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Disability Grants To Help Stroke Disabled Lisa Make Home Repairs And Upgrades

by Lisa Schmidt
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA)

I am a 45-year-old female. I was close to a straight A student all the way through school. I graduated #6 in my high school class and earned my BA from the University of Northern Iowa with "high honors."

I married my college sweetheart when I became pregnant after three years of exclusive dating. We have two grown children Ben (23) and Tony (22).

Dan and I Embarking on Our Life's Journey Together
Dan and I Embarking on Our Life's Journey Together

We were very young (22) when we married, but it was most definitely a love match. We happily embarked on our journey together, figuring things out along the way.

Eleven months ago, just six months short of our 23rd anniversary, my husband up and left me declaring that he no longer felt any passion for me.

Neither of our children lived at home at the time. I resisted divorce for months because it wasn't/isn't what I want. I love him with all my heart despite the pain he has put me through over the last year
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Disability Issues

We were 23 and I was six and a half months pregnant with our second child (the first was 14 months old). We were just six months past our 1st anniversary and not thrilled about the pregnancy, but we'd make it work.

That evening we were in the car on our way to pick up our laundry from my parent's house. On the way I complained of an excruciating headache and the onset of left-sided numbness and eventually loss of function.

The ER staff immediately suspected a stroke so I underwent copious brain scans. The neurosurgeon was unable to remove the entire problem area (AVM) but did what he could to stop the bleeding.

It is likely that his digging around in there caused as much damaged as the stroke, if not more and there was no hope for my survival.

They were keeping me alive "for the baby" as I was expected to die or remain vegetative. Well, it was my day for miracles. I survived, but am left mostly paralyzed on the entire left side of my body.

I am not able to use my left (dominant) hand for anything. I can curl my fingers but I can't straighten them. I am only able to walk with an orthotic device that I wear on my left leg.

It starts at my toes and goes all the way up to the back of my knee and causes my left foot to require a shoe that is a full size and a half bigger than the right. I must purchase two pairs of shoes to get one pair that fits.

Financial Hardship

At 28 I was able to obtain my driver's license and since both our boys were in school full-time I decided to look for a part-time job that would bring in extra income so we could have more to spend on each other.

I asked my husband if I could please keep a small amount of my income to spend as I wished but he told me to keep all of it so that's what I did.

Over the past 17 years I have spent an unholy fortune trying to find happiness in buying things to fill the void left by the broken relationship with Dan.

For years things flowed along and I thought all was as good as I could expect given my physical limitations.

In May 2015 Dan accepted a severance package from his employer of 14 years. It was a long summer during which he had no luck finding a new job but we managed to get by, as he was still receiving full salary and insurance through the end of the year.

Finally just before summer's end he accepted a position at a friend's company. It wasn't his dream job but they'd offered his minimum salary requirement.

Roughly a month after starting he announced that he wanted a divorce. He moved out, refusing to do any maintenance on the house we'd been in for 18 years.

He continued to support me financially and I had finally been approved for Disability. Between the money in our joint account and my income, I continued to live in the manner I had become used to.

Then in July 2015, the entire company was given a 12.5% pay cut. A week later he was laid off.

I'm a lunch lady and don't get paid over the summer break except for my Disability check and things quickly became difficult. There was not enough coming in from unemployment to cover the minimum of our monthly bills.

Income Efforts

When we married we agreed that I would be a stay at home mom at least until our kids were school age.

Post TBI we had to hire full-time help (nanny) to help me care for a toddler and an infant, and myself since there were so many daily tasks that I could not accomplish in my condition.

So in 1998 off to work I went, having found a position in the lunch program where the boys went to school. I only worked three or four days a week since we didn't "need" the money nor was I interested in working full-time.

Fifteen years ago I started at a new school where we just began the school year. Even if I put ALL my income towards bills, we still can't cover our monthly expenses.

Dan has lived with his friend (ex-boss) rent-free since he left. I considered looking for more work but physically I am not capable of more than I am doing now.

