Saint Valentine’s Day 2017

What was special about Saint Valentine’s Day for you this year? 
How did your Valentine’s Day start?
Mine began with an email alert to a blog post by a young man I am deeply privileged to know: Michael Chasse.

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Michael is a former electrical engineer with an additonal degree in business, a small business owner, an active local politician, an outdoorsmana tremendously positive online presence as a technical wizard, and an all-around great human being in Presque Isle, Maine. He just may be the funniest man left alive on this earth.
Mike is also a quadriplegic, paralysed from a skiing injury at his former workplace, who is doted on day and night by his loving service dog, Caleb.

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The blog which follows was originally posted 12 February 2017 [two days ago as I write this] at http://www.quadomated.com/homepage/medicare-is-broken-trying-to-get-a-new-wheelchair-for-over-6-months/ 
I urge you to help him in his quest to fix medicare.
Linnie Peterson 14 February 2017.

12 Feb 2017

That’s right, Medicare is broken and not just a little bit either…

In writing this, I want to make something very clear from the start; I’m doing this in hopes of making some sort of positive change, in hopes that a congressperson or a representative, or someone very high up in the Medicare World or Government will read this, feel some compassion and outrage and decide to make a difference. I’m not writing this so that people will feel sorry for me, or to complain, but so that HOPEFULLY someone will read this and try to do something to fix the system.

Medicare is broken when a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down has to beg and scratch and fight so hard to get a new wheelchair and then pay over $10,000 out of his own pocket to get one that actually meets his needs.

I’ve been trying to get a new wheelchair for over 6 months, and the latest thing after waiting 4 weeks for a prior authorization is that my paperwork and “medical necessity” was declined because a date stamp was not placed on the paperwork by the Durable Medical Equipment provider.

Does that make sense? Does it make sense for Medicare to look for every opportunity and technicality to deny this paperwork or should they actually be trying to help people and provide them with the equipment they need?

Let me explain my current situation… I’m a C5 Quadriplegic paralyzed from the armpits down, and when I say paralyzed I mean no feeling, no movement, NOTHING. So… I’ve got a pretty major disability, but I’m a young guy, 35 years old who makes the best of life and does a lot. I’m outside a lot, I play with my niece and nephew, I go for long walks with my service dog, I give back to my community, I’m a city counselor, really, I live a pretty awesome, active life. But… being paralyzed, I can’t walk, I can’t move, I can’t get out of bed, I can’t do a lot of things.  And believe me, I hate that phrase… “I can’t”, but it’s true “I can’t” do a lot of things without an electric wheelchair that I can trust and depend on.

And herein lies the problem… My current wheelchair is over 5 years old. It’s so worn out that the actual metal frame, where the seat system connects to the base is broken. The motors are so worn that when I go up the hill to my house from downtown they actually overheat and shut down, sometimes leaving me sitting in the middle of the road. The buttons on the joystick are so worn that sometimes it takes several tries to actually turn my on wheelchair in the morning and there is a giant crack and electricians tape holding them together. And this is what I’m supposed to trust and depend on for my daily life and independence, for my lifeline to the world, to actually keep me safe as I go out into the world.

The safety engineer in me, the normal rational human being in me thinks this is ludicrous, but Medicare has rules and steps and criteria you have to satisfy before they will consider providing a new wheelchair. The first being the wheelchair needs to be over five years old and the second being that it is in such condition it is not justifiable to repair. Well, let me tell you, after 5 years of my very active life and upwards of 10,000 miles my poor wheelchair is so worn out it should most certainly be replaced.

I started the process back in the middle of July, almost 7 months ago, the first step being a face-to-face appointment with my physiatrist for a wheelchair evaluation and to demonstrate need. Surprisingly (*insert sarcasm here) I still need a wheelchair, and this marked the first step where I could now start getting a new one. Little did I know that Medicare starts a 45-day timer from this point that REQUIRES a patient gets a signed prescription for a new wheelchair within this timeframe. Again, Medicare has rules, ridiculous rules.

