Thursday, June 13, 2013

WGIAC: Deflated.

Well.  There's really no other way to put this:

WGIAC has a broken tibia inflicted by the fantastically crappy elevator in his fantastically crappy Section 8 apartment building, has one leg in a cast, and we are not going to New Haven.  When he told me about the leg on Monday, he indicated that leg was doing fine with his regular routine and that he was still enthusiastic about making the trip.  Yesterday though, when I called him from DC, he had changed his mind, citing a bunch of reasons that make little sense to me, and that really had nothing to do with the broken leg.  I've been using the leg as the primary excuse to make me less pissed off about the bail-out.  I asked if he was absolutely positive about saying "no" to a week of free transportation, free hotel, and free caregiver, but he had convinced himself already to stay here in DC for the time being.  

It's not crystal clear to me why he now doesn't want to go, when he's talked of going to New Haven for over a year.  I do know that around 20 people have shelled out good money to get him up there, and now I get to tell them that he's decided to not make the trip.  I see a couple of options for you guys, and if any of you have more ideas, I'm certainly open to hear them.  The first idea is that I transfer/mail/paypal you your donation back.  The second idea is that  I put the money into a trust-type fund for WGIAC for if and when he is able to travel up to New Haven, not to be used for anything but associated travel or lodging costs.  This second idea was actually WGIAC's idea; he wants to make sure that any donated money is safeguarded and used only for the reason it was given in the first place.

If you "want your money back," I don't blame you one bit.  I want my metaphorical money back, including several hours of effort spent by me, my family, and you guys over the past week.  Just send me a fb message or email indicating if you want a refund, or if you want to trust fund, and I'll make it happen either way.   

Sorry for the bummer news, and I remain grateful-for-life to you for pitching in.  WGIAC was awed that you guys had whipped together that kind of money in so few days.  When I meet up with him for coffee in the next week, I'll try and get to the bottom of his current situation, which seems to get more and more complicated every time I talk to him.  It's no mystery to me what causes burnout among nurses and home health caregivers.  Take care of yourselves out there.



Saturday, June 8, 2013

WGIAC: The Updates

See "White Guy In A Chair Seeks Van" for background to the story...


Well, I was up with the birds at 5:15 this morning.  Turns out that my flight is at 7:30 tomorrow, not Wednesday.  I think that I should start packing.  Not before I finish a presentation and attend an 8-hour nursing assistant practical skills day, though.  Maybe I will have oatmeal for breakfast.  And take a shower and


Seattle University's "APNI Cohort 2008" rushed the facebook event for a final drive to the finish.  As you can see, Seattle as a whole did pretty well for itself:

Hella filthy, Seattle!

Stage I of "WGIAC Goes to New Haven" complete, with flying colors.  I am proud of my family and of my family of friends.  Next step is the actual van rental... and driving up there from DC on Friday. Wish us a safe trip, and stay tuned for more updates on WGIAC and our trip.  

Eternally grateful,



One cool thing about being six to nine hours ahead of North American time zones is that I get to wake up to any donations you make to WGIAC after 1:00 or 2:00 pm (PST).  I go to bed, and you guys work overnight magic.  I am most impressed by the fact that people from every major chunk of my life have stepped forward to give something.  University of Washington dormmates, ultimate frisbee teammates (that would be the ambiguous "Boobies" on the chart below), family and future in-law family, Chicagoans, and fellow born-and-bred Colfaxians.  

Support from every stage of life... how cool.

That said, I used Skype to call various rental van companies in the D.C. area.  Accessible Rental Vans does state online that their rate for 7 days or longer is $600/week (excluding tax) with 700 miles gas.   Per Gmaps, the driving distance between New Haven and D.C. is 308 miles.  Accessible Rental Vans is the best rate I've found so far... but... its owner is out of town during the week that we need the van, and the company won't be renting any vans during that time.  She referred me to Ride Away, another company, whose rates are $115/day (excl. tax) and 100 miles per day.  Pretty comparable, but would be nice to get them down another $100 with the rental.  Their "rental coordinator" was not in the office yesterday when I called, so will have to wait until tomorrow for the next attempt.  

