where the writers are
One More Cup of Coffee,

then I'm off to the shower and then to the next town over to go get KidThree's wheelchair back. That trip I'm not looking forward to. A few weeks back, a bolt snapped on the chair and the back came off, theatrically dumping KidThree onto the floor. Fortunately she was not hurt, just scared, as was Mama here. FriendL used to be in a chair and still had hers in her garage, so we borrowed that and had KidOne take the broken one to the place FriendL so highly recommended. I sent KidOne with the necessary info written down: doctor's name, where he worked, phone number, and the name of a staff person to contact for further info, along with all KidThree's info. (To get Medi-Cal to fund the repairs, the doctor has to write a prescription and then Medi-Cal has to decide whether to authorize the repairs. Not a short process, but also not one that should take over a week or two.)

The 'business' sat on things for over a week, claiming in phone messages that they didn't have enough information to get the prescription. We played phone tag back and forth, but finally I got in contact with a real person. (I could tell she was a real person as a robot would have been more helpful--it takes a human to be that obstructive.) We got things ironed out, she conceded they had the necessary info, and would get the rx. After another couple of weeks, I chased down that real person again by phone and got the story that they couldn't get the prescription signed. Then I turned to the social worker in the pertinent department, who swore that such a delay could never happen as their procedures were much more finely tuned than that. (Social workers are also human--obstructive, but polysyllabically so.) It took over another week for an rx to be filled out. Gotta love those finely tuned procedures. As of two or three days ago, the people at the medical supply store were still waiting for an approval from Medi-Cal, and thought they would check on the status of that approval and get back to me on it. Picture dead silence from my phone since that call.

Last night I went online to see if I could get some more info on wheelchair repairs in the area and found a review of this medical supply store by someone else who needed a wheelchair repair. The reviewer said it was the worst customer service she had ever received, described a situation just like this one, said she went to the store and found her file hadn't been touched in a month, and that when she complained she was told that "people like her" didn't appreciate how the store personnel were working to help them. Uh oh. I don't know who FriendL interaced with, but my experience has been just like the reviewer's, not FriendL's. The reviewer was writing within the last year and FriendL hasn't needed her chair for longer than that, so maybe something changed in the staff. At any rate, I've had it. After the shower, off to the medical supply store to retrieve the broken chair and the prescription. There are more medical supply stores in the area that I can go to, including the one where I've been buying some supplies for KidThree for the past year. I just didn't go there with the chair because FriendL raved so highly about this other one and both the stores were about the same distance from here. (For anyone who doesn't know, using someone else's chair is like playing football in clown shoes--possible, but cumbersome, slow, and dangerous.)

Coffee water boiling. Good. I always tell the kids, "legal drugs, kids, legal drugs!"

At the library a couple of days ago, I browsed through the mystery section. Several times I've found real treats doing that--I look for authors who have more than a book or two on the theory that someone must have liked what they wrote in order for a publishing company to pay them to do it again. This time, total bust. I got "Death of the Party" by Carolyn Hart, a Death on Demand Mystery. I got several pages in, then decided it wasn't for me. No real introduction to the characters, simple, declarative sentences, stock background descriptions. Here's a sample: "Max glanced at Annie. "I'll take a look." His tone was calm; his eyes were wary. He pushed the door open, stepped inside. He muttered an exclamation and strode across the room." Sorry, Carolyn, that's boring, and how often does anyone actually stride across a room? How about something like 'Max glanced at Annie, picking up on her tension, and said calmly, "I'll take a look." Eyes wary, he pushed open the door, stepped inside, then muttered an exclamation as he headed across the room.' Still not terrific, but at least a little more interesting to read.

Another 'just to see' book was "Bindweed," a Gardening Mystery by Janis Harrison. That one I chose because I have an aunt named Janis and rarely see the name spelled that way. Sorry, Auntie, I didn't care for that one, either. Same sort of thing. Stock characters not fleshed out and a developmentally disabled character who didn't ring true. I do admit, the sentence structure was better, but that wasn't enough to make up for the story, which I didn't care for and which had too many standard plot devices screaming at me from the first several pages. Back to the library for Janis and Carolyn both.

On the plus side, I found a book called "Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam," by Pope Brock, about the life and career of John R. Brinkley. I hadn't known the name Brinkley, but recognized the description of treating men with goat glands. I'm happily into that one now, just a little bit so far, but more than enough to make up for Carolyn and Janis. I'll head to the library on the way to the medical supply store to drop these off and pick up "Three Cups of Tea," which is waiting for me. "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is going back for someone else to enjoy. Thank you again, Khaled Hosseini--you do more than the Afghan and American governments together to humanize your home country and its people for those of us outside its mountains and borders.

Yesterday was KidThree's last session at the gym. In another week or so, we will get the dvd of her home exercise program and a list of supplies to purchase for it. That will be good. KidThree is feeling so much better after the two weeks of exercise. I wish we could go down there every week. That will have to go on my Lotto list, even before seeing Alaska again.

Next week it's back to making phone calls and trying to get things rolling on various projects. KidThree stopped going to the physical and occupational therapy sessions funded by the insurance. She was not doing as well emotionally as she is now, and resented the attitude of the therapists. The therapists were right in what they said to her, but they didn't say it as well as they could have, given that KidThree processed things differently than most of the kids they dealt with. I talked to them and made sure we could return when KidThree was a little more amenable. KidThree doesn't want to go back for the therapy, but understands it is necessary to get a piece of equipment that insurance will pay for if it is ordered through that therapy department. After we have the equipment (a standing frame, which costs thousands), she can stop going again.

We also want to get the special bicycle that uses electricity to stimulate KidThree's leg muscles into pedalling the bike. That one insurance almost certainly won't cover, as Medi-Cal funds only bare-bones necessities; California Children's Services is what will cover the standing frame but I don't think they want to pay for the $17,000 bicycle. I'm hoping to get Victim's Comp to do that. Maybe if I keep bothering them with my state elected officials, they'll just approve everything I ask for to get me to leave them alone. I've contacted by email the company that makes the bicycles, so step one of trying to get one for KidThree is taken care of. Next it will be trying to pry a letter out of her current doctor that says the bicycle is medically necessary. Good luck to me on that, given how hard it was just to get a prescription for a wheelchair repair.

We're also ready to start the process for getting a service dog. KidThree had dogs around when she was small and has sorely missed them since joining my family here. One of her best friends from rehab had one that KidThree really got to like. But, both the rehab folks and the service dog folks told me to hold off on getting a dog for at least a year, as getting one too early actually delayed recovery by giving kids something to focus on besides their own situation. We are at a year and a half now, so this seems like a good time. I think a dog would be better the best antidepressant out there for my wonderful KidThree, and I could learn to live with one. (I never have lived with a dog.)

And, KidThree has decided she wants to try to attend the regular high school instead of the continuation school she attended last year. The primary reason for this is that her closest friend (and sometime sweetheart) from the continuation school died two months ago (from a sudden and catastrophic illness) and she can't face the idea of returning to that little school without him. So, Monday it is back to the high school to see how we can arrange her return there. Dealing with public schools with KidThree can be a logistical nightmare, given her educational record, emotional state, and physical disabilities, but what the heck, I haven't got anything better or more important to do.

Picture me fastening on my armor to go to battle with bureaucracies on behalf of my girl, fortified with coffee and chocolate and the sure knowledge that my heart is pure and my motives golden.