Goodbye NuMotion, Hello Access Medical!!

I need a new wheelchair.  I’ve needed it since this time last year.  I started my research into new chairs.  But, it wasn’t until I rolled into the Abilities Expo and met the team from Colours that I new exactly what I want.  When I rolled up to their booth, one of the Colours guys, Jose, named immediately the three things that I dislike about my current wheelchair.  They are things that I not only dislike, but things that, when changed, will make wheeling much easier.  My wheels are too far forward, there is no tilt to my seat and my casters are wrong.  When he pointed out these issues, I knew that he and everyone at Colours know what they’re doing. (To be clear, the problems with my current chair are my own doing because I ordered it myself online and paid cash out-of-pocket.  I didn’t really know what I was doing when I ordered it and didn’t think it would be that hard.  If you’re reading this and are in a wheelchair: get professionally fitted until you know exactly what everything means.  You don’t know what “camber” is or where your center of gravity is?  Don’t order your own wheelchair.)

The week after the Expo I called Colours and made an appointment to go in to see them to get measured for my custom chair.  They were awesome and helped me pick the best chair.  The only catch is that you can’t order directly from them.   They don’t deal with insurance.  Apparently insurance companies are so annoying to deal with that they would need to staff multiple people just to deal with that.  They just want to build the chairs, not deal with bureaucracy and red tape.  So I called the people who I ordered my first wheelchair through: NuMotion.  They were annoying with my first chair because it took FOREVER.  I ordered it in September and didn’t receive it until December.  But, I figured I wasn’t in a super big hurry, so I could wait a couple months.  I called my doctor for the prescription, then called NuMotion with the order form, prescription and everything else that they needed.

The receptionist was rude when I called.  That should have been my first red flag.  She acted like she was doing me a favor by speaking with me.  I should have taken the hint.  But, I decided to stick with them, mainly because I wanted my chair and didn’t know where else to go.  Someone called me a few days later (I think her name was Maria) and said they were starting my file and they’d be in touch.  I have yet to ever speak with Maria.  When I called her back after not hearing back, she was on vacation.  But I was promised that someone was still handling it in her absence. Since March 2016, I have yet to speak with someone other than the rude receptionist(s?) there.  I would call every month and a half to two months to follow-up and was always put into a general voicemail with no name.  I finally called the national center and was told by a very nice woman that the head of the Cerritos office would call me back.  I think his name was Mike.  He did call a few days later at 6pm as he was leaving his office when I was eating dinner.  I called him back at 8:30am the next morning.  He didn’t answer.  I’m still waiting on his return call.  That was in October.

I finally decided that enough was enough.  I need a new chair and they obviously don’t want to get me one.  You’d think they’d be eager to order my $8,000+ chair (I don’t know how they get paid, but I’m sure they do very well.)  Yesterday I found a new place to order my chair from, but they’re in Carlsbad.  The lady I spoke with was so super nice and informed me that they actually have an office that happens to be about 2 blocks from my house.  She told me that it might take a little while for them to get back to me, but that I should hear something by Tuesday of next week.  Considering I have been waiting 11 months, 5 days is NOT a “little while.”  That’s a breath of fresh air!  Cut to today when I was at the gym and receive a phone call that the guy who I was supposed to meet with was actually in my area and could meet with me.  (I only found out later that it was the owner of the company that came to fit me for the chair.)  When I handed him the order form and prescription, he told me he wished all clients were as organized and proactive as I was.

He left and said the paperwork would get started.  Based on the timeline he told me, I should have my new chair by March.  I. Am. So. Excited!!!!

Thank you Access Medical for being so amazing!  So far I one million percent would recommend you to anyone and everyone!  Everyone I have spoken with has been so amazing.

And screw you NuMotion.  Thanks for absolutely nothing and making me feel so completely unimportant when I was begging to give you my business.  Everyone make the switch from NuMotion to Access Medical!

Wonder Woman

I’ve been really into making shirts lately.  Call it my zen happy place.  I tell the hubs to call it “money savings” which is how I convinced him to be as excited about this new hobby as I am.  It’s hard to keep him maintaining the same level of excitement when our house is overflowing with iron-on vinyl.  “How many different colors do you need?!” is a frequent question in my house.  (You know you may have a problem when the guy working the register at Joann’s asks what project all these colors are for and your answer is “I don’t even know yet!”)  But, I’m quite the stock-piler and I like to have everything I could ever possibly need on hand just in case.  Most people have hoards of water and canned food for an eventual earthquake in California which will shut the state down.  I’ll be prepared to make disaster relief shirts.  Who’s the prepared person now?

