Archive for February, 2011

The Hole In My Foot

After reflecting on my writing of my awaking with the puncture in bottom of my left foot, I remembered more of what happened in 2003. Both feet were swollen and hurting all the time. The only shoes I could wear were wide sandals with Velcro straps.

Tony and I made two airplane trips that year. One was to Portland Oregon (approximately Feb./Mar.) to visit my younger brother who was dying from throat cancer. The plane trip was terrible. The airlines had just started the practice of having you take off your shoes for security. In Seattle, I was having a very difficult time removing my shoes. My swollen feet were hurting very badly as flying made them swell even more. Tony tried to help me, but security personnel would not let him. It was very embarrassing and frustrating, but I made it through the trip. Then the end of May, we traveled to Dallas, Texas for a Ribitzki family reunion. Travel was very difficult, and again, the swelling in both feet very painful. We had the same problems with security taking shoes off/on. I could receive no help from them, nor Tony, the process was very demeaning.

When I woke and discovered the blood, I was panicked. Tony was at work. I really don’t remember what all took place. I called my diabetic doctor. He was out of town on vacation I was frantic not knowing what to do. I remembered a podiatrist I had gone to at one time. I called him and went right in to his office. He took one look at me and said, “I know exactly what’s wrong, but let me take x-rays to verify”. He was right. It was Charcot. He sent me home to start the healing process. I could use a walker, but no pressure on the foot. I would have a nurse visit daily.

I went home. The garage was under the condo. The living room and kitchen were 20 steps up from the garage and the bedroom was 16 steps on up. Procedures were started to heal the hole in the foot. A nurse came daily to my home to flush the wound and apply antibiotics. I was to stay off my foot and keep it elevated above my heart. I also took oral antibiotics. This went on October, November and December. Thanksgiving and Christmas were not fun. We stayed home, me on the sofa, foot elevated. In January 2004, I became very ill with flu type pain. Having not moved for three months, I went down hill quickly. In fact, I was so weak I could not get up to go to the hospital. Tony called and I .had to be taken to emergency by ambulance. It was a very cold day and the streets were packed with lots of snow. Not a fun experience.

The emergency room staff told Tony that I was anemic. All the time I spent on the sofa with my foot elevated took its toll on my body’s muscles. They had begun to atrophy. I became pretty depressed in those 3 months. The antibiotics were very strong and not being used to them would cause me to have horrible dreams. One night, I woke seeing these huge spiders on our ceiling and walls. Tony was upstairs sleeping. I was so frightened. I could not call out to him. When I came to my senses, somewhat, I called him via his cell phone. It was not funny at the time, but later we could laugh about it.

MersaThe emergency room staff could not find exactly what was wrong, except that I was anemic with a low iron count. They really wanted to send me home and take iron pills. Tony said no way and stuck to his guns. Sharon, a friend, was in the emergency room with us and was not going to let me go home either I needed a blood transfusion. I was admitted to the hospital and immediately given the blood transfusion. After further evaluation, they decided I had gotten an infection in the break and the hole was not closing, or healing on my foot and was worse than originally thought.. I was placed on an antibiotic drip to control and get rid of infection (MRSA) which was a big part of the problem.

Sharon, became my taxi driver to doctors appointments to find what was causing all the swelling and pain. Plus, she started taking down notes from each doctor, so we could review Sharon in Ketchican, AKdiscussions at doctors offices. You hear so much information, you can’t remember everything, or know the meaning of medical diagnosis.

The doctors were wanting to do exploratory surgery to see if the foot could be saved. First, they had to get the blood count up in order to do surgery, more transfusions, more antibiotic drips. This process took a week. The Orthopedic Surgeon performed the surgery and had advised me that if he felt my foot could not be saved, he would amputate at that time.

In reliving this now, by writing it down, . . . scares me all over again. It’s hard to put into words how I feel, but I know the Lord is helping me to remember and it’s okay, cause this may help someone else.

Continuing Bonnie’s story

Blood All Over The Bed

Anchorage, in 1962, was pretty frontierish, but beautiful. I fell in love with the city and surroundings. In a very short time, I found a bank teller job at the bank on Elmendorf Air Force Base. Loving the outdoors, we did camping, fishing and sight seeing. In 1963, I became pregnant with our first child. Pregnancy was easy for me. I felt good and continued to work, but in February my doctors visit confirmed that the baby was breech and not showing any signs of turning. I was put in the hospital for observation on March 10th, so I could be monitored. This was to see if I could have a child naturally, or by C-section. March 17th the baby decided he would meet this world feet first.

