Well, not really, but it felt that way.
As I was walking into my office today, the phone was ringing. I grabbed it … it was the big shot at Sunrise Medical (the wheelchair company) who hand delivered Pearlsky’s fourth chair! He wanted to assure me that Claire‘s Sophie will be getting her chair cared for in the next couple of days. Ah ha! … the name “Single Dad” instills the fear of god in some people. Okay, not really. He really is a great guy, he knew that I was “aware” of what is happening with the chair, and after Claire was updated, he wanted to make sure I knew as well. (See Claire’s post here) (Go read it so you know I’m not making this stuff up!) (Then you can vote for who writes better emails!) (But then, her’s worked, so it’s a wash) (Maybe)
From the comments on the last post, I just want to clear some stuff up and enlighten you a bit more on the wheelchair nightmare.
Yes, these chairs cost upwards of $8000, Pearlsky’s cost $8032.60 actually (click for breakdown). Why? Lots of reasons, engineering and design costs, testing and liability costs, and middlemen. The chair parts and design are by Sunrise Medical, and they do a pretty good job. Then the parts, like a kit, are ordered by your DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company, then the DME puts it all together, supposedly tests it, and then delivers it to you, after charging your insurance company, etc. I am finding that it is usually the DME that is at least partly to blame for the problems. The cost is also high because the chairs are not a single design that gets knocked off an assembly line somewhere. Often parts are custom made to some degree. Don’t get me wrong, I am not making excuses for these things, but I am not nearly as upset at the price as I am the end quality. Scratches, wrong parts, wrong mix of parts, and worst of all, not tested.
What the people at both the DME and the manufacturer don’t get is that the chair is one’s life, one’s transport, one’s living room chair, one’s dining chair, one’s scooter, one’s take-a-snooze-chair, one’s school chair, one’s desk chair, and pretty much one’s most valued possession. What they don’t get is if the chair is not working, Pearlsky is bedridden. Period. I cannot pick her up, we use lifts. Without the wheelchair, I can lift her out of bed … onto the floor. Period. These kids are bedridden (or, at the very least, housebound) if the wheelchair breaks. Your car breaks, you can rent or borrow one. Your washing machine breaks, you take your laundry somewhere. Your custom special fitting wheelchair breaks, you are in trouble. And you need a fix quickly.
In my state, BY LAW, I am not allowed to buy wheelchair parts unless the DME submits the request to Medicaid and Medicaid turns it down. Until that point, I am not allowed to buy spare parts. Period. Yeah, trust me, I have fought this (and can get around it, illegally). Outrageous, no? The chair breaks and Pearlsky has to wait for Medicaid to reject or accept the charge BEFORE the part is even ordered. For eight grand, deliver a chair that works and that you can and will stand behind. Or in front of, if you dare … 😉
Speaking of driving people crazy … Pearlsky has been on school break this week (who is driving whom more crazy, I am not sure). What’s up with that? Spending a full week at home with Single Dad is enough to drive anyone batty. Hopefully soon Pearlsky will tell you how true that is.