November 17th, 2009
I need to VENT, oh my God.
Remember in the past I mentioned I had a neighbour with MS named Richard, who moved out because he didn’t feel safe? No? Well, I did. And in his place moved in a lady I will call “Cindy”. Cindy is in a wheelchair, and I see her out my window almost every day wheeling herself to UnNamed Department Store where she works. I have learned through our brief encounters in the hallway or at the mall that she has cerebral palsy and a boyfriend named Nathan. Every time I see her on that wheelchair pushing herself to work I think “man, that woman has so much courage” and “she needs a power chair”. I mentioned that to her one day, and she told me she was applying for a power chair through Easter Seals. She just needed “one more name” to put down as a contact. This was my first hint that she doesn’t have a lot of support in her life, and of course I gave her my name and number to put down as a contact.
I asked her if she got any home care. She said no. I asked her if she had a proper walker (she can walk a tiny bit, and you can’t be 100% wheelchair bound in these apartments anyway because of the kitchens and bathrooms sizes, so I knew she must use a walker). She said she has a crappy one that breaks when she puts a lot of weight on it. She has no feeling in her legs and feet from the knees down, so it’s safe to say she needs to put weight on it. I told her about home care and to get registered with them, but didn’t take it any further than that at the time.
Yesterday I bumped into Nathan as he was leaving Cindy’s apartment with a bag of garbage. “Just taking out the garbage. Cindy needs a lot of help”. I said “she really needs to look into getting home care!” He said “oh, she can’t afford that.” I gulped. “It’s FREE! I get someone every day!” He looked dumbfounded. So today, while I was going for my little walk up and down the hall with my home care worker, Cindy came out to check her mail. I asked her to please come over and see me if she had time, and since she didn’t start work until 3:00, she came right over.
After talking with her for awhile, I learned that she not only has CP, but suffered a stroke 5 years ago which resulted in a 3 month hospital stay and some permanent disability. Her father committed suicide 15 years ago. Her mother and brother are here, but it doesn’t sound like she sees them much. “They hate Nathan”. I asked about Nathan… how they met, how long they’d been together, and her responses made me ill. For starters, he won’t help her with anything unless she pays him. He’s skitzophrenic. They met about 10 years ago in a food court at a mall. Nathan was there with his girlfriend at the time, also in a wheelchair. He walked up to Cindy, told her she was beautiful, and that he’d like to buy her dinner (in the food court! In front of his girlfriend! SCORE!) Cindy asked “what about your girlfriend?” and he said “oh, she can just take a Handi-Bus home”. Seriously! I was all… “uh… Cindy? Would that not be a sign that he would not be a good boyfriend?” I think she knows, but feels kinda stuck. He takes her grocery shopping and stuff. (As long as he’s paid). I asked her if she ever felt unsafe with him? Oh, yes. She used to live with him but moved out because he was violent. At least she had the smarts/guts to do that, but she can’t seem to get rid of him completely. She relies on the little help he gives her (for pay).
I picked up the phone and called my Home Care nurse to get the main home care number for new registrants. I spent the next hour on the phone with various intake workers and nurses, giving them Cindy’s info. I learned (because I was going between asking Cindy questions and telling the nurse) that Cindy can’t get herself in and out of her bathtub, and can’t even take a shower (she has a bath bench for showering) because she can’t afford the shower curtain and hand held shower head she needs to take one. FUCK. Seriously? She can’t even afford a fucking shower curtain, yet dickhead takes her money? Guess what I’ll be buying for her next time I get to the mall. She struggles to clean and dress herself, which is all you need to apply for home care. They are sending out an occupational therapist next week to assess her. She should be able to get a decent walker, poles, railings in the tub and other equipment she may need to help her in her home. As well as someone to help with bathing and dressing on a regular basis. I also hope they help her get a power chair… she would sure use it more than I use mine. And I’m pretty sure Easter Seals won’t buy her one unless she has first been turned down by the government. And she hasn’t even gone that route yet.
But that’s a conversation for another day. I will help her write a Client Impact Statement for her application. I’m her self-proclaimed Advocate, now. I can’t make her break up with Nathan, but hopefully I have steered her in a direction that she may not need to rely on him as much and will tell him to leave on her own. Fingers crossed.