Our Purchase That Will Be Life-Changing For Matt

I’ve been a bit absent this week, but it’s for a very good reason. Matt and I have been sidetracked with a very exciting decision and purchase these last couple of days, and it’s been difficult to concentrate on anything else. This doesn’t have anything to do with decorating, or DIY, or our house at all. It’s actually much more exciting than that.

As most of you know, Matt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years after we got married. So he’s been living with this diagnosis since 2004. For several years after that, it didn’t have a huge effect on our lives, but about five years into our marriage, his health started to noticeably decline.

For the last 13 years, Matt has had to rely on the use of a wheelchair to get around. But M.S. wreaks havoc on much more than just the use of his legs. For Matt, the main issues are his overall weakness and the sheer exhaustion that he lives with each and every day. Things like sitting in a recliner — things that most of us would do to relax — just wear him out. He has to go to bed and lie down in order to recover from the hours he spends in his recliner. But there are so many ways it affects him other than the exhaustion. I won’t go into details.

M.S. has been so limiting for Matt. For over a decade now, he hasn’t wanted to leave the house or go places. A lot of that is due to the exhaustion, but he also deals with a lot of fear. Home is a very secure place for him, and there aren’t any unknown variables when he’s home. When he’s home, we know how to handle every single issue that arises. But he’s always been so fearful that if he leaves the house, something will arise that he (or we) won’t know how to handle.

Thankfully, being home hasn’t meant that he has to stay closed up within the walls of our house. We have a house that sits on a one-acre lot, and Matt has a power wheelchair that can easily traverse the terrain. He’s comfortable with that as long as the weather isn’t too hot, and he thoroughly enjoys being outside and being able to enjoy our large piece of property. There’s really not anywhere on our property that his wheelchair can’t take him.

But when it comes to actually getting in a vehicle and going somewhere, he has never wanted to even try. In the 8.5 years that we’ve lived in our house, I can count on one hand the number of times he’s left the house, and two of those have been in an ambulance heading to the hospital.

He’s just had no interest at all in going places. On several occasions over the years, I’ve brought up the possibility of purchasing a wheelchair van so the he can get out and do things. He was never interested. He was perfectly content staying home. The last decade has been very isolating for him, but it’s been by his own choice, and has largely been driven by his fear. Again, home is where he feels comfortable and secure, and he has rarely (really, never) wanted to leave that comfort and security, and has only done so when absolutely necessary. And on those occasions when he does need to leave home, and when it has been non-emergent (not medical related), we have just rented a wheelchair van for transportation for the day.

A year ago, in 2021, Matt got sick with influenza A, and had to be taken to the hospital. When he was better and it was time for him to come home, we didn’t have transportation for him. I tried to find a place that rents out wheelchair vans, but evidently there are no such places in Waco anymore. We told the hospital that, and they had no other ideas for us either. That left us with the only option of Matt being brought home in an ambulance, and since that ambulance trip was non-emergent, it cost us about $1200 out of pocket for that trip from the hospital to our house. I was shocked that the hospital had no other options, but they didn’t.

Two weeks ago when Matt was in the hospital, we were faced with the same dilemma. He had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but we had no transportation for him to get home. Again, there were no places that rent out wheelchair vans, so I was certain we would have to go with the ambulance option again, and pay the $1200 out of pocket again.

But this time, we were at a different hospital — a better hospital in so many ways, in my humble opinion. And this time, they had another option. They told us of a local service that transports non-ambulatory people for non-emergent purposes. They can transport people in wheelchairs, or even on stretchers if they’re more comfortable that way. They can transport people locally for medical appointments, or they can even transport people to other cities, or even other states, for appointments. So I called, set up a same-day appointment, and when he was discharged, they came and picked him up in a little mini van with all of the necessary wheelchair modifications and delivered him safely to our house. And they did so for the very reasonable price of $91. That’s a far cry from the $1200 we had been charge last year!

Well, something about that ride in that little mini van with the convenient back entry ramp flipped a switch in Matt’s mind. He LOVED that ride in the van. He LOVED the back entry ramp. He felt very secure and safe in the back of that van as he was driven home. And once he got home and saw how easy it was for me to get him out of the rear entry ramp, he was shocked. For the rest of the day, he seemed so excited and energized about that van ride.

So as I’ve done many times over the years, I asked him that night what he thought about the possibility of us purchasing a wheelchair van since he had enjoyed the ride earlier in the day so much. I was fully expecting the same “no” that I’ve gotten from him the other times I’ve brought up the idea. But this time was different. He seemed excited about the idea. He started talking about the things that he could get out and do.

