Wake-up Call

 In July of 2014, I took some downtime with Megan and Matt in Kansas City and  designed an  elevator location for our Longwood house. On the trip home, I was struck with severe abdominal pain. Major surgery fixed the problem.

 While recuperating at home, with my walker bumping along the walls, and showering being a major struggle, I had a great epiphany; we had to move from my beloved home. Adding an elevator would only be a little band aid and a costly one. Much more needed to be done to make our house not only barrier friendly to Bryan, but Jim and I were not getting any younger or more agile.

 We (Jim, Bryan and I) decided that if we were going to move, we should have a place for Grandma Dot, my fabulous 87-year-old mother, to join us. So our list of requirements grew; exterior space to add an addition to house an elevator, a suite large enough for Bryan to have privacy and a bath large enough to add a roll in shower, a two room suite for Grandma and two offices spaces for Jim and I to be able to work from home.

House hunting began that day. Thank God for our daughter, Megan, and Zillow! Megan was staying with us to help with my recovery, but I added “head house hunter” to her nursing duties. We looked at hundreds of homes online and if anything looked promising, Megan, Jim, Dot, and Bryan would join our realtor Janelle to check it out. I, of course, was still on drugs and pretty immobile since surgery was less two weeks prior.

As I reflect on those weeks, I must nominate my entire family for Sainthood. It all seemed perfectly natural to me. I needed to get my family in a safe, comfortable and accessible home as soon as possible.

ispl9bcn34xcuq1000000000

After just a few weeks, we stumbled upon this 4 bedroom 3 bath ranch. It required a lot of updating but it had the spaces to fit the needs of our multigenerational family.

The Blending Begins

A year after we lost my Dad,  Dot moved into a condo that we totally renovated. She purchased new furniture and window treatments and was quite comfortable and content.

Let me preface this by saying that we are a very close family and she is at the center because of her unconditional love, amazing personality and sense of humor. She is more of a contemporary  than an elder and is a special part of my social circle. We have played in the same Bunko group for over 40 years. Megan calls her” Switzerland” because she tries to stay neutral when there is any conflict.

Before we began house hunting in earnest, we told Dot that we  were planning a space for her in the new home. We told her that she didn’t have to come with us right away, but that we were going to be sure that there was a place when she was ready. She told us that she would think it over. Two days later she  said that if we were sure, then she was IN! Jim assured her that this is what we all wanted.

tumblr_lj91nwnuzv1qab193o1_500

I’m not sure that this arrangement would work for every family. But we set out to make this home belong to all of us. Dot and Bryan were not moving in with Jim and Vicki; we would be sharing a home together. They are both paying rent and contributing to food costs. Each paid for certain aspects of the renovations.

Our Plum Tree home required an elevator and three remodeled bathrooms , so we knew that it would be 3-4 months before move in. Dot put her condo on the market and sold it in just a few days to someone who wanted two-week possession. She had to be out by October 31.

The timeline is a little crazy here, I had had major surgery on August 1 so I am less than 100%. At the same time, Jim was being treated for Crohn’s Disease.( I left that out of the beginning because I didn’t want to sound like a soap opera, but it is important now because of what is coming next) On October 14 (Our 48th Wedding Anniversary) Jim had a tumor removed. Seems it wasn’t  Crohn’s after all….just a touch of cancer! The Docs felt that they had removed it all but still recommended Chemo.

He came to Dot’s condo from the hospital so that we could care for him while we packed. Again, our incredible Megan had come to help care for her Dad while I worked only to be a part of the great move.

The First Obstical

Five things had to happen before the family could move into our Plum Tree house

  • The Elevator had to be installed.
  • Bryan’s bath had to be revamped for a roll- in shower
  • Dot’s bath needed tub replaced with a walk in shower
  • The master bath needed a lot of love and the shower enlarged.
  •  And of course, we had to find a way to get Bryan and Dot comfortably and safely into the house in the first place.

The front steps were fairly steep and there was no handrail. The back entrance involved about 20 steps with no adequate handrail to grasp and the garage steps were not easily  accessible  for any of us. A fabulous handyman, Mark Lawrence, who was very familiar with accessibility issues came to my rescue and installed  new garage steps with handrails and grab bars.