So now I could start the process, it was time to try out a few wheelchairs and seating systems and find out exactly what I needed and worked best for me. Living in a rural community in Maine it was a little more difficult to actually try out these electric wheelchairs that I would spend over 14 hours of my daily life in so I was at the mercy of my Durable Medical Equipment provider and some of their manufacturers reps to get equipment up here for me to try.

So I had to wait, had to wait 27 days for the first wheelchairs for me to try to show up here. Little did I know, that 27 days of my 45-day window to get a wheelchair were gone just like that. A manufacturers rep from Permobil showed up here with two chairs… The Permobil F3 and the F5. The major difference between the F3 and the F5 being that the F3 is designed around the limitations and funding of the American healthcare system, and the F5 being designed around what the rest of the industrialized world would cover as the best chair for someone in my situation. And I tried both of these chairs out, and guess what the F5 was markedly better, now I’m not saying the difference between the two was night and day, but the F5 had two features that were very important to me; a top speed of 7.5 MPH, and upgraded suspension that made the ride significantly smoother and more capable off-road. And why does that matter? Well my wheelchair is how I get from point A to point B, it’s how I independently get around town, it’s how I’m active with friends and go for walks across the backyard or through the field or to really anyplace outdoors and cool, and it’s how I’m me. That top speed makes the difference between whether it takes 1 hour or 35 minutes for me to get somewhere, and the off-road capabilities whether I spend the afternoon or day by myself stuck somewhere (at very real risk) or find myself seamlessly go where life and my wheelchair takes me.

I immediately fell in love with the Permobil F5 wheelchair and saw the dramatic improvement it would make on my life, and knew from the bottom of my heart it’s what I NEEDED. And this is when I learned more of what is the quagmire of Medicare. Medicare categorizes wheelchairs under “groups”. Group 3 wheelchairs which is what the Permobil F3 is considered are covered by Medicare, Group 4 wheelchairs which is what the Permobil F5 is are not. They are considered as having added capabilities that are not needed for use in the home. So the wheelchair that would make an incredible difference to my independence and freedom is not covered by Medicare.

Think about this, Medicare is completely structured and only cares about providing people with the minimum wheelchair that is sufficient for in-home use.

Even worse, the system groups all wheelchair users together, and the guidelines are structured for geriatric users, older people who find themselves in a wheelchair due to old age, as opposed to looking at the differences and needs of a younger/active user versus an older person who stays at home. So when they look at me as a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down they throw me into the same basket as a 90-year-old wheelchair user who needs a chair not because they are paralyzed but because their body is failing them with old age. Does that make sense? Wouldn’t it seem that I, very active and 35 years old and paralyzed from the armpits down, might have different needs than someone who’s much older and less active?

Nope! Well not according to Medicare.

Again, I found the best wheelchair for my NEEDS, but it was not covered by Medicare. I could pay the difference for the upgrades between the F3 and the F5, but at a price tag of over $10,000 I just couldn’t do it, well at that point I just couldn’t do it.

So the search continued on and I requested my DME provider to find me other wheelchairs to try. And guess what I had to do again… wait and wait and wait, finally after 3 postponed trips from the Quantum rep, and over 10 weeks of waiting, I had 2 Quantum wheelchairs to try out. Remember that 45-day window… Unbeknownst to me at this point I had blown way past the allowable window for me to get a new wheelchair. And even worse, after waiting all this time for these new wheelchairs to try out, they weren’t set up for anywhere close to somebody my height or disability. I could barely even sit in them, and after just a short spin around the house and outdoors I quickly saw how insufficient they were compared to the Permobil I had fallen in love with several months prior. Sadly, they felt like toys.

At this point I decided I was just going to bite the bullet, empty my savings, and pay the extra for the wheelchair that met my needs. I called up my DME provider and said I’ll take it, and this is when I ran into Medicare’s foolish 45-day window. After waiting so long (at no fault of my own) to actually try out a few wheelchairs before I committed to spending 14 hours a day in them I had exceeded the 45-day period Medicare allows between the face-to-face with my doctor and ordering the wheelchair. So because of that I could not just simply pay the tremendous price tag and order my new wheelchair, I had to start the process all over again. Now how the heck does that make sense?!? I mean I’m a quadriplegic for goodness sakes, my condition hasn’t changed for almost 10 years, and now I have to see a doctor again, Medicare has to pay for me to see a doctor again, just so I can meet their asinine 45-day criteria. So here I am waiting… You know you can’t just get in to see a doctor at a minutes notice, and I had to wait 4 weeks and fortunately there were enough cancellations that my physiatrist could see me in the middle of December to do a repeat visit of what we had just done in July just so I could buy my wheelchair. That went as expected… Incredible, I’m still a quadriplegic and I still need a wheelchair, and finally we get to the process of submitting our preauthorization paperwork to Medicare so that I could get my wheelchair.