I couldn’t believe it! One van ride had truly flipped a switch in his mind. I can’t figure out exactly why, but all I know is that the difference is his mindset has been a night and day difference. He was suddenly excited about the idea of purchasing a wheelchair van and getting back out into the world. It was truly amazing to hear the excitement in his voice about the possibilities. And by the end of last week, he was about 95% sure that he wanted us to get a van.

I started looked at different options, and on Saturday, I contacted one of the two local dealers that sell wheelchair vans. My phone call was connected to the national office, and they set up an appointment for me to meet with someone at the local office for this past Wednesday. But on Monday, the man from the local office called me to see exactly what we were looking for, and after I told him exactly what we wanted (specifically with that rear ramp entry), he said, “I just got a van in on Friday that fits that exact description!” He described it, and it sounded perfect, including the price!

On Tuesday, he brought it over to our house so that Matt could see it, and he absolutely loved it. After Matt got in, and the guy showed us how to use all of the straps to secure Matt in the back of the van, Matt was so excited and told the guy, “We want it!”

I’m just so shocked, but also very excited, about this 180-degree change in Matt’s mindset. This will truly be a life-changing purchase for him. So tomorrow, they will deliver our new van to us, and this new chapter in Matt’s life will begin. I couldn’t be more excited for him!



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    1. Oh Matt and Kristi I am so happy and excited to see the changes for the good in your life. God bless you both.

  1. Rut Roh! You may never get him out of the van now! Seriously, It’s wonderful that he is willing to go places now. I think it’s great and his mental health can’t help but be improved. My BFF has MS and her husband gets her out of the house at least every other day. They are always going places and seeing things. When he comes to cut my grass, she’ll come too and we sit in the SUV and gossip about everybody we ever knew and solve the world’s problems! I think you’ll see him perk up and maybe not feel so exhausted. Good Luck!

  2. That is awesome! You both deserve something like this so you can go one short trips, visit family and just enjoy a ride. Enjoy it and safe travels to both of you.

  3. I’ve teared up with this news. Thank you for sharing and I will imagine the places you’ll go. Maybe to Sonic for an iced tea!
    God Bless,

  4. Kristy, is there a possibility that you would say the range in price. This might be perfect for me. We have seen the side ones, but then only the driver and 1 passenger is all there is room for and we are a family of 4

    1. Absolutely! I’m happy to share if it will help others!

      We paid about $37,500 for this one. It’s a 2017 Dodge Caravan with 51,000 miles and with a manual rear entry ramp. It will seat four people plus Matt. There are two different places where Matt can be secured. The second row passenger seats don’t have to be removed. They simply fold up to the side, making room for Matt to sit between the two folded up seats, and then Matt can be secured right behind the driver seat and front passenger seat. Or if we need seating for more people, those second row passenger seats fold down, and there’s a second place behind those second row passenger seats where the straps for Matt can be secured. So including Matt, it can seat up to five people.

      I was concerned about the back entry ramp being manual (ALL back entry ramps are manual), but it’s so incredibly easy to use. I don’t remember the words he used to describe it, but I’ll use the words “spring-loaded”. So it takes virtually no effort to lower and raise the manual ramp.

      Anyway, we were very fortunate regarding timing. On that Monday phone call with the man from the dealer, after he told me all about the vehicle, I was expecting the price to be closer to $45,000-$50,000. (As you probably know, the cost of the adaptive equipment and the conversion is about $20,000 in addition to the cost for the actual vehicle.) He said that if he had to market the vehicle while the vehicle sits on his lot, the cost would be closer to that $45,000. But since he had just gotten the vehicle in, and if he could sell it without marketing it while it sits on his lot, the cost would be $37,000. After the ones I had seen during that previous week, I thought that was a GREAT price! And the vehicle is in near-perfect condition.

      Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to answer them!

    2. I should add that if you go through a place like Mobility Works to purchase the vehicle (they’re a nationwide company, so there may be one near you), they specialize in this type of vehicle, and that includes working with lenders that understand the special value of these vehicles. If you try to finance through a regular lender, they will only consider the Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle with no regard for the adaptive equipment and conversion. And because most of these vehicles are converted after they’ve been used for a while, most of them are a few years old with new conversions. But because of the age, most lenders will only give you a two or three year loan, and they don’t want to loan the full value of the vehicle plus the conversion.

