Monday, November 23, 2015

Cyborg rights - Personal or Property Damage

I recently was reading a my twitter feed, and I heard that Adrianne Hasslet-Davis, a public speaker and amputee who lost her leg in the Boston marathon bomb attack, had a bag with some of her legs and dance parts misplaced by an airline. Being a public figure, she brought the issue to a Twitter post. The immediacy and outrage of the response was a frightening thing to witness. In the end, Adrianne had to remind her followers not to "cyber-bully" the airline. She is a class act. In fact, the incident brought up several subjects of discussion with the airline about rights for amputees. Incidentally, the airline jumped in and found her bag and legs very quickly.

 The episode got me thinking about what it would be like for the average amputee to go through a similar circumstance, or having their leg damaged as the result of an accident or injury.  Most of us only own one leg that really works for us. Some of us own some specialized versions, for running or working in an environment that a traditional socket will not work in. It takes several weeks to replace a socket and go through the fittings and get it to fit correctly. A leg, or for that matter and arm or a wheelchair is not something that most of us can easily do without for several weeks. I know that I depend on having my leg for the most basic of personal needs. Oh, I suppose I could use a wheelchair or crutches to get around in a pinch, but it would make my life a lot less enjoyable. For some people, it is not an option, due to the nature of their work, to resort to a lesser form of mobility. A construction worker certainly could not climb a ladder while being bound to a wheel chair,

According to the current tort laws within the United States, as noted by blogger Gordon Sibler in his post Legal rights of Cyborgs :

From time immemorial, our common law has provided one set of remedies for damage to one’s property and another set for damage to one’s person.  While the latter allows the full gamut of recovery including pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical expenses, lost enjoyment of life and loss of consortium, the former merely allows recovery of the property’s repair or replacement value.  One cannot even recover for the sentimental value of property[i].  Yet today, many of us depend on our devices to perform the normal tasks of living, such as walking, talking, hearing and seeing.  Damage to these prosthetics can leave a person without the ability to work or perform activities of daily living until repaired.  As demonstrated in this article, there is arguably a new suspect class in need of protection – cyborgs. 
Further exploration of this issue brought me to one of my favorite podcasts. It is a 31 minute discussion between the hosts of Amp'd, Peggy Chenoweth and Dave McGill  That really hits the points on this problem. It is a great episode, and I think you should listen.

What we need to remember is that until the law actually changes, and a precedent is set, our prosthetic devices are considered to be vehicles, not part of our bodies.The difference is that, unlike a car, that when it is damaged and is in the repair shop, our legs cannot be easily replaced. There are not rental companies that provide prosthetic devices. For many of us, we cannot work without them, and this will be a loss of income, that will not be covered by insurance. This will cause an undo burden on any amputee that is injured. I am not sure how this precedent can be changed. But it needs to be. There are way too many people being affected by this. We need to fight to get a new class of insurance claims, using our official designation of cyborgs. The definition is described in my post I Am a Cyborg Every amputee is in this category. I believe we need to define it, and use it to protect our rights!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Maintaining a Positive Attitude

So many things have happened recently. It seems that every time I get a chance to sit down and write I get pulled in five different directions. Which is the most important subject? What will I talk about? This last month has been amazing. So I am going to touch on a number of topics. So, bear with me!

First, a quick update on my Rush Foot™. Every single day, I am amazed at this foot. It has given me the confidence to take on increasingly difficult activities with ease. Climbing stairs, ladders, walking on really challenging terrain is no match for the flexibility of the foot. I never feel like I am overdoing it and the power it gives me is truly remarkable. The only negative thing I can say about it is that the foot shell is a little freaky. The color looks like something that was made as a prop for a zombie movie, pale and lifeless. I think that just a little more work on the shell would be a good thing for Ability Dynamics to focus on.

It is a lot easier to focus on being positive when the foot you use is not giving you extra problems to deal with and overcome. Which leads me to my next subject: the White House revised response to our We The People petition. As you probably remember in my post White House Response Unacceptable I was pretty upset about the mamby-pamby wording of the original response, primarily since it did not address any part of the petition that we had signed.. On November 2nd, the White House updated the response, stating that while the LCD change for DME was not rescinded entirely, it was being removed and was going to be rewritten after a committee of involved (government implied) experts convened to discuss it. Not quite a complete victory, however the first battle went to us!

Right after this date, I received my Amplitude Magazine. I had been contacted to write a short article on advocacy, because I was being very vocal about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and this blog. I want people to realize exactly what it feels like to be an amputee. That none of us want any sort of pity, but would much rather live our lives in a way that brings us back to a relative normality. While this article is in a magazine that is primarily distributed to amputees or people that work directly with us, it is a start to get the word out about standing up for our rights. If we don't stand up for ourselves, no one else will. No one out there wants us to suffer more than we already are, but without a frame of reference, they won't even think about how something affects the way we live. Click this link to read Amplitude Magazine online, and while you are there subscribe to it. It is free! My article is on Page 9.

I continue to work out, but not nearly as much as I need to. Riding my bike, walking and even using the treadmill. I am learning to trust my prosthetic, and some people may laugh at my attempts to run, but when I explain to them that running on a prosthetic is like trying to run in really high heels, they tend to understand. I know that once I get my brain wrapped around the idea that running will be easier I know that with the Rush™ foot, I can do most anything I want.

There  is a lot to be positive for, even with all the challenges that my family faces, learning to live within the confines of the my disability, deal with the financial difficulties as they come. I am extraordinarily thankful that I have a supportive family, a great insurance company who listens to my needs and helps to expedite my care and the health to enjoy life as it comes. Every time I start to feel overwhelmed, I remember all these things, focusing on them and then I work on a solution to the challenge that I am facing. A year ago,it was merely a game of survival, of trying to save a hunk of meat on the end of my leg, now it is about meeting my obligations. Believe me when I say that it has been a heck of a year, but better things are bound to come, and for that I am eternally grateful.