I was a bit absent this week, but for very good reason. Matt and I have been frustrated with an exciting decision and purchase these last few days, and it’s hard to concentrate on anything. It has nothing to do with decorating, or DIY, or our home. It’s actually more exciting than that.
As most know, Matt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years after our wedding. That’s why she has been living with this diagnosis since 2004. For many years after, it didn’t have a big impact on our lives, but about five years into our marriage, her health started to decline.
For the past 13 years, Matt has had to rely on using a wheelchair to get around. But MS hurts even more with the use of his legs. For Matt, the main issues are his overall weakness and the total fatigue he experiences every day. Things like sitting in a chair – things most of us do to relax – just make him tired. He had to sleep and lie down to recover from the hours he spent in his chair. But there are many ways it can affect him besides fatigue. I won’t go into details.
MS is very limited for Matt. For more than a decade now, he doesn’t want to leave home or go places. That’s a lot because of fatigue, but he also faces a lot of fear. The house is a safe place for him, and there are no known variables when he is at home. If he is at home, we know how to handle every issue that arises. But he’s always afraid that if he leaves the house, something will happen that he (or we) won’t know how to manage.
Fortunately, coming home didn’t mean he had to lock himself inside the walls of our house. We have a house that sits on an acre lot, and Matt has a power wheelchair that can easily cross the ground. She was comfortable with that as long as the weather wasn’t too hot, and she had a lot of fun outside and could enjoy our great property. There was never anywhere on our property that he could not be carried in his wheelchair.
But when it comes to actually riding in a car and going somewhere, he never wants to even try. In the 8.5 years we have lived in our house, I can count on one hand the number of times he left home, and two of them were in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
He had absolutely no interest in going places. On several occasions over the years, I have highlighted the possibility of buying a wheelchair van so he can get out and do things. He was never interested. He was completely content to stay at home. The last decade was very lonely for him, but it was of his own choosing, and largely driven by his fears. Once again, home is the one she feels comfortable and safe with, and rarely (actually, never) wants to leave that comfort and security, and only does so when absolutely necessary. And at times when he had to leave the house, and when it was for no reason (non-medical related), we just rented a wheelchair van for transportation for the day.
A year later, in 2021, Matt fell ill with flu A, and had to be taken to the hospital. When he was well and it was time for him to go home, we no longer had transportation for him. I was looking for a place to rent wheelchair vans, but apparently there were no such places in Waco. We told that to the hospital, and they also had no other idea for us. That left us with the only option of taking Matt home in an ambulance, and since the ambulance trip was not an emergency, it cost us about $ 1200 out of pocket for the trip from the hospital to our house. I was surprised that the hospital had no other option, but they didn’t.
Two weeks ago when Matt was hospitalized, we were facing the same problem. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but we had no transportation for him to get home. Once again, there were no places to rent wheelchair vans, so I was sure we would have to go back to the ambulance option, and pay back the $ 1200 out of pocket.
But this time, we were in another hospital. A better hospital in many ways, in my low opinion. And this time, they have another option. They told us about a local service that delivers people who are not ambulators for purposes that do not arise. They can carry people in wheelchairs, or even on stretchers. They can take people locally for medical appointments, or they can even take people to other towns, or even other states, for appointments. So I called, set up the same day appointment, and they came and took him in a small mini van with all the necessary wheelchair changes when he was released and delivered him safely to our house. . And they did it for the reasonable price of $ 91. That’s a far cry from the $ 1200 we charged last year!
Well, something about riding in a small mini van with a quick entry ramp in the back that activates a switch in his mind. He WANTS to ride in the van. He WANTS the back entry ramp. He felt safe and secure in the back of the van as he drove home. And when he got home and he saw how easy it was for me to get him out of the van, he was shocked. The rest of the day, he seemed excited and very excited about the van.
So when I’ve done so many times over the years, I asked him that night what he thought about the possibility of us buying a wheelchair van because he really enjoyed the ride early in the day. I was totally expecting a “no”, as I got from him the other times I brought up the idea. But this time is different. He seemed excited about the idea. He started talking about things he could get and do.
I can’t believe it! A van ride really changed his mind. I don’t know why, but what I do know is that the difference is that his thinking is a night and day difference. He was suddenly excited about the idea of buying a wheelchair van and going back into the world. Amazing. And by the end of last week, he was about 95% sure he wanted us to get a van.
I started looking at different options, and on Saturday, I contacted one of two local vendors that sell wheelchair vans. I connected with the national office, and they scheduled an appointment for me this past Wednesday. But on Monday, the guy from the local office called me to see what we were really looking for, and after I told him exactly what we wanted (especially at the back ramp entry), he said, “ I just got in a van. Friday that fits the exact description! ”
On Tuesday, he brought it to our house for Matt to see, and he really liked it. After Matt got on board, and the guy showed us how to use all the straps to secure Matt to the back of the van, Matt was very excited and told the guy, “We want to!”
I was just shocked, but also excited, about this 180-degree change in Matt’s thinking. It was truly a life -changing purchase for him. So tomorrow, they’ll deliver our new van to us, and this new chapter in Matt’s life is about to begin, and I couldn’t be more excited for him!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has MS and can’t do physical work , so I do most of the work at home on my own. You can learn more about me here.
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