The Daughter Chronicles

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The saga of Mia's new wheelchair!

Mia got her first "real" wheelchair (she had a stroller that was kind of hybrid before it) in November 2011, so three years later, she had outgrown it by quite a bit. In December I took her to the wheelchair place to get her measured for a new one. The last time, it took two months from when she got measured to when she got it. Surely it wouldn't take as long this time, right?!?!?

When I got her measured, I mentioned to the dude that we were getting new insurance at the beginning of the year. He told me not to worry about it, because it would be covered under the insurance we had at the time. The saga of our insurance is wacky, too, but basically, we kept Obamacare (through Aetna) last year even after Krys got a job, because it was cheaper. Then her company got sold, and the new insurance was cheaper, so we were switching at the beginning of the year. That's crucial to remember.

So we hunkered down and waited. They have to make the wheelchair to her specifications, of course, and they have to send it through the insurance. That's always the fun part. So we waited. Around the end of January/beginning of February we received a letter stating that Aetna had approved the wheelchair, but the date on it was after the first of the year. We wondered if the company needed to send it through the new insurance even though the dude told me not to worry about it. I called the company - and didn't get through to the woman I needed to talk to, which is not surprising (it's the same company that made her chair three years ago, and I was dealing with the same people - the woman is very nice and fairly helpful, but she's dreadful at returning phone calls), but once I talked to her (she actually returned my call promptly, which would not last), I found out what happened. They had checked the eligibility of Aetna in January, and we were still active, so they submitted it under that. Here's where it starts to get annoying (it would get much more so): Aetna did not let us cancel our coverage. They told us that we couldn't just cancel it, like responsible people. They had to generate a bill, send it to us, and we had to not pay it. Then they would cancel us. If this sounds like the dumbest way to cancel something that you've ever heard, well, you're not wrong. We haven't paid a bill since December, and we just recently got a letter saying that they were going to cancel us by the end of March if we didn't pay. I mean, really. I'm very grateful for the ACA because we needed insurance when Krys was laid off at the beginning of last year, but that's just moronic. Anyway, I told the woman that we're covered under new insurance (you know, like I told the dude in December), and gave her all the relevant information, which I could have done, you know, early in January. She said she would submit it to the new insurance (United Health Care), and we were off!

The interesting thing about it all is that the woman told me the chair was already done and on its way to their showroom, and she told me she wouldn't make me wait for it until the new insurance signed off on it because that wouldn't be very nice. She told me that it would be 10 business days until it arrived. So we waited. And we waited. She told me this on a Friday, so two weeks later, I expected the chair to be there. I even waited until the following week to call her. So I called her. She didn't answer and never returned my call. The next week Mia's teacher called me. The bus driver didn't want to take Mia on the bus anymore because the brakes on her chair were pretty much shot (her size was the main reason she needed a new chair, but the worn-out brakes were a major consideration, as well). I called Transportation to see what the deal was, because the bus has straps to tie her down, after all, and her brakes aren't as necessary on the bus as they would be, say, when you just want her to sit still. The dude at Transportation told me that it wasn't about when the bus was in motion, but when the driver was loading her onto the bus and in the process of strapping her down. If her brakes were worn out, she could easily move the chair and bang the driver on the head while the driver was kneeling down strapping her in. Fair enough, thought I, but I did note that Mia has an aide with her, and she could hold the wheelchair still. The dude at Transportation told me, and I swear I'm not making this up, that the aide is not qualified. Not qualified to keep a wheelchair from moving for less than a minute while someone else straps it down. I didn't argue - the rules have been etched in stone, I'm sure, for centuries, and they're not going to bend them for me - but I did chuckle to myself a little. I got off the phone and immediately called the wheelchair place, and got ... no answer. So over the next week-and-a-half, I had to pick Mia up from school. Sigh.

I called the wheelchair place again - and got no answer again - before deciding I would start calling every hour, on the hour. The first time I tried that - on the Monday of the next week - I actually got through to the woman. She told me that she was still waiting for the insurance to come through, and that the chair was in their possession. So could I get it? She told me that they could deliver it that Friday - four weeks after she told me it would be 10 business days until it arrived - and that the dude would come out to our house late on Friday afternoon. Then, of course, he was about two hours late even for that, but her new chair had arrived! And yes, it took even longer than two months!

It's basically the same kind she had before - it's the same brand, the same color, and it has her name embroidered on the back and the front wheels light up when the turn (no extra charge for those two fun features). It's longer and wider than her previous one, which is nice going over small steps - our landing has a small step that always felt steeper when I was pushing the chair over it, but now we just zip over it - and across thresholds. On the last one, she had rubber knobs attached to the rims on the outside of the wheels to help her move it, but we got rid of those because she's good enough at propelling it without them, and that also allows those rims to be closer to the wheel. The back wheels are a bit farther back than previously, and I'm not sure how good at moving it she is, because she hasn't had many chances to do so. I keep forgetting to ask if she gets around in her classroom, because that's where she would try to move the most. It's also a tighter fit in the van, naturally, because the chair is bigger, but it still fits, so that's nice. Mia looks a lot more comfortable in it, naturally, because her feet aren't almost touching the ground.

Of course, I took pictures:

So that's the saga of Mia's new chair. Next: the saga of Mia's new bed!!!!! (Yes, Mia lives through many sagas. She's like a Valkyrie!)