Our bathroom saga has been a long tale. We still have to add grab bars and a few other finishing touches, but it is complete. Hallelujah!
It has changed our lives immeasurably.
1. Independence. Ben can sit on the toilet without the Blue Wave toilet system. He hated to be strapped into the special chair, and he refused to use the toilet. As soon as he was taken off, he went in the pull-up, no matter how much time we let him sit. It was a power struggle, and he won every time. And let's be honest, I took him less when I knew it was a lesson in futility.
Now, he is using the toilet without hesitation. He is not trapped by the strap, plus he is just like everyone else now.
Ben dresses at the counter. He holds on and lifts each leg to help put his pull-up and then pants on without being prompted. In the past, I laid him on the hallway floor and dressed him there. For some reason, he always refused to stand back up. Getting him up often took the help of my husband or the other two brothers.
Now he gets dressed and I walk him to his wheelchair. My back is saved, and he has the satisfaction of doing something for himself.
Ben giggles quite a bit when he stands at the sink and looks in the mirror.
This is one such morning while he was getting ready for school.
2. Safety. The old bathroom is 40 square feet - fine as a bathroom for a typical person, but a nightmare for someone with special needs. We had to do a lot more lifting to get Ben on the toilet, into the tub and out of the tub. Even though he has the skills to do these things with assistance, there was just no room to allow him to do so.
I hurt my shoulder badly in May from lifting Ben onto the Blue Wave toilet. It was a matter of time before someone else hurt themselves lifting Ben in and out of the tub.We have been lucky.
The space in the new bathroom allows Ben to step in and out of the tub, stand at the counter for dressing and washing his hands.
3. Time. Ben sometimes needs extra time on the toilet. In the past, we had to rush him or tell the brothers to wait. We now have both bathrooms and everyone can come and go as they please.
4. Storage. Ben has a few extra items that need to be used on a regular basis in the bathroom. With the storage space, these items are at our disposal. The old bathroom did not allow for that and we had to run around to different rooms to get what we needed.
5. Ben Proof - Ben loves to chew on toilet paper and shower curtains. The new bathroom has no shower curtain and the toilet paper can be easily moved to another location. Does not sound like a big deal - but when you have to Ben proof the bathroom every time he used it, the task got tedious.
When I made this list, I was floored by what it took for this bathroom to be built: 21 organizations, more than 75 people and at least $50,000 in time and materials donated. Mike Waite with NARI Charlotte, Mark Wasserman with Rebuilding Together Charlotte and Eddie DeRhodes of DeRhodes Construction lead this project with the support of these companies, their staff and subcontractors:
All About the Pipes
Barefoot & Co.
Bedford Falls Builders
Harkey Tile & Stone
Master Craft Creations
Queen City Lumber
Red Rooster Contracting
Southend Home Improvement
Every single person that came to our house was genuinely happy to help. Sometimes, they asked about Ben or shared a story about someone in their family with special needs. In one case, we made a connection and I was able to share educational resources with the family.
This was a great experience for us, and we are thankful and appreciative to the people who were willing to help with this huge project.