Friday, July 14, 2006


The landlord decided to do something. Two months before we were to move back to California, he lied to us and said he was retiring to his lake house and needed us out immediately. We could have fought him on it, but we were tired of him and his friend. I knew that he had been wanting to remodel since before we came along. And I knew the wheelchair had damaged some walls, so I wanted to offer him some money because I figured he just wanted to redo everything anyway. However, he refused to speak to us or give me his email. Instead, he hid behind his obvious lie and watched us move to an old run down resort nearby. We hired a handyman to fix everything, which he did. Then it got nasty. After we had moved out, the landlord had he police find us and accuse the boys of shooting pellet guns at an old shack at the rear of his property. Remember, EVERYONE in Montana has at least one pellet gun, and we lived next to public land. The boys immediately denied it and gave him their guns for ballistics testing. The policeman was a real jerk, and treated us like we were guilty. Again, the boys sure didn't ACT guilty. The tests came back inconclusive, but the landlord wanted money for it anyway, along with an old couch and some miscellaneous things. It was only $2,200 total, but we had had enough and decided to fight.

The first thing we did was to call five lawyers, but none of them returned our call. We kind of felt helpless, because, unlike California, we didn't know anybody. Then Emma offered to help us. One of her ex-husbands was a landlord, and knew the law inside and out. More importantly, he was an imposing presence at about 250 lbs. He told us that it was up to the landlord to prove damages (and without videotape of the place before we moved in, we would win 100% in court). He decided to have a little conference with the other party. They demanded $2,200, and he said we WANTED to sue them anyway. This was only partly true, because we would have had to come back from California for court. Jane offered half. The rental agency urged the guy to take it, probably because they knew they didn't have a tape. The guy took our offer, and then left us alone.

Back in California, the real estate market was heating up. This, together with the fact that both of our neighbors were selling and bringing by lots of buyers, resulted in our getting a few pretty good unsolicited offers. Thus, we had yet another big decision to make. We decided, however, to give our place in California a try, since it was home to us and we had a much broader support group there. We figured if it didn't work out for one reason or another, that we could always move somewhere else. It helped that our caregiver, Emma, had decided to come with us for awhile. That meant one less thing to deal with in California. After what we had been through as a family, though, nothing scared us anymore.

About this time I became eligible for Medicare. What that meant was I was not allowed, by law, to keep my Blue Cross policy (except as a supplement). This had several ramifications. First, I lost the case manager at Blue Cross who had been so supportive - they had ended up paying for two years of therapy. Medicare cut that off right away - they said two years was a long time and if we wanted to complain to call such and such a beaureaucrat, etc. - as if we had time! On the positive side, they had no DME limits, unlike Blue Cross, who would not even cover my wheelchair. Which brings up the medical equipment fund a family set up for me. We used it to get a standing frame, a mat, a power bike, and many miscellaneous items. It was a Godsend, especially after formal therapy ended.

One of the things it got was the Cyclatone. Through some stroke of luck (no pun intended), a man in a nearby town had an aunt with a condition similar to mine. He was an inventor, and had built her a power bike for both arms and legs. I had been looking for just such a device, and since his aunt had passed on, they sold it to me. It allowed me to move all four limbs at the same time, greatly reducing my dependence on a caregiver. Once when it broke we called a guy we had gotten to know. He was a paraplegic who had been an All-Pro linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. Unbeknownst to him, he had sustained a serious neck injury playing football, and then snapped it completely in a skiing accident. He was still able to flyfish and fly a plane. Fortunately, he was also pretty handy and was able to fix the Cyclatone.

We ended our stay in Montana with a final newspaper article. It was mostly about the wheelchair everyone had rigged up so I could ambulate and talk at the same time, using mainly head movements to control my wheelchair. It was fun - we had some pictures taken in Home Depot and showed that I could be independent for brief periods of time. They kind of forgot to mention how much work it was to set up. We also took the opportunity to thank everyone in Montana for helping us out. In reality, many people had been extremely good to us. It was just the accomodations that had been a nightmare.

With the help of some old friends, Barb and Don Tate, we loaded up a truck for the seventh time in two years (and the last time for awhile), and headed home to California!


Anonymous Frances said...

While that landlord was a complete and total pain in the ass, some other guys at the rental equipment services might be the total opposite of that person.

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