carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

We bought a car

Finally!  In mid-August.  It took us FOREVER and tried every one of my last nerves.

You might remember the car we bought from Jim and BK in late January.

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“The Big Car”  a 1998 Lincoln Town Car.  For our purposes, at the time, it was a fine car.  Ran well.  Ben’s fold-up wheel chair fit easily in the back.  Large trunk that I could use for storage.  Good car…. until the driver’s side window stopped going up and down.  And then in early July the AC stopped working and then in the period of 10 short days the motors on all the other windows broke so they stopped going up and down.  Ben’s trips away from home became very restricted.  It is one thing to subject myself to riding around in an oven on wheels but something else to subject Ben to it.  (I feared being arrested for elder abuse.)  For a few weeks my trips were very short or made late in the afternoon or on cloudy days.  Even then, wherever I arrived, it appeared that I had just stepped out of a shower.  Almost totally soaked in sweat.

Several months ago, we started looking for a new vehicle when Ben’s whoop dee doo wheel chair arrived.  Most folks buy what is known as a ‘conversion van’.  This is a passenger van that has  been altered.   Seats removed, bottom lowered or roof raised to accommodate the height of a wheel chair with a person sitting in it.  New conversion vans start at $45,000.  Used conversion vans… well you might find one.  “How about this nice one, a 2007 with only 75,000 miles and it is only $30, 000.”  Yeah, right!  We were suffering from serious sticker shock.

Because I was very focused on getting us unpacked I had let Ben handle looking for choices.  He gave his name and email address to car dealers!  Oh nooo!  I would be asleep and wake up hearing him committing us to driving 30 miles away to visit a car dealer.  And what we would be driving in?  Yes, the oven on wheels.  In 90+ degrees of heat and 80% humidity.  I had to put a stop to that.

Finally, we found a ramp system, called Roll- A- Ramp.   click here if you want to see their site

This started a whole round of measuring the inside spaces and door openings of vans.  Silly me, I thought we should be able to find specs like that online.  Not really.  So visits to car dealers along with a tape measure were called for.  Traveling there in the mobile oven.  Keep in mind, we lived in Italy for 10 years.  Thinking that foreigners would be a problem, at a car dealership in Italy, no one really wanted to sell us a car.  The two cars that we bought were from a dealer ship where we were friends with the owners’ son.  No high pressured sales tactics were used.  It was ” Ah Marta, how much you gotta spend? I show you what we have.”   Here, whoa.  They were at the oven door before I even got Ben out.  And the questions.  With some amount of shame I have to confess that I lost my cool. (My cool had left me even before we had left the parking lot at home.)  JUST GET THE KEYS! OPEN THE DOOR! LET ME MEASURE AND TAKE PICTURES!  And then of course Ben would want to see.  And oh the questions he would ask.  Frayed, frayed, frayed last nerves.  It was torture.

And then there was the ramp installers.  Three choices, one nearby, two about two hours away.  Took weeks,  Really WEEKS! to get in touch with them.  Because Ben has questions.  One is off fishing.  One is on a ‘mission trip.’ One doesn’t bother to return calls.  And then there is the installer of the ‘tie down’ systems.  Just as hard to get in touch with them.  Be prepared to hear this story in great detail if you make the mistake of saying something like “well in Italy/France everyone goes on vacation at the same time.  The whole place just shuts down.”  That is true.  But you know when it is going to happen and you know that the whole family will be away and you can plan.  Here, dealing with small family run businesses, it is crap shoot about who will be working and when.   Not just in a concentrated few weeks of August, it has been the whole summer.

So after considering possibilities, costs and thinking about it, we realized that while it would be nice to have a van that Ben could ride into in his motorized chair we just could not afford that.  So we picked a Ford Transit Connect.  It is a small van.  Many workmen use it.  Fits well in tight spaces.  Handles well.  We will be having a  ramp installed in the back which will come right out on to the sidewalk or parking lot.  Ben will still have to walk from the back of the condo to the front parking lot and get in and out of the passenger seat, then get in the motorized chair  (after I get it out) when we arrive somewhere.  Honestly, when he is no longer capable of doing that the chances are very high that I will no longer be able to manage taking care of him.

Ben’s very diligent search finds a brand new 2016 van.  It had been hiding on the lot.  We got a great price but they only want to give us $100 for the ‘big car’.  What an insult!  Why there is enough room to bake 10 pizzas inside that car if it was parked in full sun shine!  Really!  A good pizza oven would cost more than that and this one was mobile!  I list it on Craig’s List and sell it for $700.  Probably could have gotten more but I wanted it to go to a good home.

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So, this is the new car.  It is cute as a button.  His name has not yet revealed itself to me.  (Long time friends remember Sven) It is such a pleasure to ride around in.  Now we are working on getting the ramp and tie downs installed.  Maybe, just maybe, we can get that all done and take a little trip before winter arrives.

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6 Comments »

How many times…

How many ways do I need to change our address with our health insurance companies?

 

Last summer, while still in Italy, I had to research and select our supplemental health insurance plans.  One of the most frustrating experiences I have had.  It drove me to tears several times and I always had to have a glass of wine after wards.  Anyway, with the help of several patient ladies here in Raleigh, I picked two companies.  Coventry for Ben and Humana for me.  When signing up I did not want to use our condo (where we are living now) address because the property was rented at the time.  I did not know the renters and did not feel comfortable having insurance related mail sent to that address.  I could not use our address in Oxford because these plans are not offered in Oxford.  I asked our friend Cathy, who lives in Raleigh, if we could use her address.  No problem.  So we did.  Immediately mail from the insurance companies started coming to Cathy.

January arrived and so did we.  Cathy brought us a box of mail, all insurance related.  As the end of January approached and our condo address became available to us I started to change our address with everyone, insurance included.  With the insurance companies I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

February came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail.   I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

March came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail. I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

April came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail. I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

May came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail.  By now I have pretty much had it.  Coventry, Ben’s insurer is the worst.  They want to chat with him over the phone to see how he is doing.  But first, they have to confirm they have the correct person by reviewing his birthdate and address.  When they start rattling off Cathy’s address I end the conversation.  “If you can’t get our address corrected, I don’t have time to talk to you.”  I am still sending pieces of paper changing our address.

End of July, Cathy brings more insurance mail, including these.

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What are these?  Greeting cards from my health insurance company, sent to Cathy’s address.  One to welcome summer and one for 4th of July.  Guess what… I don’t want greeting cards from my health insurance company, I would really rather that you cover more of the cost of my $100 prescription.  And I certainly don’t want them sent to an address that I have spent 6 months trying to change.  Is it an evil plot to raise my blood pressure so that I need a whole new prescription?

 

 

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