Peggy Chun: “Peg’s Legs”
Kimi Morton Chun
My mother-in-law, Peggy Chun, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in the Spring of 2002. This was the same year that her amazing son, Eric, and I were married. What a journey we’ve been on as a family, we’d like to share a bit of our story here…
In the beginning of Peggy’s battle with ALS, her brother Matt passed on the book that changed our lives – Share The Care™ . Peggy’s sister, Camille, and best friend, Martha, followed the book’s guidance to start up a support group of about 20 people to help Peggy and the family. Peggy was still walking, with the help of a walker, and I remember her saying, “I feel so silly, I don’t really need this group, but thank you all for being here.”
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Just weeks after that first meeting, Peggy’s leg gave way under her and she was in the hospital with a broken ankle. This catapulted us into NEEDING that Share The Care™ group in a big way! And because of the progressive nature of ALS, the needs have been growing ever since, but luckily, so has our group…
The first thing we did was chose a name – and unanimously decided on “Peg’s Legs.” Peggy is a well-established artist in Hawaii and her name is synonymous with INSPIRING! Not only is her artwork incredibly INSPIRED, and she has always lived life to the fullest, spreading her ALOHA to every person that crosses her path. It is because of her charm, her loving heart, and her joie de vive that our little group has grown to over 100 Peg’s Legs!
Peggy’s battle with ALS has been a tough one. In November 2003, she had difficulty breathing and was taken to the hospital and faced with the decision whether or not to go on a ventilator. Our daughter, Peggy’s grandchild, had just been born in October – and Peggy was definitely not ready to go! She agreed to go on the ventilator, and we knew it was not going to be easy.
We also knew that Peggy would not thrive in a nursing home – and everyone made a commitment to care for her in her home.
While Peggy went in for her tracheostomy, the group met to discuss what Peggy’s new needs were going to be and how we needed to re-organize. We enlisted a private nursing organization to train our volunteers and help us through the transition. Peggy has excellent healthcare though not enough to cover 24 hours for the entire year. The plan was train our Peg’s Legs volunteers so that they could take over the daytime nursing hours.
We’ve been through many revisions of our structure and it is definitely a Work in progress. We have 3 shifts a day covered by our volunteers and we use private hire nurses overnight. Each Peg’s Legs shift has what we call an “A” person and a “B” person. The “A” person is trained to manage the ventilator and do the medical stuff and the “B” person is there to assist them and do light household chores, etc. We also have “C” people – they come by when they can and do what they can – whatever that might be.
We have 2 people on every shift – 3 shifts a day – that’s 6 volunteers a day – EVERYDAY! And many of these volunteers are new friends. Thanks to them, we are saving thousands every month in nursing expenses. We still have to supplement with fundraising, but our large network gets the word out.
Now that Peggy, an artist, is almost totally paralyzed, she paints with a contraption that straps the paintbrush to her head. The volunteers help her to move her head from side to side according to her direction, in order to continue to create beautiful watercolor masterpieces.
Because of Peggy’s ability to open up her home and her life to all of us, this group thrives. Peggy’s positive attitude and amazing strength gives us the energy to fight alongside her. All of our Peg’s Legs say the same thing – it’s a treat to be able to care for someone as wonderful and inspiring as Peggy. And because we are such a strong and large network, the workload is shared and the energy stays positive.
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but what we know for sure is that together, we have the power to create a beautiful life for a beautiful person.
Aloha to all of you from Peggy and Peg’s Legs…Share The Care™ !