Senior facing loss head on
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 10:33 am
A Turner Valley man who lost his house and wife to a fire last fall is now facing substantial health problems.
Although Willi Craciun has known for months his leg will have to be amputated, the situation turned more serious when he suffered a stroke on Christmas morning, which his doctor attributed to an infection that began in his toes. He was staying with his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in Calgary at the time of the stroke.
“I was a considerate grandpa,” he joked. “I was back before (my grandchildren) woke up in the morning.”
In early November, Craciun’s mobile home caught fire with his wife Elly inside. Although neighbours pulled Elly, 81, who was confined to a wheelchair, from the blaze she suffered severe burns to her arms and back and passed away as a result of her injuries three weeks later in the Foothills Hospital.
Now it’s Craciun who is the patient. Every eight hours he receives antibiotic injections at the Oilfields Hospital in Black Diamond to treat the infection, spending 12 to 15 hours in the emergency room daily.
“It’s a little tiring spending all that time in emergency but I don’t have one complaint,” he said. “All you ever hear is horror stories about the medical system but I’ve always been looked after well.”
Although Craciun hopes to be off the antibiotics by the end of the week, he knows his ordeal is far from over.
Two of his toes were removed five years ago after turning gangrene as a result of his diabetes. Keeping them free of infection has been a challenge as they heal too slowly, he said.
Craciun hopes an appointment at the Sheldon Chumir Health Clinic this week will bring good news that his leg won’t be amputated for another year or two.
“They are worried if this (open wound) doesn’t fill itself in it may be sooner than later,” he said.
Once his leg comes off, Craciun expects to spend time in a wheelchair before it heals enough for a prosthetic. He hopes to get his new home, donated by Calgary company McCann’s Building Movers, wheelchair accessible before that happens.
McCann’s Building Movers donated a bungalow, formerly located in Calgary, to Craciun after learning about his tragic story.
“One way or another I will get (my house ready),” he said. “I just have to.”
In the meantime, Craciun is keeping his chin up.
“I’ve always been positive,” he said. “That’s the way to be. There is no sense going through life being negative.”
Craciun can’t help it when seeing how much people have done for him since the tragic incident last fall.
“Even people from Calgary, High River and Okotoks have helped,” he said. “Right from the small guys to the big contractors. It’s unbelievable the generosity.”
Craciun is surrounded by friends and family.
“I’ve got all the support of my friends out here,” he said, adding they often share stories about Elly. “I feel more comfortable talking about her with friends than with strangers. We joke around about what we used to do to her and what she use to do to us.”
The avid Foothills Lions Club volunteer is eager to get back to his duties with the club, leg or no leg.
“We have to finish that spray park and hopefully develop a new campground in Turner Valley,” he said. “It makes you feel good if you can make a difference in the community.”