Archive for the ‘Disability Issues’ Category

Tyler, my Program Trained(?) Service Dog

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Tyler, my first service dog, I received from the Prison Pet Partnership Program. The program is located in the Women’s Correctional Center at Purdy, Washington. The program trains inmates that are lifers, meaning they are serving a life sentence. It makes NO sense to train an inmate that is going to be leaving prison in a few years, so they train those that are going to be in prison for the rest of their lives, or more probably, for 25 years or more.

I applied for a service dog through this program after I saw woman and her service dog. The dog was VERY well trained, and helped the woman in a variety of tasks. I was impressed, and the Program Director met me and said I was a good canidate for a service dog (or as they called them, Mobility Assistance dogs). Well, I signed up, and then sat and waited. And waited. Finally, Six years, later, I got the phone call. I was being matched with a young male Labrador Retriever, Tyler.

I was to report to the Women’s Correctional Center at Purdy for two weeks of training. Two weeks of half-day training, as they had found that many disabled couldn’t handle full-day training. I reported as requested and met Tyler’s inmate trainer, Trish, a young woman who’d assisted in a corner grocery store robbery (she waited out in the car), and the person with her had killed a man, but the way the Washington State law is written, because she was on the scene of the crime, she was charged with murder as well. Trish had already been at the Women’s Prison for at least 10 years when I met her. She was brash, rude, and loud. There is no privacy at the women’s prison.

I spent the first part of the day learning dog commands (there weren’t many), how to give a verbal commands and how to correct him. Once I was done with the training (only 3 days). I was left completely alone with him. With NO backup.

I called a friend of mine that trained her own service dog, with the help of a dog training place, Paws-Abilities, and she invited me there. Once there, I COMPLETELY retrained Tyler.

Four years later, we were out in public when he had jumped a guide dog on the bus. I decided right then and there to take him to the vet, but also to retire him immediately. The guide dog wasn’t harmed. But I was embarrassed, as I had trained Tyler from knowing the 3 commands he came with, and being dog and child aggressive, to knowing over 25 commands, and being safe around children and other dogs, although, I did, for my own piece of mind, keep an eye on him when he was around children and other dogs.

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Thursday, July 26th, 2012

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I need your help!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I’m starting to have trouble getting into/out of our van. Our van is wheelchair lift equipped. However, the door frame isn’t tall enough for me to ride in my wheelchair up the lift and then drive the wheelchair into the van. I have to get out of my wheelchair and climb into the front passenger seat to use the van, while Keith puts the wheelchair on the lift and then secures the wheelchair in the van with no one using it. I have to pull myself up using my arms into the seat, and I’ve started having trouble doing that. This is a recent development. I’m starting to fear that I’ll not be able to pull myself into the van and will lose my grip and fall. And it’s about a 3 to 5 foot drop to the ground (depending on if you’re standing or sitting).

This really scares me.

And if THAT weren’t enough, our van is starting to have mechanical issues. The control box for the lift mechanism is malfunctioning. Several times in the last 2 days, my wheelchair has been stuck in the air as Keith has jiggled switches to get the lift running again. The van is several years old, and lift equipped vans are expensive. This van was bought used, the original owner had died, and we got it very cheaply as a replacement for a brand-new lift equipped van that had been hit by an uninsured driver. As you might suspect, we didn’t get anywhere near the $50K+ or so that a new van would cost. We were extremely lucky to find this used van at the time.

I can’t afford to buy a new van or even a used van right now. I am on Medicare, and have an implanted medical device that requires filling with a drug that costs $8000 every 6 weeks. Medicare covers 80% of that, but I have to pay the other 20%. As you can imagine, finances are VERY tight. I DID have medical insurance last year, but the premiums were eating me alive, so I switched to a different insurance with a very cheap premium (read none), and then found out that my PCP (Primary Care Physician) didn’t take that insurance, and ONLY that insurance. Because of the way that the enrollment works and changing plans works if you’re on Medicare, I wasn’t able to switch to another insurance plan and ended up on normal Medicare, which means I pay 20% of all my medical bills, and that, unfortuantely, is a LOT.

I use a motorized wheelchair and a car would not be able to transport my wheelchair. I am basically homebound without a van, after the local transit company cut out paratransit service completely.

So, I am swallowing my pride, and admitting I need help in acquiring a van and I am asking for donations. I have a paypal account set up with the email address of paypal@danawheels.net.

I don’t know if there are any organizations out there that would donate me a van, but Keith seems to think so, so if someone has information on THAT, please leave me a message here, or on Facebook, or at danawheels@gmail.com.

