MG And Heart Disease Disabled Inventor Ronald Wendel Inspires With True Grit
Need a lesson in gritty persistence? Look no further than Ronald Wendel, who is disabled by myasthenia gravis, heart disease, dyslexia and other problems.
Ron found the courage to set aside his disabilities for seven years while he went about getting a patent for his ingenious invention.
This is a rare accomplishment when you consider how few people (even if they're NOT disabled) turn their ideas into real patents.
Inventor Ronald Wendel with son Brett and wife Brenda
See Ron's US Patent # 8082701
Inventor Without Barriers
Just one of Ronald Wendel's disabilities would hold back the normal person, but he has to deal with a string of disability hurdles:
- myasthenia gravis
- heart disease
- discs removed
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is an autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Says Ron, "It seems that a chemical imbalance prevents proper transmission of signals from the brain to the muscles. There is no cure for it. You just learn to live with things like memory loss, muscle twitching, double vision and migraine headaches."
Ron's severe heart disease resulted in seven bypasses, "After my bypasses I realized I had to lose weight to be here for my wife and son so I started exercising and walking. I went from 340 to 225 pounds. I walk with my dog Casey every single day."
Dyslexia can be a serious handicap because it interferes with good communications, but Ron was able to overcome this. "My son got me the Dragon Dictating System, so I'm able to communicate in writing despite my dyslexia."
The four discs getting removed would normally be a final blow putting any normal person down for the count, but not Ron. "It makes it difficult to get around but I've forced myself to walk every day. There are times when I can barely crawl out of bed, but I make myself do it, as I know I always feel better once I start moving."
He also has to watch his blood pressure, diabetes and other heart-related problems.
Medical Runarounds Rampant
Ron's disability issues have forced him to deal with a health system that for him has proved less than satisfactory…
According to him, the problem today is the medical field and also doctors do not all have the answers for you. And there are other problems such as Social Security Administration.
Ron had insurance through his wife while she worked for Ford. When she was let go, they had COBRA. Then when she worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield, his insurance was carried over.
But his insurance disappeared when his wife's job at Blue Cross Blue Shield was eliminated. So he decided to go to the Social Security Administration to file for benefits.
The SSA told him he had Medicare Part A, but not Part B. So he tried to enroll in Part B, but was denied. For him to enroll in Part B, he would have had to pay back all the years before when he enrolled in Social Security Disability.
He didn't have the $6000 needed to buy it back, which is why he does not have that coverage today. But that hasn't stopped him from living a purposeful life.
Essential Support System
Everyone is buoyed up by some kind of support system. Ron gets the courage to thrive, strive and survive from the support of his wife and son. And his wife's family helps too.
Sometimes his wife's sisters will pay for his medications. And his doctor will give him samples when they're available. But he doesn't get the medicines that he really needs, because they're too expensive.
He also has great friends who help in concrete ways with things like helping him maintain his house and paying to do his business plan professionally. (More on that later.)
Ironically for a man like Ron, that support can be more of a burden than the disabilities themselves. Says Ron, "My friends and family also have families. Often I feel like I am a burden to everyone. That's why I'm so determined to bring my invention successfully to market."
A Seven Year Patent Push
The linchpin of the Ronald Wendel story is his seven-year journey to get a US patent for his ingenious invention officially called "Combined guide nail shield and process" by the US Patent Office. Here's the journey in Ron's own words…
"When I first thought of my idea I decided do the research to see if any other person or company had patented it. That research took me a long time to do. Because I didn't have a computer, I went downtown three to four times a week to the Detroit library where there is a patent office. I went through patent after patent to make sure I wasn't copying anyone else's work. It took about three and a half months and by the time I was done I had gone through about 4200 patents."
"Based on that research, I decided to go through with getting a patent. I then looked for patent attorneys and found some to be quite expensive. I finally settled on John Benefiel, who used to work for the patent office as an examiner. He gave me quotes for doing the research and for filing for my patent. Since I had already done the research I only had to pay for him to file my patent."
"During this time I had friends and family telling me that someone had already patented my idea, and that I was wasting my time. But I wouldn't let them discourage me. I was confident because of the research I had done. It took seven years, but on December 27, 2011, the US Patent Office issued Patent # 8082701 in my name!"
"I am proud of myself because I didn't let anyone discourage me from achieving my goal. I knew I had something special and that I would succeed one day."
"When you have a disability, it doesn't mean that you cannot make something successful in your life. If you believe it can happen, it can and it will. When you have a good idea, write it down, draw a sketch and pursue it. Believe in your idea, do the legwork you need to do to prove that it is viable and ignore the detractors who don't know and believe what you do."
"Since I've received my patent I still believe in my ability to bring the product to market. When I do, I know I'll be helping my family and that I'll be able to repay all those who helped me along the way. This includes the friends who paid for getting my Business Plan done professionally."
"Sometimes it's hard to keep on keeping on, but we have to maintain our faith that good things can happen in life. We need to believe that there are people and organizations to help people like me be successful in life. One such is ability-mission.org and I want to thank you for the help you gave to me and that you provide to so many other disabled Americans."
It would take as little as $125,000 to turn my invention into a business. A loan, grant or equity partner would work. In the end though, the money and the amount is not the key thing; it's the faith and belief that it will succeed. And I have that in unlimited supply.
Welcome Words Of Wisdom
Ron says that if you have a disability, you must always keep a positive attitude and continue fighting to find help. There is help out there; it is just hard to find. Do research. Talk to people.
Just because you have a disease doesn't mean you're not a person. You are and you can be anything you want to be, but you must strive to be successful.
Says Ron, "I know I'm doing it now to the best of my abilities and will continue to push for success. I know it's difficult but please don't give up. There's always hope."