Friday, August 29, 2014

John Kasich fails disabled and elderly Ohioans

One day this week my PCA (Home Health Aide) got a call on her cell phone while she was on duty at my house. Generally, I prefer my PCA’s do not take personal calls while on duty but I could see such concern wash over her face, I told her to answer it.

My house is small so of course, I heard the conversation that followed. It was my PCA’s other Client calling her to say she had been left abandoned by the PCA who was supposed to provide service to her that day and she was hungry and thirsty…unable to prepare food for herself.

That other PCA is not a criminal. She just didn’t have gas in her car to get to work because she has not been paid since the premature implementation of MyCare Ohio.

Hearing this conversation made my heart sink into my stomach. That could easily be me that was left without basic life sustaining sustenance because my Caregivers have not been paid consistently either due to MyCare Ohio.

Then I started to feel guilty because my PCA has just helped me prepare a delicious organic, gluten-free meatloaf dinner. It made me sick to look at it, knowing someone with similar circumstances was going hungry.

In a Hulk-like transformation, the Gimp Avenger in me came out…pushing emotions aside and formulating a plan-of-action.

Step One: I had my PCA prepare a plate of meatloaf for this disabled stranger (PCA’s are not allowed to disclose their Client’s personal information) and asked her to deliver it to her immediately. I also armed her with contact information for the Universal Healthcare Action Network, which is a nonprofit advocacy group that is intervening to assist victims of MyCare Ohio.

Step Two: Begin drafting a public statement to Governor John Kasich. Prior to the launch of MyCare Ohio Governor Kasich and Greg Moody, Director of the Health and Transformation Office, had a whole lot of wonderful things to say about MyCare Ohio. Once it launched though, they fell silent on the matter. When my statement is completed, I will post it…might possibly make a video as well.

I am not sharing this story with you because I think I deserve a gold star for sharing my dinner with a stranger. I am sharing this story to bring attention to the fact that there are disabled and elderly Ohioans who are likely going without dinner because of MyCare Ohio. That is abuse.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ohio, stop abusing disabled people and their Caregivers!

Dear Readers. I know you haven’t heard from ‘The Gimp Avenger’ for a while. This doesn’t mean that discrimination and abuse of people with disabilities has ceased. I was simply waiting to see how bad things were going to get, especially here in Ohio, before I suited up for battle.

With claims of streamlining, expanding, and improving services for those who receive both Medicaid and Medicare, MyCare Ohio was created. Under MyCare Ohio, Consumers like me who receive benefits from both entities were described as having the option to choose which HMO we wanted to utilize for Case Management services. I did not find this to be true.

All phone numbers I was given to sign-up with CareSource (my 1st choice) lead to dead ends. One number led me to a recording that gave me the option to by a Wal-Mart gift card. When I declined, I was disconnected.

Against my wishes, I was assigned to UnitedHealth Care. My experience has been downright abusive. It has taken a month for one of my three Home Health Aides (Independent Providers) to get a paycheck. Another should be getting a check by tomorrow. The third however, isn’t even recognized by UnitedHealth Care and therefore can’t submit her billing.

These people have been working a month without pay. I can’t express enough gratitude for these wonderful people. Agency Aide’s would have left me in a puddle of my own waste weeks ago. I am about to lose one of my Independent Providers though if UHC doesn’t get it together this week. That will put my life and safety at risk.

I should also mention that UHC called me multiple times to express that they don’t like my social media ranting about how they are complicating my life and putting me at risk for losing care that is critical to my survival. I am not easily intimidated so I’m not sure if they were feebly attempting to intimidate me.

My Case Manager at UHC has offered to just send me a UHC Home Health Aide if mine stop coming to work. Lovely. I have a rather serious form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta. If a stranger tried to ‘help’ me, he/she will likely break my bones and possibly kill me. Excellent solution there UHC!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Rant - I’m not Captain Save A Gimp

At the risk of sounding like the most horrible disabled person who ever rolled across the face of the Earth, there is something I need to get off my chest.

About once a week, I get a phone call or an email, or someone in person spills the following on me.

“I know this lady who is disabled and doesn’t really have any friends so, she’s depressed a lot. You should hook up with her and hang out. I bet you two would have a ton in common!”

Riiiiiiiight. She has no friends and is depressed so she must be a barrel of laughs. Sign me the fuck up!

This nonsense needs to stop right now. Stop torturing me with your socially inept disabled friends who are depressed because they have negative attitudes!

