power wheelchair reclining

When I started this blog, I was pretty sure that I simply wanted to write about my life experience and how my disability affects me. Although I love advocacy efforts that increase the quality of life for people with disabilities, I was convinced I didn’t want such things on my blog. I wanted to keep the issues separate. Because I am well aware that there are as many opinions about disability issues as there are people with disabilities, I rarely get political. For the most part, I stay away from issues that might be controversial because I this blog was designed to be about my life and that is all.

I’ve heard it said that every rule is made to be broken and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t talk about the threat of some Medicare cuts that would be severely detrimental to many people with disabilities.

A little more than a year ago I made a big decision that affects my daily life. I decided to make the transition from only using a manual wheelchair to sometimes using a power one. The decision wasn’t easy. I was convinced for a while that a power chair would reduce my strength and make me lazy, therefore hampering my independence. Please read more about my decision making process here.

Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Since I have had my power chair, I take my service dog for walks every day on the bike trail near our house. The fresh air and time in nature is good for both of us, and I have discovered in recent weeks that those walks are one of the ways that I can quiet my soul. My power chair has also enabled me to take my trash can out to the curb by myself and get myself back and forth to businesses in my neighborhood that I previously could not get to on my own.

Besides increasing my independence, my power chair has a recline option, which makes me much more comfortable throughout the day. Being able to change position reduces my pain and greatly decreased my risk of developing pressure sores. Also, being able to fully recline in my power chair means that I can stretch out my back and my neck. In my case, both of these areas in my body are affected with significant arthritis, and reclining several times during the day reduces my pain. On a couple of occasions, I have had to spend the night in my wheelchair when a caregiver does not show up for the evening shift, and being able to recline fully in my power chair allows me to sleep much more comfortably than I would otherwise. My power chair and all it can do has made my life much easier than it used to be in a variety of ways.

There is absolutely no way that I could have paid for my power chair out of my own pocket, (The cost was about $25,000) but the last year that I have had it makes me wonder how I ever lived without it.  If I get another power chair down the line, I need it to have same features as my current one does.

I found out a few days ago that Medicare is proposing cuts to funding for certain “accessories” for power wheelchairs. It is my understanding that what they propose is to cut funding for “complex rehabilitation equipment” with the tilt and recline option. In real life terms, that means that Medicare will cut funding for power chairs that allow people to lay back and be comfortable.

Although I am different, many people with disabilities cannot function without the use of their power chair. For some, a manual wheelchair is impossible, because they don’t posses the strength or mobility to propel one independently. It enables many people to go to work and pay taxes who would otherwise not be able to do so. The tilt and recline option of their power chair is the only way some people I know can get dental or gynecological exams. And like I said, without the tilt and recline option, the possibility of developing pressure sores dramatically increases because people sit in one position for too long without the ability to move or transfer.

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I respectfully request that you go to the site and sign the petition to stop Medicare from making these proposed cuts. After you have signed it, I further respectfully request that you get on Facebook and share this post with all of your friends. The health and well being of many people with disabilities depend on it, and I think everyone should be able to live as comfortably as possible.