The path to accessibility

Posted by Karen - July 9th, 2017

As some of you may know, our family recently moved from a 3 storey townhouse to a rancher home. The purpose was to have a home which would be accessible for my daughter Miranda. Over the past two-to-three years, Miranda has been having her first FOP leg flare-ups, and it’s been getting harder and harder for her to climb stairs. Living in a townhouse with no bathrooms on the main floor and all bedrooms on the upper floor just was not cutting it. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva decided that it was time for us to relocate.

We moved into our new place in early June. We now live in a detached house with living room, kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms all on one floor. This is working much, MUCH better.

But – is it perfect? No. You see, the house does not enter from a doorway right onto the main floor. If you come in the carport door, you have to go up a set of fourteen stairs to get from the lower level to the main level. If you come in the front door, you walk up three outdoor stairs and then immediately go either six steps down to the lower level or eight steps up to the living room. (Why did we not hold out for a house which was truly on ground level, and thus immediately accessible? The extreme “seller’s market” in the Vancouver area dictated that we had to buy the best available option and do so quickly.) The existence of the set of stairs required to reach the main level meant that we had to adapt the house to make it fully accessible. Miranda can (just) handle one set of stairs at present, but if/when she becomes wheelchair dependent, we’ll need a different way to get inside.

Taking all of this into account, we hired a deck/fence/landscaping company to (a) put up a new yard fence for us (the old one was falling down), and (b) install a concrete path from the edge of the driveway right up to the base of the back yard deck. That’s part 1; part 2 is that we will be having a wheelchair porch lift anchored into the concrete and installed to lift Miranda from the yard level up to the deck level. From there she will be able to enter the house through either the dining room sliding glass doors or the kitchen door.

Anyway, it turned out that the fence went up really quickly; lickety-split. The path, on the other hand, has been a more drawn out project. First, It took a little while for the landscapers to “carve” out the dirt to allow for the path to be set.

Next, the landscapers had to arrange for a sub-contractor company to come in and pour the cement. Now this is where things went kind of off the rails… I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but the long and short of it was that there was a technical difficulty which delayed the pouring, and thus the cement was much too thick and partially solidified when it hit the ground. It turned out to be impossible to smooth the concrete, and it dried in a lumpy, uneven mess.

Yikes, see what I mean? Looks like the surface of the moon.

Yikes, see what I mean? Looks like the surface of the moon.

Fortunately, though, the subcontractor and the landscapers were able to come to an agreement about the situation, and they arranged for the “bad” concrete to be jackhammered up and removed, and then replaced a few days later with freshly poured cement (all of this at their expense). The second time it worked much better, and YAY! We got our path!

Much better! (the liquid you see is water we were instructed to spray on during the "curing" process).

Much better! (the liquid you see is water we were instructed to spray on during the “curing” process).

 

What it looks like from the driveway.

What it looks like from the driveway.

There’s a bit of finishing and clean-up work to do on all of this, but it should be done within a week. At that point we’ll be able to get the wheelchair lift installed. That will be a GOOD DAY, because it will allow Miranda to completely avoid using the stairs in our house. Even if she’s not sitting in a wheelchair, she will be able to use the lift as a pedestrian.

This has all been quite the oddyssey, but it will be very much worth it when it’s done.

 

PS – On August 6, 2017, we’ll be doing the Walk for FOP, a fundaiser benefitting the Canadian FOP Network, a registered Canadian charity which financially supports FOP research. Please help us out by making a donation! To do so on-line, go to www.walkforfop.com, and click-on “General Donations”. Thanks!

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