United Access Helps Jonell Spicer Be Independent Even With Muscular Dystrophy

Editor’s Note: Jonell Spicer from West Memphis, Arkansas, has Facial Scapula Humoral (FSH) Muscular Dystrophy (MD), which is an inherited disease that causes degeneration of the muscles. Sometimes the disease progresses quickly, and sometimes it progresses slowly. Right now, Spicer is in a plateau stage, which according to Jonell, “Is a great and wonderful thing.” Jonell’s grandmother, her uncle and her mother all currently have the same disease. Part 2 of a 4-part series.

Jonell received a power chair when her muscles became too weak. It has opened several doors for her!

Jonell received a power chair when her muscles became too weak. It has opened several doors for her!

Spicer: I was diagnosed with FSH Muscular Dystrophy when I was 12 years-old. The muscles in my legs began to slowly deteriorate and walking long distances became more and more difficult. I usually can get around in the house okay, but within the last five years, I’ve started to fall more and tire more easily. For me, life’s much simpler when I rely on my wheelchair.

In 2008, I began college. For one and a half years, my sister pushed me around in a manual wheelchair, because my hands and arms weren’t strong enough to wheel myself. Finally, the doctors said, “Let’s see if we can’t get you a power chair.” Within a couple of months, I received a power chair and was really excited about it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a way to get this power chair where I needed to go. I started applying for help through the State of Arkansas. Meanwhile, for about a year, my friend who had a pickup truck would come over, and we’d drive the power chair into the back of the truck with a ramp. He would take me wherever I needed to go but could only do this on the weekends.

Although I was very blessed to have my sister and my friend to help me, I still had lost most of my freedom. I couldn’t go where I wanted to, when I wanted to at any time. Much to my happiness, on December 9, 2010, I got a van from United Access. My whole world changed. Now I can walk through the door of my house, get into my chair and then get into my van. I can go anywhere I want, at any time. Now I can go to school by myself and go from class to class by myself, which means I can take more classes. After getting my power chair and my van from United Access, I can do the things I haven’t been able to do previously.

For seven years, I lived without my own transportation. I was more mobile and independent with my power chair and quickly learned all the features and how to transport myself and the heavy chair. That’s why United Access has been such a critical part of getting me back to a place where I can continue my education and take advantage of my new mobility. This new sense of autonomy made me want to become even more independent. When my van had some problems with the automatic door, United Access repaired the motor to the door, which opened the ramp. They gladly service my vehicle if I have any problems.

Jonell's van allows her to go anywhere, whenever she wants.

Jonell's van allows her to go anywhere, whenever she wants.

One thing I strongly recommend if you’re considering getting a van or having modifications made to a vehicle is to look for someone who can continue to service your vehicle after you’ve purchased it. Remember that automatic doors, lifts and hand controls are all mechanical, which means they can malfunction and will probably need immediate attention at some point. Having a service company close to where you live definitely is a great advantage.

One of the first things I’ve wanted to do with my new independence is to help raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. In the past three years, I’ve raised close to $7,500. With my power chair and my van, I hope to do more in the coming years. I think I’ve found my life’s calling, and I’m studying to become a social worker at Mid-South Community College. I’ll graduate in May of 2012 with an associate’s degree.  In the fall I hope to continue my education at the University of Memphis.

To learn more about United Access, visit www.unitedaccess.com. And, if you’re a veteran, you can go to the webpage and apply for a voucher worth $1,000 from the government to have a vehicle adapted. Keep up with this story and learn more!

Next: Deborah Pearson of Memphis, Tennessee Loses Limbs Due To Protein S Deficiency, But Does Not Lose Hope

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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