Giving Thanks for Our New Home

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by Halsey Blocher |

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A banner for Halsey's column, which shows an open book among ferns, along with some closed books and a pair of glasses.

After many months of searching and navigating the challenges of house hunting with a disability (that’s a story for another day), I am extremely pleased to say that we have finally found our new home. And we’re just in time to celebrate the holiday season around the cozy, wood-burning fireplace!

My family now lives in an older Cape Cod-style house on a little under an acre of property with a scenic creek and forest. We’re close enough to the city to continue easily enjoying the amenities and entertainment it offers, but we have the luxury of a secluded space with only a handful of friendly neighbors nearby.

After taking possession of the house, we came over to more thoroughly explore our purchase and begin some light remodeling. It would still be a few weeks before we fully moved in. There was work to be done first.

New floors were installed (a group effort by family and selfless carpenters who volunteered their time and skills), walls were painted, bathroom fixtures were replaced, a fence was built, and the whole house was cleaned.

new home | SMA News Today | Halsey rolls around on the wood floor in her new bedroom, before it's filled with her furniture and belongings.

Halsey rolls around on the beautiful new floor in her bedroom that was installed by her family and carpenters who volunteered to help on the weekend. (Courtesy of Halsey Blocher)

Fortunately, much of the house was already accessible. My bathroom is the area that required the bulk of the accessibility updates. The narrow doorway needed to be widened to accommodate my rolling toilet/shower chair, and the large vanity was replaced with a smaller floating sink.

Throughout the rest of the house, saloon-style doors were removed from entrances to living spaces to allow maximum clearance for my wheelchair, and folding ramps ensure that I have access to the entire main floor. Eventually, these ramps will be permanently replaced with more inviting ones that complement our decor and color schemes.

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A banner for Halsey's column, which shows an open book among ferns, along with some closed books and a pair of glasses.

My Family Finds Creative Solutions for Inaccessible Situations

One of the most important things that had to be done before we could move in was eliminate the lingering smell of smoke. The scent badly irritates my weak lungs and causes my body to produce excessive amounts of mucus that has to be removed by my suction and cough assist machines.

The smell was successfully cleared out by removing old carpets, coating the walls and ceilings in smoke-sealing primer, and having the air ducts professionally cleaned. The air is now clean and easy for me to breathe.

With all of the necessary projects finished, it was time to move.

We had the freedom to slowly start transferring our belongings to the new house while we worked on it, but many of my things couldn’t be moved until the very end. All of my medical equipment, the furniture that stores it, and my hospital bed needed to be in the same house as me. The process of transferring all of this at once has similarities to the detailed system we use to pack for vacation, just with more cardboard boxes.

Ever since we arrived, we’ve all been busy unpacking. As I decide where to keep my belongings, I have to consider how to make sure medical equipment and supplies are easily accessible for my family and caregivers. I also need to find places within my eyesight for my personal belongings like books, art supplies, and clothing. These things must exist in harmony with everything that’s necessary for my care.

I’ve found that watching “Get Organized with The Home Edit” on Netflix has given me some great ideas on arranging everything in a system that meets my needs and those of the people caring for me.

Utilizing clear storage containers has helped keep items within designated zones, and I can still see the contents of each bin from my seated position in my wheelchair. I’ve also adopted The Home Edit’s rainbow organization for my clothing. Hanging everything by color has made it easier to point out what I want to wear each day, and it’s quite pleasant to look at.

At this point, we’re mostly settled in. There are still boxes to sort through and put away. There are also more projects to complete around the house, but that just means there are opportunities to transform the space the way we want to.

As I sit and gaze out at picturesque views of the forest clinging to the final remnants of a golden autumn, I listen to the sounds of my family filling this new home with life.

new home | SMA News Today | Halsey sits in her wheelchair next to large windows in her family's new home.

The large windows in Halsey’s new home are the perfect place to relax and watch nature on a crisp fall day. (Courtesy of Halsey Blocher)

Tools echo off the walls, and food sizzles on the stovetop. Conversation and laughter float through the rooms. The dogs alternate between dozing on the couch, playing, and patrolling the windows. Joyful music resonates from the piano that was generously left with the house for my brother.

I know that this house is a blessing for our family, and I look forward to adding new memories to its story. As Thanksgiving draws near, I am thankful for this new home that I get to share with some of my favorite people.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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