Macular Degeneration

Our aunt, Charlys Schulenberg has been through a lot in the past year. She began having some Neuropathy in her legs and feet. Uncle Butch took her to several neurologists trying to find out if there’s a cure for her. The doctors all say they know of none when it gets that bad. One doctor believes that it all started a couple years ago when her red and white blood cells dropped to a seriously low level. She was very weak. They put her in the hospital and found out that she had no cooper in her blood. So, they gave her copper via IVs. This brought her blood back up, but not high enough. They believe the low copper caused her Neuropathy. They also think that there was too much Zinc in the vitamins she was taking. Apparently, too much Zinc can deplete the copper in your system. So, they got rid of all vitamins that had Zinc in them. Meanwhile, she was home waiting to go back to Billings for another week of IV copper infusions. While she was home however, she, being a very determined lady, refused to take this lying down. She was getting around with a walker, but she was really shaky.

Because of all that, she wasn’t supposed to be cooking. Uncle Butch was doing the cooking. They were going to have spaghetti, but they needed French bread and other groceries, so he went down to store. When he came back 45 minutes later, Aunt Charlys was laying on the floor. She had decided to start the spaghetti, and as she was boiling the spaghetti, her feet went out from under her. She hit the pan of boiling water as she fell, and the pan fell on her, spilling the boiling water and hot spaghetti in her lap causing 3rd, 4th, and 5th degree burns from her knees to her chest. Uncle Butch called an ambulance, and they got her to the hospital, and then, she was flown to the University of Colorado Burn Center. While her burns must have kept her in excruciating pain, Aunt Charlys never lost her sense of humor. She joked with the nurses, even though she was the one in so much pain. She has proven herself to be one tough lady.

After a month in the burn center, she was transferred to the hospital in Forsyth, Montana where they live. She spent another month in the Forsyth Hospital. While she was there, she continued joking and just being herself…always positive and happy. I’m sure that like me, the nurses, doctors, and other staff couldn’t believe that this lady, who was in obvious pain was so cheerful and positive. She has never lost her positive attitude. Her burns soon healed and all that’s left is the scars. Uncle Butch is very proud of her, and so is the rest of her family. Charlys is such a sweet, loving person, and I am so thankful that she is still with us.

Because the Neuropathy in her legs is so bad, she came home in a wheelchair. She couldn’t walk. Uncle Butch got the house set up so she can do things herself. They pulled the carpet up and installed posts by the bed and in bathroom and grab bars in the shower area. When she first came home, Uncle Butch had to help her with bath and bathroom needs, but in true Charlys style, she was determined to do things herself. She worked very hard to make a way for herself. Now, with help of a special chair and the bars on wall, she does many things by herself. All Uncle Butch has to do is stand by to make sure she’s alright. She can pull Herself up out of wheelchair and get things out of the low cabinets. She has one of those two wheeled walkers with solid back legs, and she gets a little further walking with it each day. Uncle Butch says that at times her feet and legs just jump all over the place.

They were scheduled to start copper treatment a couple days before the accident, but they had to cancel that. Meanwhile, their daughter, Andi Kay got a hold of the doctors at the burn center and told them about her copper deficiency. They didn’t want that to continue, so they placed a tube in her nose, that went to her stomach, and fed her copper and drugs straight into the stomach., finally bringing her copper and her red and white cells to normal, Praise God!! With the excellent treatment she was given, she was very soon back to being her old spunky self. Unfortunately, they don’t believe that the damage is done in her feet and legs from the Neuropathy, is reversable. So, she’s in a wheelchair or walking a little with her walker. Meanwhile, being the culinary expert that she is, she has the up the task of “teaching” Uncle Butch to cook, with her supervision, of course. She makes sure to tell him what to do next, even if he probably already knows, but that leaves her basically running the show, and that what is most important. She has been struggling with Macular Degeneration in her eyes, so Uncle Butch reads her the recipes, as well as a lot of articles from papers, a true mark of his love for her. She also has a magnifying glass, that has a small light, and she uses that a lot too.

Their grandson, Christian is living with them and working as a CNA at the Forsyth Hospital. That has been such an amazing blessing. He has been a great help to them. He loves his grandma “to pieces” and gives her all his attention, and the love is “reversed” to him too. Uncle Butch thinks that she wouldn’t be as happy, if Christian wasn’t there. Uncle Butch thinks through all that has happened these last few years, it has only served to bring them closer to one another. They got Aunt Charlys a small electric wheelchair that folds down and is real light. I didn’t know they made folding electric wheelchairs, but it is awesome!! It slides into a trunk or a pickup. She can go shopping with it now. They went to Walmart in Miles City last week, and she had a blast!! Uncle Butch says that you have to watch her, or she’ll run over your feet…kind of like a fifteen-year-old with a driver’s permit, hahaha!! The good news is that now that she has it, she can get out more. Charlys is full of life yet, even with all the problems. Uncle Butch says, “She’s a fighter and she dang sure doesn’t give up.” It’s a miracle that could only be God and the excellent people He placed at the hospitals and at home to care for her. Today is Aunt Charlys’ 82nd birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Charlys!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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