WGIAC has taken the initiative to call another company on the list, and I'll check in with him via Skype tonight to see if he's landed anything near $600/week.  He mentioned that the last time he rented a van to visit his mom and grandma (in 2009, before his mom's Parkinson's became debilitating), the van BROKE DOWN ON THE FREEWAY.  Hm.  Suddenly struck by a need to search high and low for my AAA card.  Which is likely expired.  

In the meantime, I have a presentation on medication to give to a team of home health nursing assistants tomorrow.  In Dutch.  And a test to write.  I'll get on it!  Keep it flowing, and thanks to all who've added to the bag so far!

** $325 to the goal! **


That about says it:  One day, six good people (eight if you count two as halves of a good couple), $275.  $725 to the goal.  

I called WGIAC to plan on Thursday.  He has "called a couple of buddies" and also the Christopher Reeve Foundation, but hasn't heard back.  I'm surprised he got through to anyone at CRF, the website is enormous and not-so-navigable.  I'm using it to search for better rates for the van rental.  WGIAC is one of the best and most persistent networkers I know.  I imagine, however, that being confined to use of his landline (and the landline of his "alternative number," the cafe down the street) is hampering his communications.  Typing is a struggle.  He used to use Dragon Natually Speaking voice recognition software for emails, but apparently lost it, or something, as well as his microphone, or it's broken, or something, in the last move (or something).  I had my dad send him my old Dragon software from grad school (grumble grumble transcribing 360 minutes of interviews grumble), but none of his caregivers are tech-savvy (or patient?) enough to set it up for him.  Life moves slowly for this guy.  I wrote a "Day-in-the-Life-of" type paper about a morning with WGIAC in grad school, but can't find it (or it's broken, or I lost it in a move, or something).  You should read it.  I should find it.

Got to call him now, actually.  Here goes.  Hassled a few other people with the facebook event invites today.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for your help.  Keep it flowing.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

White Guy In A Chair Seeks Van, Down By The River Or Otherwise


It's a long story, folks.  Bear with me.

Back in 2007, I answered a UW Daily ad for a weekend caregiver position.  My client was a complete quadriplegic (as in, C4-C5, pretty much nothing at home from the shoulders down) who, at the time, was also a student at the University of Washington (he graduated). Six years later, I'm living in Amsterdam with my dude, running almost every day, and having a great time. Six years later, White Guy In a Chair (With a College Degree)* lives in Washington, DC, where he's been in and out of the hospital, does weekly battle with the Housing Authority, have gone through umpteen caregivers, has lived in a "diverse" neighborhood that made my dad feel, as he put it, "like a golden Oreo" when we visited four years back, ran over his cell phone with his wheelchair in a crosswalk a month ago and can't afford a new one, etc, etc, etc. I could go on. I will. But only because it will get me to the point.

So, White Guy In a Chair has a Mom with Parkinson's and a Grandma with Alzheimers, both of whom live in New Haven, CT.  Both of whom he has not seen since moving to the East Coast. He's been trying for a couple of years, but can't convince any of his caregivers to drive the 5+ hours to get there (and another 5 hours back).  They'd need a wheelchair-accessible van, anyway (cost, so far as I can figure, is around $100 first day, and $80-$100 each day thereafter, 100 miles per day gas covered).  And a wheelchair-accessible hotel room, which are usually pricier than regular "double-twin" rooms.  And somebody to help him with everything from the shoulders down for eight days.

Fortunately, he has successfully located a willing caregiver who has done nothing much beyond sit on her butt 
in front of the computer and run/ride bikes for the last nine months. Check. That caregiver has talked a hotel down to about $100/night (including tax) and located an "anonymous donor" who is basically guaranteed whatever-he-wants-for-life by footing the hotel cost for the entire week. Check.

