Archive for October, 2014

Amputation Is A Big Deal

My name is Bonnie and you have been following my story as a diabetic with sever foot pain which was diagnosed as Charcot after a bone broke and punctured my left foot which led to amputation, then wheel chair existence. I have been asked to write about a day in my life. First, I must tell you that I feel I am so blessed to be able to do the things I do in my life, and that I am able to live in my own home with my companion Tuk (a 7 year old pug).

My day usually starts at 6 am, or earlier. I live in western Nebraska and the mornings are beautiful and cool. I love to check out the sunrise right after saying a prayer of thanks for the day – glorifying God and Lord Jesus for their wisdom – guidance and discernment for the coming day in my life. Getting out of bed takes about 10 minutes, as I must put on my left leg prosthesis and the right foot boot (Crow boot). Then I transfer to my power wheel chair. I go to the living room and open curtains to watch the sunrise and play with Tuk. Of course first things first -Tuk wants his breakfast and fresh water. Next being a diabetic, I must check my blood sugar and give myself an insulin shot. Turn on the TV to listen to Good Morning America while fixing my coffee and breakfast.

While drinking coffee, I turn on the computer to check out the news – temperature. Then check out my morning e-mails – another blessing. I keep in touch with my late husband’s family, three of his sisters and I send good morning messages everyday, a true enjoyment and keeping up with each others lives.

At 8 am – turn off the TV and play Alan Jackson’s “Precious Memories” CD of old religious songs. I sing along and clean up the kitchen – make my bed get laundry started then take my shower. Taking a shower is time consuming, also, as I have to remove both the prosthesis and boot transfer to the chair in the shower. When the shower is completed, I must get dried off very well put legs back on – transfer to wheel chair, then get dressed, do my hair and be ready for the handy bus by 9:30 am. (this is only on Tues./Thurs) I go to a senior function at the Carpenter Center for lunch and playing pinochle. We have a great time and a wonderful meal. At 2 pm the handy bus picks me up to go home. Depending on the day of the week I may go grocery shopping before going home, or on Tuesday afternoon our minister stops by for a visit and prayer, a very comforting time. But I have been known to get home and sit in the recliner with Tuk for an afternoon snooze.

I spend a lot of time on the interment with friends/relatives, or playing games. I do not go out in the evenings much, so between – movies -computer – telephone the evening passes fairly good. I do love football – Nascar – movies – Fox News, I do not watch any of the major, TV channels, too much garbage.

Bedtime is usually bout midnight and that always takes a good half hour or longer.
I must wash the prosthesis liner, so I have a fresh one in the morning. I transfer to bed after plugging in the electric power for my wheel chair. I clean both legs and foot and apply ointments to keep the skin healthy from wearing the prosthesis. Before shutting off the lights, I spend time reading “The Daily Bread,” a daily publication of bible worship and special bible passages that apply to our daily lives. Then my prayers of thanks for the day and its blessings upon me and my time to pray for special requests for family/friends – military families and guidance for our country.

(I really admire Bonnie as she has stayed very independent and as you can tell carries on a very normal life. She is always very positive. She, like all of us, has regular appointments whether medical, or otherwise. She merely researches what is necessary to do and schedules the handy bus to get her where she needs to be. She always takes a book or some thing along with her in case she needs to wait. She is a good conversationalist and this helps. She has had her ups and downs getting to this place I’m sure. Unfortunately, most people in her situation would never live alone and many of them feel sorry for themselves and don’t enjoy life, their surroundings, or friends and families. Amputation IS a big deal as it changes your life and the way things are done. Annita )

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation which reminds you that, “Your Feet Are Your Foundation”

Path To Independent Living

Tuk and I were moved into our new home the first week of June. It was like new, all freshly painted, remodeled, complete for handicapped living. I was feeling completely euphoric and blessed. Our first night in our new home was interesting as the bed could not be delivered until the next day so Tuk and I slept in the recliner, just as we had in Alaska. Sister Cindy had the minister and elders stopped by and blessed our new home. It just made the move seem so much more blessed and complete.

