Archive for December, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

In a few days, we will find ourselves in the new year of 2013. the number thirteen has always been fascinating to me. Probably because I was born on the thirteenth and I considered it lucky because a very wonderful couple that adopted me. And I had a wonderful birth mother that was willing to give me what she couldn’t. Yet, others say the number 13 is unlucky. I choose to disprove that theory.

I’ve also thought my life was on a path I could control at times, but other times I had to go blindly and it would work out. When I found out I had Charcot Foot, I had no idea what it was. Funny, but I wasn’t devastated when I learned the news I just trusted in God and those around me to help me find a way to cope and deal with this disease. I didn’t realize at the time I would take on a new destination, one to help others with Charcot Foot (or Charcot Joint) and to educate others about the problems associated with it.

2012 brought more people to touch my life and educate me about Charcot. I learned it doesn’t affect just the elderly, or those with diabetes, or another disease. I should have realized it as upon my diagnosis. I was told I probably had this when I was 10. (I was thrown from a horse at that age) Our heart goes out to those who have lost family because of Charcot. One reason why I want more people to understand this disease so they can be helped before it is to late and other complications take over.

I really want to stress, find a knowledgeable foot specialist, or surgeon that knows Charcot. Take time to research and get to know, and believe in this person and his/her ability to help you get well, walk again, or comfortably deal with your situation.

I would love to chat with you and help you tell our readers your story so they understand what happens good, or bad so a solution will be a positive one for you. Don’t wait, or put off finding a solution. I appreciate those of you who have shared with me, contacted me for help, or have told me what has happened in your life. I hope more of you will contact us and share your story. Sharing really gives others encouragement. Or if you need help, please contact me and I will do what I can to help you. We really hope, we are able to help everyone understand more about Charcot Foot and seek a solution to this devastating foot problem.

You can make a difference. Because you have told others about Charcot Foot, or asked your physician about this disease, more professionals are getting the word out and there is more information about it than when I was diagnosed. THANKS!

Though this is still a tough time around the world economically, you can still attain better health. We are looking forward to another informative and exciting year. If your would like a brochure on Charcot Foot, please contact us through the website, email, or contact us at: Charcot Awareness Education Foundation, P.O. 3902, Silverdale, WA 98383-3902. Thank you. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

What Makes A Perfect Gift?

This is the time of year many people around the world celebrate religious events. Now, a time to reflect on the past year and give thanks for the blessings that have come along. A time to thank a higher power for guidance and assistance to achieve. If you have followed Bonnie and my stories over the past two years, I’m sure you have noticed we are both very thankful for the blessings we have been given as people with Charcot Foot.

I was raised on a farm in western Nebraska by Christian parents, though quite poor by today’s standards. I had no idea we were poor. It wasn’t an issue. We merely did with what we had and no one felt sorry for anyone. In fact they helped each other.

My mom made many of my clothes. We didn’t go hungry as we raised our own cattle, hogs and chickens and a large vegetable garden. She sold tomatoes, cabbage and lots of sweet corn. She saved this money for things we needed during winter and spring. Mom canned most of our food until the home freezer came to be. We did freeze beef, pork, chicken and corn, but that was kept at our local turkey processing plant that had wire cage storage boxes that people could rent to store their frozen food. That meant driving several miles to get it. Our refrigerator was an Ice box. Men in the area would cut ice on the river and store it in an ice house near the river. Those that helped harvest the ice could get the ice at the ice house to put in their ice box when they needed it.

I was just big enough to look over the edge of a table when my parents had butchered a hog. The meat was on a large table in our basement and my parents were wrapping the meat to take to the turkey plant to freeze. It was near Christmas and I was so excited every time I saw a present. I was told we didn’t have money to buy gifts for everyone, sooo… As I came down the long stairs to the basement, I saw all those packages. I wanted to give one of them to an elderly couple I had adopted as my grandma and grandpa. My parents tried to discourage me as they told me the package I had picked out had pork chops in it and it wouldn’t make a very good gift. Apparently I liked pork chops and wouldn’t agree. They finally gave in. We got into the car and drove to their home. I presented them with my gift. They were thrilled. However, I didn’t learn until later that was the first meat they had eaten in weeks. They had canned dandelion greens from their yard and were living primarily on that. Need I say when the word got out, the neighbors and friends saw to it that they were fine from then on.

