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Marie’s story

November 25, 2019
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CCA One Care member Marie is in her early 50s and has battled diabetes for most of her life. She became diabetic when she was 5 years old. It wasn’t until she was a senior in college that she lost her vision. Her retinas detached due to complications from her diabetes.

“From sighted to blind” 

At first, Marie quit school. But after two weeks of training to use a cane, she went back to school to get her degree in business.

“I went from sighted to blind immediately and back to college,” she says. She used a typewriter and listened to her textbooks on cassette tapes. She stayed in the same house and knew the campus, making it easier to get around. Over time, Marie adjusted to her new normal. She got engaged and moved to Massachusetts in 2003. Then she ran a newspaper stand in Boston.

“I really was pretty healthy. I had my own business,” Marie says. “It was great. I loved my job.”

Learning to adapt

In 2014, Marie felt a pain in her heel when she worked. She thought it was a bone spur. It turned out to be a diabetic ulcer. After four operations and three rehabs within nine months, Marie had her leg removed. In 2015, she received a prosthetic limb.

“I think missing a piece of your body can feel like you’re less of a person. That was hard for me to overcome.”

Marie soon went back to work. It was difficult with her new prosthetic. She had to ask people in the building for help with things like going to the restroom. And it sometimes took her two and half hours to get home.

“Because in your head, you’re still that person before this happened. It doesn’t hit you until you can’t do the things you used to do. You have to find a different way. And it’s very difficult,” Marie says.

That’s when Marie realized she needed to make a change. She wanted to enjoy life again. Marie decided to leave her job. She began to plan activities for each day to keep herself busy. She took up cooking and yoga. She joined a support group for adaptive sports, such as bike riding and rock climbing. She also started horseback riding every week. “It’s my happy place. I am proud of myself because I never could have pictured myself on a horse.”

Marie also wanted to make other changes so that she could focus more on rehab and her leg. Before, finding good health care that worked for her had been stressful.

How Commonwealth Care Alliance helped Marie

Marie joined CCA in 2017. She got a letter in the mail and explored what benefits CCA had to offer. Marie takes several medications due to her medical conditions, so knowing that CCA would help with medication costs and management was very valuable to her. Once she signed up, CCA helped Marie get the necessary medical approval for some of the urgent procedures she needed. “That was good, I was thankful for that.”

Marie’s care partner, Karen, is also there for her whenever she has questions or needs help with something. Karen helped schedule transportation to the farm where Marie goes horseback riding. She also scheduled transportation services to bring Marie to her doctor’s appointments or hospital visits.

“What makes me really feel good is my doctors are telling me how great I look. My family’s telling me. I guess I look much better and I feel much better. I really do feel healthy.”

A CCA nurse comes to see Marie once a year to take her blood pressure and ask her questions about her health. The CCA nurse also gives Marie information and advice about healthy nutrition and diet.

Staying healthy is a priority

Marie loves horseback ridingMarie focuses on the things that make her happy and healthy. “It helps to get out—the longer you don’t go out, the more comfortable you get inside. Exercise and do something every day. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

One of Marie’s biggest goals is to work on staying healthy. She wants to eat better and possibly lose weight.

“I’m trying more plant-based foods,” she says. “And eating more protein, one of the nurses from CCA said to eat more protein.”

Marie would also like to travel more. She and her fiancé went to Savannah for Christmas one year and she loved it.

Marie’s advice

Marie wants to encourage others to try to do something every day. She knows it can be easy to stay in the house, but has seen the value in pushing herself to get out. She urges others to do the same.

“There is a world out there to enjoy,” Marie says. “We only have this moment—why not enjoy this moment.”

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