Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Chair Day

Yesterday was a glorious day, not just because the weather was perfect and I got to spend an hour and a half reading in the sun, but because yesterday was the day most wheelchair users look forward to the way kids look forward to Christmas. Yesterday was new chair day.

Those of you who do not use chairs may not really understand the significance of this day; it is not just the chair. New chair day marks the end of a struggle. See getting a new chair is not as simple as getting a new car. Getting a new wheelchair can take up to a year and a half. I was shocked when I had to wait just under four months for mine that might be a record.

It’s not the ordering, the shipping or even the building that takes so long, it’s the paperwork. See first, you need to have a doctor write you a prescription for a wheelchair evaluation, that evaluation then has to be approved by insurance, then you have to go to the evaluation where a Physical Therapist and a Wheelchair Tech Guru (not their official title) evaluate you and decide which chair/parts meet your needs then you have to wait of insurance approval.

Insurance has to approve everything, from the type of chair, to the footrest, the backrest the weight of the chair every piece must be individually approved. Normally, I have not had to deal with insurance. This time, when they couldn’t get a hold of my doctor, they called me. I found out something interesting. Insurance (at least mine anyway) will not approve any part of a chair unless you need that part inside your home. For instance, if you need a lightweight chair because you have trouble pushing up hills or lifting it into your car. It will not be approved because you don’t have hills or cars inside your home. (Garages do not count.)

I find it interesting that how people function outside of the home is of no interest to the insurance company. Does anyone have any insight on this? I can see why they wouldn’t want to give someone something that was purely for recreation; (although, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that decision) but it seems to me that getting to and from work or even the doctor’s office safely would be a priority. Apparently, for whatever reason, it’s not. Only what you do in the house matters.

The insurance guy that called me was awesome. He is very good at his job and was just as baffled by the policy as I was. He had no answers but was glad that he got to talk to me, because as it turns out, everything we requested for the chair had a function inside my home, but if he hadn’t spent an hour on the phone with me asking me questions, my chair might not have been approved at all! I guess on paper it didn’t seem justified.  I am so grateful to that insurance guy, who took the extra step to get a hold of me. Who took the time and the patience to go through every discrepancy with me and did it with kindness, understanding and humor. I wish I remembered his name. Here’s to you awesome insurance guy, thanks for making me a little less bitter.

Once the chair is approved, it is shipped and put together and then you make another appointment for a fitting and adjustments. After that, it’s yours.

Thanks to that insurance guy, I picked it up yesterday. It looks pretty similar to my old chair, but looks can be deceiving. My back, (which was the man reason for the new chair) does not hurt all day anymore!!! I am more comfortable and sitting up straighter, plus the new chair is easier to fold and easier to maneuver. Really the difference is me. Everyone is saying how much better I look.

Do you see the difference?

The new chair is one where I am in orange. Please ignore the boxes behind me on my wedding day, we were waiting to walk down the aisle. I posted it so you guys can see that even when I tried I could not get up nice and straight in the old chair. (No wonder my back hurt.) The new chair back wraps around my sides to hold me up. My shoulders are still never even but they are much improved. I self took the pictures of the new chair so I am still slouching a bit but my natural positioning (where I am without trying) is much better.

This is only day two, so I am sure some adjustments will be made. But I am super excited. Tom and I are going back up north with friends for Memorial Day and hitting up some of the attractions we missed on our honeymoon and I can’t wait to see the difference it makes.


  1. The difference to me is amazing! Yay new chair. You always sat kind of slouched in your old one. Love you!

  2. Hooray for new chair day!

    I'm not entitled to my wheelchair via the NHS, even though I have a letter from my GP confirming my medical need for one, which is a confusing situation.

    However, since I *have* a wheelchair, purchased with a combination of my own funds and a grant from something called "Access to Work", the NHS are obliged to assess me for a set of cushions.

    Yay for the bureaucracy of disability!

  3. None of it makes sense to me. I mean they are super expensive but if a doctor approves and prescribes it I do not understand how it can be denied like that. Makes no sense. I am thankful to have an insurance company that was willing to work with me. Medicaid told me in 2005 that they would not approve another chair ever. I was 23.

    1. It's because I can usually get about inside my house with a stick.

      If you need a chair inside your house, you're eligible for a lightweight manual self-propel one. If you can't self-propel, only then are you eligible for any kind of powered wheelchair.

      If you only need a chair out and about you're eligible for a standard (read: cheap and heavy) manual self-propel wheelchair.
      If you can't safely self-propel that, then they can't give you one - because it would be dangerous - but they also can't give you a powered chair, because you don't meet the criteria for a powered chair of needing it in your home.
      They may, in those circumstances, offer you an attendant chair - one of those ones with smallish wheels that need to be pushed by someone else - but since they don't tend to provide someone to push it, that's not much use.

      I got my chair with e-motion m15 wheels (like self-propel wheels but power-assisted instead of fully manual) because an Access to Work assessor agreed that, for my work, I need to be able to go out and about independently, to post letters or go to networking events or client meetings - and my GP agreed that I needed a powered chair of some kind to do those things.

  4. It looks like your back should be MUCH happier! :)<3

  5. You really can tell the difference with your posture between the two chairs. I bet you are thrilled & I am sure you will enjoy visiting up north alot better with your new chair :)

    As for their insane rules about it having to work inside your home to approve options...that is just nuts. Seems to me it might be against the ADA as those restrictions would limit you to your home & keep you from working, doctor visits, etc. I just love it when one government association works totally against another, don't you? LOL

  6. OUTSIDE the home! Come on. Disabled people don't leave their houses, EVER. Clearly. It always comes back to Disabled People Live in Parking Lots.
    You look great. I may never get another chair and ironically, now, I DO use it at home all the time. Sigh.