After working part-time for 11 years, I was finally able to get Disability payments but now I have to use most of that to pay for my own healthcare, since Dan can't afford medical insurance for me while he's unemployed.

Specific Needs

I've stayed in our house, not because I want to, but because I see no other affordable alternative. The house was built in the 40s. In fact it's the same age as my mom (65). It has had few updates since.

We've replaced every appliance as well as the furnace and AC over the years but the basics are original. It's a well-built house but we quickly outgrew it not long after moving in.

Dan made no effort to maintain the house. It was badly in need of painting when we bought it and remains unpainted still. What I am seeking is money to repair and renovate the house at least as much as is required to replace the ceilings he ripped down and never fixed.
Our Kitchen Floor With Linoleum Worn Down To Bare Wood
Our Kitchen Floor With Linoleum Worn Down To Bare Wood

My kitchen is beyond small and its state is horrendous. The bare wood floor is rough because of my wheelchair, which ruined the linoleum and he refused to replace it.

It would be easier and more cost effective to tear the place down and start over, but I will be happy just to do repairs, make some upgrades and perhaps build a new garage, which was cleared of a termite infestation shortly before we took possession.

I long for a kitchen and bathrooms that have all the adaptive equipment that would make life so much more pleasant, and yes, easier. I would "kill" to take a bath instead of a sit-down shower but Dan would never consider having a walk-in tub installed.

If I don't stay on top of the bills he leaves them unpaid and we've had services disconnected or received final notices on multiple occasions.

Most recently my 23-year-old son had to pay their Verizon bill because their lines had been disconnected and he didn't want to go out of town without a working phone. The amount he paid ($199) merely brought the bill up to date. That much again was due two days ago and has not yet been paid.

Business Idea

I have none that can reasonably be implemented but I want to say a few words more so the reader knows how difficult it has been for me to not tell my whole story. In addition to physical limitations, I have cognitive deficits that make concentrating and complex thought difficult.

This is my story. It's an anorexic version and it makes me uncomfortable having to leave out as much as I feel I did.

Comments for Disability Grants To Help Stroke Disabled Lisa Make Home Repairs And Upgrades

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Sep 15, 2015
by: Lisa Schmidt

Thanks Sheila Kay, right now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with being back at work after three months off so, unfortunately I have gotten away from the grant process stuff but I will get back to it soon!

Sep 15, 2015
Life's Complications
by: SheilaKay


I think you did a great job of writing your story. It's hard when it's over a long period combined with physical problems to get things in order and perspective.

I'm sorry you are having to go through the divorce. To me, it's like a death in the family it's such a great loss. I'm sure there are support groups in your area, maybe you could check them out. It would be a great way to connect with others so that you can get and give support to others.

I know it hasn't been long since you finished your story, but do get into the Workbook. In there you will find resources about how to get those repairs to your older home done to bring it up to par with better living conditions.

I see you already got your disability, but another resource (for free) that Don recommends is:


Be sure to come back and let us know how you are doing. We love to hear success stories!


Disability Possibilities Unlimited

Sep 09, 2015
I'm glad that part is finished!
by: Lisa Schmidt

PHEW! I'm SO glad that step is finished! I never realized writing my story could be so challenging but I'm so glad I did it!

Sep 09, 2015
Next step... the Workbook
by: Don from Ability Mission

Hi Lisa,

Congratulations on getting this far! With your story being published you can move on to the Workbook, which shows you how to use your story to get the help you need.

By way of advice to you and to readers, you do not always have to relate your entire story. You can do that in a book someday.

What you need to do is give a granting agency only what they need to to evaluate your case -- no more, no less.

Following our story-telling guidelines has been a way for you to practice doing that. You have passed that step!

If you wish for people to reach you, the best thing is to provide an online address that is already public. Most people are on Facebook, so that would be good.

Now you can move on to the Workbook.

Don Coggan

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