That was at the beginning of January, and after 4 weeks of waiting for Medicare to decide if a wheelchair is medically necessary for someone paralyzed from the neck down I get the big “denial” notice in the mail stating that my “medical necessity” was denied because a date stamp was forgotten by my Durable Medical Equipment provider. I called them up frustrated, and then spent over 6 hours on the phone with Medicare to see if they could expedite the second review. I talked to customer service representatives, durable medical equipment claims advisors, supervisors, supervisors supervisors, and to the very top that I could go and while I did get some compassion along the way, the only answer I got was that I would have to wait another month for them to reevaluate my paperwork. It didn’t matter the urgency of my claim, it didn’t matter the legitimacy of my disability and claim, it didn’t matter that my life will be terribly impacted when this wheelchair fails (and fails again), all that mattered was that the “rules” said they could take upwards of 30 days to evaluate my paperwork. But what about the other 45-day requirement that I get my wheelchair or I have to start this process all over again. I’ve already waited 30 days… What happens if it takes them another 30 days to find that there now is a time stamp and that a quadriplegic actually does need a wheelchair. Do I have to start all over again?

And all this time I’m trying to live a fulfilling life when I have a power wheelchair, a vital piece of my independence and life, that is falling apart.

How does this make sense?!?

And again, I scream at the top of my lungs Medicare is broken!

Medicare is broken when a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down has to beg and scratch and fight so hard to get a new wheelchair and then pay over $10,000 out of his own pocket to get one that actually meets his needs.

Now who out there will help me fix it?

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And please consider helping Michael Chasse to be your way of
sharing the love. 

LINKS:

 

Video

For Paris “Hymne à l’amour”

On November 13, 2015 three teams of Islamic State jihadists launched coordinated assaults on Paris leaving 129 dead and hundreds injured. Concertgoers at the Bataclan theatre, diners at several bars and restaurants and football fans at the Stade de France were among the victims in the worst-ever terror attack on French soil.

For the second time in the calendar year, tributes and love poured out to Paris from around the world.

The landmark CN Tower in Toronto is lit blue, white and red in the colors of the French flag following Paris attacks,

Army Football

After the attacks, a song beloved by France brought the world to tears when it was performed at the American Music Awards by Celine Dion.

Celine Dion performs a Paris tribute at the 2015 American Music Awards.

Hymne à l’amour” (French pronunciation: [imn a lamuʁ]; French for “Hymn to Love”) was written by Édith Piaf in 1949; the music was written by Marguerite Monnot. It was originally performed by Édith Piaf.

Edith Piaf tribute 1963~2013 by Priapo40

You can hear the inimitable Piaf version on YouTube:

Hymne a l’amour – Edith Piaf

The song has been translated into many languages and sung around the world countless times. It is often performed by artists visiting France.

There are several versions of the lyrics in English. One of my favorite versions in English – an almost literal translation – is presented with love and prayers below.

The blue sky over us can collapse on itself
and the ground can (really) cave in.
Little matters to me if you love me;
I forget about the whole world.
.
As long as love will flood my mornings,
As long as my body will tremble under your hands,
Problems make little difference to me,
My love, because you love me..
.
I will go to the end of the world;
I will dye my hair blond
If you ask me to;
I will go take down the moon;
I will steal fortune
if you ask me to.
 .
I will renounce my country;
I will renounce my friends
if you ask me to.
One could really laugh at me
I will do anything
if you ask me to.
 .
If one day life tears you away from me,
if you die, then you will be far from me.
What’s it matter if you love me
because I will die too.
 .
We will have for us, eternity –
in the blue of all the immensity
in heaven, no more problems.
My love do you believe that we love each other?
.
God, reunite those who love each other.
 .

