GREENSBURG – Shane England was in the process of remodeling the home that he, his wife Gretchen and their four children share when he received a fearsome diagnosis- he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that usually begins with muscle weakness or stiffness as early symptoms. The progression of weakness and eventual paralysis moves on through the muscles of the limbs and torso, as well as those that control vital functions like speech, swallowing and, in advanced cases, even breathing. Currently, Shane has lost most of the feeling and the ability to use his legs and is now confined to either the couch or his wheelchair.
Before receiving his diagnosis, England was the successful owner and operator of a semi-truck for Horizon Freight Lines in Edinburgh. Several years ago, he and his wife bought a house in Westport in need of extensive repairs and have been working diligently to remodel their home. The progression of the disease and medical costs have stalled their improvements as Shane is no longer able to work or remodel. They were only one third of the way through renovations when he was not able to continue. As Shane’s condition worsened, Gretchen quit her job and stayed home to care for him. She previously worked as a nurse, so she was qualified to provide the care he needed, saving them the difficult-to-manage bill for home health care.
Shane is currently on the state’s healthcare system, which helps with some of the medical bills associated with his condition, but the England family still has to pay a great deal of money out of pocket for his medical care and treatments with neither of them working. In addition to the medical expenses, the couple has four children, ranging from ages four to 18.