The decision to do a C-section was made quickly. We were very blessed with a perfect 7 lb. 3 oz. boy, Shannon Duane (had to be an Irish name of course). Back in those days C- section patients were kept in the hospital for a week. Well, being different, I acquired an infection in the incision and had to stay longer. Finally, the good Lord decided it was time for me to take my baby and go home. However, at 5:36 pm the Great Alaska Earthquake shook things up pretty badly. It was classified at 9.3 on the Richter scale. The 7 story hospital sustained a lot of damage, but not a patient, nor baby was injured. I was scared to death, afraid I would fall and break open my incision, I did fall several times, but was not injured.

Life settled into a busy family life of baby care and working to restore community. I went back to work in a month at the bank. Many wives returned to families in lower 48 (USA). I did not want to leave and found a retired nurse to take care of Shannon. In 1967, I went to work in the airline business as an airport ticket agent. In order to work at the airport, part of the uniform was 2 inch heels. My feet were always hurting, probably from concrete floors with very thin carpet on them.

I became pregnant again in 1970 with 2nd son, Chad Eric, another perfect little boy 7 lbs 8 oz. Since I had first child C-section, the doctor decided to do this pregnancy the same way. However, Chad was in the normal position for birth. Delivery by C-section went very well. As you can see the births were 7 years apart. Yes, I had gained weight. From age 23 to 30 I had gained probably 40 Lbs. When I was pregnant, both times, I was working and gained the normal weight, but after each pregnancy I could not lose that gain. I was always fighting to lose weight . (my height 5″ 2″) Tried all the fad diets. I would lose and gain.

In 1972, Gary and I separated. We were divorced in 1974. The break-up was very difficult for me, as far as mentally, felt I was a failure as wife/mother . I continued to work and take care of the boys, but the one thing that had been lacking in my life the previous 15 years was God. This continued into my single Mom life. Busy with two active boys, working and keeping a house, I took the easy way, or so I thought. I did not include God in it except for occasional prayers.

Except for my weight problem and swelling achie feet, I did not have any major health problems. Gary remained a big part of the boys lives. Our oldest son, Shannon, lived with his father from age 12 to adult. With both parents living in Anchorage it made it easy to be involved with their growing up.

In June of 1978, at a garage sale, I met my second husband, Tony. We were married in Las B:Tony Jan'90Vegas February 24, 1979. Tony was from Texas and worked at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, his work shift would vary two weeks on two weeks off, or 30 days on, two weeks off. Life was still very hectic, and we decided I would work part time and see if, at age 39, we could have a baby. He did not have any children of his own. I became pregnant but miscarried twice, OB/GYN doctor advised at my age/weight (180) should not try again.

1984-1990 I was property manager for Boomfield Company. I managed 12 buildings meeting with the tenants and relaying their concerns to the owners. This was a lot of walking up and down stairs.

1990 I went back to work full time, Customer Service Teacher/Computer Trainer teaching classes of new employees for airport customer service. I worked in the airline industry 40 years. I was on my feet long hours including in the early years (60-70’s). In my late 30’s early 40’s I started having swelling in my feet/ankles. They became very painful. My OB/GYN Doctors blamed my weight and really checked no further. In 1990, at age 49 I was diagnosed with adult onset type 2 diabetes. I was able to control it with diet and pills, but my feet and ankles just kept getting worse. I could not walk easily. My weight and the fact I was on my feet all the time was blamed for my discomfort. while working, still in airline industry. In 2003 pain/swelling was to the point I could hardly walk. Diabetic doctor sent me twice to a pulmanologist who said my blood flow to feet was perfect, last time I saw him was August 2003. Diabetic doctor was very perplexed as to the problem and why the pain was increasing. Walking was very difficult. First part of October 2003, I woke one morning with blood all over the bed and a hole in bottom of my left foot.

Continuation of Bonnie’s story.

North To Alaska

It is with great pleasure that I will be able to share Bonnie’s story with you over the next few weeks. bonnie will share her experiences with Charcot Foot, how it changed her life and how she dealt with this devastating disease. It isn’t enough that Bonnie has to deal with Charcot Foot, but life becomes very complicated because of it and also because of news she and her husband, Tony receives.


P7310525 copyBefore I start my story, I need to acknowledge several people who helped me tremendously to continue living and not become a recluse. My dear husband Tony, mentor/friend Sharon McKenzie, dear friend Bonnie Jackson ( met her after my first surgery) and my extended family and friends, without them I would not be here today. The reason I mention these friends is because my immediate family lived in the lower 48, however I am living proof of the power of prayer for that was their gift to me, plus hundreds of cards and calls. I was raised in a Christian home and felt I was a Christian although had not been a practicing Christian since moving to Alaska in 1962. During this illness I renewed my faith and believe it is God’s will that I am able to have a very normal life.

I was born and raised on a western Nebraska panhandle farm. Being raised on a Riding Diamondfarm you normally have a few bumps bruises etc. Well, I was fortunate, no broken bones, but falls from riding horses many times. No major illness or surgeries, just tonsils and appendix.

My teenage years were great (1950’s), I attended the same school from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Graduating in 1959. Good old Lyman, NE., a town of about seven hundred population. The school had about 300 pupils. My graduating class of 1959 was 16 students. You knew everyone. You were able to participate in so many school functions. There was a place for everyone in multiple activities church and school. I participated in band (playing the clarinet) in marching band (I was drum majorette), chorus, school plays, county government days. Outside of school church youth leadership, Jobs Daughters (part of Masons). In my spare time (ha ha) worked on the farm with family. Never thought of this as a special lifestyle, but oh how I do now.

B@11, Donna-QueenieAfter graduation, I worked in a nearby town of Morrill, NE. (pop 900), started as bookkeeper at a local Pontiac car sales, where my father always bought his new cars. A year later (1960) became a telephone receptionist at Chester B.Brown CO, now Kelley Bean CO. (a dry bean company) .

May 1961, married my high school sweetheart, Gary Foland, from Morrill. He was working in Denver, CO. at the time. We moved to Denver. In November of 1961, Gary joined the Air Force. I stayed in Denver working as a bank teller. In March of 1962, I followed Gary to Wichita Falls, Texas. In June of 1962, he was assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage Alaska. I stayed in Morrill until Gary could find an apartment for us. By August of 1962, I had prepared a pickup truck (which Gary had purchased and built a camper for carrying our belongings). My brother Jerry (age 18) and I drove from Morrill, NE to Seattle, WA. (Oh, yes, my little Pug, TyeTye, was with us). Quite an experience for two farm kids. Believe me, God was with us all the way. Brother Jerry returned to Denver on his first airplane ride and I flew on my first plane ride from Seattle to Anchorage, with dog in tow.

Bonnie a personal friend will be sharing her story over the next several weeks.

Charcot Foot Instability

This was the posting that was viewed by the most traffic. We hope these have helped everyone gain a better understanding of Charcot Foot a devistating bone deterition disease.

Founder Annita Shaw and husband MaxI was diagnosed with Charcot Foot after having diabetes for over 10 years. I had never heard of Charcot Foot (Charcot bone or Charcot joint, a bone deterioration disease). In researching, I found nothing, or very little information about the disease. As a teacher and quite social, I wanted to share this information with interested individuals and those who may have the disease. Our lawyer suggested we put together a foundation. Because I was in a wheel chair with an orbital fixator on my foot and leg after surgery, I had plenty of time to tell my story so that others could be diagnosed properly by qualified medical doctors in time to save their feet from amputation.

The Foundation’s first charge was to put together a tri-fold pamphlet. After handing out the pamphlets, we learned three million diabetics, most likely, have Charcot Foot and are not being diagnosed correctly. 23 other diseases cause Charcot Foot to get worse. The foundation, Charcot Awareness Education Foundation, received word July 9, 2009 that the nonprofit foundation was approved, back-dated to July 2008 as the beginning date. We are excited about the potential and the response to our efforts. We hope it will be a great educational resource for everyone interested in Charcot Foot and that those who have it can find help.

The Foundation is expanding by use of a web site, sharing information at gatherings for the ADA, health fairs and anywhere we can.