Monday, 31 March 2008
A Boy's Right to Shoes
Sorry for the silence - life has been busy lately what with managing milestones and contemplating military strikes on local HSE positions! As you know we've been running the gauntlet of assessment appointments for Rory's Assessment of Need. Further to this, I have now assessed that the one thing he really needs, is a full time appointment secretary.
So far, we've had his Physiotherapy needs assessed, and guess what? He needs Physio. Then we had part one of his Occupational Therapy assessment, and what a coincidence? - he needs that too! We also had the pleasure of meeting the local Psychologist and wouldn't you know it - he could do with a little support here also. The whole painful process has, at least, helpfully pointed out, that not only will I have to battle for Speech Therapy, but I'll also have a whole range of urgent needs but non existent services to look forward to in the future. Oh be still my beating heart!!
However, my own personal favourite recent encounter was with our local neighbourhood friendly Podiatrist - the person who fits kids with those really attractive corrective shoes. You all know the ones - usually navy, with sensible lace up fronts which just scream "Bully me I'm handicapped". Fortunately, I am very happy to report that they are much smarter these days and don't have that same "use me as target practice" aura.
I'd been waiting for an appointment since last summer - a mere blink of an eye in HSE waiting terms, I know, but 8 months in the life of the fallen arches of a 4 year old represents a large percentage of their life time walking on this earth. We skipped eagerly to our meeting, to be told, what we had already suspected, that yes, indeed Rory did need special shoes. Great, now it's official, where do I sign the form? Well here's the rub. It's not that simple - if it was, then unthinkable things could happen - like everyone who needs a pair might actually get them - and how would we deal with such wanton efficiency?
The very nice Podiatrist inquired if we had a medical card, I gleefully confirmed that we had. She helpfully advised that I get the shoes under the medical card scheme as they were prohibitively expensive. I naively concluded that since we had already qualified for the card and she herself had given her professional opinion of my child's need, then where's the problem? Eh, well no, you see it doesn't work like that. Sometimes the HSE doesn't always sanction them. At this stage, the old familiar temple throb was beginning to make me twitch but, I realised, that in her capacity as the mere messenger, she was clearly not the person to shoot! So I politely inquired how I would know there was a problem - of a HSE sanctioning nature so to speak. I was told that if I didn't get a letter telling me to attend the next clinic in a months' time, then I could reasonably assume that there was indeed a non sanction issue at play. I left in more of a whimper than a temper.
Then logic - the old Nemesis of all things HSE related, kicked in. I thought I'd rather just cough up whatever it costs to get the shoes now, rather than wait for another month on top of the 8 I had already waited, to be told no, and then have to pay for them anyway. So I made a few calls. I eventually happened on the right person to speak to in such situations. She was extremely efficient and understanding - clearly she couldn't have been working with the HSE too long! She would ring her boss on my behalf and get straight back to me, and she did exactly what she promised. Minutes later I was greeted with the breezy sound of her, keen as mustard, tones when she cheerily advised me to" fire ahead with the application as they were flush this month"! In my stunned state I could only wonder if I had phoned her a month earlier, would the news have been less positive? Oh yes, she agreed, it was a disgrace, but that's the way it works - in the leaner months of the HSE fiscal calendar, kids who need orthotics or special shoes go without, if that particular department is, to use their own parlance, less than flush!
Such exacting budgetary management is to be lauded - I am so glad that the best budgeting brains in the country are making sure that no kid gets expensive shoes at taxpayers' expense, without its parents first being brought to their knees!
And lets remember now folks, that there is still a little boy who got a kidney from his Dad 4 months ago who can't eat, and who still wobbles when he runs because of his fallen arches!