But I seriously, seriously digress.  The point is about one of the shirts I just made.  It’s a workout shirt (which is another frequent topic of conversation in my house: How many workout shirts does one person need?!) and it features Wonder Woman and the phrase “Not all princesses need to be saved.”  Wonder Woman is my girl.  Or, my gurl for all the hipsters out there.  She’s all things strength and power, but super sexy and feminine (in a strong and powerful way).

My favorite Disney princess is Ariel, and always has been.  Even before my legs stopped working.  But, the irony in having a favorite princess who wishes she had legs that worked is not lost on me now.  But, if you think about it, the Ariel story kind of sucks.  It’s this guy who is super into Ariel, but then this other hot chick with a voice he heard once comes around and he ditches Ariel despite their insane connection.  And then she saves this dumb prince and gets her voice back and he’s all “Baby, I really wanted you the whole time.”  So, instead of being the strong, independent Ariel who defied her father and made a deal with Ursula, she becomes this weak chick who will take back the guy who spurned her.

But Wonder Woman.  Talk about strength! wonder-woman-shirt She’s the warrior princess of the Amazons!  How do you beat that? And wouldn’t a lasso of truth be the coolest weapon? You can do so much when you know the truth.  If there’s an issue, I can problem solve when I know the truth.  And she has the crazy ability to heal really fast, which is obviously very enviable.  Especially when my body heals like molasses [read: very, very slowly.  Not sticky.  That’s weird.]  Also, the invisible plane!  I mean, who even needs working legs if you can fly everywhere and shoot projectiles with your tiara?!  And, not to brag, but I can rock knee high boots like nobody’s business!

So, isn’t it better to be the princess who is out saving other people, including weak males?  Isn’t that showing independence and self-reliance?  I try to be as independent and self-reliant as possible.  I’m constantly telling people that I don’t need help.  If I really sit down and think about it, there really isn’t much that I can’t do.  Even in my wheelchair, with two non-functioning legs.  I joke around with the Hubs a lot that people probably think he’s a jerk for not helping me more.  But, he knows that if he tries, it will lead to problems.  (Is one too independent if offering to help leads to an issue, versus not helping at all?)  But, that’s how I know he cares: he knows that I can take care of things myself.  Of course I like some help.  And I appreciate him for helping me when I need him to.  For example, when I am sick with a cold I turn into a huge baby and he brings me food and drinks and kleenex and all that stuff.  And when I take a shower, he puts my shower bench in and out for me.  Yes, I can do that myself, and sometimes if I decide to take a shower when he’s not around and I forgot to ask him to put it in, I do in fact do it myself.  But it’s easier for him to do that.

And it’s not just the hubs who feels weird about not helping.  A year ago, my brother went on a day trip to Catalina Island with me because I had court.  He begged me to let him push me because he thought people were giving him the ol’ stink eye for not helping me.  But I didn’t need the help, though I did appreciate the offer.  Some people in wheelchairs get mad when people offer.  I think mainly they’re offended when strangers ask.  I’m never offended if someone offers to help me with something.  People passing by when I’m getting my wheelchair out of my car often ask for help.  They’re probably not used to seeing a wheelchair on the ground with no wheels when I’m snapping it all together.  So, I’m never offended when they ask.  I appreciate the niceness of strangers wanting to help someone else who may be in need.  But, it does get slightly annoying (and embarrassing) when they don’t stop asking.  If you ask and I say no, then don’t keep asking.  And don’t assume I’m trying to prove to you that I can do it.  Maybe I’m trying to prove it to myself that I can do everything.  And maybe I don’t want to give someone else the power of thinking that I need their help.

And maybe I’m Wonder Woman, a princess who doesn’t need to be saved.  Maybe you need me to save you.

RIP MoMo

Yesterday morning, a young woman of 30 named Morgan “MoMo” Grandy passed away.  It was 5 days before her birthday.  I didn’t know her personally, but she was a part of a couple wheelchair groups to which I also belonged.  According to people who knew her, she passed away from sepsis.  Apparently she had been having a very long battle with pressure sores and UTIs.  Her last post on Facebook was about heading to the ER on August 30th and how she hoped she didn’t have to get admitted.  How chilling and sad is that?

I didn’t know this beautiful young woman, but I feel I can relate to her.  These problems she struggled with are constant fears of mine.  Of every wheelchair user.  People might wonder why I constantly shift in my seat or why I try sitting in different chairs or positions.  This is why: I am so afraid of pressure sores.  My left thigh is constantly in pain from sitting on all the time.  But what’s scarier is that my right is not. I have no feeling there.  It’s something always on my mind.  With a pressure sore, the easiest way of fixing them is to lay off it for weeks to months.  Obviously I can’t do that due to work and the Little Mister.  Worst case scenario is going to the hospital and having to have surgery.  That’s obviously not ideal either.  So all I can do is try to change the pressure and keep my fingers crossed that I don’t get one.  Having legs that don’t work is often just the beginning of problems that paraplegics face.

