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IN SPIRIT at Work Helping Quadriplegics Craft Their Lives

Quadriplegics can often find themselves in a bind without the means to take action -- a broken wheelchair they can't afford to repair, a special medical supply not covered by their insurance, or a family member in need of a break. While there are few if any other agencies that can help in these kinds of situations, IN SPIRIT can lend a hand through its Special Needs Program and help quadriplegics keep moving along smoothly.

Putting together one's life as a quadriplegic is immensely challenging, a creative process of grand proportions, and when the pieces all come together, the result can be immensely satisfying. Attendant care is one of the key pieces, without which very little can be done, but numerous other pieces are needed for quadriplegics to thrive. We at IN SPIRIT receive great satisfaction from being able to help them with various pieces of their puzzles. Barbie and Abelina are wonderful examples who are handling the challenge and prevailing.

Meet Barbie

IN SPIRIT clientBarbie treasures her independence. She’s had MS for many years and has learned to use her limited resources extraordinarily carefully to craft a support network that not only meets her needs, but brings her joy and contentment. She has streamlined her care and manages to pay her attendants with her modest disability retirement and the assistance she receives from IN SPIRIT. Friends and volunteers come to feed her lunch each day. One of her greatest joys is her pet birds with their happy sounds, although Oliver the cockatoo can be quite loud and demanding when Barbie tries to speak to someone else. We located a volunteer who comes regularly to clean the birdcages. A few years ago when agencies started experiencing serious financial problems, some of Barbie's medical supplies could no longer be provided. In addition to the assistance we have given for attendant care for six years, we are now purchasing some of her essential supplies. Barbie is a wonder and so is the village that comes together to keep her happy, healthy and safe.

Meet Abelina

IN SPIRIT clientAbelina survived and is persevering after a violent domestic shooting incident three years ago which has left her quadriplegic. She was on a ventilator and could not speak for several months, but has now resettled with her three children, ages 13, 15 and 17, and is regaining strength and movement. IN SPIRIT is proud to be one of many in the community that are helping her move forward. We helped with temporary assistance to get her set up with attendant care and are now providing a Hoyer lift so she can be transferred easily into her wheelchair. Before that, she had to rely upon her children to get her out of bed each morning and wait for them to put her to bed each evening. She is now receiving regular attendant care and with the Hoyer lift, her attendant can transfer her throughout the day as needed. Abelina wants to return to her work as a real estate agent, and judging from her ability to send text messages with only limited use of her fingers, she's well on her way. Abelina says: "The Hoyer lift has made a huge, huge difference in my life. You have no idea how good it feels to have my personal needs met and not have to wait till someone shows up who can lift me. When I'm stuck in bed is when I feel handicapped.”

A Family Prevails

Joe was injured in a diving accident in 2001. He was 28 and living in the Los Angeles area. After a stay in rehab, he went into a nursing home where he quietly languished. His family was not familiar with how to care for a quadriplegic, but when his stepmother Dale visited him in

IN SPIRIT client with family
Joe with Family
Los Angeles and saw his condition, she was determined to bring him home to his native Marin. She and his father Steve added an elevator to their hillside home and converted their living room into an accessible, supportive environment for Joe. Joe began receiving IHSS and they learned to navigate the ins and outs of home care and find suitable attendants on a limited budget. Dale has become a champion advocate helping Joe through health complications and working tirelessly through the homecare workers union to improve wages and benefits for IHSS workers. She doesn't stop there -- she is an avid gardener and contributes abundantly to IN SPIRIT's plant sale. Joe now tutors fourth-graders at Bahía Vista School. It has been an honor to provide occasional respite support to give Dale and Steve a week off to recharge.