A Funeral for Durable Medical Equipment

Loading the fractured equipment was a 3D game of Tetris
We donated Savannah's wheel chair. Jackie, one of Savannah's long time therapists, and now an equipment rep, came to our house to take it away. She expertly disassembled it with an Allen wrench within minutes. Hexagonal socket head screws (into which the Allen wrench fits) caused much cussing and consternation in me at the start of my relationship with durable medical equipment. Up until that time I only had traditional Philips and flat-head screwdrivers in my tool box. The Allen wrench was some exotic device whose use in weird gadgetry from Brookstone and disposable Swedish furniture, was designed to baffle the layperson. By the way, Allen wrench is a trade name that has mostly fallen into generic usage, much like Kleenex (who still defends their trademark) and Escalator (who gave up). The original hexagonal socket screw was invented in 1910 in America (not Sweden) and thought safer than existing fasteners because the drive slot wouldn't catch on worker clothing and drag the hapless fellows into the grinding maw of heavy machinery. There's a metaphor in there somewhere, isn't there?

Side door view of the jumble
Wheelchairs for significantly disabled children are custom built, so it's not like some other child will suddenly experience mobility due to our generosity. More likely the parts will find their way into existing wheelchairs to replace crappy, worn, or dysfunctional parts.

Savannah loved sitting in her chair. It allowed her to roll to where she needed to go. It meant freedom, a precious commodity for a quadriplegic.  It meant strolls outside, rides in her van, visits to her friends in other classrooms at school. It meant she could sit up and look around.

Now, like her, it is gone.

While Jackie broke up the chair on the driveway, I unscrewed the major sections of the bath seats. Unlike the precision instrument that was her wheelchair, the bath seats were clumsy, top heavy monstrosities, held together with Philips head screws and black mold.

We shoved the jumbled mess into the back of her SUV. I bid the wheelchair goodbye and the bath seats good riddance.

The house grows emptier. The dead, especially the disabled, have many possessions of which we must slowly divest. We have more to go through... more to go through until we are done.

#grief #disability #wheelchair #medicalequipment #durable #medical #specialneeds #family #child #mourning #movingon #AllenWrench


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