It’s just devastating to think that this young woman was in so much pain and that it ended so tragically.  It’s hard to not think about it.  Get stuck in your own head about it.  If it happened to her, it could happen to me.

Rest in peace, MoMo.  I hope you’re dancing in the clouds and pain free now.

New gym, new goals

The hubs and I started a new gym today.  I really liked the old gym, but I never felt comfortable there.  The owner couldn’t have been nicer or more dedicated to helping me when I was there.  But, me getting there was the issue.  I get intimidated very easy and there were always the super buff dudes walking around.  I always felt like they were wondering what the girl in the wheelchair was doing there.  I’m sure I wasn’t even on their radar, but that’s still how I felt.

This new gym is right by my house and is pretty quiet.  The hubs and I joined this morning and there were about 5 people working out.  Then we went back this evening and there were about 5 people when we got there and only 1 left by the time we were finished.  It was really nice!

This gym has a private room for classes.  When live classes aren’t going on, you can play a virtual class.  I decided to do a kickboxing class, which was mostly upper body.  It was amazing!  (You can find out more about the class under the Paraple-workout page.)  You have the convenience of a gym but the privacy of a private class.  I kept worrying that people were going to come in, but no one did.  Well, no one except one of the personal trainers who told me if I ever have any questions to not hesitate to ask him.  I have a training session with him on Wednesday, which I’m pretty excited about.

virtual boxing class

After the boxing class, I did an exercise where you take a medicine ball and throw it against a trampoline.  You catch it as it comes back at you.  I think it’s called a rebounder?  I didn’t even bother counting how many times I did that as I was just having too much fun.  I would guess I did it about 30 times.  Next time I will try to remember to count.  Yes, next time.  I’m already looking forward to going back!

 

 

Stairs = Tackled!

My parents live in a two-story house.   For nearly three years, I never made it upstairs.

My family is close.  Like, obscenely close.  Like, we actually enjoy each other’s company and want to hang out with each other.  I talk to my mom every day (sometimes, multiple times in a day).  And I talk to my dad a couple times a week.  He’s not quite as chatty on the phone, so I usually save up for something big for him.  But they always want us around.  Heck, I lived off and on with them until I was 30 years old!

Family BBQs are pretty commonplace in my family.  It’s that above-mentioned like of each other coupled with the fact that my folks live on the beach.  I like to joke that we never need to join a beach club because we have our own private one.  The downside is that I can’t actually get on the beach in my wheelchair.  It’s rumored that the lifeguard has a beach wheelchair to be used on first come first serve basis.  I haven’t tested that theory yet and actually tried.  I’ve been fine for the past couple years being beach adjacent.  But now that the Little Mister is here, I feel like I have to (read: really want to) expand my horizons.  With my niece, I was fine watching her play in the sand from the safety of the concrete pathway.  I could shout encouragement from afar and still be apart of her fun.  But, now that there is this little guy that I’m responsible for, I want to be up in that action.  It makes me sad to think that he’d be having fun playing in the muddy watery sand by the waves and I would only hear about it later in stories.

Last weekend, the hubs, Little Mister and I made the 2 hour trek to my folks house for a BBQ.  It was still kind of cold, so there was no “on the beach” action.  We just hung out on the patio and chatted and BBQ-ed.  It was fine at first.  A bit chilly, but nothing a sweater couldn’t fix.  But then it started getting even colder.  I became worried about Little Mister being too cold.  The problem with my parents house is that the ground floor has a bedroom, office, bathroom and wet bar.  The second level is where the kitchen, dining room and living room are.  That’s why for almost three years I have relegated myself to the outside.  I’d rejected the idea of butt scooting up the stairs.  It was humiliating, I thought.  It was hard, I figured.  I just didn’t want to do it, I declared.

Well, again, it’s funny what you will do when it’s not yourself your worried about anymore.  Pride?  What’s that?  I have a baby now whose well-being trumps any minor inconvenience I may experience.  My dad was concerned about my going upstairs.  I don’t think it was a matter of thinking I couldn’t do it, but rather worrying about my well-being.  Over-exerting myself or getting stuck upstairs and not being able to use the bathroom up there.  But, as I often find myself saying, I am my father’s daughter.  I definitely got his stubbornness gene.  I’d decided I was going upstairs, and now I was determined.

Steph on stairs

It actually wasn’t that hard.  I just plopped onto the bottom step from my wheelchair and just took it step by step.  I’d scoot up and then bring my legs up one by one to the step below me.  I tried hard to focus on using my legs, because it’s amazing what the brain can do.  I never give up on the hope of positive thinking.  The hardest part was the flat landing mid-stairway where I had to be careful not to drag (read: rug burn) my ankles.  It didn’t take that long to go up the stairs.  The hubs brought my wheelchair up after me.  And he and my mom helped me get back up onto the chair.  For the first time in almost 3 years, I was upstairs!  I could see the ocean!  I could eat at the table!  I could sit on the sofa!  It shouldn’t have been so amazing, but it was!

