Brandy Summerfield can no longer perform normal, everyday tasks, like going to the grocery store or taking her children to their doctor appointments. She depends on other people for almost everything and many of her family's important moments have happened without her.
Summerfield has congenital hip dysplasia, which she says resulted in her right femur not developing properly while she was a child. The disorder has affected her left knee and caused scoliosis in her spine. Among other issues, she also suffers from spinal stenosis, tendonitis and sciatica.
For the last seven years, Summerfield has depended completely on a wheelchair for mobility, but her current chair isn’t electric or even the right size, making it hard for her to go outside or get out of bed. And she can’t afford to buy a new one.
“I feel like I am on house arrest and I haven’t done anything,” Summerfield said, adding that she misses things with her children, like going out this last Halloween, and only gets to experience it by looking at pictures afterward. “It holds me back, not having my own legs or wheels.”
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She said insurance paid for a powerchair but it broke two years ago. Her insurance only covers one chair every five years, so Summerfield isn’t due for a new one for about two more years.
Her insurance will pay to fix the electric chair she has, but that sometimes takes months depending on when someone can come out to look at it or whether a part needs to be ordered.
Summerfield, with the help of her husband, goes to the doctor once a week for methadone treatment for her chronic pain. Because that one trip is such a hassle, she has largely ignored other appointments she needs to keep to maintain her health. Only recently, with the assistance of a friend, was she able to get her first physical in three years.
“If I had my wheels, it would be easy to go to the bus stop and get on a bus and not bother anybody about it,” Summerfield said. “I’m so depressed without it.”
Summerfield lives in a two-bedroom apartment in the Foothill Farms area with her husband and five children, who range in age from 3 to 19. They moved into their home about three years ago after two years of homelessness and occasional stints living in hotels.
Both her eldest daughters and her husband, Dave Carter, have stepped up to help with the daily chores Summerfield can no longer do, like grocery shopping and cooking.
“I’m trying to imitate my momma, nowadays,” said Trinity Summerfield, 17, adding that she wants her mother to get a new chair because, “she would feel like more of herself again.”
Summerfield teared up as she spoke about her pain, lack of mobility and being a burden to her family, but both Trinity Summerfield and KayLee Summerfield, 19, emphasized how much they love and appreciate all that their mother has done for them.
“There are no words to explain my mom,” said KayLee Summerfield. “She is the best.”
Summerfield has known her husband since they were children. She depends on him, but their future is uncertain. Carter, 41, has cancer and isn’t currently going for treatments.
“He is not even middle aged,” said Summerfield, 39, adding that she isn’t ready to give up on him. “Without him, how am I going to do it?”
The Wellspring Women’s Center has asked Book of Dreams readers to help purchase a motorized scooter for Summerfield “in hopes for enhancing her mobility and leading her to a more active lifestyle.”
Kiekie Da, a master’s social work intern at the center, said it’s obvious Summerfield loves her children and she wants to improve her life but her lack of mobility makes it difficult.