To further illustrate my point here are a few equally inappropriate scenarios. Imagine what may transpire if you or I approached someone and said:
  • Hey there, morbidly obese lady! I know another morbidly obese lady. You two should totally hang out. You would have a TON in common. Get it? A TON!
  • Hi. I see that you are an ignorant redneck with poor grooming habits. I met a guy just like you at a bar last weekend. He gave me his number. Want it? You’d get along great.
  • Hey, I couldn’t help from noticing that you are black. I have a neighbor who is also black. Want me to get his number for you? Maybe you guys can go shoot some hoops together.
I realize and honestly do appreciate that those of you who have done this, have good intensions.  I don't hate you.  You are just trying to help an unhappy friend.

If your disabled friend contacted me directly, that would be different. I’d be more receptive to establishing a friendship that isn’t forced by a third party. I’m not Captain Save A Gimp though.

If you think that I can be of inspiration to someone, then buy him/her a copy of the movie.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dancing Wheels Benefit Concert Sets the Stage a Blaze

The 2014 Dancing Wheels Benefit Concert Sets the
Stage a Blaze with Rock that Rolls!

Jen Sikora, Sara Lawrence-Sucato, Emma Parker, and Catherine Meredith - DW Dancers
Jane Hash, Blogger
photo by Tom Trainer 
The house will be rockin’ on Friday, April 11 when the Dancing Wheels Company ignites the stage at Public Hall with an unforgettable evening of music and dance by America’s most notable Rock Hall inductees: Madonna, R.E.M., Ray Charles, The Temptations and Alice Cooper.

An awesome VIP Party (hosted by more than 55 enthusiastic hosts) will start the festivities at 6:30 p.m.Party goers will be invited to food samplings enjoyed by the rock stars themselves prepared by Executive Caterers, a photo booth where they can dress up like their favorite rocker and peruse unique musical and ‘rock’ and “roll” items on the one of a kind silent auction.

The high energy performance will commence at 8:00 p.m. with a special guest appearance by Bobby Harris and Skip Martin from the Grammy Award-winning, Dazz Band who will open the performance. Guest celebrity hosts Thomas Mulready of CoolCleveland, Dennis Lewins, with WCLV/HD2 Idea Stream and Jeremy James Verdi, Cougar 93.7 will take audiences on a musical journey as they introduce each dance performed by the Dancing Wheels Company.
Ja’Vaughn White, DW Dancer
photo by Tom Trainer

Four emerging choreographers from New York City were chosen to create new dance works for this concert using the music from inductees from the Rock Hall of Fame. Shawn Rawls created The Temptation Suite with Just My Imagination, Ain’t too Proud to Beg and Papa was a Rolling Stone, Ted Thomas went with songs from R.E.M Man on the Mood, At My Most Beautiful and Superman entitled If You Believe; Ashley Carter and Vanessa Martinez used a later Madonna song 4 Minutes, in which she sang with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, they titled their piece Save the World and Ginger Cox brought to life the soulful and hip music of Ray Charles with Let the Good Times Roll, a medley consisting of Let the Good Times Roll Georgia (on my mind) and Hit the Road Jack!

In addition to these four world premieres, the Company will also perform its recent new and exciting high energy work, Straight Down the Middle a suite of Alice Cooper music choreographed by Dance St. Louis Artistic Director, Michael Uthoff. A special guest appearance by the Dancing Wheels School will be an amazing addition to the evening Twenty-two students from the Dancing Wheels School will be joined on stage by students from “On Your Toes” Dance Studio for Pride with music by U2 choreographed by Dancing Wheels School Coordinator, Emma Parker.

After the show all audience members are invited to join in on a dance party like no other with the high energy music of Festivus, Cleveland’s # 1 rated Party Band!

Jason Shaw, DW Dancer
photo by Tom Trainer
About the Company:

Now in its 33rd season, the Dancing Wheels Company under the artistic direction of Mary Verdi-Fletcher and Rehearsal Director, Catherine Meredith, perform throughout the world with more than 75 performances each year. With this new body of work the Company’s wide and diverse repertory has grown to nearly 60 works.

