Charles' story about regainging his freedom of movement
‘Crazy like a fox’ was a fitting description for Charles Fox in his younger days, when he had a passion for fast cars and risk-taking. But life threw a hard-to-negotiate curve his way 40 years ago, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Now in his 60s, Charles has endured a progressive deterioration of his body from this central nervous system disease. Today he is unable to move his arms or legs, and even breathing and speaking takes great effort.
If not for the help and care Charles has received from Sutter VNA and Hospice, his devoted wife Véronique may never have seen a bit of the “wild and crazy” part of Charles. That side emerged when Charles regained some freedom through a special wheelchair obtained through Sutter VNA & Hospice and Medi-Cal.
It was Tom Kowalski, Charles’ occupational therapist from Sutter VNA & Hospice, who saw a need in Charles that he knew high-tech equipment could meet. And so he set out to get Charles a wheelchair operable by his chin and tongue.
Once the authorization process was completed, “It took three to four months to train Charles to drive it independently and safely, in and around his residence and the local community,” recalls Tom. “But Charles is a natural. His background is auto racing, so he has a great feel for the chair.”
Véronique says that because of the chair, “I discovered a side of Charles I didn’t know was there. I had heard about how he used to like to race fast cars. Well, that guy’s still there, but now he’s doing it in his electric chair.”
“I resisted it at first,” says Fox. “I lost the use of my arms in 1989. And I decided at that point that I should learn to sit still because that was what was happening to my body. So I spent years learning to sit still. Now I think the chair’s a wonderful device.”
Enjoying life together in their home is of prime importance to the couple. “Charles has been receiving care from Sutter VNA & Hospice for over 10 years now. We only go to the hospital when we really need to,” says Véronique. “By receiving care at the house, we feel like we have more control of our lives, and Charles has more control of the care that he receives. It gives me peace of mind to know that I can call and get help if we need it.”
I’m Charles Fox, and that is my story.