Archive for June, 2016

Kidney Dialysis and Pneumonia

January 2004, the diabetic doctor told me that Charcot was rare and not mentioned much in medical school. That’s why it was missed. The type of surgery performed was just taking the foot to the ankle as it was not infected. This was, sort of, a rare surgery for Charcot, but new procedure. The physician said I was a good candidate.

Though the surgery was a success and was healing well, I developed what was determined as gout. I was allergic to the prescribed med. Vioxx. This was like 4-5 days after surgery. Within 24 hours I started swelling up.

I wound up in ICU. After many tests it was determined my kidneys had failed. I was placed on continual dialysis for 5 days. After the five days, they had removed 100 Lbs. of fluid. I was still taking an antibiotic drip for eight hours, every 3 days to fight the MRSA. I was then transported by ambulance to their health care unit. My kidneys did not operate for eight weeks. So, I was placed on dialysis 3 times a week, 4 hours each session. Normally, it is a three hour session. They transported me to the Dialysis Facility (which had many, many machines) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening. The session began about 7 PM and it was normally midnight before getting back to the care center. This lasted, just, over four weeks.

During this process, I developed pneumonia. So in March, I was taken back to the hospital as this was my second bout with pneumonia. I was on oxygen for a few days each time and had to use the little breathing apparatus to clear my lungs and expand them. The surgeon had to place a port in my left side about three inches down from my shoulder so all meds were given to me went through it. They were constantly giving me something. After kidney failure another port was placed on the left side just to the right of the left breast so I could be hooked up to dialysis machine. I just about forgot, during the first bout with pneumonia, I was not eating, or would not eat and a tube was inserted through my nose to my stomach for the propose of feeding. I had that in from first part of February 2004 until end of February when I was moved to Providence Health care (Rehab and Senior Living housing)

Before Vioxx shut down my kidneys, I had been given an antidepressant. The doctor and nurses kept asking me questions after surgery. I thought I was doing OK, but they determined from my answers to their questions, and the fact that I was not eating, I was depressed. Again I really don’t remember much about the hospital and the pneumonia bouts. I really feel my poor body had been given so many drugs it revolted and said enough already.

This post was written by Bonnie Ribitzki a Charcot amputee and friend from Gering Nebraska

Brought toby Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Listen To The Story Your Feet Are Telling

I first learned I hadCharcot Foot, I had toP5260022 copy work at getting my feet healthy. I had calluses, but no open wounds, though I did have a sore toe which we learned was infected. I was instructed to get my feet healthy. Keep them clean, dry and soft. I used lotions morning and night spending a lot of time caring for my feet. Soon they were soft, no cracked heels and feeling much better. My feet had begun to deform, hammer toes and a small bulge on the inside of my right foot was showing.

However, when talking with Bonnie, she didn’t have the ulcers, calluses or deformities. Yet, she had the same pain and difficulty walking that I did. She had taken better care of her feet. Apparently, the destruction was internal, inside her foot. The bones were deteriorating and becoming weak. Thus the broken bone that led to amputation.

None-the-less, foot care is really important. I have my poditrist check my feet and trim my toenails because I managed to cut the end of one of my toes off several years ago because I could not feel the end of my toe. Seeing the blood gush from my toe convinced me I should not try this again. P2170016Plus the nails were getting thick and hard to cut. Anyway, I told him the end of my big toe was hurting some this past week. He said my toenail was growing in such a way that I was getting an infection. That, I definitely did not want to hear. Fortunately, after he worked on my nail, it felt much better. I think it was rubbing on the inside of the shoe which didn’t help.

My next step, now, will be to go to the orthotics clinic. I had noticed a small callus starting on the ball of the left foot. The podiatrist gave me a prescription to get new orthotics. I see the podiatrist every three months, or sooner if necessary. After the appointment, he said my feet were stable. This was good to hear, as I am doing more walking and exercising.

From what I can tell, most of us that have had, or do have foot problems wait too long to seek help. When we do, the person we go to often doesn’t have the knowledge about the problem, such as Charcot Foot. Then the out come is the fact we are so bad that amputation is the result. They find it is easy to blame your weight if you are over weight. Then tell you, you need to loose weight, or diagnosis you with something that has similar symptoms.

Please use common sense and find the knowledgeable provider. Seek medical help as soon as a foot problem develops. Do not wait until you have to go emergency or urgent care for treatment.

