This is the third in a series of four posts about Dominick Evans.
Okay lets talk about your house. Please paint me a visual picture of what your day is like in your house.
My house is very small. Four people live in a house with three bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, a kitchen and a laundry room. The house has a wooden ramp up to the front door. The ramp was poorly built and is going to need to be replaced soon because the wood is starting to rot. The door, at the top of the ramp, leads into the living room. This is the only room I can get into fully in my wheelchair. Even then, with furniture in it, I usually have to find a place to park my wheelchair and not move when I’m in there. Otherwise, other people can’t get through to go to other parts of the house.
To the right (off the living room) is a doorway leading to the kitchen. The kitchen is so small I can’t even turn in it. I never go in it, because I get stuck in it if I do. To the right is a very tiny doorway that has a circle of doors once you pass through it. There are two bedrooms on the left and a tiny bathroom with bathtub straight ahead. The bathroom is so small, I can’t even roll into it and my Hoyer can barely fit. I never go in there.
A sharp turn around a corner only my Hoyer can maneuver (and not without chipping paint off the wall) and you are in the 10×11 bedroom. That is the room Ash and I sleep in and if I’m in there working, I have to stay in bed the entire time. I cannot get my wheelchair in there, at all. This is also where I bathe and go to the bathroom. For the last five years, I’ve sponge bathed. I am DYING for a shower. Ash gets me squeaky clean, but NOTHING beats a hot shower. I miss showering badly. I also use a portable commode and bedpan in my room if I have to go to the bathroom.
Across the hall is my son’s bedroom. The only time I went in there was via Hoyer, when my bedroom carpet was being changed. The rest of the time, I don’t go in there because it is HARD to navigate the corners without ripping the paint.
Off the kitchen and down two steps is Sylvia’s bedroom. It is actually the family room, but I obviously don’t go in there. The laundry room is also down steps and off the kitchen, but I can get in there if I go outside and come in the second, outside door. Of course, the room is so small there is no point.
This house was built to be on one floor, but definitely not with someone in a wheelchair in mind. While most of the doorways are wide enough for a standard sized wheelchair to pass through (excluding the bathroom door), the hallways and walk through areas are small, stuffy and way too hard to navigate for even the best wheelchair drivers.
What kind of improvements are needed?
In order for me to fully live in this house independently, we’d have to rip out walls, raise floors, completely redo the two bedrooms, resize the kitchen, completely rebuild the bathroom and get a new ramp. Ashtyn’s brother is a builder and he said we’d spend more money fixing this one up then we would paying off our bills and finding a new home with an open floor plan. While this home is mostly all on one floor, it’s a lot more inaccessible then we realized when we moved back to Michigan after my injury.
Adding the excessive cost factor to the fact that Washtenaw County has more services available for me, anyway, and for my son who has Asperger’s Syndrome (an Autistic Spectrum Disorder) we have not pursued remodeling this home. The U of M has an excellent program for transgendered FTMs and for Autistic Children, so our goal is to find a way to live closer.
At present, we’re $30,000 in debt.
How did you get so deep in debt?
After I fell during a routine transfer from wheelchair to bath chair, I fractured my tibia. I had to be taken to the hospital, where I was told I’d either have to have surgery (with at least six months recovery) or I could attempt to recover with constant bed rest. I ended up staying in bed for several months. As a result, I had to be moved (carefully) from my college town apartment to Michigan, so I could recover at the home owned by Ashtyn and her mother. Due to this injury, I was forced to quit my two jobs at the university and quit school before finishing.
Ashtyn could not work because she was taking care of me 24/7. Her mother was looking after our young son, CT, and she had just recently been laid off from her factory job. At the present time, we had absolutely no money. For the few months when we lived at the university apartment, after my fall, we had to use credit cards for groceries. We also had to buy necessities like clothing, toiletries and the like for the first two years after my injury, via credit cards. With a rising economy and four mouths to feed, we spent around $500 a month on all our necessities. This translates to around $6000
per year and $12,000 total until our job was able to provide food, clothes, and more for our family. Just to note, our food is a little more expensive due to CT’s special diet as a result of his Aspergers.
On top of this, we had to purchase a new bed for me. I had a very heavy, electronically operated bed in Dayton that was unable to be moved. We spent around $2500 for a new bed in this house with special mattresses that would help to prevent bed sores, something that can be common for people in wheelchairs. We also had to pay $5000 through credit for emergency dental surgery for Ashtyn’s mother. Like most dental problems, this was an unexpected expense for us.
The additional $10,000 dollars we owe is a combination of necessities we’ve had to buy over the years. CT is home schooled because there is no school in this area willing to deal with the problems he has due to his disability. After finding out his school was abusing him, we removed him immediately. He’s been home schooled since he was in 2nd Grade and he’s now in 8th. In the past five years, we’ve had to buy all of his supplies and books spending around $500 per year on his education. At 5 years times $500 this totals $2500.
With me being stuck in bed, and suffering from the effects of being stuck there (stiff legs, shoulder pain, etc.) I wound up being unable to leave bed, without being medicated. I now take Tylenol 4 w/ Codeine whenever I get out of bed, to combat my chronic pain. Ashtyn and I also had to find a way to make money. We started a business online, but to do that, we’ve had to spend money on our business. We’ve bought around $8000 in equipment and hardware, over the years, from computers to our monthly server bill. We run an array of websites, and have a Linux web server we recently had to upgrade to handle our increasing website traffic.
Adding in 3-4 hospital visits of mine, with the cost of a private ambulance bringing me home, as I had no other way to get there, and you have nearly $1000 more added on to our other expenses.
So, that’s how we’re around $30,000 in debt and that is why we cannot move. Every month we pay the standard amount for credit cards and the loans we’ve had to take out to pay for the aforementioned items and services.
The final installment is tomorrow. Are you ready to help Dominick achieve his dreams? Visit www.ahouse4dom.com