With this part of my life completed, I would be remiss to let you think this was all so easy. I would never be able to live by myself without the blessings from heaven, family, friends and a good support group. What does my support group consist of:

1. Yard maintenance person
2. Someone to take trash out/clean Tuk’s yard.
3. Someone to do the house cleaning
4. Someone to help with my transportation
5. Family and friends to be there whether I need them, or not.

How do you make contacts to get good, reliable inexpensive help as all these small and large jobs cost money? I had a low monthly income. Most areas have an aging office either operated by the state or federal governments. This is a good place to start as they can direct you to agencies, or people who can assist in helping with general home care if you are disabled, or elderly.

I was very fortunate as I had time to ponder all these items before finding a home/apartment.

1. Once I found my choice of a home and waiting for paper work to be completed, I had contacted the lawn maintenance person at the motel I was staying at in regard to caring for the yard. He checked out the property and said, “Yes, he could do the work”. This person is still taking care of my yard each summer.

2. The gentleman doing my remodel work, advised me his ten year old son needed small jobs to do. Perfect for taking out the trash and taking care of Tuk’s dog yard.

3 & 4. Our state has a handy man / woman / transportation agency available for low income / disabled and elderly. The agency interviews you and you are charged according to your income. This was another perfect solution for me for house cleaning and transportation.

I have lived in my little home for 5 years. As you get to know your neighbors, they start asking what they can do to help you. People are amazing here and very friendly so help is just a phone call away.

In order for my family to know I am safe and receive assistance quickly, I have a life alert button. If I have a serious health problem, or fall I can reach help immediately. This service is available in most communities through your local hospital, or doctor’s office.
If you want to be independent for as long as you can, this is a way you can do it. Persistence helps.
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For those of you who just started reading Bonnie’s story, she is a Charcot amputee. She is amazing and has the determination to conquer obstacles that would have caused many of us to have given up long ago, settling for assisted living in a nursing home. Instead, she is an active, valuable member of her community, as well as, taking care of herself and her “spoiled” (Her word not mine.) Pug named Tuk.

To read Bonnie’s complete story, it begins with “North To Alaska”, February 10,2011.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Remodeling Makes It My Home

When I was looking for what would make a perfect house, I wasn’t sure what I would find. The more I looked the more I learned. Found not many encouraging words from anyone on my continued search for a home, that I could live in alone. Realtor, Cindy, was very supportive as were my two sisters, Donna & Cindy. My brother, Jerry, didn’t think it was real feasible, but is very supportive now. I had looked at duplexes at Heritage Health Care (where my mother was). They were absolutely beautiful. Large units, two bedrooms – two baths – two car garage, beautifully carpeted with very plush carpet (not good, however, for a wheel chair of any kind) all utilities paid, even cable and a cleaning person every two weeks. Sounds perfect, well for persons over 65 who were quite capable of daily activities, yes, they were. But the bathrooms were small with a tub only. The carpet was very hard to maneuver with a walker, or wheelchair. And the price, $2,000.00 per month. Not a good choice for me, but I kept it in the back of my mind cause it was close to mom.

What did I need?: Easy access for wheelchair – ramps

Wheelchair accessible bathroom – walk in, or roll in shower – high camode
Ability to work with wheelchair in the kitchen and hallways (had to have wide hallways)

Doorways had to be at least 32 inches wide (there are not many in homes, or apartments).

Changes that were required for the home I found: Ramps at 3 doors – concrete ramp at front door to enter house (as time has passed I use the ramp built in the garage to enter the house). The one built during the remodel worked, but only met the requirements. It was uncomfortable to use.

My son, Shannon, came to visit and didn’t like the way it worked, so built me a real Cadillac wheelchair ramp in the garage.

Bonnie's Shower2. Master bath, needed 36inch wide entry door, larger walk in shower to accommodate handicapped shower chair and handicap bars (grab bars) in the shower and comode area.

The master bath is so perfect – wheel my wheelchair straight into shower – grab handicap bars and step into shower.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Envisioning My Dream

The second realtor, after about a month of looking and not getting anywhere, called and said there is a new listing in southeast Gering that sounded perfect, but we need to go see it now! Off we went. Bless her heart picking me up at the motel, loading the wheel chair in and out each time we stopped. Plus, she was being very gracious and understanding.

