Waterlogged

I wanted to insert a You Tube clip but my computer was just ‘rebuilt’  two days ago & I need to recheck all my internet settings first which will take some time since I’m not that savvy with the PC.  So instead I’ll just tell you the tale.  Two years ago: picture a young adult in a power wheelchair with all his family & friends poolside (in-ground) on a hot summer day just enjoying the weather & watching a sibling perform some diving skills off the platform. ‘Tommy’ has cerebral palsy & has maneuvered independently in a power wheelchair for years, despite a long history of severe hypertonia, joint contractures, seizures & uncontrollable arm/leg/head movements. Tommy was just thrilled to see his brother swim for the first time & was eager to be his cheering squad as his brother performed a multitude of belly-flops & cannon balls. Tommy moved closer to the platform to get a better view & mom was close by to supervise. Lo & behold, Tommy became a bit too excited, & tapped his joystick toggle just enough to drive the chair right into the pool–with him strapped in it.  The chair alone weighs well over 100 pounds so you can imagine how fast it sank with Tommy still strapped to it.  Now mind you, our rehab department didn’t hear about all this until the day after.  Mom called & the tears just spilled out over the phone.  She had jumped into the pool immediately, & was able to release Tommy & bring him to the surface & eventually out of the water. Fortunately, no one was hurt, Tommy had just a little water in his lungs. Mom told us, “if he was going to die, I was going to go with him”, & I knew she meant every word. I’m sure you can figure out what happened to the power wheelchair.  Now Tommy has funding through the State.  Our state allows replacement of such equipment every five years, unless a major change in condition occurs where different equipment is warranted or, if the current equipment is damaged due to fire, traffic accident, or stolen—you get the picture.  Mom knew she should’ve killed the power switch as Tommy got closer to the pool’s edge; she was carrying a tremendous amount of guilt.  So after much finger-pointing & investigation this is what we had: problem number one–the ‘incident’ took place at someone else’s home. Number two–mom never filed an insurance claim with the homeowner. Three–Tommy had no backup wheelchair.  Mom had dealt exclusively with us from day one so we were compelled to help her & more importantly, Tommy needed a means of primary mobility & fast.  We were able to provide a loaner, which isn’t very often, mainly because clients of this nature generally require specialized or customized seating. After finding a therapist willing to justify a new one, & fighting with the State about the chain of events, it took us just a little over 13 months to get an approval for a new chair.  I won’t even go into detail about the amount of documentation I had to gather throughout this whole mess.  Tommy got what he needed in the end & mom learned an invaluable lesson–one that I hope will never be repeated.

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 10, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank God that worked out all the way around!


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