      If you go through a company like Mobility Works, their lenders understand. They have loans up to 10 years, and they have no problem considering the value of the adaptive equipment and conversion. So I highly recommend going through a company that specializes in these vehicles.

  5. I am so happy for you & Matt. This is definitely a life-changer! I had tears in my eyes as I read your story today. Congratulations and safe travels!

  6. Wow! The hospital trip with a big blessing! I am excited for Matt and for you. I hope this is life-giving and you two are able to enjoy sunrises and sunsets and drive through ice cream cones! You have created such a lovely home for Matt- what a treasure for him to have you as his bride.

  7. I recognize the brand name on the side. My son did an internship with the company in their metal fabrication department. Congratulations on your purchase!

  8. How exciting for Matt and for you. This must open so many possibilities for you that your mind must be racing. I am so pleased for the options it presents for Matt and the potential improvement in his mental outlook. That can be a total game changer for someone. I say this as someone who is familiar with depression and the fears that go along with it.

    Now, go have fun Kristi and Matt!

  9. As someone who uses a wheelchair full-time and who, like Matt, has autoimmune issues that make it extremely difficult to leave my residence, I completely understand how the fear of “what ifs?” can dominate and be paralyzing, mentally. That last hospital stay, as awful as it may have been to go through, by forcing the issue, provided the means to show that there WAS a way to be transported in a way that feels (and is) safe. . . so it really was a blessing in disguise. I’m SO thrilled that you’re getting this van and that Matt is so excited for what opportunities will now be opened up to him (and you)! Your story is very inspirational to me, facing those same fears. Thank you for sharing it–and my best to Matt!

  10. Wow – that is such awesome news for Matt and you! I’m sure you’ll both enjoy being out together even for a simple drive! Congrats to both of you!

    1. Simply put…I’m very excited for you both. The perfect time occurred and you guys took advantage of it. God works in mysterious ways…Blessings to all!

  11. Oh my gosh, Kristi. That is simply fantastic! I’m so glad Matt now has a way to securely get out into the larger world. That will do wonders for him in many ways. Congratulations to you both.

  12. Well this is exciting news! And it will add so much to your lives as well. I hope you reach out to the hospital and let them know what a fantastic job they are doing for patients like Matt. Enjoy your trips😁😁😁

  13. Congratulations! What joyful news. Wishing you many great adventures together!

    Ps. Be sure to check with your accountant for any tax-advantaged deductions related to your new purchase.

  14. This was the bit of happiness that I needed to hear today. This will make such a different in your lives!

  15. This is wonderful news, Kristi, it’s a blessing for Matt to be able to get out and about now. I’m so happy for you both!

  16. Wow! How wonderful! My MIL recently needed a wheelchair van. They found them incredibly expensive because they can be hard to find already made with the ramp and ties. I’m so thankful you were able to locate one for a good price. I’m sure the freedom you both feel from this will be so worth it.

  17. What a nice blessing! This will help him mentally, spiritually and maybe physically. All the more reasons to finish the bathroom & gym- This I know will energize you!

  18. Am absolutely THRILLED for you both! You may find you have a travel-a-holic on your hands! Such fun for you both. Cannot imagine the many ways this will change your life.

  19. Kristi, this story made me cry. I think I thought you had such a van or something to go out with along with Matt. I worked for 5 years for a woman in a wheelchair, and she left the house many days. (she could still drive) I truly learned how to put myself in her position, and cleaned her house, and made things as easy as I could for her. Some people don’t seem to be able to do that – they put things she needed out of her reach, etc. She became a good friend, and I miss her so much. It will make a world of difference for Matt, even if it is just a ride for coffee, or Sonic, or a tour of the country. He SO deserves this…an amazing change.
    I am so happy for you both!!! PS) I always knew about those transport companies…they may be more plentiful here in Florida!

  20. Blessings to you and Matt on this new purchase. Here’s to many happy hours in that van and the joys you will share.

  21. That is so exciting for both of you! I hope this is everything you both want and that you have some fun in it.

  22. I care for my sister with MS. I learned so much from this article. She still uses a walker, but I now understand better her reluctance to leaving her home. Do you know of any blogs that I could follow to help me with her care and consideration of her needs?

  23. I’m crying for happiness for both of you. Literally.
    Thank you so much for sharing this exciting news with us.

  24. That is just awesome on sooo many levels. I’m so happy for your new life adventures together.

  25. Once again, I marvel at your resiliency, your patience, and your love for your husband! You are an amazing woman in too many ways to count! Don’t forget that…..

