LIMA — Two years ago, Charlotte’s life was changed forever.
After developing gangrene on her left heel, surgeons had to amputate her leg. She has been in a wheelchair ever since.
“At first they took it off below the knee, then they seen they didn’t get it all so they had to take it off all the way to my hip,” Charlotte said.
Since she had only one working leg, Charlotte was provided a standard push wheelchair so she could get around. However, she still needs help performing basic, everyday tasks. She said she cannot leave her home without help, and needs assistance bathing herself, getting dressed, cooking and performing other activities most people take for granted.
The need for constant attention has worn on a woman who prided herself on being independent.
“It’s hard because I’m not used to asking nobody for nothing,” she said. “Now I have to ask people if they can help get me out of the house, or ask them if they can do this or that for me. I don’t like doing that.”
Though she has assistance from her adult daughter and two grandsons, who she lives with on a full-time basis, Charlotte’s struggles are further compounded by the wheelchair she relies on. She said the armrest is “wobbly,” which makes it difficult to pivot herself from room to room. She also said the screws that hold the seat in place are becoming weak, and the paint is starting to peel off.
“When I push the wheels I get black all over my hands,” she said. “After two years, it’s not in good condition.”
Charlotte said her doctor wrote a prescription for a new wheelchair, but she cannot afford one on her own. Because she is on Medicare and not Medicaid, Charlotte said she is only eligible for a new wheelchair every five years.
“But a wheelchair is going to tear up more than once every five years, especially if you’re in it every day like me,” she said.
Because her physical limitations have kept her out of work, Charlotte relies on Social Security to support herself financially. She said her daughter cannot work because she is Charlotte’s full-time caregiver.
This holiday season marks the first time in four years Charlotte is able to spend Christmas with her daughter and grandsons. Though she is happy to spend the holiday with her family, Charlotte said her physical and financial situation has limited the number of gifts she can give.
“We got the grandkids a few little things from the Dollar Store that they can put in their stocking, but it’s nothing extravagant,” she said. “I just want them to have a good Christmas, but there’s only so much we can do.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.