Archive for September, 2011

Independence: A Big Big Thing

The fall weather was wonderful. I was having such a good time getting re-acquainted with extended family and old friends. That’s when I decided to stay in NE – as winter progressed and it was a very mild winter in 2006-2007. I was enjoying being able to see mom any time I wanted, I just didn’t want to leave her. Plus, the fact that I was finding out, daily, that I could live by myself and take care of my daily needs on my own.

I had discovered the handy bus which is operated by the county. For a small fee, they would pick up disabled persons and take them anywhere in the county. This was how I was able to go to mother’s three times a week and now is how I travel around during the week (a marvelous service which allows disabled, or ill people to still be self sufficient). Time was flying by. The next thing I knew it was March. I was not ready to leave. The more I thought about leaving, I didn’t like the thought of a hectic life in California. It was so pleasant here in Nebraska. My decision to stay in Nebraska was set.

I had talked to the motel management and they said it was no problem to stay as long as I needed. With that blessing, I started checking on apartments, or renting a small house. Finding a handicap accessible place was not easy. Then one that would accept Tuk, as well, there was no way I was giving up my buddy. So we kept looking.

In the mean time, I had contacted a physician to establish myself as a patient if and when I would need their assistance. With assistance from the office of aging, family members and friends, I was able to contact an internist, orthopedic surgeon, podiatrist, optometrist, dentist and orthopedics appliance builder. Life was wonderful and full of blessings.

Next step finding a permanent home.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Nebraska Arrival And New Adjustments

The drive from Denver airport to western Nebraska is almost three hours. It was an absolutely beautiful fall day. I was really looking forward to being back home in Nebraska, but apprehensive of what lay ahead for Tuk and me as I was a Charcot Foot amputee. I would be staying at a motel with handicapped services available. They also accepted pets.

When we arrived at the Micro Motel, I was pleasantly amazed. The motel was very modern, well kept both inside and out, and the manager was very pleasant. I just kept thanking the Lord for all my blessings. I got to my room which would become my home for the next 7 months. It was perfect, bright, cheery, and a huge handicapped accessible bathroom. I was on the ground floor (no 3 story condo). I was at the end of the hallway and could take Tuk outdoors very easily. I could not believe how fortunate I was.

I Slept very well that first night and Tuk seemed to settle in pretty good. His biggest problem was hallway noises. He would bark, but after a few days became acclimated and the barks became less. The first morning when taking him out doors, we discovered a park across the street. This became our daily walk area.

That day would be the first day being reunited with my mother whom I had not seen in three years because of my illness, amputation and Tony’s illness and death. Mom was in an assisted living home as she had fallen, injured her back. She also had a stroke. Seeing her was so wonderful and spending time with her three times a week, having lunch with her on those days became our ritual for the next 3 1/2 years.

We cried happy tears and talked and talked. It was so good to be with family. My sister, Cindy, had gotten me phone numbers for the office for the aging, local assisted living homes, doctors etc. so I could get settled into a routine.

The motel room, being on ground level, meant I could maneuver my manual wheelchair anywhere. I learned that with a totally handicapped bathroom I could take showers on my own. That was a big big thing. I had always had someone near to assist me with prosthesis’s (getting them off and on, or being around in case I fell). It was a confidence thing and with sister, Cindy, helping me the first couple of months, we found I could arrange things in the bathroom and be safe in accomplishing the task by myself.

My plan, at this time, was to stay, visit family and friends then go on to California by March to live near son, Chad.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Leaving Friends & 46 Years of Memories

Now, the big challenge… emptying the condo in 2 months; leaving Alaska after 46 years by the first week in November; and hopefully, before any snow hits the ground.

God knew I needed a big challenge to keep my mind occupied and not go crazy with loneliness. It worked pretty well, but the loneliness was still there something fierce. The “serenity prayer” was constant in my mind.

