Thursday, September 10, 2009

Silver Ring Splints

Hey, everyone! I hope you had a great holiday weekend! I certainly did - it was my birthday! 28! We went canoeing, just a short trip around the water in the park by our place. I didn't do much paddling, but I sure did have fun. I even took my pup, Meeko! So many beautiful birds, the water was perfect, the temperature was great. It was a nice relaxing hour. (Since I don't get out much, this was welcomed! I had some problems with the POTS and the back pain was off the charts, but I am so glad I forced myself to do it!) We wrapped the evening up with homemade pizza and some friends. I even got to have a vegan, gluten-free, nightshade-free pizza - it was SO good, really!! I have posted pictures below.

Second order of business: Social Security Disability. I GOT APPROVED!!!! :) For the disability and SSI claims! A judge backing me up!? That feels so good! I will be doing a long post on all of this soon, but I just wanted to let you all know! Hooray!!!

Third: Silver Ring Splints!

(Video: My Silver Ring Splints)

As you can see, the ring splints are a blessing! They really have helped my hand pain and I love them. They do have a few downfalls, and I think it is important to do your homework before getting them - to really understand what they are and how they work - since they are SO expensive.

As for the insurance questions, I wanted to post info on how I got my insurance company (the one I had at the time) to cover the cost of the splints. There are two things you will battle when trying this. First, the companies that make silver rings splints don't deal with insurance. They won't take it, won't try to work with you. They simply don't accept insurance. Secondly, the ring splints are not typically covered by insurance companies anyway. You have to prove to your insurance company that you absolutely need the ring splints and that you have exhausted all other resources first. They usually want you to try plastic 'oval 8' splints first. If you are like me, these are an okay substitute (and all kids will need, since their fingers will outgrow the silver ones - and with the cost you don't want to pay for these more than once!) - they do help a little, but they also cut my skin often and never fit well enough to stay on and do their job. So, how do you get around all of this? Here is how I did it (I am not telling you to do anything, nor I am telling you to break laws. What I did wasn't illegal. I don't condone or promote illegal acts.):

  • Step 1. These are prescription splints. That means you must have a doctor write you a script. So, get yourself to the orthopedic doctor, hand therapist, etc. First, I went to the orthopedic surgeon that deals with my upper joints (like shoulders and wrists). He said he wouldn't write me a prescription, that I didn't need the splints. Really, I think he didn't know what they were. He is really nice, but deals more with sports injuries than connective tissue disorders. So, he sent me along to the hand therapist (they work together diagnosing and treating, same office). My hand therapist took one look at my fingers hyperextending/subluxing and got out the oval 8 splints. I was sized and wore those for a few months (the plastic ones). They cut my fingers and were uncomfy, but I wore them to prove to her and myself that they helped. She also made me a horribly hideous thumb splint out of a Play-Doh like material (that was heated and hardened) and it fastened to my hand with velcro. This kept my thumb in place. Once she saw they were helping me, she agreed to do the sizing for the silver ring splints. She talked to my orthopedist and he had to write the prescription for 20 ring splints (I needed them for every joint on all of my fingers). Then, she had to order the sizing kit from the company. This kit does cost the doctor money and sometimes they can be hesitant about things like this. In addition, you will need copies of ALL of this paperwork: your prescription, your sizing charts, etc. - save these for step 3.

  • Step 2. Next on the agenda: Finding an 'orthotics and prosthetics company' to be the 'middle-man.' This is where things get tricky - but also the part that saves you the money. You have to do research. This will take time and effort on your part. You have to locate a company that works with (or is willing to work with) the silver ring splint company and your insurance company. They will be doing this for either a small fee or out of the goodness of their hearts, as they won't be getting much from you. Find O&P companies. Call them and ask to speak to a supervisor (this is a big help!). Ask if they have ever ordered anything from Silver Ring Splint Company (or company of your choice), or if they would be able to. (They have to be able to bill the correct codes, and most companies you speak with won't be able to do this.) If no one in your area is able to help, contact bigger companies. If no one is able to help you at those, branch out. Call small companies in other states. Big companies nationwide. Keep calling and calling until you find someone. Explain to them that they will act as a middle man. Tell them about your EDS and the problems you are having. This took me two years - to track down someone that would be willing and able to do this. It is work on their part that they aren't getting paid for, essentially, and so it will take a person who is caring enough to want to help - they are out there. One EDSer I know was able to find this person/company in a month. One a little longer. Me, two years. But - unless you have $5,000 laying around for rings, it is the best bet! There is a diagram below to refer to, if you need help explaining this circle to the O&P company. NOTE: you must find a company that works with your insurance. To get a listing of possible companies, contact your insurance and ask them for the names and numbers of providers in your coverage plan for Orthotics and Prosthetics.