Accessibility issues were not uncommon when we were searching for homes.It is one of the things that buyers don’t think much about unless faced with an injury or worn out joints. Safety features are not that expensive when you think of the cost of a fall. I hope that builders and remodelers will join the movement to keep our homes safe,comfortable, and accessible for everyone.

It’s Been a While … A Years Wrap Up.

20161214_112009 Consider this the Flores Family Christmas Letter

that came a little late. (Two years late) to any new readers.

In fact we had a wonderful Christmas. We started a family tradition a few years ago. Everyone or couple chips in what they can afford into a kitty. That amount is then divided by the # of people… in our case 10, then we know what can be spent on each. There is a ton discussion on what people want; I have to admit Megan and I are the toughest to buy for.

Bryan, Megan and Alexis are the designated buyers. Megan does the running around and Bry and Alexis use the internet. I do decor and wrapping (bagging actually, we recycle them), Jim and Mom do most of the food. Works great for our family …everyone is involved and no one is overwhelmed.

We celebrated Dot’s 90th birthday in January. She wanted a family party so we all ate Italian, drank wine, watched movies on Bryan’s giant movie screen, and took naps for 2 days. Thirteen of our “bunko friends” took her to see the Golden Girls at Roxie’s. What Fun. This group has been together for over 40 years. She is our Matriarch and great friend.

In April, Jim and I took a trip to Sedona Arizona. It was my Christmas Gift to him. We had not been alone together in over 2 years. Megan stayed with Mom and Bryan and treated them like Royalty (according to Dot). It was a good break for us. We relaxed, read, napped, and took small outings to enjoy the amazing scenery. No schedule. We resolved to get away more often and to leave work by 5:30 to share a glass of wine and visit before dinner and enjoy our home and patio.

That pretty much brings us up to date. I also resolved to do a better job getting my thoughts down. It does help me reflect on the great things in our lives. I appreciate you being there with us.

Elevating our Lives

A Little Fancy French to denote that this door leads an Elevator https://under1roof.live/portfolio/adding-the-elevator/
see photos at this link

 Just to recap… We are frantically searching for a home to accommodate our multi-generational family with accessibility issues.  We require an elevator, 2 offices, 3 accessible bathrooms, a space for my  the 88 year young mother, a suite for our 44 year old son who is battling ALS and a guest area for our Kansas City kids. Did I mention that we have a limited budget?Introduction (click on introduction to check out our story from the beginning)

Between our realtor and Zillow, we had probably looked at over 100 houses. Since I was recovering from major surgery just 3 weeks prior and it was” Kansas August Hot”, I was discouraged. Our daughter, Megan,  was still “visiting” from Kansas City to help her crazy Mom recoup and find a new home. (So thankful for her and husband Matt)

 This is the first view  that I had of the Plum Tree house. I fell in love with the view but it also showed great potential for us to be able to install an elevator built with bulk on the exterior of the house and not take up any interior square footage. Yeah! Although the decor was not my style, it is my training to look for potential and this scored a 10! 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Three Baths to Go

As I said at the beginning, we could not move into the Plum Tree house until we had 3 bathrooms complete. If you have ever worked with me, you’ll remember that I like to one or two areas at a time so that we don’t disturb the entire family life. But time was of the essence here so I had three bathrooms and an elevator going at the same time.

Dot’s room was the simplest because we were just replacing the tub with a walk in shower and updating the vanity and lighting.

The vanity that was in place was attractive but it had no storage. Since this would be Dot’s bath as well as the hall guest bath, it was very necessary that she had private storage. We had recently redone her bath at the condo where she had been living and she had loved it so we decided to recreate some of the best parts.

Dot’s favorite colors have always been shades of orange and brown, so it was not difficult for us to blend our tastes together in our home. This shower curtain was exactly like the one she had at her condo. We painted the walls a deep terra cotta, and added a light fixture that can give up to 500 watts of light . We hung art that had been in other areas of her condo and she was home.

In the shower, she selected a moveable shower bench like the one she had been using. The curved shower rod gains a bit of space inside the shower and the slight lip on the shower pan allows easy access and contains the water. (We have never had a damp Floor).

For safety sake, there is a grab bar as you enter the shower and the towel bar is now a grab bar. The soap/shampoo caddy is a grab bar as well as the sliding bar of the hand held faucet.