    1. Fantastic story and it made me cry. I look forward to hearing about the new adventures you will both be taking!

  26. Oh boy! Life just got busy in a very wonderful way. Sooooo happy for the two of you!!!!!!

  27. There’s just something about going for a drive just to get away for a bit. My late husband had Parkinson’s and as long as we could get him into the passenger seat in our van I would take him for a ride once a week. It was therapeutic for him and we both enjoyed it. You and Matt will enjoy your new van, and if it takes time from working on your home, so be it. Getting out together – and Matt’s new lease on life – trumps projects, so enjoy!

    1. I so agree with this. I truly believe this will help dispell the fears that he had and will bring a major change in both of you, but especially for him. I’m so thrilled for you guys, this article brought me to tears of joy. And as Sue said, it may take longer to finish up working on your house, but so be it. This is a huge deal!!! Congrats!!!

  28. I was wondering if Matt had Medicare since he is disabled and unable to work to have medical insurance. They offer rides for people whether older, disabled, wheelchair-bound or just no transportation to and from dr. or hospitals. I think they are fairly inexpensive. I am surprised the hospital didn’t know about these services.

    1. In MO there is an entity called OATS transit. It’s “Operating Above The Standard”. It is a transportation service for many different people and situations like what you just mentioned. I’m surprised TX doesn’t have something like this. But I’m thrilled you guys got your own now.

  29. Spectacular news! Not only will Matt’s world change and improve, so will yours. You have been by his side so supportive all these years and also deserve this opportunity to explore and enjoy life outside your home. To many happy moments❣️

  30. This made me smile from ear to ear! I am so very happy for you both. What exciting news!!

  31. Love the new van. I will need to do the same in a few years. Is that a
    Dodge Grand Caravan? It looks similar to mine. I would love to thing I could be out fitted without having to buy new.

  32. What an awesome story! I’m so thrilled for Matt! =) The van is beautiful… I would love to see pics of the inside when you receive it, and see how it works. Congratulations on your purchase! <3

  33. I am so happy for the both of you. This will help Matt in many ways and give you both more things to do together.

  34. What a lovely post I shed a few tears of joy I’m so .happy that Matt will be able to get out with you.

  35. I’m thrilled for you both! And that vehicle will come in handy when it’s time to bring home big sheets of plywood, etc. from the lumberyard too…

  36. This made me smile. I’m so excited for both of you! Just getting out and riding around will be life changing, not to mention being able to go into a store, out to eat of just through a drive through for coffee or tea. That change of scenery will make Matt a happy camper, which will make you a happy camper 🙂 My Mom has dementia and loves it when we just take a ride through the subdivisions. It’s just good for her to get her out. She also likes the Coke and fast food she gets for lunch that day … LOL … but I know Matt watches what he eats to keep the inflammation at bay.

  37. So happy for Matt and you! May y’all have many happy adventures in your new wheelchair van!

  38. Woo hoo!!
    We are so happy for you both and can’t wait to hear all about your adventures around town.

  39. I’ve been a caregiver for about 40 years, taking a couple of years break a couple of times. I’ve cared for people with MS, some who get out on their own, and some who need serious care. I am so excited for you and Matt, this is a life-changer.

  40. Kristi my daughter had MS and for so many of those years was home bound because of this very reason. Her husband was also disabled in his last years. This made things even harder for them. She also had this fear of a trip because he had to lift her in his arms to put her in their car. Then when he could no longer do this it made it impossible. Thus making us life confined and depressing. So I am so happy to hear that Matt will get to have an outside life again. It will change his mood in so many ways. So congratulations to you both and enjoy!

  41. I’m so happy for you and Matt. My husband has had a severe stroke effecting him both physically and mentally. I’m am scared to leave the house with him. He doesn’t have a power chair, just a manual wheel chair. We have a multi-lift from Access Unlimited to get him in and out of the car. It is a great help but still I doubt my ability to handle the unknown beyond the front door. I wish you and Matt many great adventures.

  42. Kristi, this news made me cry. I am so very happy to know more of your situation because I have wondered how you both manage from day to day. It was kind of you to take the time to share many of the details. Thank you.