  • Step 3. Get that paperwork from step 1 and send it to the O&P company. They will send it on to the Silver Ring Splint Company. The Silver Ring Splint Company will bill your O&P. Your O&P will bill your insurance. Your insurance will pay your O&P. Your O&P will pay Silver Ring Splint Company. Silver Ring Splint Company will mail your rings to the O&P. They O&P will mail the rings to you. Confused yet?! :)

  • Step 4. Try your rings on. Make sure they fit. They need to be snug. If your hands get cold, and your fingers shrink, you don't want your rings falling off (trust me, I have had several slip off already this way and officially have lost one). Try them on carefully. If you so much as scratch it, you can't return or exchange it. Make sure you are SUPER happy with the fit. If not, you need to go back to your hand therapist/ortho and have them re-size you. Then, you have to go back through the process with the O&P. Sounds trying, and it is, but it is worth it if you want your rings. The last thing about aesthetics I wanted to add: they do tarnish rather easily. They also may turn your skin colors. My fingers were green under the splints for a while, then black, then it went away. The rings are very tarnished now. I clean them occasionally, but the company recommends taking them off to shower, etc. I need them for things like that, so I never take mine off, I just deal with ugly colored rings! (The only ones I don't wear all the time are the large thumb ones.)

  • Step 5. Enjoy! :)

Silver Ring Splint Company is who I went through. I like their rings. The large thumb one with the bracelet is fairly new and wasn't in the catalog, but it was on a flier they sent with the catalog.

Cindy Garris, Owner
Phone: 800-311-7028 or 434-971-4052
P.O. Box 2856
Charlottesville, VA 22902-2856, USA
Fax: 888-456-8828

DigiSplint - Canada
(This company lost a copyright infringment suit filed by Silver Ring Splint in 2008 for web design, just an interesting tidbit!)

Murphy Ring Splints - can't buy directly from them, they use distributors.

P.S. I get SO many compliments on the metal all over my hands! People think they are just crazy jewelry - and most people LOVE them! I take that opportunity to explain that they are medical and why I wear them. I figure, 'what the heck, more awareness, right?'.....

Homemade rice crust pizza dough with homemade
pesto, squash and onions from the farmer's market! Yummy!

I love my Meeko!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Nominate EDNF for $10,000 Charity Award

While 'The Christie Cookie' doesn't offer cruelty-free cookies, they are giving money away to the charity with the most nominations in their 25th anniversary contest. Since I don't have to buy their cookies in order to nominate (and therefore am not contributing to suffering), I don't mind nominating EDNF and passing this along as well. EDNF (Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation) is struggling to maintain enough funding to stay active, and while I don't always agree with their politics & ethics (they support animal testing, when there are more accurate, cost-effective and reliable ways to do medicine - like NDRI's EDS research using actual tissues donated from humans with EDS), they are the largest group of people fighting for EDS awareness in the states, and I fully support EDS awareness. With that being said, I am a member of EDNF and I recently received a letter from them asking for people to help in any way they can, financially or by asking others to become members ($25 a year). They provide a plethora of information (and members have access to the forums, which can be really helpful) on EDS, at last count they had about 10,700 people using the site - with less than 1,000 paid members. To help them, which I do think is important, we can all do one of two things (or both):
  1. Become a member of EDNF if you aren't already. Ask friends and family to join as well. This will increase their knowledge of EDS, raising awareness, and help fund the organization's efforts. Visit EDNF for membership info.
  2. Nominate EDNF to win the $10,000 that this cookie company is giving away. (This is free and easy.) Visit the nominations page here. (You don't have to give your personal info.)

That's all. Hope you are well!
Have a happy & safe holiday weekend!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Question of the Day

I will be posting a 'question of the day' occasionally - many random topics - and I would love to hear from each of you. Please make sure to post your answer to these in the form of a comment below the post (and not an email to me), as these questions/answers are meant to help us all.

Today's Question:

How do you combat stress?

If you are having a really stressful day or week, what are some natural ways you deal with it? What is your favorite relaxation technique?

Post your answers in a comment below - share them with others!

Today is a high stress morning for me, as I am off to my hearing with the judge for the disability case. I need to calm down beforehand, so I am going to do some breathing exercises outside (it finally has cooled off a bit!) before I head out. This helps me focus and unwind, just a bit. What helps you?

(This will be a category on the right side of the blog. You can browse through past 'Question of the Day' entries and see what others think about these topics!)


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