Going down was much easier, as was transferring from the bottom step back up to my wheelchair.  And the cardio I got from that exertion was amazing!  I was sweating by the end of both treks.  So, let’s just say that while it’s something I could do, I’m glad it’s getting to be summer and we will be having months of outdoor enjoyment!

My parents live in a two-story house.  And I finally tackled my fears and those stairs, and made it upstairs.

Powerball

The hubs and I don’t normally play the lottery.  We don’t really gamble at all.  But, we got swept up in the hype that goes along with the huge 800 million dollar Powerball going on right now.  Do I really think we’d win?  No.  But is it fun thinking about “what if?”  Hell yeah!  It’s worth the $20 we put in to think and talk about what we’d do with the money.  (Plus, you don’t win if you don’t play, even with the high improbability of winning.  Someone has to win, why can’t it possibly be me?)

What would I do with the money?

Savings.  First I’d put some in savings.  For both ourselves and in a separate account for the baby, so no matter what, he is always taken care of.  Some kind of long-term mutual fund or something.  With the stock market low, this would be a great time to buy in!

House.  We’d build our dream home in Wyoming.  We have this amazing 2 acres sitting there waiting for us in a perfect little town.  We’d build a great wheelchair friendly house on that lot.  We already plan on that for “someday”, but we’d get going on that a lot sooner!

Parents.  We’d do something great for our parents.  I’m thinking world cruise for his folks.  Harley for my dad.  My mom always says no presents because her family is all she’d ever want, so I’ll test that theory.  Just kidding, mom.  You will have something amazing.  It’s just going to take more thought.  What do you give to the woman who birthed you and took care of you?  Especially when you happen to be a major pain the ass who took those angsty teenage years and ran with them?  Or when you happen to find yourself in the hospital every couple of years for weeks on end and she gives up the comfort of her own home and practically moves into a hugely uncomfortable chair next to you just so she can be there for every little thing you need?  Or when you need months of home care after you’ve been discharged?  I’m going to have to think on that one a little more.

Wheelchair.  I love my wheelchair, but I’d trick it out.  Amazing wheels (mine are stock).  Get a custom seat with pressure mapping so I’m never uncomfortable again.  Maybe a hot guy to push me around all the time.  He’s also double as a personal trainer to help get me in shape.  (I’m sorry hubs, but it’s proven that the hot ones get better results.  That’s scientific.  You question that?  Fine.  We’ll hire a hot female chauffeur/tutor for the baby.  Happy?)  And I’d also get an off-roading wheelchair.  And a beach wheelchair.  And a freewheel.  And all the other cool gadgets to be able to do all things.

Peer support.  The hubs would quit his job and I probably would too, though I would reserve the right to come back to work on any really interesting cases for people who needed me.  And we would travel around to places where need me so I could help other people in wheelchairs.  I’d love to talk to newly wheelchair-bound people and give them advice and help.  People need to have someone they can talk to who relates to what they’re going through.  Doctors telling you it’s going to be OK is not the same thing as seeing someone living the life actually being OK.  It’s going to suck at times, but overall it’s going to be OK.

Broadway play production.  Now, I don’t know what all goes into one of those, or how much they cost.  But the hubs is a theatre director who is not just good, but is really quite amazing!  The productions he gets out of his high school kids are worthy of Broadway, so just think of what he could do with an actual Broadway production!  I’d like to see that, so we’ll make it happen.

Donating to the church.  That’s actually my number 2.  So, please mentally rearrange to go Savings, then donating to church, then house.  And I’m not just saying that because I think it will buy me some good karma ahead of the drawing.  I’m saying it because the government is going to take a huge chunk in the name of good that will be wasted.  So, I’d like to give a huge chunk because I want to and I know it actually will go to a good place.  I’d donate to our local church here, the one in Wyoming we go to, and to my friend, Father John.  He was the one who got me through the whole paralysis hospital thing.  I’d give his program a chunk and send him and some of his friends on a vacation too.  He deserves it!

And that is how I would spend my money.  I’d obviously go buck wild at Target (like I don’t already?!) and go on some major shopping trips.  And I’d want to take a vacation to Germany to meet some of the hubs’ relatives and eat more German food.  And I’d go to England to hang with my best friend and her family for a while.  My dream is to go to the Basqueland to see where my grandpa was from, but I don’t think that area is especially handicapped/wheelchair friendly.  Though, I suppose I could just hire someone to carry me through the streets.  That’d actually be pretty cool!  Add that to the list!

See…this fun was totally worth the twenty bucks!