SPENCERVILLE — For Tony, it is difficult to remember life without diabetes.
“I’m legally blind, so I don’t drive and I’m on disability, because I’ve been diabetic for 31 years, and I’ll be 38 soon,” he said. “Now it’s gotten to the point since I’ve had it for so long that it’s taken a toll on my body and I’m in need of a kidney and pancreas transplant. I now have stage 4 kidney disease.”
Tony and his fiancee, Mary, live together with Mary’s three children, Jill, 17, Logan, 12, and Daniel, 8. Tony was able to work until this past year, when the damage to his kidneys and eyes became too severe to keep working.
“The worse off his kidneys get, there are new symptoms that crop up,” she said. “He had basically taken care of the house and the kids while I went to work, but it’s hard to be a mom with that, and I’m sure he’d rather be working outside the house. It seems like my paycheck is just never enough.”
The strain of trying to support her children as well as her fiance has forced Christmas to go on the backburner for Mary.
“Normally I have everything planned out, the decorations are up and the kids are taken care of,” she said. “This year, it’s just so hard because I’m either at work or taking him to the doctor’s office.”
Even with Mary’s wages, gifts will be hard to come by this year. Mary noted that the kids could use some clothing. Jill wears a women’s large shirt and women’s size 13-14 pants. Logan wears a young men’s medium shirt and he enjoys wearing men’s medium exercise pants. Daniel wears a boys medium shirt and boys size 8-10 pants. Mary and Tony are also hoping that they will be able to get some board games or card games for the kids.
“We’re trying to get them away from the television,” Mary said.
The family could also use gas cards, as they will be looking at upcoming trips to Cincinnati, where Tony’s transplant team is based.
“We’re in the process of trying to get the kidney transplant done, because I really don’t want to be on dialysis,” Tony said.
For Mary, she is hoping that whatever else happens, the kids have a good Christmas, giving them a break from the circumstances the family is facing.
“I think the kids are suffering because they see him not the way he used to be, and Mom’s tired and stressed and grumpy,” she said. “It’s killing me that I can’t do for them like I want to.”
The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies, Bradfield Community Center, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Federal Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants’ privacy.