Let’s Have Some Fun – Ali’s Most Embarrassing Wheelchair Moments

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As I was lying in bed last night the metaphorical wheels were turning in my head with respect to the next move I am planning on making towards my advocacy mission with getting durable medical equipment and services paid for by Goliath health insurance companies. My mind unexpectedly wandered off into the most unlikely of places.  I needed to wind down my brain to try and overcome my insomnia when I started giggling out loud.

Somehow I started reflecting on some of the most embarrassing moments I’ve endured over the last 10 years living this life in a wheelchair.  When living with a spinal cord injury there are a 1,001 things that can go wrong in your life on a daily basis, most of which are frustrating, dangerous, embarrassing, and suck the life out of you, but I find there can be humor in most situations.

Whenever I read other people’s blogs, websites, stories, etc. I find the ones most interesting who share their personal experiences in a raw form because so many of us can relate to those moments.  If you do not have a disability, I’m sure what I’m about to share with you will hopefully make you laugh, perhaps shy away from reading a certain sentence or paragraph, but at the very least will make you appreciate some of what many of us with varying disabilities deal with on a daily basis.  If you do have a disability I’m sure you can relate to at least one of my stories!

Without further ado, I’ve invited myself to a “Roasting” as they say in the celebrity business. Continue reading

News & Observer media article over success in Insurance battle for medically necessary equipment

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SOO EXITING …

News & Observer media article now out on my battle for medically necessary equipment.

ABC 11 news story should be out next week. Just the beginning of a very long journey to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves!

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article243953657.html

The Fight for Survival – Health Insurance Battle for Medically Necessary Wheelchair Seat Elevator – Final Decision

Over the last several months I’ve engaged in a head-to-head battle with my insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBS), for a critical function on my power wheelchair called the seat elevator.  The seat elevator was deemed not medically necessary by my insurance company and after multiple appeals I was sent a final denial letter by BCBS.

Last week I wrote an article outlining the various steps I have taken over the previous several months in fighting with BCBS over approving my seat elevator for a power wheelchair in regards to the process I have been through, why the seat elevator is medically necessary in my situation, tips and tricks for others, and my overall strategy (https://pushliving.com/the-fight-for-survival-health-insurance-battle-tactics-for-medically-necessary-services-part-2/.)  I was in the process of pursuing an external review with the North Carolina Department of Insurance to overturn BCBS’s final denial of my seat elevator.  Every state has its own Department of Insurance who sends your external review to an independent review board.

I’ve been through the appeals process many times over the last ten years of being injured, but this time was different.  I went a step above and beyond to reach out to local news stations, wrote letters to the CEO BCBS NC, and had several folks working on the internal side.  I’m not sure which avenue yielded this welcome and frustrating result, but here’s what happened:

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine: https://pushliving.com/the-fight-for-survival-health-insurance-battle-for-medically-necessary-wheelchair-seat-elevator-final-decision/

The Fight for Survival – Health Insurance Battle Tactics for Medically Necessary Services – Part 2

We should be enraged, inspired to change, and determined to fight as Americans with the state of our healthcare system in this country.  The fact that we spend 2 to 3 times more on health insurance in the United States for subpar services as compared to many other countries in the world is outrageous. It speaks to the issue of no regulatory authority in our healthcare system.  The government does not regulate healthcare prices resulting in huge price variations in addition to, but certainly not limited to, consistent denials for countless medically necessary services and products for many hard-working Americans.

-I have a Story –

Tens of thousands of others share similar stories.  I’ve had enough and it’s time to fight for my survival and for those who cannot do it for themselves.  I’m hard-working, pay into our governmental system, and spend $8,000-$13,000 per year out-of-pocket for health insurance only to be denied medically necessary equipment at every turn.  I have spent hundreds of hours over the last several years fighting quietly for medical services I need and now it’s time to take the fight public.  This is an issue of basic human dignity so that I may live my life with independence and freedom despite being severely physically disabled.