THANK YOU in advance for reading this – I have posted this to my blog, Hire the Handicapped, They’re Fun to Watch, and crossposted this to Facebook. Permission is given to repost. Questions may be directed to danawheels@gmail.com.

It is not easy for me to ask for help. I wrestled with this, but having to struggle to get into/out of the van decided me when I missed the handle at the top of the door on the van recently. I wasn’t hurt, but it scared me.

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Lots of pain today…

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Mostly it’s lower back pain, but still, it’s tiring. And yes, I’ve been taking my meds faithfully. I think that my back just isn’t up to all the sitting I do. I’m in a wheelchair, and that’s all I do. It hurts less when I’m in my wheelchair, however, probably due to the hard back and specialized cushion on the seat. My wheelchair is customized for long sitting streatches as well as other things. It cost a pretty penny too. $23K or so I was told by the company where I bought it. The base chair is only $4K, but with all the modifications where the footrests raise and lower as well as the seat, that adds up, plus Durable Medical Equipment (DME) is notoriously expensive. But, I knew I was needing a new wheelchair, so I joined a high end insurance company and paid $350 a month, before I got the wheelchair and they paid 100% of it.

I will probably have to go back to a high end insurance company next year during open enrollment (I’m on straight Medicare right now), because I have some expenses when I get the intrathecal drug pump refilled that we’re having to pay out of pocket that are a little extreme. $300 or so… The refills cost about $8k each, and I have to pay 20%, so I’m having to be a bit more budget conscious since I wasn’t able to get in with a insurance company at the beginning of the year. The one that I chose, didn’t take my doctor, so I got dumped into regular Medicare. I’ll be switching on January 1st, that’s for sure. Hopefully, I’ll find one with minimal premiums, thanks to Obamacare.

Washington State’s new Pain Medication Law

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Washington State passed a law to curtail the rampant overuse of opioid drugs to control chronic pain. Good in theory, not so good in execution. The theory, was to control the doctors that are overprescribing such drugs as Morphine and OxyContin. Doctors were writing prescriptions left and right for these drugs to people that were on workers compensation for injuries. And this is the right thing to do…. but then there are the people that have a disability that causes pain, chronic pain. And to function, they need something to allieveate that pain. Me, I would rather take the minimum amount of pain medication that I can, and still remain functional. I do take a bit more than the minimum… I do not over-medicate, but I also don’t ‘grin and bear it’. I medicate so that I my pain is managed to a great extent. Say 80-95% of it… If I don’t do anything unusual, I can function very well, and do not feel any pain at all, as long as I take pain medication on a schedule of every 12 hours.

However, my doctor has thrown me a curve ball, he wants me to start walking. I STOPPED walking because of two specific things. It hurt, and it cost me a lot of energy. Imagine yourself (if you’re a non-PWD), walking on a tightrope stretched between two buildings. I use up THAT much energy when I walk the same distance. So if I were to talk a block, it would be like someone not disabled walking a block on a tightrope stretched between two buildings. Once I use that analogy, most people look at me and say that they totally understand why I use a wheelchair. I’d be in bed all the time otherwise, and exhausted. I wanted a life, so I stopped walking 27 years ago, except for my wedding, 20 years ago.

There are times…

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

That I really hate being disabled. And those times usually happen when something impeds my ability to get around. Right now, my motorized wheelchair, which I’ve had for a bit over a year, is throwing out error codes and when it does that, it beeps, and doesn’t go anywhere. *sigh* This started happening SATURDAY. I called the place where I bought the wheelchair, and they aren’t open on the weekends, unless it’s an emergency, and since Keith (my significant other) was here, they didn’t consider it to be an emergency, the repair guy couldn’t get to me until yesterday. Oh, really. And then, yesterday, my cellphone wasn’t working correctly, because the repair guy said he kept calling and leaving voice mails and I don’t have any record of that. So now, he’s coming tomorrow. We’ll see. I’m just basically stranded. The wheelchair is SORTA working. I can’t depend that it won’t start throwing out error codes again and just stop in the middle of whatever (the error codes basically state the joystick is out of center), and it caused me to have to use the wheelchair with the attendant joystick… which is a major PITA, because it requires BOTH hands, and doesn’t allow me to carry anything.

I was teasing Keith about his driving skills in regards to my wheelchair (using the attendant control), and I pretty much suck at it… *sigh* It’s harder than it looks. And I’ve been using a motorized wheelchair for nearly 10 years. One control change and I’m in trouble.

