Durable Medical Equipment is an Oxymoron

This past weekend, while walking Savannah through the neighborhood, I realized that someone had tipped her wheelchair too far back. I squeezed the mechanism, similar in nature to a bicycle handbrake, on her handlebars that adjusts the tilt. It broke with a click.

drawing of the tilt lever control on wheelchair by David Borden
the tilt lever
I cursed, "Piece of junk!" (to be honest, my exclamation was much more colorful)

A couple of nights later I was orienting a friend to the wheelchair and its functions. She had agreed to take care of Savannah from time to time. She had a child similar to Savannah who passed away, so we feel very comfortable with her. She's one of us.

"This is the tilt." I showed her the lever on the left that still worked. "They rigged it so this one controls the tilt by itself. They disabled the right one."

I put a pillow in the chair to show her how the straps worked. "And the butterfly strap is a 'loaner.'"

"I thought it looked different."

I rolled my eyes, "Don't get me started... Someone at school lost a buckle on her regular one. I don't know why they just didn't fix it instead of putting this awful thing on. After a while you just get tired and stop asking those kinds of questions, you know? You'll want to undo it like this, so you don't pull her ears off when you remove it."

I put my hand on the headrest. "The head adjustment has been broken for a long time, so you just
drawing of Savannah's wheelchair by David Borden
Savannah's wheelchair
heave it into position like this. It gets out of whack, so you have to watch it."

"They fixed the brakes this week so I don't have to show you how to rig them to make them work. Everything is broken, as you can see."

She laughed. "I hear ya. Everything is always broken."

This wheelchair, which costs more than my first couple of automobiles, seems to perpetually have issues. One would think that at the price, the frame would be made of gold and all the parts from titanium. One would expect sturdy construction, able to withstand a hurricane, nuclear holocaust, or at least, simple, everyday use.

While we were talking, the nurse dragged Savannah to the bathroom in her expensive bath-seat. I could hear them proceed down the hall from the sad whine of its wheels that don't turn. It screeched worse than a shopping cart at Piggly Wiggly. The nurse pulled the bath-seat at the diagonal (because it doesn't move straight any longer), like a heavy sled. She moves carefully, in spurts, because the seat is top heavy and she doesn't want Savannah to accidentally take a header into the floor.

How fitting, I thought, not only is my daughter disabled, but so is her equipment.


#medicalequipment #junk #wheelchair #disability #specialneeds #children #parenting #2000DollarPentagonToiletSeatsAreMyLife

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