Read the Rest on Push Livinghttps://pushliving.com/the-fight-for-survival-health-insurance-battle-tactics-for-medically-necessary-services-part-2/

 

Taking Back the Water

I am honored to have another article in New Mobility Magazine.  I had the privilege of also interviewing a friend, Jonathan Merchant, who has accomplished so much in his life and how he dives into the aquatic lifestyle! Hopefully this article encourages the thousands out there who are wheelchair-bound to start splashing around.

Take the small moments in life … it’s those ones that you will remember decades later!

Read the rest on New Mobility Magazine:  https://www.newmobility.com/2020/06/taking-back-the-water/

Taking Back the Water

 

“THE DIGITAL SEX INDUSTRY – A CURIOSITY INVESTMENT”

I’ve always been curious by nature whether that be understanding the physics of a white dwarf star in our universe or diving into the world of neural plasticity to study how the brain can change itself or simply figuring out why human history always seems to repeat itself.  There is no topic to simple or complex that doesn’t intrigue me in some fashion.

Over this past weekend I took a few hours, as I often do on lazy Saturday mornings, to poke around the Internet to stimulate my intellectual curiosity on unknown topics.  Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon a short video clip produced by Business Insider Today on the topic of the Digital Sex Industry.  I must admit this is not a topic I have given much thought to, or ever for that matter, but it piqued my curiosity leading me down my proverbial inquisitiveness rabbit hole.

The wheels in my head started turning as I was thinking about sex, which many of you know I’m very open about and cannot understand why sex is such a taboo topic to discuss in public – much like money or religion.  In any event, I wanted to explore the rise in the digital sex industry over the last several years, and in particular, how the industry has changed over the last two months in light of Covid-19. Continue reading

The Art of Health Insurance Appeals: My Battle for a Power Wheelchair Seat Lift

As I was strapped into my electrical stimulation bike while simultaneously lifting weights I had my Bluetooth snuggly positioned into my ear listening to my “Rock it Out” music to keep my motivation over that next hour.  Pandora played a song by the black-eyed peas, which came out in 2010 called “I’ve got a feeling.” It’s an incredible dance song when you want to feel pumped up and I used to play it on repeat before my accident in 2010 when I was living at my home in the Bahamas…

… It was a time in life that reflected simplicity, clarity, and pure joy.  Life was so simple back then.  I was pumping myself up last week because I’m in another battle of a lifetime with Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) for a new power wheelchair…

… I started the uphill mission of working with my durable medical supplier, my physical therapist, and my general practitioner…

… Two weeks ago I did, finally, receive a letter from BCBS saying that they were denying me a very critical function of the wheelchair called the seat elevator.  This allows my power wheelchair to go up and down.  Most insurance companies do not think this function is medically necessary for folks in wheelchairs.  I then called all the parties involved and there was a complete disconnect among my medical providers.  So, in a very Ali fashion, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  The age-old saying “when you want something done right, do-it-yourself,” holds true 100% of the time …

… Without further ado, this is the appeal letter I sent into the BCBS appeals committee last week.  I will keep you posted on what their decision will be, but when you really want something, you’ve got a fight tooth and nail to get it.  Sadly, this is the reality we live in and the fact that we have to justify why we need certain items to insurance companies to, not only survive with the spinal cord injury, but to thrive with it is slightly disheartening.  However, this is the healthcare system we presently have to navigate within!

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine: https://pushliving.com/the-art-of-health-insurance-appeals-my-battle-for-a-power-wheelchair-seat-lift/

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ALI AT 17 – CHINESE JAIL 101

In light of world events and the seriousness of everything many of us are going through with Covid-19 I thought it might be fun to talk about something completely off topic and also nothing related to spinal cord injury either!

The following is a tale of my adventurous and crazy exploits when I lived in China at a ripe old age of 17 and how I managed to land myself in Jail in Northern China near the border of Siberia.