As I look at our world at this time, I really wonder what has happened. Who or what has gotten in the way? I look at all the rules and regulations that have come about to “help or protect” us from ourselves. I wonder if the “Greatest good for the Greatest Number was really the answer to many probems. People afraid to say something for fear it will offend, or it will be taken “wrong”. Where is the trust and the true helping hand?

My dad told me a story about the time I was going out on my own to find a place to live. He told of a man searching for a place to relocate his family. He stopped a man on the street and asked, “What type of town is this? The man said, “What kind of a town did you come from?” The man replied, “The people were terrible, They were greedy, mean and unfriendly. The man then said, “That’s what they are like here too.” The man moved on. Soon another man came to the town looking for a place to move his family. He happened upon the same man on the street and asked, “What kind of a town is this?” Again the other man asked, “What type of town did you come from?” His reply. “Oh, the people were kind, helpful loving people.” The man said, “That’s the type of people you will find here.”

You make the difference! And the only way I can say it, as a Christian, is “Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year” to each of you.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

My Charcot Surgery

July 5th came and we headed to McChord Air Force Base (AFB). Max drove the RV and I followed in our van. It was a pretty day. We settled in and relaxed as we really didn’t know what was ahead of us.

July 6th, I checked into the hospital at 6 AM. Once through OR Reception and dressing for surgery I went into OR Patient Holding. Max was with me, along with the student intern, the assistant surgeon, who signed my leg for surgery, and a National Guard Reserve who put in my IV. She said, “I’m going to give you a little something to help you relax”. I went out like a light. That was about 7:30 AM. I didn’t wake until about 4:30 PM in my hospital room.

The only thing I remember from the surgery was waking up wondering why they were working in my mouth. Thinking they were supposed to be working on my foot, not my mouth. I learned, later, that I started vomiting, apparently because of the anesthesia.

My surgeon allowed me to document this entire process with Charcot Foot. We have shared photos. He shared many of the surgical photos with me. I will share some of those with you now. Remember each surgery will be different and these are from mine.

The first photo shows where they put in two rods, one from the little toe toward the heel and one from the big toe to the heel. The x-ray shows the rods
1 Surgery

They also used artificial bone in three areas. The pictures show the chisel being used and the fact that two people worked to add the artificial bone.
2 Surgery

They lengthened the Achilles tendon. No actual picture of this, butSurgery 3you might be able to see the area on the back of the leg in the picture of the leg and foot in the orbital fixator. There is a picture of the x-ray showing the rods ,staples and what I call the hinge that allows the foot to move up and down, but restricts movement in a rotational sense. Since my toes tended to straighten when they raised the arch, they decided to work on the toes when they remove the Orbital Fixator.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Surgery Decisions

It was obvious we would opt for surgery, but the question was when?
Though many of our friends thought I should have the surgery in the winter, I thought I would like the summer. My reasoning was concerning all the traveling we would have to do for follow up appointments. The weather would be better. Winter often meant icy roads. That is never comfortable traveling. My studio, where I would be staying, was cool and the windows and sliding glass doors allowed me to look out onto the yard where I could enjoy the wild life and flowers.

When the time came we told the doctor of our decision to have the surgery and that summer was a better time for us. He scheduled my surgery for July 6th. He was concerned about Max taking care of me at home, but Max assured him he could do it.

There was a lot of preparation to be done. We had to get the studio P8100053 set up so it would work for both of us. This meant bringing the guest bed down from the upstairs bed room. We had a kitchenette in the studio and a TV, but the bathroom was a couple steps up in another room which I wouldn’t be able to get to. A potty chair would be needed. We would also need a table for meals. We had an extra, so brought it down.

After I retired from teaching, I joined a water aerobatics class. It was a good social outlet, as well as, a wonderful exercise program a for a diabetic and one who was having problems with their feet. The people were wonderful. They loaned me a potty chair and a wheel chair. They were all so supportive.Knowing that we were over an hour from Madigan, we needed to arrange for accommodations closer for Max. Since we had a motor home ( RV ), we found McChord Air Force Base had an RV park about six miles from the hospital. That was perfect. The black berry bushes and the smoke bushes were in bloom. The whole setting helped us maintain a good feeling.

Though I was nervous about the up coming surgery, I was excited and positive. I had never had surgery before and my only stay in a hospital was to give birth to our son. Dr. Roukis, through his professionalism, knowledge, caring and sense of humor eased any apprehension I had.

The pre op appointment went smoothly. Everyone was so helpful and the directions clear. The tests indicated I could go through surgery.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation