She was once a sought-after medical assistant. Now she is the one who needs assistance.

During the busiest months of the year, while people are trying to find the perfect holiday gift, Ireland D’Metayer is asking for only one thing: an electric scooter.

D’Metayer, who was born in Nassau, Bahamas, came to the United States with her family more than 42 years ago when she was about 10 years old. Her memories of the transition are blurry, but she remembers attending a private school, graduating from North Miami Senior High in 1986, and going off to Florida State University, where she planned to major in psychology.

But her education was abruptly halted when she got blood clots in both her legs and one of her arms. Her doctor advised her to go back to Miami and get them treated.

(This story first appeared in the Miami Herald.)

Although she didn’t go back to FSU, she did not give up on a career in medicine. After settling back in Miami, she studied and got certified as a medical assistant.

She then began working at Jackson Medical Hospital, and later transferred to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami as a medical assistant.

“I loved it,” said D’Metayer. “I learned so much and did so much. I assisted in surgeries and biopsies… I worked all over, and I was in demand.”

D’Metayer, a 52-year-old stroke survivor and the heart of her family, is hoping to get an electric scooter, which would be an improvement over her wheelchair. She said her wheelchair is too heavy to maneuver easily. She can move around her house better by getting on her hands and dragging her body around than by using the heavy wheelchair, especially going up and down the stairs, she said.

D’Metayer said it’s been hard for her to transfer from her bed to the wheelchair safely as her left side has been deteriorating since a series of strokes that began in 2007, shortly after the death of her mother.

The scooter would “improve Ireland’s mobility, maintain her independence and allow her to perform simple tasks in her home that many of us take for granted,” said Kenny Francois, a counselor at Miami-Dade County Disability Services, the agency that nominated D’Metayer for Wish Book.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Ireland for almost six years,” he said.

As a mother and head of her household, D’Metayer said she had trouble doing simple household chores, cleaning and cooking as well as personal routines such as brushing her teeth, taking a shower and getting up from her bed.

D’Metayer lives in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with her two brothers, two nephews, and her son. Due to their job and school schedules, they can’t be there 24/7 to help her. She does the household chores that her body allows her to do, such as cooking.

When she is alone at home, she said she gets on the floor, crawls, and tries to get on her wheelchair to reach the shelves and lean on the counter and stove.

D’Metayer’s strokes and seizures have affected her vision, mobility and speech. Even holding the phone is a challenging task, D’Metayer said. A speech impediment and other medical issues made the interview for this article difficult for her.

“I haven’t been outside because I am unable to walk at all [now]. I can only stand if I am holding on to something, [but even then] I am unable to stand for too long,“ said D’Metayer.

Despite all the struggles and hardships thrown in D’Metayer’s path, she feels lucky and grateful. D’Metayer said she stays hopeful and thanks God that she’s alive yet another day to share with her family.

Her fondest memory of the holidays was last year when she was able to give gifts to her brothers and son, which was something she hadn’t been able to do for some time. Because of that, she said, “Last Christmas was my favorite.”

This year, she hopes to get the electric scooter so she can get around without having to depend on Uber or Lyft. This Zinger scooter, with a price of $3,000, is more than her disability pension can cover.

“Well, if I get the scooter, I would [be able to] go up and down the ramps and be able to go to my doctor appointments. I currently go in my wheelchair to my doctor’s appointments,“ said D’Metayer.

It will also help her do the cooking without having to ask for assistance to reach products on upper shelves. “I am the one who cooks for the holidays,” said D’Metayer. “I have been cooking for the family ever since I was 8 years old.”

She said cooking is her form of escape because only then is she totally in charge of the outcome. Cooking also helps her forget the pain she feels.

This holiday D’Metayer said she hasn’t figured out what her menu will include yet but is thinking about baking her cheesecake, a favorite of her son, nephews and brothers.

Stephanie Almendares is currently majoring in journalism with a Film Certification. After her studies she wishes to pursue a career within the entertainment field.