Donations roll in for Pocket Lady

Fund established to offset medical, travel expenses for longtime area educator

Linda Williams of Webster City retired from the Webster City School District in 2016 due to health issues, but she hasn’t had a chance to enjoy her retirement. She’s spent many days in hospitals and medical facilities.

Known to elementary children for many years as the Pocket Lady and as the director of district curriculum later in her career, Williams has battled Type 1 diabetes since the age of nine. Through the years she had many hospitalizations due to the disease.

But 51 years later, she was diagnosed with end stage renal disease, according to information posted by her daughters on a GoFundMePage. She started dialysis and was put on the transplant list for a combined kidney and pancreas transplant. Her husband, Ted, said none of the family proved to be donor matches. That meant dialysis every day.

She became very sick and was admitted to the hospital. With no real answers as to what was causing her to be ill, she was sent home. As her severe pain continued, Ted took to the emergency room of St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.

Doctors there found she had developed a rare condition, Calciphylaxis, believed to affect only one percent of all dialysis patients. The condition results in non-healing wounds and is usually fatal. Linda was put on a rigorous regimen of dialysis, hyperbaric chamber therapy, high dose sodium infusions and wound mist therapy.

In March, Linda faced another health challenge. An infection in her foot made it necessary to amputate her right leg just below the knee. Ted said she had transitioned into a rehab facility and rehabilitation was going well as she learned to walk with a prosthetic leg. Her dialysis and other treatments were continuing and her wounds were healing. But at a follow-up appointment, the doctors discovered infection at the surgery site.

“She got some infection in her leg and they did two more surgeries,” Ted said. “The surgeon was 95 percent confident that he got everything cleaned up and things will be OK now. They just put a new cast on, and things seem to be working now.”

He said the next step will be to get a temporary prosthetic leg and work with it for several weeks until a permanent prosthetic can fitted.

Despite all of the setbacks and challenges, Ted said his wife’s spirits are “amazing.”

“She has her moments but overall, she just continues to battle it and any setbacks are just temporary. She wants to continue with all the therapy. She’s working as hard as she can to meet her goals so she can get back to Webster City,” he said.

There’s still a long road ahead, he said. The dialysis continues as does the treatment for Calciphylaxis. The treatment for that condition is one that is not available in Iowa, he added.

The Williams have spent many hours traveling between the Mayo Clinic and Webster City. Between April and December 2016, Ted estimates that put 25,000 miles on his car. His business, Sports World, is open just a day or two a week.

“A lot of it depends on how she’s feeling. But she encourages me to come back home for a while,” he said. “I don’t like to leave her, but she’s usually not alone for long since our daughters and the grandchildren come to see her. We usually pass on the interstate.”

He said when he’s with Linda, his daughter Brandy handles things at the store.

The GoFundMePage ( his daughters created to help with travel and medical expenses has topped $12,000 as of Tuesday night. In addition, Availa Bank has established an account to help offset expenses. Locally, donations can be made at the Webster City, Jewell, Roland or Fort Dodge Availa branches.

Ted said support from family and friends has been overwhelming.

“It’s been humbling. You live in a community your whole life and you know pretty much everybody. You take it for granted, you really do,” he said. “Everybody’s nice and you live your life. But when something like this happens, then you realize that people really do care and have an interest in your well being.”

“The support has been just unbelievable,” he said. “It’s overwhelming.”