Resident repairs

More than a year has passed since I bought my 2002 minivan, which is adapted for wheelchair use, and I began wondering when it would need repairs. I then found out on the warmest day in April when the air conditioner would not work. So I sent the van to the garage a couple of weeks ago.

The garage said that when the manual wheelchair ramp was installed, a bolt rubbed an air conditioning hose and eventually wore it through. Since the garage received the part the previous week, I thought the air conditioning would be repaired that Friday.

But the garage did not call me that day and I forgot to call them. When I talked to them the following Monday, they told me they were about to return the van to me when they discovered a fuel leak. They said it would take time to find its source.

With the van in the shop, I had to give up an outing day. The van was returned a day later. Luckily, the air conditioning repair cost less than estimated, but the fuel leak repair doubled my bill. Even so, I was pleased to have the van back and running well.

Then, this past Tuesday morning, I noticed my computer's tower light was off. That was immediately strange because the computer is always on. I had been having some computer problems in the last few months, but I thought it only needed a cleaning and a few tweaks. I never considered the computer would die.

When my sister visited, she unplugged everything from my tower, put it in my van, and we went to an office store to check out their repair policy. They said it would cost $300 for my tower to be sent out for repair and it would take at least a week. When they found out my computer was almost five years old, they suggested I purchase a new one. I need a computer but I did not want to buy one under duress. So my sister and I went to lunch to chat about it.

After lunch we went back to the office store. I asked them to refer me to a technician who might be able to repair my computer more quickly. They gave us the name of a small business here in town, and when we dropped the tower off, the tech said he knew what was wrong. He told us to continue our day and he would call when he was finished.

Within an hour the tech called saying I had a power problem and the fan was full of dust. He charged me $58.50 and put the tower in the van for us. I never thought it would be repaired that quickly.

Then on Wednesday, my driver took me on an outing. It was a beautiful, warm spring day and I wanted to experience it. I also wanted to make sure the air conditioning worked, do some shopping, and run the van through the car wash.

At a strip mall I had trouble going up an incline. A check of my power chair's readout showed “low battery.” I told my driver the batteries were probably about done since they came with the chair in December 2008. But since my chair continued to run we tried to finish my errands.

Later in the day, two good Samaritans helped push me up the van’s ramp. I needed new batteries and the only wheelchair vendor I knew was in Columbus. So I called my sister to see if she could find a vendor closer to me who would bring the batteries and install them.

I knew that in Ohio, nursing homes are supposed to replace batteries for Medicaid residents' power chairs. Then the facility can bill Medicaid at the end of the year for 80% of the cost. But since the power chair is critical to my sense of independence, I decided I would pay for the batteries myself.

My sister located a vendor 20 miles away who would install the batteries at 5 p.m. that day. His fee would be $347 for batteries and installation. When “wheelchair guy” arrived he was shocked that the previous vendor installed batteries that are not used for power chairs. Since the batteries are located under my power chair's seat, he had to take the chair completely apart.

It took him 90 minutes to disassemble the chair, install the batteries, and reassemble it. He could not understand why my chair was put together that way. I thanked him for his service and for making me a priority that day.

My mother used to say that, “Troubles come in threes.” I think I may have had mine for a while.

Topics: Articles