ALWAYS CLICK ON THE DATE TO READ AS YOU MAY MISS OUT ON YOU TUBE CLIPS AND PHOTOS,
This morning was grey and gloomy as was my mood, and I'd been wanting to see the movie The Dressmaker for a while so Mum and I decided to go together. It's been a very hard year for me since January and still has it's ongoing challenges, and I'm very down and exhausted. I felt that we both deserved an outing and set the ball in motion for a Gold Class experience for a few hours over lunch time. I booked the tickets online and suggested we have lunch there as a treat, set up the taxi pick up time and got ready to head out at 12.30pm.
I don't like to read reviews of movies or know much about the story as I like to be surprised. I also find that often the reviews are very different to what I think once I've seen the movie and think really it's all an individual matter of opinion.I LOVED THE MOVIE and can't wait too see it again. It was such a mad and dark film not to mention sad and funny with that Australian twist of humour that only Australians have. It certainly appealed to my twisted sense of humour.
Gosh where do I start? Forgive me but I had a fabulous Pear Cider at the movies as I've been so stressed lately, and as I don't really drink any more, I'm a tiny bit cross eyed ;)
The way the chain and funding works with the wheelchair is like this.
- The chair is mad in the USA.
- The company who then imports it in Australia is called Sunrise Equipment.
- Linds are there sole distributor in Victoria, they sell the chairs and maintain them for 12 months whilst under warranty.
- SWEP (State Wide Equipment Program) not only fund $10,000 every 2 years but also take over the warranty after 12 months.
- Chemtronics is the company that has the sole contract with SWEP to fix all their equipment they own in Victoria and are owned by the Cabrini chain, a non-profit organisation.
- When their is a problem with your equipent you call SWEP, they log it and send a request to Chemtronics who then get 1 of their technicians to call you and come out to see if they can fix the problem at home. If not they will take it to their workshop to fix and liaise with SWEP as well re the costs if any additional parts required for purchase.
My chair cost $14,000 so SWEP paid for $10,000 and I paid for $4,000. I got it brand new 16 months ago. It's already had the 'struts' changed twice and needs them done again about 4 months after the last lot were changed! By the way the pair of struts cost $600 and then there are the labour costs as well which take a couple of hours to fix. What happens is the chair has springs or shock absorbers at the front wheels, and struts at the back wheels. Struts provide structural support for the suspension. Shock absorbers do two things. Apart from controlling the movement of springs and suspension, they also keep the tyres in contact with the ground at all times. At rest or in motion, the bottom surface of the tyres are the only part of the w/chair in contact with the road. When the struts don't work on the w/chair it makes all of this go pear shaped and the chair becomes unstable and turns into a rocking chair. This means that it's impossible to drive anywhere, even difficult in my unit. An example is when I drive up a road with a slight incline my front wheels come off the ground and I am essentially driving on the 2 small back wheels and the 2 large tyres in the middle. To get them back down I have to lean forward. When going the other way I have to tilt the chair much more that I usually do as it dips at the front to the point where my foot plates are scraping on the ground. Thank goodness for my seat belt! So having said all that, this is the sequence of events over the past 5 weeks in order to get it fixed. Keep in mind the process I mentioned in the paragraph before.
- 1st Call to SWEP, logged the complaint and they sent it to Chemtronics, tech call me, came out and took a photo of the chair and said he'd never seen this model before. He drove it outside and came back in and said nothing was wrong with it, tightened some screws on my foot plates, leave, and close the job off. I thought I was perhaps a little paranoid and kept driving it for a few weeks. Of course it got worse as it had been a few months prior to getting to this stage. Personally I don't think it was done properly the last time by Chemtronics.
- 2nd Call to SWEP, Chemtronics, tech said not worked on this model before, drove it and said nothing wrong, same as before. He was also changing the batteries. The minute he arrived he asked he asked me my weight. I know exactly where this was going and what the conversation has been at the workshop as they can't figure out what is wrong with the chair. I told him my weight as well as the weight capacity of the chair, I'm 12 kg below that. He is a nice chap but kept telling me in various ways that it's my weight. This not only makes me furious but I feel insulted and my depression (which I manage with happy pills and other ways) starts to kick in and I start to slide down very quickly. Not a day goes past where I don't worry about my weight. I exercise for about 1.5 hours a day and eat carefully, not to mention all the drugs I've had over the years and currently that have made me put on so much weight that it's hard to look at myself in the mirror without disliking myself for myself. Arsseholes!!!