If there are any of you out there who are bleeding-heart do-gooders and want to help get this guy into a van 
**next Friday**, GREAT! Let's make a goal. $1000. That seems like a nice, round number. Should be able to get him at least to New Haven and back and forth between nursing home visits with that. Maybe a pre pay phone so he feels a bit more connected to the world (and for safety). Maybe dinner that consist of more than salted peanuts. I remember him eating a lot of those.
White Guy In a Chair was the first person to teach me Straight-Up Nurse Skillz, and is also one of the main reasons that I have the small amount of empathy that I do.  
Man! Life as a quadriplegic would suck!

Thanks in advance,

*"White Guy In a Chair" is thus nicknamed (only for the purposes of this Event, which WGIAC has no idea exists) due to the response of Big Black Safety Officer Guy At East DC Safeway, who responded, "You mean R! White Guy In A Chair?" when I asked if he'd seen a man in a wheelchair. WGIAC makes friends wherever he rolls. Which is funny to me, because he's from Juneau, Alaska and is prone to unintentionally racist comments. Stories for another time.

PS: "But Amelie, how can you promise me that all the money is really going into helping WGIAC to visit his ailing elders?" Good question! I'll keep track of whose money goes where and report back to you. And probably thank you with something cool from the Netherlands, like a postcard for people who give at least $15, maybe some stroopwafels for people who give at least $30, maybe a freekin' wheel of cheese for people who give $50-$100. I'm good at thank-you's.

*Please note in memo "WGINACHAIR" or "New Haven" or "Wheels Fund" or something of the sort. 

1.  Chase QuickPay: Amelie Mabbutt,
2.  PayPal: Amelie Mabbutt,
3.  Check to Permanent Address: 

Amelie Mabbutt
702 Crestview Dr.
Colfax, WA 99111

WGIAC with entourage.

UPDATE JUNE 7:  So glad to have the hotel cost covered.  This was nearly equivalent to the rate for the van rental, which means one generous soul has prospectively "matched" the goal donation for the van.  Nothing received yet via Paypal or Chase, but I see several people have signed on as "participants" in the facebook event, and one person has "pledged" $20 cash... but nothing concrete in the account yet.  A couple of people have asked why I am not using an open-source fundraising site like  I have reasons.  

First, as the caregiver for WGIAC, I'm concerned that my fundraising in my name (to protect his privacy) might raise conflict-of-interest questions among people who don't know me and my history with WGIAC (e.g. "Why is his caregiver having checks mailed to her?   Sketchy!).  I don't have the time to deal with those questions, should they arise.  

Second, I want to respect WGIAC's privacy by not open-sourcing his needs to the general public.  Facebook offers a slightly more contained space in which to share his story and request support.  

Third, requires either the fundraiser or the donors to pay a 7% service fee on donations.  This is certainly favorable to the overhead costs associated with operation a 501(c)3 non-profit, but I still don't want our donors to pay a "sales tax" on their donation... and I don't want to do it either, honestly, I think that Ed and I are already doing quite a bit.  

Fourth, open-source fundraising sites like give donors the option of paying with credit or debit card.  This sounds like it should be a redeeming quality:  convenience for donors, who would then be more likely to donate, right?  After deducting the 7% service charge, sends a check in the mail to the recipient.  Here are my issues with that, as pertains to our situation: it is unclear whether they send a check for every single donation or one check for all donations.  I don't want WGIAC to have to deal with a bunch of checks (he already rolls around with a sack full of them from Social Security and Medicaid, and, although he is super-organized, it is a pain-in-the-ass-of-his-life).  I don't have an address in the US other than my parent's address, and I'd prefer to not burden them with checks, either... even though that's listed as an option on this blog and on facebook.  Electronic is better for all, in this situation, if able.

Fifth, WGIAC hates anything that puts him in a "charity-case" light.  He clearly needs some assistance, no question there.  However, his sense of independence and quality of life are improved by remaining as anonymous as possible.  If he gets a check from "a group of people that Amelie knows," it will be better than getting a bunch of checks and well-wishes from people he's never met.  For some people, that makes not a whit of difference.  For this guy, it does.  Thanks in advance for joining me as I continue respect that as best as I am able.