CHARLOTTE, NC, February 18, 2018 – I’m not exactly sure whether we are remodeling or renovating. I do know that Butch Cassidy would be proud to know that we have officially joined the “Hole in the Wall” gang in the past few weeks.
ALS is a matter of anticipation. The best thing to do is to attempt to stay ahead of your needs so that when the next phase occurs you are ready for it.
Initially, we were advised to apply for a grant to re-do our house to accommodate a wheelchair in the showers and bedrooms. The grant was approved so the next step was to locate an architect who could design the reconfiguration to meet the appropriate standards.
Erecting barriers to remove barriers
One requirement was that there must be two exit points a disabled person is able to access. The shower has to be a minimum of 5-feet by 5-feet. There were other stipulations as well, from door widths that accommodate wheelchairs to the removal of any barrier for the wheel.
The overall design was going to be a massive undertaking.
In our particular case, the entire back deck was going to be rebuilt and elevated to eliminate steps. There would also be a long ramp beside the house leading to the driveway.
Once the architectural drawings are approved, a process taking approximately three months, the next step is construction. For this plan, we would need to abandon the house for a minimum of six months. Which means at least nine months, before we could once again take up residence.
After considerable reflection, we applied for a smaller grant that would require less intrusion while allowing us to remain in the house.
The toilet is now in the den
Naturally, as with any type of building project, there were still some major adjustments. We now have a toilet in our den while the vanity resides in the dining room.
Actually, it’s not that much of a problem because people can wash up for dinner without going down the hall.
As for the commode, there is no longer any need to stop watching television when nature calls, although that can be disconcerting when we have guests.
In truth, we have covered the porcelain with blankets and made a temporary table out of it.
Since demolition began, there have been times when walls and doors have gone missing, allowing us unusual viewing angles into other parts of the house.
At one point I was able to look out of my office into what was once the bathroom to see directly down to the crawl space under the house and into the backyard.
I chalked it up as a literary metaphor, calling it “Through the Grass Darkly.”
Couldn’t we wait 60 days?
The biggest mistake, of course, was choosing late January and early February to begin the project because Old Man Winter had a way of blowing updrafts of frigid air into the house through the missing floor space.
Adding to the cold was the fear of having nocturnal critters such as possums and raccoons making their way into the house in search of food.
Rather than heat the backyard, we closed off the bedrooms and used space heaters for warmth at night. Fortunately, the situation was only temporary, except for one long weekend when no work was being done.
For me personally, the biggest problem has been navigating through the plastic covers that were laid down to reduce the amount of dust.
When you have no use of your arms, balance is a problem and falling is always something to be keenly aware of and considered.
I am uncertain whether vivid dreams are an offshoot of the ALS or just something that occurs because the changes are so unusual, but there have been some extremely odd images passing through my sleeping regime once my brain has turned off from the day’s activities.
For example, one night I dreamed I was producing a movie about ALS where I needed to adjust to the trail of plastic coverings throughout the house. That wasn’t so strange, but I am still wondering why my thought process made a UNC-Chapel Hill grad choose the title for the movie as “The Hazards of Duke.”
Naturally, the star of the picture is to be Bruise Willis. The resemblance is uncanny.
On another occasion, I dreamt that since I was no longer able to play baseball, which has everything to do with age rather than ALS, that I would become an umpire. After all, a baseball official can work well into his senior years.
In my dream, I became one of the best umps in the game, until ALS took away my ability to signal “safe” or “out.”
Desperately I traveled from city to city looking for work without success until I finally gave up and wrote my memoirs. The title of the book: “The Decline and Fall of the Roaming Umpire.”
Thus, I have learned to simply let my mind run wild and wander wherever it may take me and just enjoy the ride.
We now call our home the “Joshua House” because the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
Slowly we are in the process of rebuilding, and it won’t be long before the plastic covers yield to beautiful tiles and the bathroom facilities return to their proper place.
In the meantime, we will simply continue to enjoy our “Rooms with a View.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up