Thursday, 30 January 2014

Life Lessons In Construction

I slept on my camping cot in my living room last night. It's only peripherally related to ALS. I can still get in my bed; nothing bad happened. I just can't get into my bedroom thanks to the renovations being done to my apartment to make it more livable. Of course the process of making a space more livable often includes tearing things down and starting over. That's true in life, not just in renovations. Sometimes in order to get to a place where you can live, you have to tear apart your old life and start over.

For my renovations, there are a couple of key areas we are changing. The biggest thing is the bathroom, making it larger and putting in a wheelchair shower. Fortunately that is a relatively enclosed space. If you don't count the mess from construction, I get along in there pretty well right now. The second biggest thing, and perhaps the most difficult part of the job, is widening the doorway to my bedroom.

You might wonder why it is so difficult to simply widen a doorway. The difficulty arises because the beam that holds up the floor above me runs across the hallway right at my bedroom door. In order to widen that area, we need to move the post holding up the beam and replace that beam with a larger one that is attached to a crossbeam on the other side of the hallway. This is a major piece of construction.

Doing this work involves bracing my ceiling up; my ceiling is the floor for the apartment above. After the bracing went in, my brother Jim, who is doing all this work for me as his gift to me, along with my friend Mike who is coming again today to help finish this job, had to hack and cut and hammer and chisel out the old beam, along with the roughly 1,000 nails that were used to secure it. The removal of the beam, a task that was originally thought to be fairly simple, took three hours.

Jimmy came to the end of that task yesterday and needed to stop. The day was done and so was he. So we left the bracing walls in place for the night. Unfortunately, given that the now missing beam runs across the hallway and terminates on a post that is the end of my bedroom doorway, the temporary bracing walls are in place on either side, blocking both my access to my bedroom and my bathroom.

The bathroom part was easy. The mall across the street has a wheelchair friendly bathroom and I still have my urine jug; I just don't have a lot of privacy for going pee. The bedroom part was fairly easy too; Jim got my pills and clothing for me and I setup my cot in the living room. I like sleeping on my cot; it reminds me of camping. It's comfortable, sturdy and relatively easy for me to get into and out of. It's not great for lounging around or reading in bed, but then again I am back in my own bed tonight.

Think of the life lessons in all this. Sometimes the easy looks hard and the hard looks easy. You can never tell how tough something will be until you are personally in the midst of it. The loss of luxury doesn't mean you can't be comfortable. When things don't go as planned, you are better off looking at it as an adventure instead of a failure. For most problems, the solution is right there with you if you look for it.


  1. love the way you look at life, and its struggles Some times we just have to go with the fl ow(no pun on your bathroom situation) and some times we need to stand up and shout. Pick the battles that are most important, and then roll with the punches with the other. .

  2. “Sometimes the easy looks hard and the hard looks easy.” – I agree. This is really how renovation works. It can be very stressful, especially when things don't go as you plan, just like what happened to your doorway widening. But I’m amazed that you’re handling it well. I hope after that task, everything else will follow as plan, so you can install the door and everything else.