Wheelchairs, walkers and canes oh my…

Scooters and service dogs too to be fair. Personally I’ve used canes and walkers and obviously my service dog Oak. Let’s talk accessibility!

Ideally every building, parking lot and public space should be decked out for us mobility challenged people. That unfortunately is not the case, some places try but for the most part only the bare minimum of the law is achieved.

My previous office building, where I worked for 10 years before my MS and other health issues decided my body and brain just couldn’t do it anymore, had quite a few disability parking spots. That was great, the down side to that is that you have to get there early because those spots are shared with three buildings. The building also had buttons that open the doors for you in case you can’t. Most cases this is if you’re in a wheelchair or walker or scooter, but opening heavy doors with or without a service dog is challenging for me due to muscle atrophy and a tore biceps tendon. Going into the building the buttons worked, going out of the building it did not. I advised the maintenance workers of the problem and it worked for a week before it stopped working again.

I don’t believe that people who work in buildings or maintain them think about those of us who are forced to use other methods of transportation for our bodies.

When I go to the store I can walk with my service dog and that is great, he keeps me from falling down. As a short person I see the issues that people in wheelchairs or scooters face. What happens if the thing needed is on the top two shelves? When it happens to me I have to wait for a tall person to walk by and beg the for help. Now, imagine that you cannot reach above chest or abdomen level every time you have to go shopping.

Both schools my children attend only have FOUR disability spots for parking. I can guarantee there are more than 4 people who need those spots because when my son was in kindergarten and most of first grade I had to arrive an hour early in order to have a parking spot so I could go fetch him from line. When there is a back to school night or even at either school I have to arrive more than 30 minutes before a normal person would to ensure that I can have a spot.

The current law in the USA for ADA parking is based on how many parking spaces you have in the lot. The other law for accessibility depends on the setup of buildings, an outdoor mall requires a certain amount of spaces based on access to different outdoor buildings. An indoor mall only has to have handicap spots next to an entrance. Now, if you enter an indoor mall for example there are escalators and regular stairs but elevators are less frequent. People in wheelchairs, scooters, walkers or service dogs cannot take anything but an elevator.

Next time I will talk about some places that people don’t often think about access unless they require it or are with someone who does.

 

Organizing Your Medical Records

Second in being your own advocate series.

So, what do you do now that you have all your medical documentation, reports and CDs? Everyone will have a preference on what works for them and the way their brain works. For me, I found that a binder works best. My binder is set up with dividers and only has the current year and the year previous, all other years are kept in tonged portfolio type folders and separated by year (in some cases one year may take two folders), I find this is easiest because you can keep them in a fire safe, filing cabinet or book case.

Binder Organization:

  • The first thing in my binder is a copy of my insurance card, this is handy if you want to take your binder to an appointment with you.
  • Secondly, I have a printed copy of my spreadsheet with my doctors information first and then all my medications. Keeping a current list of medications is helpful when you see the doctor, if you are on a lot of different ones like me it’s hard to remember the names and dosages of everything.
  • Third, I have a print out of my google calendar that shows my appointments. This is good to have a snapshot of your month but also if you are scheduling appointments you have a copy of your calendar in front of you. Yes, you can use your phone but sometimes it’s nice to have a printed copy, I color coordinate mine so one color is my medical appointments, one color is for my kids and a different color for the family.
  • For me personally number 4 is lab work, I have printed copies of all my blood test results. I do extra on this because I like looking at my blood work and seeing if it’s changing so I have a spreadsheet that has all of my lab results for 10 + years, anything that flags high is red and low is green. This makes doctors appointments faster when they are discussing previous labs. When doctors use their portals they have to pull them up one at a time, this way it’s all right there and we can see a snapshot of what the last few months were.
  • Fifth is blank sheets (or you can probably find forms) to make notes at appointments. On these I write the date, who the appointment is with, questions I want to ask at the appointment and then notes I take away from it.
  • After that I have all my radiology reports and other tests that I have had done (EKG, hearing, eyes). These are separated by binder dividers and then the previous year information in the same order is after that.
  • The last thing in the binder is CD copies of all of my imaging. Not only fun, if you have a computer and want to see your body but helpful when seeing a new doctor or following up with an appointment where the doctor may not have the images yet.

Let me know if you have any questions and I will happily address them if I can.

Why You Should Keep Your Medical Records

If this is the first post of mine you are reading then, welcome, I have numerous medical issues including Multiple Sclerosis and Meniere’s Disease (neither currently have a cure).

This is my first post in a series for medical documentation, tracking and organizing.

I started having MRIs, EEGs, and other tests done in 1994; when I was diagnosed with MS in 2014 I had wished that my mom (or I) had thought to getting copies of the reports from then, it would have been an excellent baseline.

Why should you have copies of your medical information? If you have to move, or get a second opinion or even for insurance claims having copies of your labs, reports, tests are a whole lot faster than working with a doctor’s office trying to get the needed information to another person.

Thankfully, it is much easier now to get copies of everything than it was 5 years ago. Medical facilities and doctors are only required to keep records for 7 years once you no longer see them, so the sooner you get on it, the better.

Locally, prior to getting my MRIs at the university hospital I now see my doctors at, I got most of my scans at Health Images and Sally Jobe Invision. It may see intimidating at first to go through this process but once you get everything requested, staying on top of it is very easy. You fill out a form allowing release of information to yourself, make sure you get CD copies of your imaging too. They typically don’t charge you if it’s for your own personal use.

This is where the spreadsheet template on my MS Resources page will come in handy as well. I found that if I have more than one doctor in a certain specialty it’s best to sub-group them. At the bottom there is a space for doctors you haven’t seen in more than a year, which is good for people you don’t see regularly but may need to see in the future (for example, a speech pathologist or gastroenterology).

My next post will discuss organizing the medical records. Do you have any questions or concerns you’d like me to address during this series?