    That van will open up the world for Matt. (You have to collaborate and come up with a name.) And, if you will let yourself take regular breathers, you also will benefit so much. Getting out of the house more often will be good for you, too. I am betting your creativity will be sparked by many things you see and do in your new adventures. Go to beautiful places in the sunshine and enjoy God’s creation.

    I send warm and sincere love to you both.

  43. Wow!! What a great step he is taking!!! Praying that he has many great times in the new van!
    Oh the places he will get to see and the things he will get to try and do!!

  44. Such wonderful news! I hope you two make many fun new memories as you get out and about together again.

  45. I am so happy for you and Matt! That will indeed be a life changer. One of my BFFs has MS and recently got the good news that she is in remission. I wish the same for Matt and this might be just the start he needs. Best of luck and happiness to you both!

  46. This is the best thing I have heard all week, in a week with the worst news! Yay Matt! So great to know he can see more of the world again! I’m all but dancing for joy! Really!

    1. This made me tear up with joy! I am so happy for Matt and you Kristi! This is life changing for both of you❤

  47. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻


  48. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻


  49. How wonderful, Kristi! The van is not only functtional, it is also very good looking! I’m sure Matt will enjoy sporting around town in his new van… and you, too! I’m very happy for both of y’all! xo

  50. OMG I want to cry big ugly tears for you both. The freedom this will bring to you both is so wonderful. I’m so happy for you and Matt, Kristi

  51. Awesome news, Kristi!! I’m glad Matt is feeling more energized and hope that you both love your new van.

  52. Hallelujah! After such a heavy week with devastating news, here comes something that made me happy instantly. That smile that comes with a deep breath and the “the warm and fuzzies”. Such wonderful news. I hope and pray that this is just the beginning of a brand new life for Matt and you. The world of adventures has just began. Even a drive around a couple of blocks will feel so good. Keep us posted 🙂

  53. What a fantastic ending to your story. That is great news, and ‘m thinking having a van will benefit you both in so many ways. Enjoy!

  54. That is such a great purchase.. It doesn’t look like a handicap van, it is very classy. I’m thrilled for both of u!!
    Side note: After reading ur recommendation for a robot vacuum, we bought an Eufy. It is a life changer! my husband talks to it and treats it like a puppy, a spoiled puppy!
    Thank you for referral.

  55. Oh my goodness, I am so very happy for Matt, actually for both of you!! What a complete turn-around for him and one change that will absolutely change his life for the better!! To be able to go out and enjoy himself by going places he has not felt comfortable doing before is wonderful for both of you!! And the feeling of being safe for him is truly what it’s about for him to enjoy life again….just great news!!

  56. This is such amazing news and will be such a game changer. So happy for you! This might be the beginning of many new adventures. I also wanted to ask you if you have heard of Terry Wahls. She is a doctor of Internal Medicine that has MS who turned to diet and lifestyle changes to manage MS after conventional therapies did not work for her. I thought perhaps this might be something you would be interested in.

  57. oh wow, what an incredible change for you both. Enjoy getting to spend time together in new places.

  58. This is so great and will re-open the world (or at least Waco) to him. There are so many places that are wheelchair accessible now; including museums, restaurants, hotels and parks. Also, how uninformed was that other hospital regarding transportation home? Those types of transport services are widely available and used primarily to obtain medical services – you should definitely inform that hospital administrator of the need to educate their staff on this issue.

  59. So excited for you & Matt … and how cool it has so much space! Can certainly fit Matt and some of your hardware store visits – lumber, paint and goodies 😉 i bet it won’t be a week before the gorgeous van gets her first trip. What name will you give him? or her?
    bless you both x

  60. Congratulations and enjoy!! I loved our wheelchair vans and we drove the wheels off them! They are also great for hauling stuff too!

  61. This is so beautiful! I’m so glad for Matt that he will have more options in life and not be limited by transport. Truly, so happy for you both!!

  62. So excited for both of you! I know you will enjoy being able to go on little dates with your hubby.
    Sheila F.

  63. Thank you for sharing Matt’s marvelous breakthrough out of fear induced isolation caused by the MS!! I shed happy tears and shouts of joy for you both! What a life changing happening and then shared decisions
    for you both, especially Matt! I pray you both enjoy that new van’s mobility and Matt’s new found freedom!

  64. Afterthought… I wonder if Matt would consider blogging (using voice transcripted to print software) or even vlogging his adventures at home and in his new van. He would have an instant following because so many of us are already rooting for his new adventures and praying he has strength to enjoy many rides in that new van. Just something to think about sometime in the future?