With my decision finally made to leave Alaska and spend a few months with family in Nebraska, then move to Riverside, Calif. close to son Chad and family. It was time to get things moving fast. My goal was to be gone from Alaska by 1st week in November and hopefully, before any measurable amount of snow was on the ground. Thinking back on this time in my life, “God was with me every step of the way” plus some wonderful earthly angels.

Word of mouth got around on what I was doing and friends jumped in to help. Didn’t take to long to get most of the furniture sold or disposed of and could keep what I needed till I left Anchorage. God is so awesome. I called different agencies regarding donating everything from food to tools, instead of garage sales. I donated everything I could.

The first miracle was contacting a friend of son Chad’s who was a Realtor, plus did remodeling work. My condo needed it badly in order to sell. The Realtor could handle all of this after I had left Anchorage. A huge miracle and relief.

The task of emptying the contents of the condo and packing what I wanted to keep for shipment to the lower 48, was daunting. To do garage sales would take lots of coordination and lots of work and time. All of which I did not have. Some of the bigger furniture sold fairly easy just among friends and acquaintances. I started calling Good Will, American Red Cross and a number of other agencies so that I could donate everything from tools, clothing, appliances and food. My dear friends came to my aid again and again. By the middle of October, it was beginning to look possible that I could keep my airline reservation of November 5th. Bonnie J. had moved a lot in her life and is a fantastic packer. Let me tell you, by the time I left, I had 14 boxes that needed to be Fed Ex’d to Nebraska. Bonnie J. was going to do that for me. She is an angel in my book.

Well, November 5th came, Tuk and I were ready to depart Anchorage. Bonnie J. took us to the airport. We got all checked in, went to the gate and waited to board the flight. Long story short, departure was to be at 1130pm (I think) at 3 am flight was canceled due to mechanical problems. Unbelievable, WOW!! Bonnie J. and I pleaded my case of nowhere to go and the airline put me up at a local hotel and Bonnie J. was included as my care giver.

On November 6th with the help of Bonnie J., Tuk and I boarded a non stop flight from Anchorage to Denver where my sister, Cindy, picked us up for the drive to Nebraska. Emotions were running so high. Was I doing the right thing? With the Lords help my new life was well on its way, before the snow fell in Anchorage.

What an experience this was becoming, Oh! and the snow started falling that night. We were exhausted and went to bed and slept very good. Poor Bonnie J. had to take Tuk out for his duties. I told you she is an angel.

That night, November 6th, back to the airport for check-in. The airline people treated us very well, flight departed on time, I fell asleep (another 1130pm flight), I woke up as we were landing in Denver. The airline personnel met me, took me to the baggage claim area. There was my sister, Cindy, with Tuk already in her charge. We made it. What a beautiful sight to see Cindy and hubby Eddy. The day was a beautiful fall day – Praise God!!! I had made the first part of a new journey, only because of God’s mercies and some of the most wonderful people in the world’s help.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Decisions I Made To Be On My Own

My sons, Shannon and Chad, stayed for a few days after Tony’s Celebration of Life to get things in order for me. Another challenge in my life, being on my own for the rest of my life.

(Though Bonnie tends to put her disability aside, this challenge is huge. She is an amputee because of Charcot Foot and a MRSA infection. Her really positive attitude and the fact she is a good problem solver, she was considering all the options.)

I know that Tony was very worried about what I was going to do. We never talked much about it, just that God would provide and Tony was not to worry. I knew that I needed to move from our two bedroom, three story condo. This needed to be done soon before winter set in. Sharon and Bonnie J worked with me, checking on apartments and assisted living places. Nothing was looking very bright, but we continued checking into selling a household of furniture and belongings. It was looking pretty over-whelming at the same time.

About the middle of August, son Shannon called me to let me know that their father had just passed away from bladder cancer. We had known he was ill, but not the severity of his cancer. So my sons were now dealing with their real father’s death, not even a month after their step father’s. Another very anxious time in our lives, with prayer, family and friends life continued on.

