Help Us Start a New Life Despite MS

Christine has been living with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) since 1975, when she had her first symptoms. It wasn't until roughly 15 years later that she received her diagnosis. During that time, Christine earned her Bachelors of Science in Accounting from the University of Illinois, then attended Stanford University, attaining a Ph.D in Economics. She then moved to Michigan to teach at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), though her career as a professor ended all too soon due to her condition worsening.

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition in which the bodies central nervous system attacks itself, destroying the connections between the brain and the rest of the body. It is similar to stripping an extension cord of its protective outer covering, essentially ruining the insulation of the wires inside. This is what happens to the nerves of someone with MS. It causes an array of symptoms, including but not limited to: seizures, paralysis, vision loss, bladder/bowel dysfunction, loss of mobility, digestive dysfunction, muscle atrophy, etc.

Christine moved from California to Michigan to establish her career and start her life. Unfortunately, in recent years her condition has deteriorated significantly and she is unable to take care of herself without the help of multiple caregivers, nurses, and her husband. Due to constant relapsing and remitting of her condition, Christine has been bed bound for over 4 years. She has begun to lose critical motor functions, including the ability to use her arms, wiggle her toes, or even sit up in bed. At this point, her life is becoming quite impossible to endure without the help of 24/7 staff.

Christine needs a LIFESTYLE change. She is in the process of moving to Tucson, Arizona where she will benefit from a climate without 4 seasons and where she will be only several minutes from family (she doesn't have any in Michigan). Christine has been working tirelessly to delegate the tasks required to uproot her very deeply established life in Michigan, to be able to move out to Arizona. By moving across the country, Christine will have access to family (she has none in Michigan) who can coordinate in-home health care for her, provide connections in their community with individuals who may be willing to offer support with her deteriorating condition, and a better quality of life. Moving cross country is a huge task on its own, let alone having to coordinate it while being hands off of everything.

Christine has a group of helpers that come to her apartment (individually) 5-6 days/week, for 5-6 hours/day to help her with moving tasks. These tasks include (but are not limited to) sorting through boxes obtained from her storage locker, packing items into boxes, cleaning, filing/sorting paperwork, sorting items for donation/recycle and then delivering to the appropriate drop off sites. In addition to this, she has several caregivers/nurses/aids that come for several hours each day to provide basic care such as feeding her breakfast, changing her catheter, providing bed baths, washing her hair, physical exams, physical therapy, and to help with activities of daily life such as sending texts/emails, coordinating with her moving assistants, grocery shopping, paying bills, doing laundry, medication management, etc. If you can imagine, having to keep up with a 12+ hour schedule like this, all while never leaving your bed, the expansiveness of her living situation may be better understood.

We are creating a goal of $25,000 to help Christine move from Michigan to Arizona. Due to her disability, she survives on a fixed income. She pays each of her moving helpers $12.50/hour, and her private caregivers $15/hour. This does not include the cost of her visiting nurses/aids from the University of Michigan. She pays for about 30 hours/week of help just from her moving helpers/caregivers. On top of this, there has been the financial burden of renting moving trucks everytime boxes have to be taken to/from her storage locker (it can't all possibly fit in her 780 sq ft apartment), purchasing packing supplies, and eventually the cost of the move itself (estimated at $9,350). In addition to this, Christine and her husband (her primary caretaker) will need to fly first class to AZ due to her condition and need for wheelchair/extra large seat accessibility. First class tickets such as these can cost upwards of $1500 each, and they need two. Christine hopes to be able to live a life with more mobility once she has the space and the assistance to be able to get out of bed each day. With this hope, Christine will also need an electric wheelchair (75% paid for by Medicare but additional modifications to the chair will be paid for by Christine), and a Hoyer lift to transfer her into the chair (not covered by insurance). She will also need an open concept shower with space for a shower chair to rotate, and big enough for her and a caregiver to move around inside.

Though Christine is not physically able to keep up with the lifestyle she used to live, her heart is just a strong as her body used to be. Christine hopes to find a community in Arizona so that she may be a part of an MS support group, with others facing similar challenges to her. Christine's next goal after her move is to create a home that is not only handicap accessible, but eco-friendly, complete with solar panels on the roof, an indoor herb garden, and an addition where she may volunteer to house those in need.

At the end of the day, we are working as hard as possible to get Christine to a place where she can live the life she deserves. Her apartment is too small to keep up with the quality of care that she requires on a daily basis, and has become essentially, a jail cell to her. Everyone deserves a second shot at life, and this is what we want for Christine.

Thank you for reading about our campaign for Christine and we appreciate any donation (or other assistance) that you'd be willing to offer.

-Christine's caregivers, moving assistants, and family.
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Christine G Papajohn
Ypsilanti, MI

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