Staying safe in the storm

Heading into the basement during a storm is more challenging for a wheelchair user.

Since we live in Wisconsin, we are no strangers to storms. While we lived at the apartment, we of course had no basement in which to find refuge. We spent many a storm in the smaller bathroom, cramped and waiting for it to subside.

Now that we live in a house, we have a basement to which we can go when storms get bad. That, however, poses its own complication: Namine has no quick way to get to the basement. In an ideal world, we would have a lift for her, but that is one accessibility feature with which our house did not come equipped. Namine can climb onto the floor and then down the stairs, but she isn’t able to do so at a speed required during a storm.

For the time being, I still pick Namine up. She is thirteen and still growing — despite the predictions of some doctors to the contrary — but I am still able to carry her up and down the stairs. I am no longer able to pick her up and carry her in her wheelchair, but that isn’t necessary for getting her downstairs.

Climbing up and down stairs each present their own challenges. While Namine can do both, climbing down in the midst of a storm is not time well spent when I can get her downstairs more expediently. Nor is it the best use of her time climbing up, since it is often quite late when it’s once again safe enough to come back up. Therefore, I carry her back up so she may get (back) to bed as soon as possible.

For the medical equipment we can’t easily build, we enlist the help of a program called CLTS: children’s long-term support. Every county in Wisconsin has one, and one service (of many) they provide is the acquisition of durable medical equipment. (The bath lift is one such piece of equipment they’ve helped us obtain.)

Our CLTS case worker encourages us to ask about anything we think Namine might need, so we asked her about getting a lift for the basement stairs. Unfortunately, it’s not considered a “need” unless the individual’s bedroom is downstairs. Until we can fund the installation of a stair lift ourselves — which is expensive — I will continue to carry Namine when the storms come.

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