The Daughter Chronicles

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The saga of Mia's wayward wheelchair

Mia got her new wheelchair yesterday. It was the 17th of June. I ordered the wheelchair early in March. I did not use insurance. So why, oh why did it take over three months for Mia's wheelchair to arrive?

Well, here's the story. When I ordered it, I simply used Mia's money so we would get it sooner than if we went through insurance. I cost a pretty penny, too, but she had a good amount of money in her account, so I figured it wouldn't be an issue. Her annual accounting review was coming up soon, too, so I figured that would help if her money ran low.

Originally, the vendor said it would arrive in the last week of March. That meant we had to wait three weeks or so. Okay, I could deal with that. We bought a new wheelchair not necessarily because Mia had outgrown hers (she was getting there, but she probably could have lasted six more months or so), but because it was getting a bit small AND she had beaten it up. One of the brakes had broken off long before, but that didn't matter too much as long as we had the other one. Around January or so she broke the footplate off, as she often kicked it. This caused problems because her feet just hung there and she had no stability. Mia also likes rocking back and forth in the chair, and it didn't have a lot of support in the trunk, so she was often slumping. The new chair was a different brand with a more comfortable seat and a bit wider base. So we thought it would be a nicer chair for her.

The last week of March passed and the chair did not arrive. I gave it a few weeks, figuring they might have misjudged the date. Into April, I called the vendor. After a while they got back to me and told me that the chair was so popular that they had no more and needed to get them from the manufacturer ... in Italy. What is funny about it is that after it was late the first time, I was telling people that they apparently had to carve the new chair out of fine Italian marble. Little did I know how right I was!

The vendor couldn't tell me when the chair would arrive, because they couldn't simply fly one to us, as it would have been too cost-prohibitive. They had to wait until the could fill a cargo container and ship it. So I waited. In the meantime, Mia ran out of money. We would have been fine without the charge of the wheelchair, but with that and her other bills, her account drained quickly. The vendor originally offered to reimburse us until we actually had the chair, but I figured that Mia would have plenty of money until her annual accounting review, after which she gets more money for the year. Well, the courts being what they are, that was a foolish hope, but I thought the bills wouldn't pile up that quickly. So I e-mailed the vendor and asked if they could reimburse us, and they very nicely did so. I figured with the length of time we were waiting, it would behoove us to have our money temporarily while Mia's lawyer worked on getting her more.

The days stretched into May, and we waited. I hoped to get it by the end of the school year, but that didn't happen. I called occasionally, but they had no new information. Finally, a few weeks ago, I started calling every day. We're going on vacation to Pennsylvania tomorrow, and I didn't want to go with her old, beat-up chair. I needed to know when it was getting here! Her horse therapist had a chair that had been donated that still had a footplate and was reclined a bit, and she let us use that one, which was very nice of her. But we still wanted the one we ordered, naturally. Finally they let me know that the manufacturer said it would be in the country the second week of June. I called them and asked if that meant it would get here by the 19th of June - it didn't do me a lot of good if "in the country" meant 3000 miles away. The woman at the company said that once it reached the country, it would only take 3-4 days to reach me. Finally, last week, I got an e-mail saying it would arrive on Tuesday. Lo and behold, it arrived!

Of course, we were worried that it might be missing some crucial component. Mia's PT came over last night to assemble it, because I was terrified of screwing it up. It was fairly easy to put together, though, and nothing was missing, so we got it all done and everyone was happy. It both reclines and tilts, which is nice, and the footplate has straps to keep her feet down. She likes to kick out her legs when she's sitting, which forces her butt forward and screws up her sitting position. With her legs strapped down, she can't kick them, and with the recline on the seat, this will help her sit up. It doesn't have a lot of lateral trunk support, but the arms on the chair should help, and the waist strap is attached to the shoulder straps, so we need to use them both at the same time. On her old chair, they were separate, so we often didn't use the shoulder straps because we wanted her to learn to sit upright. This gives her more supports, which is nice, but at the same time, it takes some responsibility for sitting up away from her. We can also take the seat off of the base, and you can fold it up either with the seat on or off, so that's handy for when we fly. We're going to take the seat off, fold up the base, fold up the seat, and take up less space. That should work well.

We're very happy with her new chair. It's sturdier than her old one, and it's a nice smooth ride. Her teacher was already raving about it today, and I think Mia likes it. Of course, Mia's often agreeable, so who knows. I'm just glad it arrived before our trip, because that would have pissed me off.

So: 3+ months to get her chair. Man, I'm glad we didn't use insurance. We'd probably still be waiting for approval. But it's here now, and life is good. Let's hope it lasts even longer than her last one (which served us well for three years, after all).


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