It’s always a challenge, trying to get new or better equipment. Insurance only allows for Namine to get a new wheelchair every five years, and that’s something she needs daily. Something like her walker, which she only uses in therapy and around the apartment, is even more difficult.
Back in January, we did finally get Namine’s new walker. We have since dubbed it The Beast, since it’s so large in comparison to her previous walker.
That increased size is out of necessity. The old walker is short enough that it actually made Namine almost tip over when she stood up in it. The new walker’s height is adjustable, with the shortest being almost just right for Namine. Nearly a year ago, the height was better, but Namine has this thing where she keeps growing. (She doesn’t listen to us when we tell her not to do that.) Since the walker’s next adjustable height is too tall, Namine is once again at a point where she’s slightly bent over when standing in her walker, which is not good for her back.
The other issue is she has no armrests. There is no padding, and due to the way Namine stands, she’s putting pressure on her elbows. This pressure — combined with what we recently learned about her arms — is putting her through more pain than she ought to have in therapy. (Namine is no stranger to pain, and won’t shy away from it when it’s necessary, but we’d prefer to ease it however possible.)
Namine’s therapist has put makeshift padding on the walker’s bars, but it’s a stopgap measure at best. Ideally, we’d get new armrests; that’s where this rehabilitation appointment comes into play. We met Dr. Zvara from the rehabilitation department at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to discuss Namine’s growing walker needs (pun absolutely intended).
To resolve the issues with her walker — both Namine having to bend over and the increasing pain in her right elbow — Namine’s therapist recommended we pursue getting armrests. The padding is big enough to provide enough height so that she’ll no longer have to bend over, but will be able to stand up straighter at her walker; it will also provide enough comfort so that the pressure will be distributed along her entire forearm, easing the pain in her elbow.
In a perfect world, of course, the discussion would go like this:
Jessica: “Hello, Dr. Zvara. Namine’s therapist recommends getting this equipment for therapy.” Dr. Zvara: “Okay!” (gives equipment)
In reality, there is so much back and forth, and not just between us, doctors, and therapists. Medical equipment costs money, and that means insurance needs to get involved. There’s my private insurance through work, and because Namine is disabled she also has state insurance. Neither insurance is guaranteed to play nice with each other, either.
Because of all the red tape, we can’t get any new equipment (or sometimes, even have work done on existing equipment) until we physically meet with the doctor to discuss the need. Now that we’ve met with Dr. Zvara and she’s stated her willingness to vouch for Namine’s need — and put that willingness into writing, because paperwork makes the dream work — we wait for insurance approval.