There’s that contagious smile again! We last introduced you to our fabulous patient partner, Angie, back in 2018. Since then, Angie has experienced some hardships. From a fractured ankle to trying to figure out how to receive the health care she needs during a pandemic, she’s among the many of us that have faced recent challenges. But as she’s done so many times before, she has both literally and figuratively gotten back on her feet again.

It was the end of last year; a bad fall resulted in a fractured ankle. For most patients, this is a setback. For Angie, who also suffers from weakened lower extremities due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), her road to recovery was a longer one. In a non-weight bearing cast for eight weeks on a leg that was already problematic for her from both MS and severe arthritis of her right knee, Angie knew early on that it wasn’t going to be an easy path forward. After hospitalization, she was transferred to a nursing home. “That experience in the nursing home taught me a lot. It opened my eyes. People all around me where going through some really tough times.” There was some miscommunication from her hospital where she was released and the nursing facility she resided in over the next month regarding her daily medications for her diabetes. Instead of pills, she was given insulin. Thankfully, Angie’s mental capacity was intact and she became her own advocate. “My role as a patient partner helped. Asking questions, just as I do in research, helped me also ask the right questions about my medication.” By reaching out to her trusted doctor, things were straightened out. “That was the thing that saved me. What I’ve learned is to keep talking with your doctors.”

Once Angie was released back home, she was on a strict physical therapy regimen. With her MS exacerbating the injury, and the injury taking longer to heal from her arthritis and MS, it was a viscous cycle that she knew would only break by getting stronger. Then, coronavirus hit. Being disabled and living in an urban area, Angie relied on mass transportation to get her to her doctor and therapy appointments. However, her transportation program was limiting passengers to only those with life-threatening conditions. Given her pre-existing health conditions, Angie was at high risk of developing more severe disease if she contracted COVID-19, making the idea of leaving her home a scary thought. So again, Angie had to be her own advocate. After reaching out to insurance, she was able to secure an at-home therapist. Though it wasn’t the same as being in the clinic and having access to the various equipment on site that would have led to a quicker recovery, her and her therapist worked together to strengthen Angie, one day at a time. Then a few weeks later, Angie received a letter denying her of continuing to receive the home therapy, stating that she should be able to manage the exercises independently. So again, Angie will be her own advocate and will follow-up with her doctors to receive the care she needs

With these challenging and uncertain times, Angie has found solace in the comfort of her own home. “I won’t take this for granted. I take it very seriously. I’m thankful I have a roof over my head and can stay in my house. If I need air, I sit at my doorstep. I stay six feet from my neighbors. I take it very seriously.”  She has participated in telemedicine visits with her doctors to keep her safe at home, and comes prepared with her list of medications and blood pressure reading from her at-home monitor ready to share with her doctor. Though days are often filled with confusion and worry, Angie has kept herself occupied in the kitchen, cooking up all sorts of delicious meals that her son and health aide have provided the ingredients for. She has worked up enough strength to stand up in her walker to be able to prepare food. Angie is a shining example of how to truly make lemonade out of lemons.

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