Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Moaning and Complaining

Image Description: Cartoon of a man saying "I complain therefore I am!"
My wheelchair is very ill.

They had thought that it was just the battery, so they came and 1000$ later, I had two new batteries. (An aside, what makes wheelchair batteries so freaking expensive. Given that they only last about a year and a half, that's a lot of money from a population which is not typified by being extremely wealthy.) So, Joe and I went out and for about a block things went well. I could feel that it had extra power, but when we went into a small mall, my ability to safely negotiate was hampered by really sluggish response to the joystick. We went right home. The more I drove it the worse it got, by the time I was home my heart was going crazy in my chest, I didn't know if I could get it into the apartment.

In a fit of self pity, I said to Joe, "You know, it's never easy for us. Never. It's never "just the battery". It's always just expensive. It's always about money.

So I called the repair people and described the symptoms again and was told that it's probably the motor and that's serious and possibly very, very expensive. Now, remember, it's 1000$ for batteries, so as a baseline for expensive, that means the cost is going to be significant.

They wanted me to bring the chair in, but I don't have a wheelchair van and I needed them to come and get it. They will come next Wednesday. If the repair is possible without needing parts, I could have it back a few days later, if it requires parts, it could be a very long time. Great.

Now I have the scooter, but the scooter is very old and has limited range and because of it's design it can't go on the subway. So my world has become very small. I know I'm lucky that I have a back up, I appreciate the back up, but it's just back up - it's not a replacement.

So, as the chair is almost seven years old, it's been suggested that I apply for a new chair, which means a reassessment and application. Today I begin that process with a phone call.

Fun.

Wow.

7 comments:

Princeton Posse said...

Oh boy, never rains but it pours. Hot water tank burst on the 29th of December, luckily, the plumber could come the next day. Cleaned out bank account, very discouraged, but have hot water! I hope it's a better 2016!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear you're now stuck in that "process." You need a power chair...you know what you need and can articulate it clearly...what's to assess? Your energy is so valuable to so many, it's just pissing me off to see it wasted that way! Just give Dave the blinkin' new chair, folks, and let's get on with it!

Anonymous said...

I support a gentleman in a motorized chair and he has been going through the same thing, only they replaced the batteries TWICE. Then they said the same thing to him about the motor. Not only is it the cost that has had me fuming over the past week and half but the fact that it doesn't just impact the person who uses the chair, but EVERYONE WHO LOVES/SUPPORTS THAT PERSON. And in many cases, people are grounded in their homes and miss appointments, work and simple freedom to do as they choose. If they want that back, they need to pay and as you pointed out, Dave, the majority of the time that money doesn't exist. Gross inequality that needs to be rectified.

Anonymous said...

It's not good is it. For equipment that is so important to day to day life one would think there would be a better, more responsive, prompt rescue system. But there isn't :-( even when you know the system inside out like you guys.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Would you get the same response if you needed oxygen?

This is just as essential to life.

jesse-the-k said...

1. our assistive tech becomes an extension of our bodies. When they break, it's personal.

2. I've recently been through this particular circle, and maybe my experience could help in your case:

a. Get new batteries because it's time.
b. New batteries don't bring any more power. In fact, when I drive more than 1/4 mile, my battery strength drops by 25%.
c. It's the motors. (Cost around the same as the batteries in my case, Quantum Mobility.) They're replaced
d. Still having battery problems. They test and declare batteries are faulty, install new
e. Same symptoms as b. I suggest they check my charger. They do and it's broken, so the other batteries weren't bad after all, they were merely destroyed by not being charged.
f. Finally a new charger PLUS new batteries.
g. Starting to see symptom (b) again (although batteries always work best in autumn. Below freezing they discharge much faster.

In summary: ask them to be sure to check the entire loop: batteries, joystick, wiring, brain box, charger before they come to a final diagnosis.


Moose said...

The Lithium/Ion battery for my mobility scooter cost $750. They also sell a sealed-lead-acid battery for under $200.

My engineering friends say that this is bullshit. They it should be possible to make the LION battery for about $100.

Note that a LION battery is what goes in your laptop. The battery in my scooter is about the equivalent of 4 laptop batteries. I can get a replacement battery for my laptop for about $25.