Daniel Vance - Disabilities

“There is nothing like a good friend”

Life hasn’t been easy lately for 79-year-old Sam Naïve of Waco, Texas. About eight weeks ago, a surgeon had to amputate both his legs. I learned about Sam through Bill Foster, owner and publisher of the Waco (Texas) Citizen, whose sister Beverly cares for Sam.

“I’ve been a diabetic since 1974,” began Naïve in a telephone interview.

The National Institutes of Health defines diabetes as a “disorder of metabolism” affecting about 23 million Americans and often leading “to blindness, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage.” It is one of the nation’s leading causes of death and disability. Diabetes itself isn’t a disability, but it can cause a disability.

“I put off the amputation a year or so because I wanted to first try saving my legs as long as I could,” said Naïve. “Eventually gangrene developed in my toes. My legs just died.” He admitted to still being weak, and having lost a great deal of weight.

Former Navy Pilot

At one time, Naïve was a 1950s Navy pilot who was one of the chosen few allowed to witness the nation’s first hydrogen bomb blast. Later, as an eastern Kentucky native, he started a career in journalism at the Richmond (Kentucky) Register.

“It’s been more than two years since I was able to walk,” he said. “There are several things I miss and that’s one. I used to walk a lot and did it for about 50 years. There is a certain degree of depression I didn’t have before because of not being able to walk. I used to always be active.”

That said, he does feel physically better now after the amputation. In the last year, he used to have problems in not being able to raise his blood sugar level after it would drop precipitously. Eventually, a hospital fixed the problem by changing his medication.

Like many people with disabilities, Naïve praised his caregiver.

“I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for her,” he said of Beverly. “She has taken care of me well. I nearly died a few times over the last year when I was trying to save my legs..”

He said Beverly had offered “moral support,” and been his advocate with medical professionals. She even stopped a potential crisis after discovering a medical facility had been giving Naïve incorrect medication.

“There is nothing like a good friend,” he said.

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