TSA needs to modify their policies for the disabled!

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

A friend sent me a link to a newspaper article http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/04/25/family-misses-flight-after-tsa-gives-pat-down-to-girl-with-cerebral-palsy/

because he knew I’d get upset… he had no idea.

The article states that a family, which included a young child with Cerebral Palsy, and is developmentally delayed, was flying to Disney World from Washington DC. The child, because she wears bilateral AFOs and uses forearm crutches, has to be go through a modified pat-down, and can’t go through the scanners. She is frightened by this, and the mother explained this to TSA and asked them to introduce themselves to the child. They didn’t do this, they just treating her aggressively. She became frightened. The agents started yelling at the girl and demanding that she be patted down and it frightened her even more.

A supervisor finally inspected her crutches and passed her through, but other agents followed the family and demanded that she go through a full inspection, and the family ultimately missed their flight.

The TSA reviewed the complaints after the incident and found that the agents behaved appropriately, in doing a modified pat-down on the child.

HUH? A supervisor clears her, and other agents chase down the family and frighten a disabled child, and it’s OKAY? Something isn’t right when one hand isn’t talking to the other hand.

I don’t fault TSA in doing security checks on everyone that gets on an airplane, I do not believe in the philosophy that just because you are disabled you should get a ‘free pass’, to the inspections, but the way the agents handled this could have been done in a much better manner. Sure, they had to do a pat-down on the girl, but they could have introduced themselves and explained what they were doing, instead of acting all aggressive and like thugs.

I would be seriously upset if I were just waved through security at the airport. ANYONE can be used to carry a bomb or gun or whatever through Security, but children can be handled in ways that make it so they aren’t frightened by the procedures. TSA needs new training and policies for children and especially disabled children.

US Sues AT&T over Relay Service for the Hearing Impaired!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Well, this is a new thing for me… talking about something out in the news. But, since it affects the disabled in some way, I figure it would be of some use. The US Government is suing AT&T for payments made to AT&T by the US Government for usage of their Relay service for the hearing and speech impaired. Each time a call goes out, there’s a payment that AT&T gets for usage of their lines that the government makes because they are complying with the law. However, it’s come to the government’s attention that the callers weren’t really disabled, but that they were Nigerians doing scamming and that they were using the free service to fasciliate those scams.

The way the Relay Service works is that a person calls a special number with a TDD and the Relay service calls the number that the disabled person wants to get in contact with and becomes the bridge between the voice call and the TDD. They do not edit what is said, they type exactly what is said on both sides. Type for one, talk for the other. It’s exacting work, and you have to be trained in it.

Now the US Government is saying that AT&T knew that the Relay service was being used by scammers and they want their money back that they paid AT&T. The volume of the calls rose 95% and were from out of the country. That’s a red flag right there.

PC Magazine reports that the government wants to service the disabled, but won’t tolerate scammers, and I wouldn’t either.

Let’s hope they can get back the $16 Million that the government paid AT&T. Unless and until AT&T can figure out how to (or actually DOES) screen the callers to make sure they really are disabled, I think the government is right to ask for its money back.

Transportation Update

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I called to get signed up for the Transportation service, and found they only have one van. I offered the use of my lift equipped van to transport me to my various outings so they don’t have to take their van to transport me, since I only need a driver. The person on the phone was going to talk to someone at a meeting tonight about my suggestions. Being that I’m so in tune with disability law, and how things work, I could make suggestions to ease their burden of helping and get service for myself as well. Yeah, I want to use their service, but I don’t see any reason to take their van when mine does just as well. No one else can ride with us, but that’s okay, as long as I pay for my own gas.

Transportation!

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I was handed a folded piece of paper yesterday… it was a small ad for a paratransit company for the five cities in the valley here. It won’t take me to my PCP (Primary Care Physician) or Pump Refill appointments, but it’ll allow me to get to Physical Therapy. It runs from 9am to 2pm Monday-Friday. Costs $5, (donation), but I think well worth it. It’s FAR better than being stuck at home. I just have to find a place that will take me and do PT with me as Apple Physical Therapy wants nothing to do with me, as they feel a neuro PT would work better. They sent me to Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, but the hospital is down two therapists so they aren’t taking new patients. *sigh* And the paratransit won’t go that far. Only local. Say 10 miles. So, I’ll have to do research. I hope there’s a place that does PT around here.

I’ll also be able to go shopping and do other errands. No longer stuck at home and dependent on my inlaws and husband for going places.