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Cancer Surviving And Osteoporosis Disabled Grandma Needs Wheelchair Van

by Vickie Collins
(Holmen, Wisconsin, USA)

I am 61 years old with a husband, four daughters and 11 grandchildren.

I love family activities, crafts, reading, fishing with my husband, going to the grandchildren's activities such as ball games, dance and traveling.

Holidays were always the best with all the kids and grandkids gathered together. We enjoyed a simple picnic in the park, a day of shopping, visiting with friends and relatives or going for a Sunday drive with my husband enjoying the sights.


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Disability Issues

In the summer of 1985 I was diagnosed (after many months of tests) with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. I had a complete hysterectomy followed by 11 months of chemotherapy, another abdominal surgery and 45 radiation treatments.

I was able to return to work in the spring of 1987 and all went well for many years. In 2001 I started having bone fractures for no reason. I was suffering with severe osteoporosis.

In 2004 I started having compression fractures of my spine, which are extremely painful. From May 2005 to December 2005 I had six kyphoplasty procedures to repair the compression fractures, which went very well.

I had a 7th kyphoplasty procedure done on February 22, 2006 to fix three more vertebrae fractures and the procedure went very bad. I came out of the operation on life support and a paraplegic with reduced upper body mobility also.

During the operation the cement mixture that was injected in the vertebrae fractures leaked out of the channel and got into my spinal cord. This mixture is very toxic and caused my body to shut down.

I also got neuropathy and severe edema in my legs and feet. I was in the hospital for six weeks going through intense therapy in the hopes that the paralysis would reverse. That did not happen. I am in a power wheelchair that tilts back like a recliner all the time except when I am in bed.

In December 2011 I suffered a spiral break to by left femur, which could not be put in a cast because of the way my body froze into a Z position. Therefore my leg healed crooked and I cannot bring it back into a bent (sitting) position.

My kidneys are now in Stage 3 failure and I am also on blood thinner medicine as I get blood clots a lot. My list of medical problems is long but I am a fighter and still try to find enjoyment as much as I can.

Financial Hardship

Prior to becoming a paraplegic with many medical complications I had always worked outside of the home and enjoyed working.

My husband had a good job and with our income we had a nice life. We were able to take some vacations and visit the kids on a regular basis.

After becoming a paraplegic with many complications I was never able to return to work. In 2007 my husband had a major heart attack and was off work for quite some time.

I had applied for Disability income but was denied for being one credit short of qualifying. Our income was cut in half and our medical expenses greatly increased with all the co-pays for medicines and multitudes of doctor visits and therapies.

Prior to my leg breaking I was able to transfer into the car and then to a manual wheelchair to go to the doctor or to the store. After the break I could not transfer into the car anymore or sit in a manual wheelchair.

As a result, we had to call for transportation services that could transport a person in a power wheelchair. This becomes very expensive, as the medical trips are numerous.

With the exception of going to the doctor I am unable to get out of the house to go anywhere.

Income Efforts

I am unable to work out in the workforce due to my medical conditions; however, I like to do crafts. For the past two years I have been making hair bows, sun hats, decorated flip flops, fancy headbands and jewelry for toddlers and young girls.

I sell these items at the summer farmers markets. My daughter has a booth set up every summer season for handcrafted items. I send down my products and she displays them in her booth.

I have fun making the pretties and whatever I make on the items I turn around and buy more supplies to make more. I also sell my items in a gift shop that my mother owns. They take out a commission and send me a check for the sales.

I am able to keep myself busy making these items and enjoy doing so. Unfortunately I cannot take my products for delivery as my daughter and my mom live over 150 miles from me so I send everything through the mail.

My family has been very helpful and supportive of our situation. The help us meet everyday expenses as much as they can.

In June 2014 I will be able to collect retirement income, which will help out on expenses. It won't be a lot but every bit helps.

I also have in-home care for personal supportive needs.

Specific Needs

I am seeking a grant to help obtain a wheelchair accessible van. I have done calculations on the expense of a van with maintenance, gas and insurance and will spend less with a van than we currently do paying Public Transport for all my medical trips.

I will be able to go to my kids and see my grandchildren regularly. I have two grandchildren I haven't even met yet as I cannot get in the car and go to their house.

None of our family lives less than 150 miles from us so it makes it very difficult to see them. My parents are in their eighties and I haven't seen them in over two years. They live 175 miles from us.

With an accessible van, I will be able to go for a nice summer drive or go get a bite to eat. I'll get out of the house instead of being a shut-in. I won't have to fight depression anymore because I will be able to visit with my family.

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