I really don’t know when this next challenge started in my mind, but I knew things were looking bleaker and bleaker in finding a suitable place to live in Anchorage. I started developing a plan to leave Alaska. It was to visit family in Nebraska and after several months on to California to find a place close to son Chad. Boy, did I create a ruckus, everyone in Anchorage was against the move. I was told, I was making major changes in my life too soon after Tony’s passing. I knew this, but I also knew I could feel God pushing me in this direction.

Suddenly, I called my siblings and told them of my plans. They were all for it. My sister sent me information regarding a local motel in the Scottsbluff/Gering Nebraska area with handicapped facilities and they would accept pets. What a relief, I knew this was the right direction to go. I booked my flight for the first week of November.

Son Chad had a friend in the real estate business in Anchorage. She came to visit me. Choices were 1. Put the condo on market as is. This would take quite awhile to sell. 2. Let them (the real estate) make needed renovations after I moved. The property would probably sell much quicker. I opted for number 2.

Bonnie’s continuing story.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Dealing With Heart-Breaking News

Needless to say, this visit shook our every being to the core. How do we prepare for the future? What future? “Prayer.” Tony began the process of shutting down his business and selling his delivery van. He was an independent driver through another company that did his dispatching. Our prayers were all ready being answered as the dispatching company bought his van and hired another driver so that Tony could retire as soon as possible. It took exactly a month before the Chemo was started. Tony was so stressed just knowing the cancer was growing rapidly and he couldn’t do anything about it. Tony would be the first to tell you that it was his own fault he had cancer because of smoking. He was taking responsibility for his choices, but being human, we prayed for a cure. He felt his chances were slipping away each day.

I am a firm believer in the biblical concept that states “God does not bring something into our lives that he does not see us through,” nor does “God gives us more challenges in life than we can withstand.”

We were, and are very fortunate to have wonderful family and friends who prayed and cried helping us through each day. We thanked the Lord for every day we had and Tony being a happy-go-lucky guy. He would find humor in each step of the way. Our walk was mild compared to so many people. We would thank the Lord daily for his blessing.

Tony was fearful of the Chemo that it would cause him nauseousness and vomiting etc. He was blessed in the fact that the new cancer treatment being used did not cause him to lose his hair (He always said it was gone already and he didn’t care.) nor would the treatment make him nauseous. It did, however, make him weak and tired. He started his Chemo in January, every two weeks until the first week in May. Sharon and Bonnie J. stepped up to the plate big time in taking us to the Chemo treatments, sitting with me the 3- 4 hours the treatment would take. Bonnie usually took us to the treatments, while Sharon was making her wonderful homemade chicken soups and goodies for Tony. Special friends I call “prayer warriors” would sit with him – pray and talk. He was losing weight rapidly . This 6ft., 200 lb. man soon became a skeleton. He tried to walk several blocks each day, taking Tuk with him.

A dear friend had a four wheel scooter that she wanted me to use, because of my Charcot, and store for her. From April ’till July, Tony’s exercise, or getting out was riding the scooter and taking Tuk for walks.

Tests were done first part of June to see how the cancer was reacting to the Chemo and the fact that his body could no longer stand that treatment. There would have to be another type of treatment started. The doctors said he was to weak to begin another series of Chemo and it was a matter of time. He was getting thinner and thinner not able to eat or drink water and his body organs were shutting down. He was admitted to the hospital on July 13th and left this world on July 25th. It was a blessing and celebration for him to be free of pain and illness and really begin his walk with the “Lord.”

My two sons, Shannon and Chad, and their families were such a source of love and healing for both of us and for me now and always. Shannon and family lived in Anchorage, so were with us a lot. Tony loved to be around the grandchildren, wonderful memories and times. Chad and his wife Jenny lived in California, lots of phone calls. Chad was able to come and visit which made Tony very happy. They were with us at the time of Tony’s passing and just took over doing what needed to be done. They both are such a comfort to me.

Bonnie’s continuing story.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation