Ailing Minot woman, aided by NDAD: ‘Sitting around crying doesn’t get you anywhere’

At 51, Rosemarie Shaver finds herself dealing with life-altering health issues that threaten her life, too.

A fast-paced walker, the Minot woman noticed last summer that she was getting slower and increasingly short of breath. “It didn’t feel right,” recalled Shaver, a former licensed practical nurse in Texas for 23 years.

She also noticed that when she squatted – say, to tie a shoe — she no longer could rise to an upright position by herself.

Rosemarie Shaver (left) and her twin sister, Rochelle.

When she had multiple bouts of pneumonia, Shaver concluded she “was just overdoing it” on and off the job at Minot’s Walmart.

But following a 12-hour Thanksgiving Day work shift, Shaver found herself struggling on Black Friday to walk and breath, and she left work early. By Monday, she was so sick she asked one of her sisters to take her to a Minot hospital.

A double-pneumonia diagnosis quickly was accompanied by a double dose of even worse news: Shaver had polymyositis, a persistent inflammatory muscle disease that weakens the skeletal muscles that  control movement; and also a type of interstitial lung disease, a progressive condition that may cause irreversible scarring of lung tissue. It ultimately impacts a person’s ability to breathe and provide oxygenated blood.

Shaver was incredulous. The previous spring, she said, her lungs were clear in a computerized tomography (CT) scan; it preceded a lumpectomy to remove an infectious, but non-cancerous mass, in one of her breasts.

Just months later, her medical team couldn’t tell her what caused her health issues. And when she asked her physician about her chances of being alive in five years, “He said, ‘Rose, I don’t know,’ she recalled.

The diagnoses devastated Shaver.

“For the first month, I cried,” the mother of seven and grandmother of eight recalled. “All I did was boo-hoo. And that’s not me. I’m a strong woman.”

She had become the latest member of her immediate family to face serious health issues. Shaver has two older sisters, Annie and Roxy, also of Minot, who have multiple sclerosis.

Shaver is on unpaid leave from her job; she recently qualified for Social Security disability benefits after lacking an income since November. Family members helped her get by, including Annie, who’s paid the premium for health insurance benefits until they expire, plus older sister Roxy, twin sister Rochelle, a younger sister, Lori, and their elderly father, Joe.

Rosemarie Shaver (front, left) and her sisters: (clockwise, from top left) Joanna, Annette, Rochelle, Roxanna and Lori.

Meanwhile, Shaver is constantly at risk. She has been in the hospital six times since November, but no visits for several months. She at times has required more than two dozen medications twice daily.

“I have no immune system, basically,” she said in a unemotional, matter-of-fact tone. “I’m told if I come up with the flu and then get pneumonia, I probably will not make it. I don’t go out very often. I try to be careful.” Treating interstitial lung disease “is kind of tricky,” she said. “I won’t get rid of it, and eventually it will kill me. When and how, I don’t know.”

Instead of tears, Shaver said, she now draws daily on both her religious faith and her own will to persevere.

“I’m a fighter,” she said, “and I believe a lot of getting through something is mental. . . . Sitting around crying doesn’t get you anywhere.”

When she really needed more help earlier this year to be examined and treated at southeast Minnesota’s famed Mayo Clinic, Rosemarie turned to NDAD.

NDAD “did so much for me that never would have happened otherwise,” she said, “and I probably wouldn’t be here today” if not for the charitable nonprofit.

One of Shaver’s five sisters initiated the application for NDAD’s assistance. The family already was familiar with the organization’s helpful reputation. Rosemarie’s former brother-in-law, who worked for NDAD’s charitable gaming operations in Minot for years, touted the organization before his own death.  After Shaver returned to Minot from Texas to care for her ailing mother, Wendy Rogers Uselton, who died in 2011 at age 76, NDAD had loaned, free of charge, a wheelchair, walker and shower chair to assist.

“NDAD is absolutely wonderful. It’s a fantastic organization,” Shaver said.

“Rosemarie is a very sweet lady who I have enjoyed working with, “ said Stephanie Tornatore, NDAD’s client services representative in Minot. “She has a great outlook on life and is a very positive person.”

In late January, NDAD assisted Shaver with medical travel costs, including lodging and transportation to and from Rochester, Minn.’s Mayo Clinic, where she was evaluated for more than a week. That assist, she said, was a “godsend.”

“If it wasn’t for (NDAD), I would not have gotten to go to the Mayo Clinic,” Rosemarie said. “There was nobody else who would help me.”

The federal disability checks, which she began receiving this month, “should help me pay some bills and take some stress off of my family,” Rosemarie said. “And it will give me some control of my life, and that’s important to me.”

And in place of tears, Shaver said, she now draws daily on both her religious faith and her own will to persevere.

“I’m a fighter,” she said, “and I believe a lot of getting through something is mental. . . . Sitting around crying doesn’t get you anywhere.”

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Learn more about NDAD’s various programs by calling (800) 532-NDAD or visit NDAD.org.

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2 Responses to Ailing Minot woman, aided by NDAD: ‘Sitting around crying doesn’t get you anywhere’

  1. Shannon says:

    Never been prouder to call you my mom. I miss you so much, and I pray that I can see you soon.

  2. Kyle Surber says:

    You’ve always been strong Mom…I’m so scared for you and I miss you so much. I want you to get better even though medically speaking it’s not going to happen…I can’t wait to see you next week. 143 Momma…and that was ours before Bobby Brackins got ahold of it! I love you…

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