I could not believe this house, it was on the very edge of town, across the street from farmland (how perfect, made me really feel at home). The home was empty. The person who had lived in it had not kept it very clean. It had a very open floor arrangement, high ceilings and hardwood floors in the kitchen and dining area. Boni in remodeled Kitchen

When I went into the master bedroom and bath, I could not believe how perfect it was for what I needed. It was large enough so I could easily get around with my wheel chair. I could get into bed easily and the bathroom had a walk in shower. I just about cried with happiness. The shower was small, but the realtor said, “Bonnie, that is so easy to fix.” They always say you can visualize yourself moving in and Oh! Boy! Did I.

Now for checking on how I would be able to finance and keep a house on my own. My sister Donna told me not to worry. We would get the financing and all would work out. First we had to make an offer to see how the owner would respond etc. etc. Some tense times took place during those few days. I called my sister, Cindy, who lives near Gering. She and husband, Eddy, came over to see the house. I went along for a second look. We all fell in love with it, could not believe my good fortune, my guardian angels and our Lord and Savior were working big time.

Our offer was accepted and plans were set forth for financing and remodel work that would be needed. The motel manager, where I was staying, had again reassured me I could stay as long as needed. The financing part took awhile as sister, Donna, would be the owner by the end of April. We were assured of financing and remodeling on the master bathroom, painting complete house inside, new carpet (for easy wheel chair use) and fencing the yard for Tuk. Soon the work was started.

I was excited, apprehensive and excited again. Started shopping for household furniture, appliances, wondering if it would ever all come together and low and behold it did. Tuk and I moved into our new home on June 1st 2007. Talk about excited and happy- WOW!!!!!

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

The Search For My Own Home Starts

Having made the decision to live in Nebraska, rather than go to California, was a big relief. I knew California would be warm and beautiful, as far as climate, but how would I react to all those millions of people? Glad I didn’t have to find out.

I started checking newspaper ads for apartments that were good for handicapped individuals, and that would accept pets. Well, that did not take long, not many apartments for handicapped were available and I did not find one that accepted pets. I called a nationally known Realtor, one whose name appeared many times in “For Sale” ads. So, I figured she would have a good handle on what homes were available for rent/sale. After contacting her, it was obvious she did not want to work with me. Either, because I had very little money to invest, or because of my being handicapped, she was not encouraging me in anyway to proceed with my plan. Yes, I was a little discouraged. I was beginning to think, maybe, I should not be trying to have a normal life.

(After reading Bonnie’s posting this far, I was not pleased with what she was experiencing, so, I decided to do some checking on my own. After speaking with some individuals who work with elder care and the handicapped, I came to the conclusion that many people in a situation similar to Bonnie…an amputee because of Charcot Foot.. even though they want and desire to live independent lives on their own; living alone independently is not encouraged, nor, looked favorably upon as obviously they absolutely need a care giver.

So, I was told about all the assisted living facilities and what a good job they do. After all, they have their own one room apartment, especially equipped bathroom. They can go to the dining room for their meals and have an exercise program and social activities provided. They also told me of facilities where they are called clients and live in a private home, approved and licensed by the state, where the “client” would have a bedroom with an attached bathroom. They then would have a caregiver. Not once did they say the person could have a pet (though, I do know of some assisted living places that allow you to bring one in if you already have one, but you can’t get one once you have moved in.) nor did they encourage independent living. On with Bonnie’s story.)

The next realtor, I came in contact with, was through an ad I saw in the paper for a small single story house for rent. Once I told her my story and what I wanted to do, she was totally excited about my plans. We looked at quite a few single story homes for sale, but all were older and would have taken lots of remodeling – handicapped bathrooms – wider doors for a wheel chair – wheel chair ramps to get in out of the home. I definitely learned everyone has their own interpretation of handicapped accessible. This new realtor was thinking about her parents, who were just a few years older than me, and needed to downsize to something like I was looking for, so this made her look that much harder for “that right place.”

Bonnie’s continuing story

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation