Archive for August, 2016

Another Angel Enters My Life

Being home after a four month stay in the hospital was so wonderful, but the challenges were many. One of the biggest was learning to take care of myself. Each day I would have new challenges and successes. Getting up and down from a sitting position, walking with the prosthesis/walker on carpet. I was always afraid I would fall. Giving thanks to God for every successful task completed and praying for guidance, safety and discernment as well as, giving God all the Glory for each day. Tony was still working his two jobs, so I was home alone a lot, but he called many times throughout the day to make sure I was “OK. ”

Tony was the owner/operator of a pick up delivery vehicle similar to UPS or FEDEX, delivering large and small items all over town. He did daily pick up and deliveries for the State of Alaska departments. While at one of these buildings, he got to talking to one of the new employees. In their conversation learned that she had just recently transferred from Juneau, AK to Anchorage and was looking for a place to live. Tony asked her where she was living and she replied, “in my car”.

Tony went on about his pick up and deliveries and kept thinking about how we could help her. He then called me and told me about meeting this woman. He said, “You know she could help us by just being in the house with you in case anything would happen to you, and she would have a place to sleep and a somewhat private peaceful place to live.”

Sounded like an excellent idea to me. I knew this would relieve Tony’s mind while he was working. The next morning, when he arrived at the office building he introduced himself. She said her name was Bonnie J. He knew right away this was a good thing. She had the same name as mine.

He made arrangements for Bonnie #2 to meet with me that day at our home and as he put it to “check each other out.” I have to admit it would be strange meeting someone for the first time and then have them move into our home for an unknown time frame. Long story short Tony told her we had a huge extra bedroom / bath and he needed help with me. If she met with me and things worked out, we could help each other.

Having done a lot of hiring of employees during my airline career, I was not afraid of visiting with Bonnie #2. I met Bonnie that afternoon. We had a wonderful two hour visit. She checked out the extra bedroom and bath. She was very happy with them. We were just looking for someone to be in our home in case I would fall, or something. We were NOT looking for a care giver. She said she would be happy to live with us.

Bonnie #2 became an instant part of our family – and, oh how Tony and I have tested that friendship. This was instant relief for Tony, not having to worry about me. Bonnie worked the graveyard shift, so would be home during the day when Tony was working. She was such a comfort for both of us during Tony’s bout with pancreatic cancer. And later helping me move to Nebraska in 2006. She now lives in Juneau, AK. We are still the best of friends and she is one of my Angels from heaven.

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

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Finally Going Home – Sharon’s Surprise

The last few weeks found me getting stronger, for hopefully, the trip home on May 4th. I was getting used to walking with the prosthesis and walker. Of course learning to maneuver stairs as our condo had three flights of stairs. A hard thing was learning how to get up from the floor if I should fall. Rehab assistants helped me get to the floor then I was to try to get up. Not easy and could not do it without assistance. They said this was normal. They were trying to impress on me that I needed to be very cautious in what I do. I should plan in my mind how to complete each task. I can honestly say that in the last 13 years since surgery I have only fallen once. That was moving from one stair climber to the other. ( A major blessing from Heaven)

Repairs were being made at home so I could move around. The master bedroom bathroom had the tub removed and a shower put in along with a hand-capped stool to sit on while showering. They installed a guard to hold onto while maneuvering to sit on the camode. The main floor bathroom had a higher camode placed in it plus the guard to hold on to. A hospital bed was also put on the main floor which was the living room, kitchen, dining areas and bathroom. this is where I would live pretty much for quite some time.

The biggest item needed was the Stair Climber (Glider) to get from the garage (20 steps) to the living area which had not been found. However, Sharon’s surprise was that monies collected by the Airline Industry friends had totaled $ 1,500.00 for help in purchasing a stair climber. I was so shocked and grateful for such truly wonderful friends and family who also contributed some of those funds. God is so Great!!!

The target date May 4th came and went, but by May 5th, I was released from the hospital. What a superb feeling, but I was also terrified at how I was going to be able to function in a three story Condo. Two Rehab nurses accompanied us home and assisted in helping me to climb the twenty steps to the living room. What a challenge! It took a while, but we made it with no mishaps. Tony holding me on one side and a rehab assistant behind and one in front of me. What a heart warming feeling to be in my home again.

So after instructions from rehab, one of which was to immediately call to get a life line alert installed in our home, in case I fell and was home alone. We called for one that day and I recommended this to anyone with health issues or living alone. Praise the Lord, I have not had to use the life line assistance, but it does give one peace of mind that assistance is just a push of a button away.

So began my life as an amputee/wheel chair individual on my own. Like I said a terrifying feeling, but so happy to be home. Afraid to make a move from my recliner for fear I would fall, but each time walking with the walker to the bathroom, kitchen, recliner got easier. I was getting stronger every day and got into my daily routine.

