Land is scarce in this town; and from the beginning, it was built vertically, not horizontally. Our house is a typical San Francisco house, tall and skinny. It is 25 ft wide and two stories above the ground. There is approximately 1 inch between our house and that of the neighbors on either side. There are blocks and blocks of these row houses. Inside they are loaded with character, but outside, they look similar. In addition to the outer appearance, all have one other thing in common. They are terrible for anyone in a wheelchair.
The design of this house makes in unfeasible to have Maggie upstairs in the bedrooms. That means two flights of stairs from the ground to the bedrooms. Maggie’s room is on that first level. She sleeps in what was originally designed to be the breakfast room. We added a shower to the half bath and moved some doorways around and it looks like a bedroom. There is no closet, but in general, it is working for us. Even getting her to the first level was difficult. To combat this, we had an elevator installed about 6 years ago. It is nothing fancy. It is outside, open to the elements, and goes from the back yard to the deck off the first level of the house. The deck did not exist until we got the elevator but it makes a nice addition to the house.
Maggie cannot be in the elevator alone. It is a slow trip, like 90 seconds, and she often needs suctioning or something. Moreover, the emergency stop button is bright red and within easy reach for her. Maggie would be hugely entertained if she could make the thing stop, start the alarm and watch me panic all at the same time. Therefore, someone is always in there with her. Of course, her chair is large and just fits on the platform lift. Hence, the extra person has to wedge him or herself in for the ride. If you do not position it correctly at the beginning, you end up on tiptoes standing at a strange angle all the way down (or up).
99% of the time, this arrangement works fine. It is not perfect by any means, but we are making it work. We live in California, the land of no weather. It is foggy in San Francisco, but who cares. Today, however, the remnant of a typhoon is slamming into San Francisco. Going down the elevator today was quite an adventure. It was pouring and we had to get downstairs for the bus. (Her night nurse wanted me to keep her home, but it is just rain and they do have a roof on her school.)
She was decked out in rain boots and a jacket with a hood. I had on a pullover waterproof jacket with a hood. I positioned myself so I could lean over her to shield her as much as possible. I had to hold the elevator button at the same time, so I could not move from my position. Our faces were pretty close together and Maggie thought that was hilarious. She had me and she knew it. First, she put her hand in my mouth and tried to pull my teeth out with her extremely strong grasp, but I shook her off. That made her laugh. Then she pulled the strings on my jacket so my hood tightened around my face. We were both laughing them. I just kept my finger on the lever to keep us going down. At the bottom I was so wedged in it took another 30 seconds to untangle myself to get back behind the chair so we could get out. We were both soaked, but it was a fun ride and my positioning did keep the water out of her trach at least.
My jacket has been handing in the shower for 90 minutes since she left. Now I have to put it back on to go to my physical therapy appointment. Brrr. Oh well, at least I can take the stairs.