Carol Walls: Grateful to Hospice for Help with Her Vision and Giving Back

By Emily Toadvine,
Heritage Hospice, Inc., Danville, KY

Carol Walls and her aide, Brandi Bramblett

When Carol Walls writes a check or e-mails her brother in Cincinnati, she thanks Heritage Hospice’s Transitions program.

Through Transitions, Walls, who is legally blind, obtained a magnification device that enables her to read newspapers and books and write checks. The program also obtained a reconditioned computer Walls used to research her family history. She discovered a “long list” of kinfolks including U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson, Zachary Taylor and Rutherford B. Hayes and even Pochantas’ husband, John Rolfe.

A native of Highland in Lincoln County, Kentucky, Walls was born with vision problems. The 62-year-old Danville woman has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease in which there is damage to the retina.

Walls has used the same thick, heavy lenses for several years. As reliant as she is on them, it was tragic when she recently broke them. She knew that it would be difficult to find frames for her old lenses.

In addition to her vision problems, Walls also suffers from the respiratory illness of COPD. She now is a Heritage Hospice patient and recently was hospitalized for her breathing problems. She had been coaxing her old plastic frames together with tape.

“I was in the hospital and had broken my glasses. I patched them back with tape. When I got back home I broke them and couldn’t repair them.”

Her hospice aide, Brandi Bramblett, was willing to help Walls find frames, but realized a new pair of glasses was more than Walls’ budget could stand. Armed with a check from Walls, Bramblett stopped by Danville Eye Center on Smoky Way off the Danville bypass to ask if they could help. Employees found an older model frame someone had donated and put Walls’ lenses in them.“They gave them to me for free. I think God gives me these things,” said Walls as she sat outside her Arnold Towers apartment, admiring flowers she had planted a few years ago when her health was better.

Surrounded by her flowers on the patio of her downtown Danville apartment is a favorite spot for Walls to wait for Bramblett’s visits. They talk like old friends and Bramblett says Walls has many interesting stories about her life.

Many staff members and volunteers have grown fond of Walls as they have come to know her during her time in Transitions. Transitions is a program, largely funded by Heart of Kentucky United Way, that works with patients still receiving treatment and who have a life expectancy of a year.

Walls uses the magnification device that functions like an overhead projector each day. “It makes it where I can write checks and read,” says Walls, who points out that when Victoria Scarborough was in charge of the Transitions program she helped acquire this piece of equipment Walls treasures. Scarborough, who now is the hospice’s compliance officer, also helped Walls acquire the computer, which allows Walls to communicate with many people. “The computer makes her more self-sufficient and gives her another form of entertainment,” says Bramblett. “She hasn’t been able to walk anywhere since 2008.”

Walls’ poor vision means she requires some extra help from the hospice team. Steve Bruce, a volunteer who is talented with computer repair, has helped Walls numerous times.

Volunteers have shopped for groceries with Walls’ list often including her coffee.
“I start drinking coffee at 5 o’clock in the morning and I drink it until I go to bed,” Walls says.

Scarborough says sometimes picking up commodities can take a couple of hours because of the long lines. Staff and volunteers are willing to go the extra mile for Walls because they know she needs the support. “The volunteers sort of have adopted Carol and so has the staff.”

Walls appreciates all the services she receives. “I love hospice. They’ve taken good care of me. They help me with whatever they can.”

Because of the many kindnesses and support from Heritage Hospice workers, Walls wants to show her appreciation. She knows Heritage Hospice hopes to one day open an inpatient facility, which will require millions of dollars to be raised. Although Walls is on a fixed income, she has decided to contribute $10 a month toward the building fund.

“I made one little contribution. I thought maybe they can buy some nails.” Walls is trying to encourage her neighbors for the past 10 years at Arnold Towers to join her effort. She has posted the information on a bulletin board in the building’s lobby. “I feel like the community needs (an inpatient facility). There’s a lot of people with cancer and diseases. Why should we have to go to Lexington or Louisville?”

Bramblett says the facility will be especially important to people like Walls who do not have a husband or children to care for them at home. “I think it would be reassuring to know that people who don’t have anyone to care for them can go to the place where there is compassion.”

Walls’ offer despite her limited finances brings to mind the Biblical story of  “The widow’s offering” from Luke 21:1. “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”