It was probably home a week or more before Tony attempted to get me up to the master bathroom for a shower. There were two sets of eight steps with a landing to rest for a bit. I would get tired after just a few steps so this took a while. “Man Oh Man” did that first shower feel great. There were times when maneuvering stairs that I would sit on the steps and slide down one by one. Just picturing this would be quite a comical “U – Tube” feature. (Believe me not comical) Things settled more into a routine, but managing the stairs was always the big challenge.

By the end of May, Sharon had found a stair climber for stairs from the garage to the living room. Stair climbers are not cheap, but we found a used one and had it installed. Wow! what a difference that made. Going to doctor appointments, even able to start attending church by June. My blessings continued. I was doing well mentally, physically and enjoying life.

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

Brought toby Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Sharon’s Surprise & My Continued Rehab

Sometime the middle of April – Sharon contacted fellow employees at Penair and many friends
at Anchorage International Airport. She said she needed help in finding a way to help Stair GliderTony and I purchase a Stair Glider (also called Stair Lift) for our three story condo. I knew nothing of this in the beginning. I had been overwhelmed by all the calls, cards, gifts and prayers from all of them. I did not feel they needed to do more, but boy did they. Several long time friends at Alaska Airlines, ERA Aviation and Penair, put together fund raisers, silent auctions, and lunch specials at the airport. So many people worked so hard. The end result was over $1400, enough to purchase a Stair Glider for the 1st set of 20 stairs. What a blessing for us. I was totally amazed and so proud of all of them and the blessing they gave us.

As terrible as January, February and March were, April was buzzing by, lots of hard work, but so rewarding. Tony and I were even able to attend Palm Sunday and Easter services in the hospital chapel. It was wonderful. Day to day routine was getting easier – practice makes perfect.

The rehab trainers met with Sharon at our home to see how I would be able to cope with a three story condo. The stair gliders were a must and as Sharon did her investigation, found them very pricey. The trainers decided I would be making my part of our home the living room/kitchen area which did have a half bath on that floor. I needed a hospital bed for sleeping, bathroom stool would need a guard for holding onto for sitting down and being able to rise.

So, I continued workouts, building body muscles back and learning how to roll a wheelchair by my self. (You would think that should be easy.) There is a certain knack to it and definitely good muscles are needed, which I did not have at first.

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

Brought toby Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Fitting The Prosthesis

Second week of April 2004, my orthopedic doctor, Dr. Chung, advised me I that my left foot stump was healed and ready for prosthesis fitting. He was sending Trevor Munger to do the fitting.

That afternoon, I met another miracle person. He would be a big influence on my healing, mentally and physically and, as far as I am concerned, a friend for a lifetime. This young man (early thirties at the time) with the biggest smile, a bucket and paraphernalia in one hand (left) as his right hand/arm was amputated below the right shoulder. I probably thought, “How is he going to accomplish fitting me for a foot prosthesis.”

Trevor said, “Hello! Are you ready to start the next phase of recovery. ” Still smiling. I said, “Yes, I think so.” I was still hesitant in believing he could do this. He said, “Before we get started let me tell you my story.”

Trevor was born with the right arm not being developed. He became a very active young man. His family encouraged him in all aspects of his life. His disability did not stop him from doing anything and everything he wanted to accomplish. In high school in Kenai, Alaska he became a trophy winning football player and continued on to college to learn the art of making prosthesis. He is now the leading prosthesis maker in Alaska (That’s my opinion, but from what I have read and am told, it’s true.)

I was in awe of this young man. I figured YES. I can do this with God’s grace and help. Trevor explained that first he had to make a cast of my left leg/stump, then design a prosthesis. It would take several fittings before the final product was ready for me to use. That it would take adjustments at different times, as I became used to walking with a prosthesis.

I was in my wheelchair and Trevor sat on floor. Very handily he began the process of building the cast using both arms expertly. At the same time building my confidence of him and his ability to do his job.

I think it took about a week and one day before in he walked with the prosthesis and said let’s put this to good work. I wheeled myself into the exercise room that had the bars to hold onto as I had learned to stand and eventually walk there. What a strange wonderful and scary sensation, putting on the prosthesis and standing on both feet for maybe 10 seconds before setting down.

Trevor told me, “You gotta go easy. Make sure there are no breakdowns in skin, that no sores or blisters start because of rubbing from ill fitting prosthesis.” I was on cloud nine and very happy, but lots of work yet to build up the stump and rest of my body. By the end of second week in therapy I was getting very proficient at dressing myself, using the slide board to transfer from bed ,wheelchair and exercise mat. So onto bigger and better things, learning how to shower, do kitchen jobs and getting into the car (They had an actual small car in the rehab area.) using the slide board. I was feeling pretty smart by then and knowing the lord was with me every step of the way. I was continually praying for guidance and giving him all the praise and glory for my accomplishments.

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

Brought toby Charcot Awareness Education Foundation