Most of the people that will read this blog post are not disabled. I thought I might share with you some of the challenges of being disabled. 2,280 hours (stated in the title) is approximately 4 months of winter. A big chunk of this time many people in wheelchairs cannot venture outside due to ice and snow. For perspective, my Montreal Canadians in playing an 82 game schedule will consume 205 of these hours. In the winter months when you are confined to a wheelchair in Ontario, your disability becomes much more prohibitive.
I use a powerchair outside. When winter comes, bringing ice, slush and snow, I get stuck often. Trails, sidewalks and roads become unusable, not to mention it can be quite cold. I’m a pretty active guy so going for walks (I roll) with my wife and dog are essential to my mental well-being and not just in winter. Everyone one of us can get a bit stir crazy in the winter months, but being in need of a wheelchair magnifies the issue.
So back to my quest. There are powerchairs out there that will do the job. The Extreme 8 and Cajun Commando are a couple that I have found. Likely many others exist. The drawback is that they are very expensive. I demo’d the Extreme 8 yesterday at Motion Specialties (the mobility shop I use here in Belleville). It was perfect. It went through snow. I easily went up a slippery, icy hill and even climbed a curb. In my current chair, I often get stuck on the flat surface of my driveway.
I’ll take it!!! How much I ask?
I’m told “It’s a bit over $15,000. But we don’t charge HST on disability devices”. I thought to myself “Well if there’s no HST then give me two (sarcastically said). Just for info – a fully-loaded John Deere ATV with a snowplow comes in at around the same price. BUT – hold it – my mistake. I’m sure they charge HST.
Sales person: “Umm, I’m afraid they don’t come with batteries, that’s extra”.
“Gosh.” I said. “Well how much is a battery?” I’m told it’s $280 dollars and… umm… it requires two.
Okay. I just recently bought a battery for my small SUV vehicle and paid $120.
Sales person: “Will you be wanting a seat with your wheel chair and possibly a back rest?”
I’m standing there on one prosthetic leg thinking of my response when the sales person said we can get you both of those items for $1,500. Hmm….I was pretty sure you could go to Leon’s and get a beautiful couch for that price and they would even throw in a 40″ LED TV. Chair value now over $17,000!
Here’s the issues. When you are in need of a wheelchair in Ontario there is an organization called ADP (Assistive Devices Program), it’s the equivalent to OHIP but in the disabled world. They will fund a significant portion of an “approved” chair. They will not fund a chair that is not on their approved list. In turn most private insurance companies will not fund once they see that ADP won’t approve. Bottom line power wheelchairs that have been designed to take on the winter challenges that come around once a year will “not” get funding and the disabled person is on their own to pick up the tab. When I asked about ADP’s policy I was told the following.
ADP funds only for basic mobility in the home including entry and exit of the home. Basically, essential mobility only. They may recognize that going out to work, for education or for leisure is important but they will not fund it. Again, basic mobility, not quality of life.
So my government agency, ADP, cares that I get out of my home and back in but should I wish to head down the road to go to work or get on a city bus – or simply just get some fresh air, I’m on my own.
This leaves charitable organizations, fund raising or self funds to solve the concerns of expense. I’m going to try to fight government and unfair policies. I want the ability to function in the same world that a person with two healthy legs can. Even though my injuries are of the physical nature my mental well being far outweighs it all when I become housebound. They know it’s Bryan Cuerrier don’t they?
stuck in the snow……Bryan