I was hospitalized several weeks ago from complications caused by all the radiation I'd had over the previous three months, plus the massive doses of decadron (a steroid) that I took to keep the tumors from swelling and causing more nerve damage while I was getting cyberknife.
One of the decadron side effects was weakness in my upper legs so that I could not stand up from a chair or my bed without help. I also had numbness and tingling all up and down my legs, caused first by the tumor in my sacrum and, probably, by the decadron as well.
I left the hospital with my cane (which I already had), a new walker, and a wheelchair. Fun, yes?
Of the three, the walker upsets me the most, because it makes me feel like an 80-something woman, and I am 55. Mostly I use the cane and the wheelchair.
The story of the wheelchair is pretty cool, however. My insurance, Medicare, paid for the walker, but refused to pay for a wheelchair (I don't know why).
One of the social workers at Northwest Hospital in Seattle spent a lot of time on the phone on my behalf, and he found me a FREE wheelchair, which I now have on indefinite loan. Actually, I am not required to take it back to them at all.
I will keep it for as long as I need it, which is mostly to get through airports on my trips back and forth to Highland, California. I fly from Seattle to Ontario Airport, which is close to Highland. I'll probably hang on to it after that, looking ahead to the days when I am on Hospice care and need a wheelchair to get around.
Here's the cool part: The organization that gave me the wheelchair is called the Northwest Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. Now, I am obviously not a paralyzed veteran, but that didn't seem to matter.
I haven't had a chance yet to call them and do a phone interview to get my questions answered, but I will do that soon. In the meantime, for those of you who may need a wheelchair, and who live in the Seattle area, here is their phone number: 206-241-1843. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The office is in Burien, a suburb south of Seattle.
While we are on the subject of free wheelchairs, there was one organization that told my social worker that they could loan me a wheelchair for free, but there would be a required donation of $90.
I asked the social worker to ask if the so-called "donation" was negotiable, thinking I could pay $40, but not $90, and the answer was NO. So how is that a donation? Why not just admit that you are charging a fee?
Tomorrow I will try to go through my notes and find out the name of that organization.
Update, May 27, 2011. I never did find out which organization this was. Nor did I call the Veterans' organization and ask questions. Too burned out at the time.
@ Jeanne Sather 2010.