having the wrong wheels should be enough to push it through, but he also thinks that having a reclining seat back would give me more positioning options and maybe help with the muscle and tendon contractures. Along those same lines, he showed Herr some fun stretching exercises that we can do at home, in the hopes that working the muscle in my hip a little will make it less awful to sleep on. We tried it last night and it really helped. I'd thought it would before, but it was hard to talk Herr into manhandling me without instructions, or proof that it would be worth the risk. But he walked out of the demonstration amazed by how good it felt, so lucky me.

The downer was that I haven't lost any weight. At least not since last year. In fact, my gain over last year was pretty much in line with previous years. Ever since I haven't been walking, it's been a very regular, predictable increase. But I'm comforting myself with the possibility that a) I actually did gain more and lost a pound or two since July, or b) I haven't lost any, but had I not changed my eating habits so radically, the increase would have been greater. The problem here is that I didn't have a scale in July to get a starting weight, so all I can compare it to is last year at the doctor. And I probably won't get to compare again until next year.

I hope I don't sound like I'm just being vain and wanting to be skinny like the girls on tv (although I sort of do). I just need to get this under control before I get too big for Herr to lift. He's stronger than a man his age and size has any right to be (seriously, he's like a stick figure with muscle), but I already outweigh him by 50 pounds and he's not getting any younger. Plus, the increasing size of my butt is almost certainly a factor in the hip pain. The more weight on a pressure point, the faster it breaks down. (The doctor said pregnant women who sleep on their sides all the time have the same thing, so you ladies with kids probably know exactly what I'm talking about.)

He also said the insurance company would probably buy me one of those air mattresses like they have on the really modern hospital beds--the ones with separate air pockets that alternate pressure independently while you sleep. That could be fun, too. So it was a really good visit. It's nice to talk to someone who doesn't think I should just accept a lifetime of ever-increasing pain, and has the power to do something about it.

News!

Oct. 14th, 2010 07:09 am
little_tristan: (Geek On)
Things happened yesterday! My Kindle arrived, and after ten minutes of playing multiple choice with network settings, I got it connected to my wi-fi. It works beautifully, too. I thought that using it would be like reading books on the computer, but it's so not. The screen looks like paper, disconcertingly so, and I find that I fall into the story just as easily. The quoting and note taking features will make it easy to save passages for reviews, and I can even send Word and PDF docs to it for reading my own work away from home. I still kind of prefer paper books, and have stacks and stacks of lightweight paperbacks to get through, but for heavy new releases, it's a God-send. (8.5 ounces, compared to one pound 2 ounces for Who Fears Death.)

The only real drawback so far is the way the words dissolve and reform when I turn the pages. After a couple of hours, it was giving me a bit of a headache, but I'm learning to blink in time with it so I don't have to watch. That seems to work. And it's a small price to pay for having it lay flat so I can read while eating.:)

McCoy came out in the afternoon to play another round of Match! That! Tire! Sadly, it was not to be. He spent most of the time on the phone with the insurance company, the manufacturer, his boss, his secretary, and whoever they told him to call. Then we talked about it a bit and decided that the best thing for me to do is start the paperwork for a new chair. I've had this one for five years and a few months, so I should be qualified, and he'll swear to the fact that he can't complete the job because the parts simply aren't available from the manufacturer anymore. It was a discontinued model when I got it (I think I already explained about the lying "caseworker", which is what they call sales people so you think they're on your side, and the Medicare fraud she committed to unload a demonstrator that she didn't need anymore), so it was inevitable that parts would dry up. We just thought it would take a little longer. Anyway, he says we were right on the edge getting motors this time and if I wait for them to go bad, I won't be able to get replacements. So if I get the new one now, before these motors wear out, I'll have a decent backup for when the new chair needs work. Much better than getting stuck in another loaner.

The only possible hitch, that I can see at this point, is that the insurance company might not want to buy a new one so soon after spending so much on this one. But we're hoping that the job not being finished and the tires still not being the ones the doctor prescribed (I'm alone all day so I'm supposed to have the kind that never go flat) will outweigh that. Anyway, I have an appointment with him next week to renew my prescriptions so I'll have him write something up then and we'll get started. Whee!

The furnace is still about a week away, but we're suddenly having summery (or at least late spring) weather again, so it's not so bad. There's a little huddling in front of the kitchen stove during the pre-dawn hours, but I'm okay with that for now. And while we haven't really figured out the sewer problem yet, Herr has discovered that pouring a couple gallons of water down the drain every few days keeps it moving along. I think it might relate to a problem that the city will make us fix soon, but I haven't told him about that because he'd freak out about the money involved. Better to wait so the freak out doesn't last as long.

Speaking of freaking out, last night I dreamed that watching the movie Zombieland caused actual zombies to come into existence. Someone put the movie on and suddenly we were all under attack. One of them bit my hand off. I started screaming and woke up Herr, who is not at all comforting in these situations. All those nice, soothing, cuddly men that I put in my stories? Those ones who are always there for their nightmare-haunted loved ones at two in the morning? Pure wish fulfillment on my part. I used to say if I could change one thing about him, I'd make him a Catholic or a non-smoker, but now I'd settle for making him a guy who stays alert longer than two minutes when I wake up screaming in the night.
little_tristan: (Catch a Fallen Murray)
I got my good chair back on Wednesday and had five fun days. Trips to the library, the post office--even the county fair. I got to pet horses (shout out to Miley for the face snuggle), watch a little rodeo, and eat half an elephant ear, which was a real treat, given the strictness of my diet. (It was freaking awesome. And so was the hot dog. I drew the line at the onion rings, but most because they were cold.)

But this morning while sitting in front of the computer, after not having even been outside since the fair on Friday, my left tire suddenly went flat. I assume Herr can fix it when he gets home, we have a nice air compressor and McCoy gave me a spare tube in case it's needed, but I'm stuck in the amazing craptacular Pronto for the day.

I miss my headrest already.

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