Last week, I returned to Casa Colina Hospital to continue the evaluation for a speech device. (See "Talking Needs" post, March 25) An occupational therapist joined the speech therapist and the representative from Dynavox for the session that was nearly two hours. It looks like I’ll be getting the device; I was signing a number of documents at the end that looked plenty official.
I continue to be surprised that Medi-Cal will pay for the device (or nearly all of it - see below), and I all but said so. It feels to me like the women at the hospital have been living in a cave and haven’t been reading and hearing what I keep reading and hearing about the state budget crisis and all the things Medi-Cal isn’t paying for, but, brushing aside my concerns, they insisted I need the device and said that they have a very strong case. Okay. I mentioned that I’m a Regional Center client, and they said this would be a back-up funding source.
Several other things came up during the session:
*I was frustrated, because I was having a harder time using the device than I did the first time around, but the women said I was doing fine and were, in fact, impressed. No doubt I was anxious as well as impatient and hard on myself - nothing new there. I also was a bit tired, which made me more aware that the device will require some heightened effort from me and that there will be times that it may be less effective. In addition, I realized later that I am worried that friends - and perhaps I - will think I will be able to rattle off comments with the device and will be disappointed when I won’t. (Stephen Hawkins pre-sets his comments - I asked.) Yes, I’ll get better with practice, but it is important for all to remember the device will be just another tool - a very powerful, easier-to-use tool, but still a tool.
*Speaking of a powerful tool, I found out something very cool about the device; it is, or can be, essentially a P.C. For a nominal fee, not covered by Medi-Cal, I can use it to write, e-mail, go on-line, read books, etc. It will be like having a laptop attached to my wheelchair. I can see myself doing work or e-mail on my patio or in the park! I can even turn on lights and my T.V with it.
*The therapists continued to be not happy with my wheelchair, so I have an appointment next week for a wheelchair evaluation. They say I will be better able to use the device in another chair, but I am wary. I suspect that what I like about my wheelchair - that I can move around in it (lean over, stretch my legs, raise my butt up, etc.) - is what they don’t like about it, and I don’t want to be pinned down or trapped in a chair. I will see what they have in mind and hear them out, but I’ll also make it clear what I want and don’t want in a wheelchair. While I am very grateful for - and moved by - all the attention and care that I am getting, I do not want to be told what to do or taken over.
One more thing: I was at a potluck on Sunday, and no one sat by me. In addition to wondering if it was because of the messy way I eat and if my attendant should feed me in such a situation, I thought about probably not being able to use the device while I eat.