Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When I had two legs - warning - nude photo!

This is before all the trouble started. I was considerably older before I appreciated what my parents must have gone through. Does she have polio? Is she retarded? What's wrong with her? My father honed my sense of humor - my mother fielded questions with barbed comments, stuck with me through countless operations, prosthetic appointments and saved my knee. I don't know where she found the strength but I'll always admire her for it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Where am I?

I took some time off around Christmas. During that time I had a chance to reflect on this blog. Yeah sure, it's all about the fight for prosthetic parity, but somehow, I was getting lost in the whole thing. First, I hate writing about my personal battle (boring!), second, I've lost my sense of humor and finally, staying angry and upset and fighting is draining. That doesn't mean I'm through fighting, I'm just going to do it with a sense of humor.

I'll be back after the first of the year. Stay tuned,


Saturday, December 20, 2008

I see the future...

...and it ain't pretty.

I think the chances of KHPA/HCC having a meeting in December to change the contract are slim to none. Either that or they had their meeting and didn't invite me. Damn. You think?

Well, look on the bright side. The contract language is so outrageous that it makes them an easy target. That and their incredible lack of response to my letters. For months, the response of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and the Kansas State Employee Health Policy Authority have said, THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO. IT'S OUT OF OUR HANDS. IT'S TOTALLY IN THE HANDS OF THE KANSAS HEALTH CARE COMMISSION. WRITE THEM! STOP BOTHERING US! What they neglect to tell you is that writing Health Care Commission (HCC) is the equivalent of pissing in the wind. Of course, that's their intention, in hopes you'll just go away.

Well, we wrote. We wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and... did anyone get a reply? I haven't, and I'm at the center of this thing. If you got a reply, go out and frame it because you must be especially privileged. I haven't gotten a single reply or even the time of day except from one frantic phone call promising me everything would be set right at the December meeting (in response to the news that we were going to air a Call for Action report). The meeting and the promises have all vanished in a puff of smoke.

Go rent the movie, "Sicko" if you want to see the state of our Nation's Health care. If you aren't sick now, you will be after you watch it. Whatever you do, don't actually get sick, especially if you have health insurance, because you'll find out soon that you don't always get what you pay (and pay and pay) for.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

KFG on "Call for Action" - NBC Action News Report

Kudos to Jenn Strathman for an excellent job of reporting. You can read or watch the video at this link. There are less than 2 weeks to change a policy that considers the standard of care to be a "deluxe" item. In response to our pressure, the policy makers made the 2009 contract even more exclusive. In 2009, even comfort and convenience will be considered a "luxury." Of course, there is nothing convenient about an artificial limb, just as there are no "deluxe" components. These are arbitrary designations used by policy makers to weasel out of having to cover prosthetics for amputees. As a lifetime amputee, I can see how ridiculous and outrageous this is, but imagine if you just lost your leg, or if your child lost their leg and you came across these barriers. On top of struggling to learn to walk with a prosthesis, you have to fight your insurance company for a leg to stand on.

Of course there is never enough time, even in an extended interview, to tell the whole story. Some comments to the effect of "well, the hydraulic knee is good enough for me" or "it's not easy" are all very true. That's not what this is about.

This is about getting what is prescribed for you. Microprocessor knees are not suited for every amputee. Some amputees don't like them. What we must always consider is the amputee and what meets their functional needs. The simple hydraulic knee works really well for some people. Unfortunately, it did not work well for me, probably due to my size. I've had an opportunity to use both the hydraulic knee and the C-leg and (for me) there is no comparison. I've regained a normal gait, strength, some proprioception and my muscle mass was restored in the residual limb. I can walk farther with less fatigue. I've regained confidence in walking without having to plan every single step, I can look up and talk to people when I walk instead of staring at my feet, gauging the tilt of the ground and spotting what might trip me up. I can step to the side without falling. I can step backwards without falling. I can hold an infant without wondering where my foot is and whether my knee is going to collapse. I can walk down inclines without having to worry about whether my foot is directly in front of me and my weight is aligned perfectly over the center of the knee so that the hydraulics are engaged. If not, then you fall down in a heap! Instead of thinking that life as I knew it is over, I feel like my old self again! No boundaries!

Was the hydraulic knee "good enough?" Well, yes, it's better than no prosthesis at all, but that's not the point. The point is that there are prosthetic options that are considered standard of care. Indeed, so standard, that Medicare, Medicaid and the VA provide these medical options to patients whose physicians prescribe the appropriate prosthesis for their patient's functional needs. It should be up to the amputee and their care team to determine what is the best fit - not policy makers and bean counters.

Many thanks to all of you - friends, relatives, people I've never met - it all started with the "Leg Up" campaign. It's not over - keep fighting!