Ten years ago, Sean Trigg had all he wanted in life. He was married and had two daughters. He had a stable job as a commercial printer in Kent and he and his wife, who had just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, had bought a home. “I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Trigg said.
His life began to unravel one day when he was shopping with his wife. Suddenly he asked her, “Could you slow down a little bit?” She was confused because she didn’t think she was walking fast. She looked at him and noticed he was limping.
Soon he had the same problem in both legs. He fell down one day while working in a hospital, and the doctors and nurses that were with him told him that he needed medical attention. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Within six weeks of being diagnosed, he lost the ability to walk and could no longer drive because he had problems with double vision. He and his family relocated to Leavenworth because they had family there.
Finally his care needs became so physically demanding that his wife was not able to perform them. He was institutionalized, moving between care facilities, in which he was surrounded by mostly dementia patients. He didn’t know how to handle his emotions related to the disease and spent a lot of time feeling sorry for himself. “Once you get stuck in that loop it’s just like an alcoholic,” Trigg said.
He and his wife separated. “I think in reality she got scared,” Trigg said, adding that they are still good friends.
Trigg made his way to Amber Waves Creek Side Assisted Living in Wenatchee, and then finally to Amber Waves Boarding Home in Waterville. There he met Danny Hamilton who worked at the home. “Me and Dan, the first day we hit it off,” Trigg said.
Trigg, who is a frequent Internet user, learned of a caregiver program which could compensate someone for caring for him in a home setting. He proposed the idea to Hamilton, and Hamilton and his wife Barb were excited to be Trigg’s caregivers. Trigg has been with them in a rental house in Waterville for about a year and is very happy to be in a home again. He appreciates interacting with a variety of different people, including the children that the Hamiltons foster. He loves the freedom of being able to choose his food and other aspects of his daily life.
He has also has had the chance to visit Waterville School and speak to students there. As a literature major, he enjoys giving guidance in reading and writing to young people. He loves Waterville, and enjoys the friendliness and warmth of the people.
The Hamiltons have purchased a home in town in which Trigg can live and are working together with a family friend, Julio Leon, to remodel it. Trigg should be able to move in later this summer.
Trigg enjoys spending his time reading, socializing on Facebook and writing poems. A lifelong Catholic, he has found comfort in reading the Bible and in prayer. Father Gary Norman and parishioners of St. Joseph’s Church in Waterville regularly bring him communion and pray with him.
Gradually, he’s come to some peace about what he has suffered. “I’ve got to thank God for what I have, not what I don’t have,” Trigg said.
The Hamiltons are currently trying to help Trigg raise money for a standing wheelchair. The wheelchair brings a lot of benefits to MS patients because sitting for long periods compresses the organs and reduces circulation in the body. Standing improves circulation, exercises the cardiovascular system and improves regularity and skin health. Unfortunately, the chair costs about $30,000 and is not covered by disability benefits.
Danny Hamilton has an Amish buggy and is pulling people around in it with a lawn tractor at local events like the Demolition Derby and Waterville Days to raise money for Trigg. A charitable fund has also been established for Trigg at North Cascades National Bank.
Trigg is not one to accept charity easily. “I wasn’t brought up that way,” he said. But he will do it for something necessary and out of reach like the standing wheelchair. He also hopes to increase awareness of MS and encourage people to give to or participate in National Multiple Sclerosis Society fundraisers such as Walk MS.
Karen Larsen is a correspondent for the Douglas County Empire Press weekly newspaper.