Amory Woman Says ‘It’s Not Over,’ Just Different
TUPELO, Miss.—An anniversary weekend trip in August turned tragic for Charlyne Schoolar of Amory, who was boating on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville with her husband, Ken, and brother- and sister-in-law.
“We were out riding and looking for a cool place. We found a rock wall so we pulled up to it, and my sister-in-law and I were floating in the lake holding on to pool noodles,” Schoolar said. “The front of the boat started getting too close to the rock wall. When they moved the boat, it caught the rope and the rope wrapped around my legs.”
In 40 feet of water, Schoolar was dragged toward the boat’s motor, which badly mangled her right leg. “I just remember being tossed around like a rag doll,” she said. “I never lost consciousness, which was a God thing because if I had, I probably would have drowned. I remember thinking, I have two choices: drown or fight my way to the surface.”
Her husband and brother-in-law, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), got her onto the boat and called 9-1-1. She was taken by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital, where doctors decided it best to amputate her leg because of the damage. “I was missing so many inches of my femur,” she said, “so they had to remove my leg above my pelvis.”
Amputation was familiar to the Schoolars—their middle son lost his right leg in a hunting accident 13 years ago.
Seventeen days later she was transferred by ambulance from Huntsville Hospital to North Mississippi Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Institute in Tupelo. The Rehabilitation Institute is a 28-bed inpatient unit staffed by a team of professionals under the direction of physical medicine physicians who help patients reach their individual goals. There, Schoolar spent several hours a day doing physical and occupational therapy.
“I have a wheelchair, but I don’t plan to use it unless I go to a ballgame or somewhere else where I would have to walk a long distance,” she said, so physical therapists trained her to use crutches and a walker.
“I used weights and worked on strengthening my arms and leg,” she said. “I did a lot of exercises while standing just to build up my endurance on my left leg.”
Occupational therapists helped her adapt activities of daily living. “They made sure I could work around the kitchen, so I made cookies one day and served them and cleaned up,” she said. “The week before I went home, an occupational therapist came to do a home assessment to make sure everything would work for me.”
Schoolar went home Sept. 5 and has spent the last month adjusting to a new normal. She had been training for her first half-marathon, meeting friends at 5 a.m. several days a week to run three or four miles before work. “I have an awesome running group, and we were training for the St. Jude Half-Marathon in December,” she said. “That part is just really killing me. I had gotten up to seven miles before this happened.”
Not to be outdone, her friends have started training to push her in a special wheelchair on the race course. “As soon as I can sit for very long, I’m going to practice with them in the wheelchair,” she said. “This sister’s going to be out there.”
Her amazing support system also includes three sons and their wives, and seven grandchildren. “My son has a prosthetic leg, and he coaches football and hasn’t slowed down a bit,” said Schoolar, who also hopes to be able to wear a prosthetic leg. “He’s going to have to teach me to drive with my left foot like he does.”
Schoolar would not let her son give up, and now it’s her turn. “I could probably wallow, but I don’t do that. I’ve always been the goer, doer and encourager,” she said. “It’s going to be different, but it’s not over by a long shot. I’ve got too much to do.”
For more information about NMMC’s rehabilitation services, visit www.nmhs.net/post_acute_and_rehab.php or call 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).