It’s been over 10 years since her grandson’s surgical accident happened. And, for Sheila, life has never been the same.
A 76-year-old retiree, Sheila loves antiques and creating beautiful floral arrangements. She’s also been a caregiver to her 25-year-old grandson Huey his entire life. Born with medical conditions, Huey became paralyzed in an accident during surgery when he was just 14 years old.
In addition to managing Huey’s medical challenges, Sheila also faced ongoing home repair concerns.
“We’ve lived here a little more than 16 years, and we’ve had two porches built,” she said. “The first one was so small we could barely turn around on it. The second one, a guy from a church put up. But he was not a builder, and it only had one nail holding it up, so it fell.”
That’s not the only reason leaving the house is difficult.
“We can go out the ramp on the front of the house, but right now we have terrible problems with Huey’s wheelchair. It’s pouring oil, and once all the oil is gone, it will just stop,” Sheila said.
“He loves to be outside and enjoys going out in his chair with the nurse around the neighborhood. But he can’t right now since we don’t know when it’s going to break. When it does, we’ll have to push it with him in it. So we don’t go anywhere unless it’s absolutely necessary, like a doctor’s appointment.”
“Huey has had a lot of medical problems his entire life, including hydrocephalus and myotonic dystrophy [progressive muscle wasting and weakness]. Because he was growing sideways, when he got older they wanted to put rods in to help remove pressure and straighten him,” Sheila said.
Life has been challenging for Sheila and Huey for a long time – well before the issues with her home’s porch.
“The procedure was supposed to be the outpatient type where we’d go home at the end of the day. But we didn’t get to go home; the procedure left him paralyzed.”
The medical personnel tried to identify what caused the paralysis, and meanwhile, Huey’s pediatrician insisted that Sheila get an attorney. By the time she did, the paperwork for Huey’s procedure had been lost, making it impossible for Sheila to get the help she needed.
“He’s not taken a step since then – that was in September of 2011. And 2011 was also a rough year because my husband died in March. He and Huey were very close, so he took that extremely hard. He was very depressed and stayed in the hospital for four months.”
Both Sheila and Huey live off of a social security check and any supplementary income Sheila makes selling her handmade floral centerpieces. This doesn’t leave room in the budget for home repairs.
“I didn’t have any other options for getting this project done,” she said. “I talked to several people, but it was so expensive, I just couldn’t do it.”
“When I saw Home Repairs at first I was hesitant, but I called. The woman I spoke to had me fill out an application, and the next thing I knew, they were calling me about having my repairs done several months later. Having them here doing this work has been great.
“Huey is a people watcher. They had me take him out to make sure the door could open enough, and it did. But then we had to turn around, come right back in, and he didn’t like that – he wanted to watch them work.”
While no amount of assistance can make up for the trials Sheila and Huey have been through, receiving critical home repairs helps bring some joy back into their lives.
“It makes a big difference for Huey to get to go outside; he really is an outside kid. When we can, we’ll go out and eat on the porch and go down the ramp into the yard,” she said. “I’ve already decided to put out a sign on the front door that people can find us in the back, because we’ll be spending a lot of time out there!”
Aside from a big pot of beef and vegetable soup and warm chicken casserole to fill the bellies of the Home Repairs team while they worked, Sheila offered many thanks to the volunteers for the impact they’ve made on her family.
“This ramp doesn’t shake when you walk on it! It would have taken me 20 years to do the work they’ve done in two days. Oh, I would love to just give them all a hug and a million dollars each. They’ve been wonderful and just kind during the whole thing,” Sheila said.
“I wish I was in a position to give because I would do it in a heartbeat. If people could know just how happy it makes me and how happy it’s going to make Huey once he gets outside, everybody would be willing to give to Home Repairs.”