I guess I’m disabled now??

These two love their Mommy no matter what!

Late last week UC Health finally got my health records to the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation a state agency underneath the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. I was accepted, so I guess that means I’m officially disabled now? I was encouraged to reach out to them by my wheelchair specialist at NuMotion, but the funny thing is I probably won’t be going through NuMotion to get my chair, because they are seriously dragging their feet and never return my calls with exactly what I need.

Getting one of these is harder than a mortgage, at least for me.

Getting a wheelchair paid for by insurance is apparently like trying to get a mortgage, or perhaps even harder than that. I am so glad I contacted the BVR, and today I had my first visit with Rick, a disability specialist, who came out and talked about what my needs to remain gainfully employed would be. He agrees with my diagnoses (and my heart condition is factoring into this whole equation) that an ultra-lightweight manual chair custom fit for me is what I will need to get back to work sooner rather than later. It’s not about my level of paralysis with me, but more about safety and energy management. It may never be possible for me to be 8+ hours on my feet again. That doesn’t mean I can’t be a teacher however. I just will need some tools.

Yesterday, I was basically confined to my chair due to crazy muscle spasms that were very painful. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stay in one place too long, I was generally miserable. If I had to teach today, although today has been better, it wouldn’t have happened without a chair. Considering I will be spending the better part of 8 hours in a wheelchair a day to be employed custom-fit is the only way to go. Ambulating across the giant campus, between rooms, in and out will be too much for me.

So, back to Rick and the BVR. Probably the best thing NuMotion has done was to tell me to contact the BVR. The BVR takes our tax dollars and helps remove barriers to employment for thousands of disabled Ohioans. In my case specifically, they are looking at paying at whatever my insurance doesn’t of my custom-fit wheelchair, and they want it done quickly, because I have to have an opportunity to adapt and get back in the community before I go back to teaching school, and well, time’s a ticking. Once my new home is complete, they will pay for and install things like ramps and grab bars, because I need to be able to enter and exit my home independently, and shower and generally function in my home. They might pay for a desk that raises and lowers for my home office so during “remote learning” days I can effectively work from home.

The other arm of the BVR is working with employers to make sure they are following the “Reasonable Accommodations” clause of the ADA. Things like making sure I have an accessible parking space that isn’t too far from the building with an accessible entrance. Taking a look at the classroom setups so that recommendations can be made so I can effectively teach my class. I might need a special workstation for instance. Due to my toileting issues and schedule I might need a slightly different schedule, if possible. My adaptive music class might need to be scheduled in a different room to satisfy both my and the students accommodations. I might need a lighter laptop to go back and forth for instance to work from home as needed. I might need an accomodation to attend PD and some meetings virtually, because on PD day’s a lot of back and forth wheeling between the Academic Wing and Music Wing would not be good for my energy levels. All of these things I will be working with my OOD/BVR counselor Sara.

My Chair might look like this.

Finally now back to the chair. To get a chair, a PT first has to make an evaluation. This happened in rehab for me. Then doctors have to write a prescription, this is where I am currently hung up with NuMotion, and Rick is going to get me going with Care Medical. I am still in the donut hole of doctors right now and my primary while pinch hitting, doesn’t know exactly how to write these things to get covered. The Care Medical team knows how to write these letters and will help my doctor through the process. Then I meet with the chair specialist and the PT and they go through my needs with me and order the chair. With Care Medical coming on board we have half a chance of getting my chair sometime in June. This is important because a work assessment can’t be done until I have the chair I will be using long-term is available to me.

So, in a nutshell, getting a wheelchair, at least for me is harder than getting a mortgage…lol. I guess I need to decide if I go with the purple or do I spring for something totally boring and neutral or do I go with stealth black or school colors? I’m thinking the purple.

More Later…

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