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Couple needs wheelchair ramp, bathroom fixes

December 05. 2013 7:23PM

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LIMA — While Joe and Mary try to help each other, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage their health issues.

The retired couple needs everything from a new couch to a wider doorway to the bathroom.

Joe, an amputee who uses a motorized wheelchair, can’t fit the scooter through the narrow door in their rented duplex.

“He has to get out of his chair and hop on one leg into the bathroom,” Mary said. “He’s fallen twice already. And his good leg is getting weaker.”

Joe needs a new bath chair for the tub, but the insurance will pay for one only every five years. The $70 to pay for one with cash isn’t in the budget right now, Joe said. The ramp to front door is made of sagging plywood that’s no longer stable. The landlord is fine with some modifications to the house, Mary said, but they don’t have the money for the work. They’ve been applying for other housing that is handicap-accessible, but Mary said the waiting list is long.

They’re thankful for their van, but it needs work and it can’t carry Joe’s motorized chair. That means he uses the manual wheelchair when he drives. The doctor is worried about his heart and doesn’t want him pushing himself, so Mary pushes the chair, but that’s getting more difficult also.

Mary will have the first of two surgeries soon, and is worried about her own health. Part of the surgery will be exploratory, to rule out things such as uterine cancer.

“I’m worried about it. And I worry about him, because who’s going to help him while I recover from my surgery?” Mary asked.

A second surgery will happen after she heals from the first. That will repair damage done to ligaments in her hand she injured while working as a nursing aide.

The couple also cares for their 15-year-old granddaughter occasionally, when she’s not staying with her mother.

“I think she wants to be here,” Mary said. “She’s a good girl, and she’s old enough to make up her own mind.”

The couch is now out on the curb, because it finally reached a point where you couldn’t sit on it. It’s left a chair, TV and shelf of angel figurines in the living room, along with a small Christmas tree.

“We’re thankful for this place, the fact that we have a roof over our heads,” Mary said. “A lot of people don’t have that.”

The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies, Bradfield Community Center, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Federal Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants’ privacy.

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