Mary Verdi-Fletcher said “This Rock that Rolls Project proved to be exciting and informative for both the dancers and the choreographers. We engaged in diverse genres of dance while significantly broadening the vocabulary of each of the choreographers with our technique of translation and unique partnering; giving way to the new and endless possibilities that are available through physically integrated dance”

The 15 member Dancing Wheels Company members performing in this eclectic concert include: Kelly Clymer, Dezare Foster*, Samantha Fox, Daniel “Isaah” Henderson*, Emma Parker, Franklin Polk, Jen Sikora, Jason Shaw, Sara Lawrence-Sucato*, Mary Verdi-Fletcher, Apprentices, Lianne Zydowic, Hope Harl and Kevin Marr. Trainees Ja’Vaughn White and Tanya Ewell. *denotes Dance Captains

Benefit VIP tickets are $100, general admission tickets and after party are $30. For more information or to make reservations call (216) 432-0306 or log on to

Sponsored by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Scene Magazine, Rock the House, AmRamp and Sherwin Williams. All proceeds benefit the Dancing Wheels Company & School’s educational and outreach programs. Additional sponsors: Cleveland Foundation, Bruening Foundation, MetLife Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Emerson Process Management, National Endowment For The Arts, Target, The George Gund Foundation, The Kuhn Family Foundation, The Kennedy Center VSA, The Nord Family Foundation, Invacare, Key Bank, and Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Still Proud To Be A Freak

About fifteen years ago, I got my first tattoo. Since then, I acquired four more. Considering the permanency of a tattoo, I put a great deal of thought into each one to make sure that my choices would always accurately represent an element of who I am or at least a milestone in my personal evolution.

My third tattoo was hugely significant to me. It was the word “Freak” which, I proudly showed off to many. It surprised me how often it upset people and the things they would say like, “You should think better of yourself.” That is when I realized that a whole lot of people are not at all comfortable with being different. I think…no, I know I awesome because I am unique. There is nobody else exactly like me. I’m a rare freak of nature who is totally confident and secure with herself. It is not my fault that others have negative feelings attached to the word “freak.”

Then, the unexpected happened. I adopted a holistic lifestyle and lost 17 lbs. This would not be a big deal if I was an average sized person but I’m not. I’m only 2’ 7” tall. Going from 55 lbs to 38 lbs caused some serious freak changes.

I didn’t realize the extent of the matter until I was backstage at a Mickey Avalon concert last year. He asked if I wanted his autograph but I had no paper or anything for him to write on. So, I did what any resourceful woman would do. I whipped my boob out for him to sign. I will never forget what he said at that moment. “I’ll sign right here next to Frank.” That is when I realized that my “Freak” had morphed into “Frank” and that was not acceptable. My beloved “Freak” had to go. 

Mickey Avalon & Jane Hash
photo by Tom Trainer

As I stated earlier, I put a great deal of thought into each tattoo. As badly as I wanted to hide “Frank”, I didn’t want to put any ol’ thing on my body forever. After much contemplation the image I finally decided upon is the face of my sweet furbaby, Bob the Savannah Cat.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving...In August!

Dear Readers, 

Last December I wrote a post about two people with disabilities who were courageously fighting injustices that were being forced upon them.  

Robert Moldenhauer is an Autistic teenager who was being denied a kidney transplant, for a variety of bullshit reasons that all translated to discrimination.

Jenny Hatch is a woman in her late twenties who has Down Syndrome.  Her biological family was not providing a safe and healthy environment for her so Jenny created a life of her own.  She got a job, made friends, and developed a support system so that she could live independently yet with friends.  Well, her biological family had an issue with Jenny's new life and got the state involved which lead to Jenny being sent to a group home...far away from her support system.  

I have not personally met Robert or Jenny.  However, I have spoken with Robert's mother and father more than once throughout this ordeal and helped organize his advocacy team.  I have even exchanged emails with Jenny's biological family because they contacted me and told me to stop advocating on Jenny's behalf because she is better off in a group home.  I let them know that The Gimp Avenger will not be bullied and if they continued to contact me, I'd sue them for harassment.  I may have thrown in a few other descriptive terms but I don't remember exactly.  That was the end of that though.

Fortunately, last week was a victorious week for both Robert and Jenny.  Robert got his new kidney and Jenny got her freedom!  Both of their struggles took way longer than necessary but neither of them gave up.

People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world.  We do not exist to be abused, denied, or ignored.  Also, we are more connected now than ever before because of the availability of the internet, which gives us the ability to advocate for each other and protect each other.  Some of us may lack physical strength while others lack cognitive skills.  My point is, when we all work together, we can either be your inspiration or we can fuck your shit up. 

In closing, I want to thank all our able-bodied allies!  You are appreciated.

The Gimp Avenger