Saturday, May 2, 2009

More about wheelchairs.

I got a couple of really good responses to my wheelchair post, and I wanted to respond with a regular post rather than in the comment section. (If you have not read that post, please go back 2 posts and read "Wheelchairs are a pain," and read the comments to that post as well.) I need to explain better about the motorized wheelchair dilemma. I said that I don't like being pushed in my chair, I'm too pig-headed. For the same reasons, I don't want a motorized wheelchair - it's like giving in and admitting that I can't do it myself. There's also a lot more to it.

I have gone to wheelchair stores with the intention of buying a scooter. What I want is a motorized scooter that I can manage myself. I have to be able to get it in and out of my car myself, or else it's not better than my manual chair. There are great scooters available that I would love to have. But herein lies the problem - and I guarantee you won't believe this one! I am on disability, so I have Medicare insurance. Well, Medicare considers those nice, handy, small scooters toys, not assistance devices for the disabled. Medicare will not pay for a toy!

What Medicare will cover is the motorized wheelchairs. There are exactly NONE of those that I can manage myself, and precisely NONE of those that will fit in my trunk. I would have to get a van to be able to use it, or have a lift put on my car. Now, assuming that my car can handle a lift on the back (and many can't - the lifts are quite heavy and require intensive modifications to the car), it will cost $10,000 to $15,000 to get one. And Medicare might cover 80% of it! Might? What do you mean might? Nobody seems to be able to tell me for sure, until I have the work done and submit the bills. No thank you!

And that's for the motorized wheelchair that I don't want! I want the much cheaper toy, but they won't cover that!! Okay, I could just buy one myself, but so far, if I'm going to spend my money on it, the one that I really want doesn't quite exist yet. I need the battery section to get a bit lighter so that I can lift it into the trunk or back seat of my car myself. The beauty of the manual wheelchair is that, at least with the ultra-lights, which is what I have, I really can manage it myself. I want an assistive device that allows me to be independent. If I can't get it in and out of the car myself, it's not better than my manual chair.

What I really want is the type of scooter that Matt Rolloff has in the TLC show "Little People, Big World." I've watched his son get it in and out of their vehicles, perhaps I could manage it too. I suppose I could probably look into it and find out what type it is. Again, Medicare will not pay for it, but at least I could learn more about it, then see if Medicare changes their rules about what they consider a toy. I don't know, I think I just stand in my own way. I like popping wheelies in my manual chair, and looking independent. It's ridiculous really, that I'm more concerned with my image than my comfort and pain. I really am working on that. And as part of that work, I am going to look into scooters again. I promise. I'll keep you updated.

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