I graduated high school at 17 and had no desire to rush off to college as so many do.  I decided to defer my acceptance into college for a year or so, but I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do.  I walked into my father’s office and found one of those globes that spin around in a circle.  I closed my eyes and my finger landed on Beijing, China. Continue reading

NAVIGATING THE CORONA PANDEMIC – A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

Today is the first quiet moment I have had in over six weeks and I realized I had not engaged in one of my favorite activities – Writing!  Life has been a fast-paced world wind of excitement, chaos, joy, and hustle recently.  This doesn’t even include the elephant in the room at the moment of our current Pandemic of the Coronavirus!

In November my husband and I purchased our first home, started renovations, packed up our old apartment, and made the Herculean effort of moving a quadriplegic to a new home all before the race of the Coronavirus.  It has been nonstop for me and I’m elated to find a quiet moment today to get back to what I love.

We are finally moved into our beautiful new home, getting settled in, and trying to make our home finally feel like a home.  In short, we have been “Adulting!”  I had a singular mission of trying to move into our home, but on the tail end of moving the Coronavirus started moving at accelerated rate – although not before we were able to physically get into our new condo.  Thankfully, at present, we are quarantined at home and are both still busy working while still having endless To-Do projects.

My husband, Aaron, has been working tirelessly for the past 9 months and we have barely had time to spend together, so it’s a treat to be able to be locked in the house together.  When we don’t feel like it’s such a treat to be locked in together 24/7 — then we have wine 😉

Over the last 10 years I’ve never really been able to take a real shower and having my newly renovated bathroom is a dream come true.  Last week I had my ceiling lift installed, which was so fun as I was swinging like a monkey.

Now, I don’t have a shower chair yet as things have pretty much come to a stop from a retail standpoint with the pandemic, but looking at my shower at the moment is equally as gratifying.  I’m sure once I take a real shower I will have a different take on it.

The last several weeks have not been without their challenges though as millions of Americans are presently feeling.  I lost a caregiver, found a great new one, but am unable to physically work with him yet as we have “stay at home” orders directed by the state of North Carolina. Bringing someone into your home during a pandemic is probably not a brilliant idea considering I have a compromised immune system and less lung function than most.

I’ve spoken to dozens of friends who are disabled and able-bodied, and life generally is not looking rosy for most folks right now.  I don’t even know what this country will look like when we are done with this, how we will rebuild, how the financial system is going to recover after a $2 trillion stimulus, but there is one thing I do know.  The only way we are going to get through this is if we stick together and not trample thy neighbor for a roll of toilet paper. Continue reading

Aquatic Therapy – The Story of a Paralyzed Mermaid

 

Thinking back to my childhood I recall playing the “what do you want to be when you grow up” game with other kids.  My answer was always a resounding “mermaid.”  The water has always been such a central part of my life having grown up in the Bahamas.  When I broke my neck nearly 10 years ago, I couldn’t imagine how life would continue if I was unable to get back to the aquatic lifestyle I had become accustomed to.

When I was in the ICU and inpatient rehab the first few months after my accident, I was also battling a stage III pressure sore on my sacrum.   I could not wrap my head around how I would ever get back into the water.  I saw many other SCI folks start to dive back into activities in rehab, but I was not as fortunate. I was confined to bed rest all day, except for several hours of rehab, due to the raging pressure sore I had sustained during transport from the Bahamas to Miami after the accident.

While I stayed focused in rehab, worked on my computer, and made the best of my situation, I started to give up hope that I would ever get back into the water again.  Once I was released from rehab and sent home, I kept asking my caregivers and my mom every day if my pressure sore was healing, and I kept asking wound nurses how long it would take.  I didn’t know if I going to be able to get back in the water, but my family and I kept researching swim instructors anyway.  Somehow, I held onto a glimmer of hope despite the mounting medical challenges I was facing.

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine:  https://pushliving.com/aquatic-therapy-a-story-of-a-paralyzed-mermaid/