 

Read more: Edith Piaf – Hymne A L’amour (Hymn To Love) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Prayer

As Christians, let us come before God’s throne of heavenly grace not just in heartbreak but in hope, pleading for the souls of all sinners to be brought into destiny-changing encounters with Christ.

Loving heavenly father…

as I approach your throne of mercy and grace in Jesus’ name …

let my heart be broken by what breaks the heart of God…

and let your spirit pour out in me and through me, in groans too deep for words, cries for you to loose your angel armies against the barbaric instigators of and their compliant minions of brutality on this earth…

In groans too deep for words, father, let my spirit rise up with your spirit against the raw face of evil…

Defeat evil on earth, birther of the universe, with your unwavering love for your  creation…

with Christ’s salvation, to whom all authority is given on earth and in heaven…

and through the omnipresent activity and power of your Holy Spirit who alone can bring the lost and the damned to recognition of who Christ is and how desperately they need his promises to be true…

Comfort the dying and stretch out your healing hand to those who are fighting for life…

Console the mourning, the traumatized, and the broken in body, mind and spirit…

Uphold and galvanize both the righteously outraged and the valiantly peace-seeking…

Crush the serpent at its head and build up your kingdom at its heart…

Have mercy on us, have mercy on us, for you hate nothing that you have made…

In Jesus, name I ask it… through faith in the holy spirit… and asking that your will alone be done on earth as in heaven.

AMEN.

PHOTO CREDITS [Being Added as I Verify Them / I am contacting the copyright holders as fast as I can for permissions]:

Eiffel Tower:     REUTERS / Jacky Naegelen

Edith Piaf:          Edith Piaf tribute 1963~2013 by Priapo40

Toronto CN Tower:           ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sydney Opera House

Army West Point Tank:   USA TODAY Sports  Danny Wild – RTS727C

Celine Dion:                        GETTY IMAGES / Kevin Winter

 

 

LINKS:

 

 

WORK IN PROGRESS

My writing, like my life, is a work in progress.

I am currently hard at work on a series of contemporary and almost-contemporary Christian novels intended to appeal to and speak to the hearts of those who are seeking for faith and those who are growing in their faith.

Throughout the series, there is an emphasis on recognising that the Bible is one all-encompassing story of God’s love for us and his pursuit of right relationship with us:

  • with God as initiator of that loving intimacy,
  • with Jesus as restorer,
  • and with the spirit of God as the empowerer and advocate of those of us who are in it.

The storylines minister God’s love to readers as they see persons like themselves seeking earthly love even as God is moving in their world changing hearts and lives through his unfathomable, boundless, heavenly love.

As compelling characters ride the earthly rollercoaster of seeking and finding, courting and wedding their life partner, they are also being sought, found, and invited into deeper intimacy with him whose call to repentance and faith is an offer of abundant love on earth and eternal love thereafter. They are called into a loving relationship of living in the glory for which they were created, in their journey on earth and forever thereafter.  

The stories embody the dual imperative of God: that we love him with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength and that we love deeply on a human level as well. 

Some authors work on a series one novel at a time. It’s not that way for me. Because our present acts are rooted in our past and echoed in our future, I am conscious as I write a scene in any one novel of what occurred in that other set three years earlier and what will transpire in that one set fifteen or twenty years later. Scenes in any one novel are thus not snapshots of a particular time and place so much as frames from a verbal video of an ongoing flow of events.

Because of my process, my novels seem to be coming into the world not as single births but as sets of triplets or quadruplets. It looks like quadruplets will be ready for beta readers in the first half of 2016 and triplets about nine months later.

It’s all a bit complex and daunting — though quite beautiful in its own way — when you focus on it from a ‘down here’ perspective. It’s astonishing in its intensifying brightness and simplicity when you look up.

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Im.age Credit:   Fractal_Stock_03_by_Dragonfly113_Stock.png

Located Online at:  https://fotki.yandex.ru/next/users/vasiliska67/album/197368/view/713072?page=0

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