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At 83, amputee has spirit to keep going



Published: Mon, July 22, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By AMY HOUSLEY

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

SHE GETS UP AT 4 TO BAKE HOMEMADE bread. She makes all her cakes and cookies from scratch.

You don't see much of that anymore, especially from someone who is 83 and has lost a leg.

Meet Philomena Pemberton.

At the end of March, her right leg had to be amputated because of poor circulation.

One leg? 83? Down and out, right?

Hmmph! Sure, she was in a wheelchair for a month. Now she's up and at 'em again thanks to a temporary prothesis and the help of a walker or a cane.

She'll soon be getting a permanent prothesis, which she said will look more like a real leg.

"I'm not afraid to go out in public and show it," she said.

Before the surgery, Mrs. Pemberton was in so much pain she was told she could take pain pills, or doctors could "whack it off."

She chose to give up the leg. That shocked her family, but they have since seen firsthand the spirit that keeps her going.

Her family includes husband Wrenn, daughter Marge, son and daughter-in-law Jack and Diane Duer, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

While Mrs. Pemberton, a lifelong resident of the Youngstown area, was recovering from surgery, her family took over caring for the house, but she said they didn't put things away properly.

She wanted to be able to take care of her own home, which she does now.

That includes washing windows, vacuuming and other household chores.

"She depends on no one," her son said.

Strong muscles

At one time, Mrs. Pemberton walked 10 miles a day. It didn't prevent health problems, including bypass surgery, but the exercise did help her to heal faster because her muscles were strong, she said. She completed her post-surgery therapy quicker than anticipated because of her good condition.

She got through the amputation and recovery period, she said, because she wanted to get better so that she could be active again.

She praised her surgeon, Dr. Mark Hirko of Forum Health Northside Medical Center, for helping her through the process.

Her family sees her strength as an inspiration for others facing similar circumstances.

"She's proof that it can definitely be done," said daughter Marge.

ahousley@vindy.com




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