God is often found to speak in the ebb and flow of life. Do we honor God, and others of any status, with our attitudes and social structures? A couple of weeks ago, my friend Justin wrote in his blog about the fallout from an error at Medicaid, which started me on this chain of thought.
Shortly after that, I read a report from Kansas City about problems of the paratransit system. people seems to be taken for granted. The attitude often seems to be that we don’t do anything productive, so why worry?
Then along came a discussion about the value of disability simulations. In such a simulation, able-bodied people are given various devices to force them to go around a setting as if they had a disability. Some may be blindfolded, others have a limb splinted or made immobile, or are given ear plugs, or must navigate in a wheelchair. Such an experience can be revealing, but one critique of such simulations, which generally last for a few hours at most, is that they do not give any feeling for the long-term effects of living with disability: the day-in, day-out experience.
And then, my long-simmering application for paratransit service came through from administrative processing. In our area, there is a reasonably extensive public transit system, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Living near a busy street without sidewalks, and inaccessible bus stops, I had started the paperwork. And now, to continue the process, was the need for an evaluation.
In some ways, this is like a trip to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. You get to travel to some obscure location, talk to people in a noisy location, and get a photo taken. You also have a huge pile of papers, signatures from medical professionals (not always part of the examination fee and never covered by insurance), and lengthy questions.
And you get to use the system to get to the evaluation. The day I was scheduled, there was an unusually late-season snowstorm and everything was running late. Since I was not yet in the dispatch system, the dispatcher couldn’t call me, so I ended up waiting for more than an hour, needing to be ready to leave on a moment's notice. I was already late for the evaluation before the ride arrived, so the office called to ask where I was. The bus finally arrived, and, in keeping with the promise of a “shared” service, we promptly took off in the wrong direction to pick up another rider, and then leave her (now going in the right direction) about halfway to the evaluation center. So we had a rushed evaluation session, conducted in the lobby in case my return trip came in the meantime.
Thankfully, everyone was nice and understanding of the circumstances. As with so many things, a little kindness all around helps a lot. These are the people who speak the Gospel to me, and honor God’s diversity in creation by their acceptance and accommodation.
But a 15 minute meeting took 4 hours of my day. This is about the normal. Trips must also be scheduled in advance, both ways. In a couple of weeks, I have an appointment with my physiatrist. It’s at 9:00. It will probably take all day: on the way at 7:00, and can’t begin to think about a return trip pick up before 11:00, let alone the time to get back. Pack well for the urban exploration!
Do you ever wonder why people with disabilities seem to be tired so often? Think about doing this day after day. So a reminder: be God’s voice of kindness. You never know where someone has been. Finally--speak up when politicians or others spout off about things they don’t know anything about!