- 3rd Call SWEP on the Thursday before Melbourne Cup weekend 29/10/15. Now although the horse race is on the Tuesday 03/11/15 and it's a public holiday in Victoria, everyone seems to think it's holiday time and people start taking Friday, Monday, sometimes the Wednesday afterwards and often the entire week afterwards off! Melbourne is a nightmare to do business with until the week afterwards! When I called SWEP I also logged a new issue which was a grinding noise on the left side of the wheel. I also asked what the notes were and the girl told me that Chemtronics had now told SWEP that they needed to get in touch with my Occupational Therapist so that they could discuss the issue between all 3 parties, not including me! I asked SWEP how they intended to do that as the OT that had helped me get the chair was not in that position any more? I then advised them of my current OT's details and got in touch with her straight afterwards to fill her in on the story. She is fabulous and a strong woman who'll be a great advocate for me with these clowns. I had also spoken to the manager of the repairs section at SWEP during that 3rd call to tell her I was so furious about all of this and needed the chair fixed! She organised for a tech who came out to get the chair the next day. It turned out to be a guy I know very well and is my favourite tech there but sadly doesn't work in my area any more. Serge came out and I showed him how dangerous it is to get out of my driveway, onto the street across the pavement and then driving up and down the street. He filmed all of it to show them all back at the workshop and said to me immediately that it was the struts that had gone. Off the chair went.
I had a gut feeling that it wasn't going to be fixed by these clowns by Friday as I had no call all Thursday afternoon. It takes only a couple of hours to do it, and was logged as a priority call 4 weeks ago which means it get's fixed ASAP. They all seem to have forgotten this so I hired an electric chair just in case I needed it and it arrived on the Thursday afternoon. When I went to transfer myself onto it as I usually do I realised that the seat was to high and my feet were dangling off the bed, I couldn't use me legs to stabilise myself and I was in trouble. Yet again I was furious as I'd hired it from the same company who had sold me my current chair and she had looked at all my specifications on their computer system however was dumb and sent me a stupid chair! BTW it cost $200 per week to hire (minimum time to hire), $200 deposit which I'd get back and then $65 delivery and another $65 to pick up. The manager of SWEP hadn't offered to pay for this.............mmmm. Ok so solution brain kicked in and with Mum's help and a great deal of difficulty I managed to transfer onto this stupid chair only to realise the foot plates were to small and I couldn't keep my legs on them. Oh was it a bad chair, I couldn't use it.
- 4th Call to Chemtronics the next day, Friday, starting from 9 am for the manager to find out the status of the chair. I left 4 messages during the day and at 2 pm he returned my calls only to say they hadn't fixed it (I knew they hadn't even bothered to look at it) but that the large tyres needed to be changed as they'd worn down and that was what the grinding noise was. The cost was $160 of which I pay for, SWEP covers all other costs. I said yes, advised him I needed my chair back as I had no chair for the weekend. I was so mad by now I wasn't going to tell him about the hire chair. What did these dickheads think I was going to do without a chair for the weekend???? He said they'd get the chair to me by 3 pm.
- 5th Call to Chemtronics on the Friday at 4 pm to find out who was bringing the chair and spoke to the manager again. I know how companies wind down before "long weekends" and thought that they'd forgotten about it. The manager told me there was no body else to bring it out so he would bring it himself at about 5 pm. He arrived at 5.30 pm and I finally met him for the first time. He walked in with his T shirt tucked into his nerdy shorts with the high waist and my thought was "no wonder this is such a battle as now I see the narrow mind I am working with". We talked about the chair and he implied it was my weight and that ideally as the chair's weight is set at 136 kg by the company that makes it, I should be 26 kg less..........huh? I told him rubbish and explained why because at this stage I was sick of their BS. He also then told me he'd see me the following Thursday as we'd set up a meeting with my OT to meet to discuss the problem. At least I had my wobbly chair until then and could still get around the unit etc.
I HOPE YOU ARE STILL AWAKE AND WITH ME AT THIS STAGE as it's such a long story. Not to worry as my left hand is totally numb thanks to the disease and all it's weirdness it causes.