Bonnie’s continuing story
This post was written by Bonnie Ribitzki a Charct amputee and friend from Gering Nebraska

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation


January 10, 2004, the day I arrived at Providence Hospital in Anchorage by ambulance, started a wild roller coaster of four months. I had already spent the past three months at home on the sofa with my foot elevated dealing with wound care and an infection.

Now, the Doctors had to get my immune system and sodium levels up to be able to do exploratory surgery on my left foot. There was the strong possibility of amputation. Amazing that it took 8 days of meds, antibiotic drips and blood transfusions to get me prepared. I can not remember much of that 8 days for some reason, but I just don’t.

Before I started writing this, I called friend Sharon and asked if she remembered how I was responding to all this. She says I was pretty calm and just ready to get it over with. The day of surgery, Tony came in to see me. Since he was owner and operator of his truck delivery business, he had to work. Sharon sat with me at the hospital reporting by cell phone to Tony so he knew how the day was going. The Orthopedic doctor, Dr. Chang, performed the surgery. When he came in to see me, after surgery, he told me he was sorry he had to amputate, but the good news was the amputation was just up to the ankle. So, of course, that made me very happy. (Seriously, I don’t remember how I felt, but don’t remember being happy.)

After surgery, about two days, they had me trying to set up. The room was spinning big time. I was very nauseous. It took a few days of practice to pull myself up with a pull bar. (can’t remember what it’s called) After a few days I made it to the edge of the bed. My muscles were so weak (from laying on the sofa for 3 months with foot elevated). Then came the process to learn to use a slide board to get from the bed to chair and back again. This was quite challenging. Again a day or two process, but conquered it. Then about 10 days after surgery, the attempt to stand using my right leg and a machine to hold me up failed. My right leg was like a noodle. I could not hold myself up with the aid of the machine and fell to the floor hitting my stump. Boy, did everyone jump through hoops to get the screaming, hurting lady in bed. Of course, the wound started bleeding, but no sutures were pulled out (a blessing). Sharon asked me if her pastor could come to visit me and I had given her my OK. During this time Sharon was bringing her pastor, Pastor Suzanne Wood to visit and pray with me.

The wound was healing well, but since I had MRSA, the strong antibiotic drip continued. Any visitor had to wear a gown, or mask, even hospital personnel. I was receiving so many calls from relatives and friends wishing me well. My room was full of flowers, stuffed animals and cards pinned on a big board. It was overwhelming to think I deserved any of this. My wonderful friends in the airline industry were working behind the scene on a surprise.

The bandage was changed every day and healing going well. My pain levels were not too bad. Plans were being made for me to start thinking about rehabilitation, and going home to a three story condo. I was getting stronger and stronger. About the 10th of February, I awoke to incredible pain in my left thumb and forefinger. My right thumb was swollen, red and also, in tremendous pain. Now, a big rush to find out what was causing this. After tests, it was diagnosed as gout by Dr. Lee. She prescribed Vioxx, an inflammation reducing medication. Vioxx was fast acting. That’s for sure – pain subsided, as did the swelling.

But in a matter of 24 hours, I was having major problems. I started swelling up, could not urinate, had a very high temperature and listless. The heart doctor and kidney specialists called for all kinds of tests. They moved me to ICU without calling Tony, or Sharon. It took several days for them to realize it was my kidneys. The tests started rolling one after the other and the doctors not agreeing on what was happening. I don’t remember what was going on, but with kidney function gone, my body was filling with fluid fast. I remember being taken to a room with a huge machine and being hooked up to it, and all of a sudden feeling like I was freezing cold. I didn’t realize it was a Dialysis’s machine. I did not realize that those who loved or cared about me had not been told where I had been taken. It took the hospital staff awhile to figure it out as there had been a shift change. Needless to say Tony and Sharon were quite upset.

This post was written by Bonnie Ribitzki a Charcot amputee and friend from Gering Nebraska

Brought toby Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

The Charcot Hole In My Charcot 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 when they had me take shoes off/on. I could receive no help from them, nor Tony, the process was very demeaning.

When I woke that morning and discovered the blood in the bed, 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 or weight bearing 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. I stayed on the sofa in the living room. 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.


The 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, nor 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.

This post was written by Bonnie Ribitzki a Charcot amputee and friend from Gering Nebraska

Brought toby Charcot Awareness Education Foundation


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 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 Vegas 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, OBGYN 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 OBGYN 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 & A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM OF MY LEFT FOOT. (continued next week)

This post was written by Bonnie Ribitzki a Charcot Amputee and friend from Gering Nebraska

Brought toby Charcot Awareness Education Foundation