All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for October 2003

M.S. victim needs community's help

Sep. 29, 2003. 01:51 PM
Carol Phillips
Torstar News Service
Stoney Creek

It's been almost a week since Donna Fleming's husband Bill lost a leg after being hit by a car.
She still hasn't been able to see him.

The 53-year-old former social worker is practically bedridden with progressive Multiple Sclerosis and has depended on Bill - her husband of 26 years - for her care.

Friends have offered to take her. But she's turned them down.

"It just would be too upsetting," Donna said. "I just know what would happen to me. I would break down."

Bill, 57, was out walking their dog, Timmy, late last Wednesday night. They were on way home when a 1997 Chev Cavalier hit them as they crossed Hwy. 8 near Homeside Avenue.

Bill doesn't remember the accident. But police said he rolled over the hood of the car and struck the windshield with his head. He also severely injured his left leg and has since had to have it amputated below the knee. Timmy, a one-year-old Shih Tzu and Donna's close companion, was killed.

The couple can't rejoice that Bill survived. There are too many things to worry about.

Bill, a baker, was nearing the end of a six-week leave of absence he'd taken from Fortino's at Fiesta Mall in order to care for Donna.

She needs help even to move out of bed.

The couple had just sold their house and were to move into a one-level condo unit last Friday. Luckily, friends and co-workers rallied around to get them moved and settled.

Stress sent Donna's health into a tailspin. The combination of that and Bill's absence prompted Hamilton's Community Care Access Centre to increase her home care to 12 hours a day from two.

But she expects that extra help to end on Wednesday. Donna will be meeting with a social worker and a case manager from the CCAC this week to plead her case. But it upsets her.

"I definitely need more help. They know that," she said. "It just seems almost like begging. And it just doesn't seem to work."

Right now, friends are picking up the slack. But she knows that can't go on forever.

"It's fine to say: 'Oh, you have friends.' But they work and they have family. So where does that leave you?"

Bill, a Scotsman who has been in Canada for 27 years, is also worrying.

"I worry about everything," he said on the phone from his bed at Hamilton General Hospital. "I worry about when in the heck I can get out of here. I haven't even seen the police. I'll probably have to go to therapy."

But he speaks with reassuring optimism and pragmatism in his voice.

"I should be all right once I get back," he said. "I'll be on crutches. Then they'll fit me with a prosthesis."

He's asked if he will have a problem readjusting.

"Oh, I don't think so."

One new friend is making an effort to see the Flemings get the help they need.

The couple's realtor, Susan Robinson, called a newspaper about the couple's plight.

"I'm trying to raise awareness," she said. "If raising funds falls out of that, that's wonderful. But I'm hoping somebody out there can help in any way."

You can contact Robinson through her paging service at 1-905-574-4600.

Copyright © 2003, Toronto Star Newspapers Limited