Adaptive does not have to look adaptive. This is a safe bathroom for a 92 year young woman. Because of a shower curtain, instead of doors, a caregiver could assist her in bathing.

The latest addition to her bath was a Toto Washlet. which can be added to replace any toilet seat. It is lighted, has a seat warmer and self cleaning. Who could ask for more. Don’t knock it until you have tried it. Jim and I and Bryan all have one and would not make any changes.

When I first introduced  you to our cast of characters, I carelessly left out some key players. Meet Alexis Elizabeth Armstrong our 24 year-old niece. Alexis was born with cerebral palsy. She is the joy of my life.  She is aware that she has a handicap, she must use  walker or wheel chair to move from bed or chair to car to destination and then repeat again.  But she never complains.

scan_20161105-4 and always, always has that dazzling smile.  From the time she could talk, if she tripped or bumped her head getting into the car, she immediately said “I’m Okay don’t worry”. She was born in Wichita  but her parents moved to Utah when she was 12 because there seemed to be more opportunities for people with disabilities  there than Wichita offered. That proved to be true. She was mainstreamed into Wasatch High School where she became the team mascot so her wheel chair cold be on the floor with the cheerleaders. The next year, she decided that she wanted to try out for the Cheer Squad.  Her Dad warned her that it would probably  not be possible for her to do all the cheers. She understood this but was willing to take the chance.Thanks to her perseverance and a very special coach , Alexis was on the squad. They cheered for football,basketball,volley ball etc all over Heber Valley and all the way to Salt Lake City. My brother Dan Armstrong and my wonderful sister-in-law, Rhonda drove her and her wheel chair to every game.

They moved back to Wichita after  her High School was complete.  It was quite a social crash for her and not much for her to do except watch Days of our Life and  every football and basketball game televised. Alexis and I made our mission to get her a LIFE in Wichita.

Not so easy.. Developmentally Disabled Services talked to us but we couldn’t do anything without a Case Manager and the wait for that was somewhere around 7 years for one of the few Case Managers. We checked out the ARC for a few social events but they were not really able to accommodate her accessibility issues with their field trips, and she didn’t feel that the group was the right fit for her.

After a few months we made contact with people from Goodwill Industries. Amber was assigned to be her case worker. We met at Wendy’s for a get to know each other lunch and I was so impressed with the way she treated Alexis as a peer. She would not settle until she found Alexis a job that would challenger her and let her contribute her outlook on life to others. She has been working a few hours a week at Families Together. Last month she was honored at the Goodwill Industries Banquet as their  graduate of the year. Couldn’t be more proud.

scan_20161105

What Is ALS And How Is It Treated?

WHAT IS ALS? The name amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is Greek in origin. “A” means “no” or “negative,” “myo” translates to “muscle”, and “trophic” refers to “nourishment”. So, amyotrophic means “no muscle nourishment”. “Lateral” refers to the places in a person’s spinal cord where portions of nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region. In the United States and many other countries, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the legendary Yankees baseball player who died from ALS in 1941. In the United Kingdom and other parts of the world, ALS is often called Motor Neurone Disease (MND). In many Spanish speaking countries it is called Esclerosis Lateral Amiotrófica (ELA). This disease weakens and kills nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement. Individuals are robbed of their ability to move, speak, eat and breathe, but it often leaves the mind intact. Death can occur within 2-5 years of diagnosis, but some individuals have survived for 10 or more years. Some symptoms can be managed and certain treatments can help extend life. However, there is currently no known cure or fully effective treatment for the underlying causes of ALS. WHO SUFFERS FROM THIS DISEASE? ALS is not contagious and doesn’t discriminate. This disease can strike anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Every 90 minutes ALS claims another life. Every time someone dies, another person is diagnosed with ALS. HOW YOU CAN GET FREE SUPPORT Visit alsworldwide.org/get-help to learn more and to find out how to receive FREE guidance and support via videoconference, email, phone and in-person visits. HOW YOU CAN HELP OTHERS ALS is not an incurable disease, it’s just severely underfunded. Make a tax-deductible contribution at alsworldwide.org/donate. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ALSWorldwide and like and share our posts to spread awareness about ALS/MND/ELA and give help and hope to people living with ALS around the world.