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Incomplete Quadriplegic Left In Limbo Without Government Grant Help

by Debra Collins
(Las Vegas, NV, USA)

I am a 57-year-old female living alone in the Las Vegas area. I am not married and have no children.

I have one sister that lives close by, but who is reluctant to offer me support. She is a mathematics teacher for the Clark County school system.

My parents live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, are in their eighties and my mother suffered a stroke four years ago. They are loving and caring parents but are unable to help me.

I have a brother who lives in the Detroit area and works as a mechanic for the school system. Were he able to, he would help.

I myself used to work for the Bureau of Land Management, have a Bachelors degree in Political Science and a Masters degree in Public Administration.

I am an incomplete quadriplegic. I have partial paralysis of all extremities. In August of 2010 I tripped and fell and hit my head.

Unbeknownst to me, there were bone spurs on the c4 through c7 vertebrae in my neck. When I fell, the spurs pushed into my spinal cord and I was instantly paralyzed from the neck down.

Surgery was done to remove the spurs and stabilize the vertebrae. With rehab and therapy I am now able to do many things but am mostly confined to my power chair.

Many more things are extremely difficult to do on my own.

I also had a brain aneurysm repaired and have a femoral artery blockage and kidney stones.

With a spinal cord injury I am at risk of autonomic dysreflexia (AD). AD is a potentially life threatening condition that can be considered a medical emergency.

It mainly affects people with injuries at T6 or higher. AD requires quick and correct action. Serious AD can lead to a stroke.

Because many health professionals are not familiar with this condition it is important for people who are at risk for AD, and the people close to them, to learn about it.

AD is caused by an irritant below the level of injury, usually related to bladder or bowel function. There is also a probability of kidney stones causing pain.

Femoral artery pain may also have its originating points in the growth of renal stones, further leading to groin swellings.

I have chronic pain. Chronic pain, ironically, often accompanies paralysis.

People who are paralyzed often have neurogenic pain resulting from damage to nerves in the body or to the spinal cord or brain itself.

I have been going through physical therapy and had gotten to the point of walking with crutches twice. Each time I got to that point these symptoms would appear and I would be set back to the point of starting over.

Also, I have spasticity as a side effect of paralysis that varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, uncontrollable leg movements.

This includes increased muscle tone, rapid muscle contractions, exaggerated deep tendon reflexes and muscle spasms. Most individuals with SCI experience spastic hypertonia in some form.

Persons with cervical injuries and those with incomplete injuries are more likely than those with paraplegia and/or complete injuries to experience SH.

The most common muscles that spasm are the elbow (flexor) and the leg (extensor). A change in a person’s spasticity can be a symptom itself.

For example, a cyst or cavity in the spinal cord (sometimes called post-traumatic syringomyelia) could lead to more spasticity.

I am not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid yet. When I applied I was told that I must wait for 24 months after the application to become eligible.

As I am 57 years old, I do not qualify for any programs that provide transportation to the elderly. One must be at least 60 years old.

Given my medical condition, my primary care physician has referred me to several specialists, who in turn want me to go for further testing. All of this requires transportation.

I am on a fixed income and do receive SSDI. I do have Blue Cross health insurance but the co-pays are expensive.

Every month I pay all of my bills. I owe thousands of dollars due to my responsibility to pay the co-pays. That leaves very little money in my coffers to pay for anything like transportation.

The apartment complex where I live is designated for those over 55 and/or disabled so the help my neighbors can provide is minimal, if they can drive at all.

I have used the local Paratransit services but they are not a taxi service. I have left my home at 11 am for a 1 pm doctor’s appointment that lasted 20 minutes, and not gotten home until 4 pm.

These trips on Paratransit are never less than four hours door to door. Being strapped in my chair in the back of the bus for that long is debilitating to my body and I end up recuperating for days afterward.

I also need help in my home with cooking and cleaning. Again, I do not qualify for any social services as I do not have Medicare or Medicaid and at 57 I am too young. I am in need of transportation and home care.

I am looking for transportation services or a grant to purchase a handicapped vehicle. I believe I can be trained to operate such a vehicle.

Solving the transportation problem would eliminate 90 per cent of my problem not to mention the extreme stress I am under.

Getting some home health care would be a blessing. Even washing dishes is very difficult for me given the paralysis in my arms and I can stand for only a few minutes.

I would also like some financial assistance to return to physical therapy. I had to stop as my co-pay for each therapy session is $75 and I am currently trying to pay off what I have racked up so far.

I know that I could eventually return to being a productive working member of society if only I could solve these problems. The logistics of everything are daunting.

As I have no support system in place, I am beginning to fail in my efforts at rehabilitation. I pray every day to have one day of peace. One night of beautiful sleep. One day without fear. Anything would help.

Thank you for hearing me.
Debra

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