I had a neurology follow up yesterday, Mt. Sinai, Dr. Neuro 2, at 2 pm. It was the first time I was going to use Access-A-Ride (A-A-R). A-A-R is run by the city for people that can’t use public transit.
To get it you fill out a bunch of forms, and then they send an A-A-R car to take you out to Queens where you enter a room filled with with crippled people leaning on walkers, canes, and in wheelchairs.
I sat down in one of their low chairs and waited. I should preface this by saying there is a low height chair, I don’t know exactly what the height is, that I can’t get out of on my own because of weakness in one particular muscle-nerve connection.
And of course, all the chairs in that room were that exact height, but I didn’t know it until they called my name and I tried to get up. I won’t go into the whole thing, but suffice to say it is embarrassing when elderly people are yelling advice from the sidelines and encouraging you to stand and one leg feels dead.
But somehow I got up and walked to various places and left with a note saying I was good for AAR for one year, and that I didn’t need an aide to go with me.
Two days ago, I had my first chance to use A-A-R. And btw, you pay the current MTA fare, and it’s not a straight ride, they pick up others as they go.
So my sister texted me to ask how the Neurology Apt went and in the middle of the night, this is what I wrote to her.
Getting there and getting back was a struggle. The access a ride was very late. That in itself was funny because the woman who took the reservation for the pickup car kept saying: the AAR car will be there at 1:03.
- 1:03 I said, let’s just say 1:00. Nobody knows what the traffic will be going down 2nd avenue.
- The computer says 1:03 pm so that’s what I have to type in. You don’t play soccer – ha,ha?
- No. And you’re not the first one to ask that.
There was the first guy, married to a Spice girl and now I think there’s another one whose name is actually Beckerman. Anyway, she wanted to know if there were any Spice Girls around. And I told her they all left after my strokes.
I ended up getting a cab that I could hardly get into while traffic was backed up on 83rd. Then while I was in the cab access a ride kept calling to find out where I was. Finally everyone understood. The driver the dispatcher and someone else that they were 45 minutes late so I was in a cab.
Got there on time for 2:00 appointment. The waiting room was packed. At least 125 people with canes and walkers and wheelchairs. I was still waiting at 2:45 and since I had scheduled the return ride for 3 pm I called access-a-ride and tried to make the pick up later, but they said that wasn’t allowed so I canceled the return trip.
Around 3:30 I got in and they took my vitals. Then they sent me back into the crowded waiting room. At 4pm I got up and went to the reception desk.
I asked if it was always this crowded.
Yeah. You’re here.
I know but my appointment was for 2:00. I already missed my return ride home.
Sorry ’bout that.
An old woman behind me stopped looking at her phone and began following this conversation.
But, I said, if you make the appointment for 2 o’clock and I’m still waiting at 4 – something’s wrong with your scheduling system.
Nothing wrong with it. The appointment system is working.
You know how to take the appointment, you just don’t no how to keep the appointment. And that’s really the whole point of making an appointment.
She looked at me strangely trying to figure out what I was going on about. The woman behind me laughed. Seinfeld, she asked? Right I said.
Well, my seat was taken when I walked back, and of course I sat in the only seat open, which I found out was the lowest chair in the room. And when my name was finally called 20 minutes later, I said: here, and discovered I couldn’t get out of the chair.
My neurologist was Indian with a thick accent,and again he called out Beckmahn. I raised my cane and said I need a hand getting out of this chair. Together we managed launch.
The appointment was fairly redundant. He told me my left leg was still weak (duh) but everything else was improving. I asked him (never give up) whether the neurology waiting room was always that crowded and that I had been waiting two hours… no, more than two hours.
He apologized and called me sir. People think that if you call them sir you can do anything to them.
It was cold and windy, and I had a slightly uphill walk to get a cab on Fifth. Luckily it was a big green cab with lots of legroom and I could get in quickly.
I still had the two long flights at my house to deal with, and the whole day was just exhausting.