I was so cross over the weekend at how long this has been going on for and being cooped up at home, especially on nice sunny days that I started to do my detective work on Chemtronics and who owned it so I could speak to them. That was impossible so I then looked at SWEP's website and found a list of all the manager's names right up to the top honcho, which also had their email addresses and telephone numbers listed on the site. I wrote an email describing the events and sent it to the nbr 1 person to which I got a reply saying that she was n/a until the 9th. I thought that's to late so I then sent it to the next in charge and it came back with "mail failure", so I sent it to the 3rd in charge and got the same message. I thought typical goverment site, not up to date. BTW I was really chuffed by my email I wrote to them especially the end of a sentence which finished like this " My chair is my legs, my life and my independence, my quality of life". It could be a catchy line in a song huh??!! LOL.
Monday rolls in and I get a call from the manager at Chemtronics to tell me he has been in touch with Sunrise (the company that import the chair) and they will have someone here in Melbourne who can meet up with us on Wednesday 04/11/15 to look at the chair and would that be ok with me. Of course I said yes. Luckily I was sitting down otherwise I might have fainted, LOL. I then open my emails and find that SWEP's nbr 3 has replied and so I fill her in on the call and we land up emailing back and forth all morning only to continue reading my emails and find that nbr 2 SWEP person has also replied.??!! Anyhow nbr 3 will run with it and she apologises and sounds so human, it's great. Wednesday the meeting is set for 2 pm and the manager arrives first and we chat a bit and turns out to be a nice guy. The Sunrise person arrives and it turns out to be a more senior executive by the name of Amy who just happens to be in Melbourne running some training sessions for the week. The very first thing she says to me after the introductions etc is "I'm so sorry", I almost burst into tears and hugged her as finally someone was listening and really showing some empathy. I buckled up and took them outside to show them what happens. They both filmed it and Amy was shocked and couldn't stop apologising, I really liked her as she seemed to get it unlike the techs. She told both of us that they'd been having lots of this problem with this chair in Australia and had called the US to see what the issue was. It turns out that the US doesn't have that issue because people there don't have the option to have the chair part that raises the seat up. You see the chair comes with just the drive and the tilt functions, the add on which makes the seat go up is an option and the reps here sell many of these. That additional part is very heavy and puts the centre of gravity off line and hence more pressure on the shock absorbers at the front therefore the struts work harder to compensate and so they don't last, it's a design fault. The seat on the standard chair can be adjusted to move back but mine can't be. They now have an additional part that is easy to fit and just needed to be ordered from Sydney. She told the manager if he ordered it Wednesday it's be there Thursday if not Friday at the latest. Yeyyyyyyyyyyy finally, so I felt super excited, I also asked about the weight issue and she said that wasn't an issue at all. I was smirking to myself inside my head and imagining giving the manager the middle digit sign...not to mention wishing I could say some choice words as well. My chair was also making another noise which I'd become so used to that Amy had picked up on and was very concerned about. She discussed something with manager high pants but I'm not sure what they were going to do about that, will have to find out Monday. More calls too make, it never ends and will still take much more until all is fixed with this chair as it has other issues as well, yip.
After Amy had left I spoke to the manager re when they'd now fix it as I was hoping for Friday but he told me not this week it'd be next week sometime. I had advised him and Amy that it had to be Monday at the latest as I had an important biannual treatment at the hospital on Tuesday of which I could get to but wouldn't be able to get a cab home as it takes almost all day and I can't get a cab until about 5.30 - 6 pm. Reasons being most of them have school runs at 2.30 pm as regular money and at 4 pm all the cabs do what's called a change over so that the afternoon/night driver's have a chance with peak hour to pick up fairs and night time. It pays to run a cab 24 hours a day as the licence is so expensive to buy. There will be no call Monday as I'll have to chase it up and I'm sure it won't be done until Wednesday, call it intuition and experience. If not my Taurus side will really let loose and come out to play and I sure wouldn't like to be on the end of that if I were the manager.
Thank you for listening and I apologise for the lengthy blog today. I wanted to keep you posted on what I've been up to, or not, and shall keep you updated :)
In a wheelchair permanently since early 2010 due to a disease called NMO. I am loving getting out and about in my wheels. My blogs capture my journey.