Friday, March 23, 2012

Sliced bread - and the pits

I recently got a keyless lock on my front door, and I’ll tell you, it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

For the longest time, I wished I could have some kind of automatic door - something like the remote control unit that I was given in college to open the door to my dorm and hall. After I got out of school, my father made a key holder with a small piece of wood. I could handle it well enough, but it was always a challenge, a test, to get the key into the keyhole, especially if I was cold. Yes, it always felt good, like a victory, when I got the door open, but it was a pain, and that it took a few minutes or sometimes more pissed me off.

I kept thinking of those keypads where you punch in a code to open a door. Wouldn’t something like that work? But then all of my attendants would need to know the code, and maybe one of them might let it slip out to someone they knew.... More to the point, though, didn’t something like that cost thousands of dollars? I always thought there was no way to afford what I wanted.

This became an actual problem when I got my Vmax speech device a couple years ago. With it mounted on my wheelchair, unlocking my front door was all but impossible. Soon, I left the door unlocked when I went out on my own with the Vmax. Although my neighborhood is relatively quite quiet and safe, I knew this was unwise, if not asking for trouble. It only got worse when, because it was just easier, I began leaving the door unlocked - just this one time - when I left on my own without the Vmax. An occupational therapy appointment last year was no help at all. (I suspect I’m far more independent than any of the other patients seen.)

So, last month, when I complained about this after I returned home to find that an attendant had inadvertently locked the door, it was suggested I look on-line for a keyless door lock. Well, it turned out - hello! - that there were plenty of them, and I found one that, like many, was under $100, probably because it wasn’t marketed to the disabled (the picture in the ad and on the box when I got it showed a woman at a door with her hands full with a baby and a shopping bag). I ordered it on a Wednesday and, with standard postage, got it on Friday.

One of my attendants, who happens to be quite handy with such things, installed it easily that evening (I had also been worried that installation would be another big cost), and my life changed. The unit works on the dead bolt (I no longer use the door knob lock) and works just like a remote car key, with the fob taped onto the armrest of my wheelchair. There is a satisfying buzz and click when it works, and it even works when I’m in my van in the driveway.

I have to say that, for a day or two, I felt sad and even guilty about not experiencing the thrill of victory in unlocking the door with the key, like I was being lazy and giving up, but I’ve been much more thrilled with it now being so much easier to unlock the door. Like I said, the best thing since sliced bread!

But what about my attendants? How do they get in when I’m not here or when I’m in bed? Do they each need a fob, which I have to order at extra cost? No. As I was reminded, there is a back door that they can use and for which I got them keys. Hello!

Unfortunately, I have been unable to use the Vmax, to have it on my wheelchair - the reason I got the keyless lock - for nearly three months. Unlike sliced bread or the best thing since, this is the pits, and the reason is even more so.

My wheelchair broke down when I was out on January 6. Yes, Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany! Having witnessed my doctor signing a prescription for the new chair, which I can tilt back with the push of a button, back in October and having been told that I should get it in January, I called the vendor to see if I would be getting it soon and was told that my doctor’s prescription hadn’t been received. Why didn’t I know about this?... After making a scene (and later finding out that my doctor had signed the wrong form when I saw him in October), it was straightened out, and we are now waiting for Medi-Cal’s approval.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t get my chair fixed, because Medi-Cal is (hopefully) funding the new one. I have been using a wheelchair which I’m very grateful I have access to, but not only is it not the best for my legs and back, its frame is different and can’t accommodate the mount (which costs hundreds of dollars, being, unlike with the keyless lock, marketed for the disabled) I had for the Vmax. I had been told that the new mount for my new chair could fit on the chair I’m using, but when I received it last month, it turned out that it couldn’t.

So I’m enjoying some good sliced bread - or the best thing since - but I’m also having my share of pits.

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