Early on, we wrote a lot about house modifications and other practical matters in preparation for Brooke’s eventual homecoming. We still don’t know when that will be—sometime after the surgery to implant the diaphragmatic pacer, we assume—but just the same we’ve been preparing. Here’s what’s new:
You can’t get into a house in a 350-pound wheelchair through a narrow ordinary door; you need something more splendid. We have it: a fine new front door, located, remarkably, in the front of the house. Now the house has two front doors, the splendid new one and a narrower ancillary one way over to the side of the house, relegated to secondary status and shades of former glory. But that’s not all: there wasn’t any door Brooke could get through at the back of the house either, so now there’s an absolutely lovely French door opening out to the garden. This way he has two routes out into the outside world and needn’t feel so trapped. Doing this is thanks to our wonderful friend and longtime contractor, Peter Tartaro, making it possible to keep on loving our house.
You’ve heard a lot about the hoyer here at South Davis, the movable rig that lifts Brooke up out of bed and into the wheelchair or the shower chair. It’s a bit of a clever contrivance: it has long legs on the floor that splay out to fit around the base of the wheelchair and an electric hoist that picks Brooke up in a sling, cocooned within the sling in something approaching a fetal position but with his lower legs dangling down. It isn’t exactly dignified, and it isn’t even comfortable. But at home we’ll have a ceiling-mounted lift: this is said to be far more comfortable, reliable, easy to operate. It isn’t installed yet and you might not think it looks safe to hang by such a comparatively slender thread, but the guy who provided the estimate for installation says he always tries it out on himself.
Bathrooms come in as many designs as there are various kinds of disabilities: roll-under counters, roll-into showers, etc. etc. We have in mind to run the same ceiling-lift system right into the bathroom, where it can deposit Brooke onto a shower chair or maybe, with luck, right into our jacuzzi-jet-equipped tub. Think of as a kind of home spa, not just hygiene.
No doubt you’re still waiting for the outcome of the Get-Brooke-Into-His-Garden Contest staged last spring. Actually, there will be quite a lot of winners, since many of the suggestions have been so good and will no doubt be incorporated into whatever proves the final design. At the moment, though, the garden is an autumnal landscape of old dried stalks and withered flowers and piles of leaves, with the leaves on the huge grapevine the most vibrant red. The upshot? The contest is postponed until spring, but we’ll be thinking about it all winter long. Keep sending suggestions!
And you may even be waiting to hear about the CarryChair, designed to make it
possible for a group of sturdy friends to carry Brooke into the mountains. This project got (literally) off the ground this fall—you may have seen it portrayed in the second Tribune article—but is undergoing design modifications over the winter to be ready for spring. In the meantime, though, for those of you in the area who’ve been helping with this project or are just generally interested in it, Terrell Pool, mastermind of the CarryChair, announces a benefit for the Crossroads Urban Center next Sunday, November 15, featuring a remarkable person who’s been involved in CarryChair design and testing: Apa Sherpa, World Record Holder for the Most Summits of Mt. Everest (19, including 4 without supplemental oxygen). The benefit is to be held at Acme Burger Company, 275 South 200 West, 4:30-7:00 pm; tickets are $50. For reservations, call (801) 364-7765 (Jim at ext. 132 or Glenn at ext. 126). Apa will give a little talk and show some astonishing slides at 5:15. For those of you who’ve been involved in the CarryChair with Apa you’ll know that it’s a great pleasure to be around him; for those who haven’t met him yet, come and do so for this extremely worthy cause. See you there!