Time to winterize my body

Posted by Michael Collins in Life After Paralysis on December 03, 2018 # Health, Insurance

For some reason, my body seems to know that the end of the year and the start of winter is a great time to start acting up. Urinary tract infections seem to occur more frequently at the same time as routine medical and dental checkups lead to more complex, and expensive, treatments.

In order to try to keep these things under control, my approach has become to prepare for this season in the same manner as I do for the winterizing of my vehicle and my home. While I have never seen these suggestions written down anywhere, I suppose they would also work for other people with similar paralyzing conditions--or chronic disabilities or illnesses of any type.

Some of the steps I take to protect my body are the same as I take for my mode of transportation and the place that I live. Since I would not let insurance coverage expire or lapse on my van, my house or belongings it is important to be sure that it is current when it comes to healthcare. We are currently in the annual 'window of opportunity' for changing or purchasing health insurance plans; as just two examples, the deadline for those who are eligible for Medicare is December 7, and the deadline for open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act is December 15. Many of these plans have changed this year, so it pays to review all of those pamphlets arriving in our mailboxes and perhaps even click on a few of those internet 'pop-up' windows that seem to plague us this time of the year.

While I have yet to learn exactly what types of changes will impact the amount of taxes I pay for this year, it is still the opportune time to take steps that might reduce the amount paid to the Internal Revenue Service. No matter what limits are placed on how much we can donate to charitable organizations, they also require funding to stay in business even if our donations are not deductible on our tax returns. If they did a great job with our donations in the past they may be worth funding again. To learn how they did, check them out at the Charity Navigator website.

No matter how careful I am about purchasing, it seems that I always end up with surplus supplies or medically related equipment that is still usable by others. Those items are usually donated to a local organization that refurbishes anything needing repair and then makes it available to others with disabilities or conditions that require those items. I always request a receipt for the donation so that it can be added to the list of monetary donations that I make to worthwhile disability-related causes.

This is also an opportune time to make any purchases or repairs that are medical expenses, just in case they could be deductible. For me, such purchases this year included new tires and batteries for my power wheelchair and a replacement shower/commode chair. Other final purchases for the year include prescription medications and urological supplies so that I will have receipts on hand in case needed for tax purposes.

Usually, near the end of the year, I have met my annual deductible for medical and dental expenditures so some deductibles or co-pays are reduced or eliminated. Thus it is a good time to schedule any vision, dental or medical checkups before a new deductible amount starts over at the first of the year. If done early enough, any issues that arise during those checkups can be dealt with before the end of the year as well.

Unlike with a vehicle that is receiving periodic service or getting winterized, there is no mileage or time guarantee when it comes to what I do for my body at this time of year. There will inevitably be some new issue that crops up in the new year, but the steps I have taken will assure that my failure to do the periodic maintenance that is required will not be the cause for whatever goes wrong in the future.

© 2018 Michael Collins

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.