A. (Rokke) Wright
name is Charlotte A. (Rokke) Wright and I was buried on
my 62nd birthday near my hometown of Belmond, IA. I had
Glanzmann's Thrombastenia since birth but was only diagnosed
in my 20s. Before I was thought to have von Willebrand's
disease and consequently my spleen was removed when I was
four years old.
a picture outside our house the day we left for the hospital.
early years I made a lot of trips to various hospitals in Iowa
City and Mason City, Iowa and to St.Mary's and Methodist hospitals
in Rochester MN, both of which are affiliated with the Mayo Clinic.
My life was punctuated by IVs, which I hated, and blood transfusions.
But don't weep for me.
was no blood bank then, my dad had to locate local people in the
community to come in and donate blood for me when my hemoglobin
got too low. And there were a lot of them. (Overall I had over
2000 units of blood products during my lifetime.) And I had a
way of needing blood at very inconvenient times, like in the middle
of harvest. It was only during my 33rd year of life that our blood
bank in Cedar Rapids where I was living at the time stopped requiring
replacement of the blood products I used. Actually, that occurred
during the time I was in the University hospital in Iowa City
for almost a three-month stay and had two major surgeries a week
apart for intestinal blockages from adhesions. I lived the remainder
of my life with an illeostomy as a result of that episode. It
turned out to be a blessing because I quickly knew when I had
internal bleeding (or a warning that a bleeding episode was coming
on) by looking at the color of the output. After having a hysterectomy
in 1973, internal (GI) bleeding was the biggest thing that I had
to contend with. Sometimes it seemed to coincide with the change
in seasons. Sometimes with a big event that I'd been looking forward
to, like a vacation. Many times I spoiled these fun times for
my brothers and family because we had to go home because of a
In 1979 after
being married to Paul for only five years, I had an intestinal
bleed that went on for four months, progressively getting worse.
I had a month long stay at the Iowa City University Hospital,
then back to Cedar Rapids for another month, then took the long
ambulance ride to St.Mary's hospital in Rochester. I spent a month
there, receiving 3 units of blood on one day and 4 the next, each
and every day. In the meantime they ran every test they knew of
to determine the source of the bleeding. Finally, in desperation,
they decided to do exploratory surgery and scheduled it for May
1. But a change of surgeons required that the surgery be postponed
until the 2nd. I was scheduled to have a platelet pheresis performed
on the 1st instead, the day before surgery. All of or friends
and extended family and their friends didn't know of the change
though. So they all prayed for God's intervention on the 1st.
And he did. Before they could even put in the second central line
required for the procedure, I was healed. I stopped bleeding,
instantaneously and spontaneously. Paul had helped me change my
appliance (bag) after my bath and breakfast, and from that point
on there was not a speck of blood in my output. Don't weep for
me. For I was touched by the hand of God.
the first time. There were many times that my parents and loved
ones thought I was lost to them. My mother had many premonitions
that something was about to happen to me….bleeding episodes that
is. And she prayed. She also received comforting messages that
"all would be well". And they always were. It's was
wonderful to have a praying mom.
were always a challenge for me, although I loved them. I worked
in the Belmond hospital and from 1970 on in Cedar Rapids St.Lukes
Hospital. The last few years, before retiring at age 57, I took
care of the books for the hospital foundation and loved my job
and the people I worked with. I hated to go but it just seemed
like the right time. I did work a few hours a week for a while
to help with the transition, both for the foundation and myself.
The challenging part was being a patient, both at St.Lukes and
the other medical centers. There wasn't always an IV therapist
available and some of those called on to start my IVs were challenged
by my tiny veins and multiple sticks were required. In fairness
to the nurses, they referred to me as a "hard stick".
Many of my veins had been ruined from IV iron in my early years.
I'd also had radiation and a variety of experimental treatments.
I liked to go to the same floor and have the same nurses when
I needed transfusions. I always needed benadryl and tylenol to
minimize reactions to the blood products. And I liked to have
my hand taped to a styrofoam board (hand) to minimize the possibility
of moving or dislodging the IV. And, I wanted to use the bedpan
for the same reason; to minimize movement until it was time to
go home. It was so great when they started using IV pumps. Before
them, we counted drops of blood and as the day or evening wore
on they would slow down and I would readjust the flow myself.
Sometime I'd have to move the catheter a bit because the site
would be positional. My mother, and later after marriage, Paul
would stay with me and make sure that the IV didn't stop as I
was usually very tired from the benadryl. Sometimes it would stop
and I'd have to have another one started. What a worry. But don't
weep for me.
and I have a favorite verse. It's Psalm 118:24. "This is
the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
It's going to be inscribed on my headstone. Those were the words
he spoke to me early the morning of May 1, 1979 when he first
came into my room in St.Mary's hospital. I always had sort of
a motto that I lived by. I think it first came from my mother:
"You have to take it Charlotte." Later I shortened it
to "You have to take it." I told others that also when
they were going through a rough situation. In a way it means the
same thing as the scripture verse except the verse carries the
thought a step further. God always knows what we're going through
and he never gives us more than we can bear. You can count on
that. So why not rejoice in the sure knowledge that God's plan
is going to be in place for our life each day?
The Holy Bible
always brought comfort to our family. The last 6 of the 9 weeks
that I spent in Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville my husband
read Psalms to me, morning and evening. Always the same ones,
although sometimes he added one or two. He always read Ps. 91,
103, 118, and 139. Sometimes he included the 23rd Psalm because
it is so familiar and comforting. And there were a few others
also. I think they may have comforted him and the others that
were around at times (his sister, brother, my cousin, and my best
friend) as much as me. But don't weep for me. I'm with the Lord
now, just as He promised. I won't need any more IVs or transfusions.
No more lying around waiting for my bleeding to stop. I had a
really full life and wasn't deprived of doing anything except
the roughest of activities. I traveled and did most of the things
that anyone else my age might do. By the way, I was once in the
middle of a minor bleeding episode and we drove from Iowa to Arizona
anyway. We thought we could make it back before I had to have
more blood. I stopped bleeding just as we crossed the continental
divide. We could hardly believe it. We were always amazed when
He reached out and touched me.
any tears for me now. The Lord was true to His word and it's more
beautiful that you could ever imagine here. Turn off the TV. Smell
the roses. Visit your loved ones, relatives, and those that don't
have a friend. Ask forgiveness where you need to. Be the best
husband, wife, mom, or dad that you can possibly be. Study God's
word and get right with him. It isn't too late. I'll be waiting
Charlotte by her loving husband, Paul J. Wright, Clarksville,
Tribute to Charlotte from Paul
made Charlotte, He broke the mold. I know that's been said about
many people but in her case it's most certainly true. Charlotte
was unique. She was created a little different from the rest of
us, with a blood disorder only shared by a few in this country.
She was raised in a farming community by loving parents. She required
special care as a youngster and was surrounded by a host of relatives
who believed in God's love and grace.
When I first
met her, I was attracted to her eyes. Soon her personality captivated
my heart. And that blossomed into love as the Christmas season
progressed in 1974. That was the beginning of a life long relationship
and commitment that never faltered. From the beginning I've often
thought of Charlotte as a sort of biblical Nathanael, one in whom
there is no guile. What you see is what you get with Charlotte.
The difference between Charlotte and others who you might say
that about is that her first impressions or thoughts verbally
expressed were always positive. She always gave the benefit of
the doubt to others. She always thought the best of them. She
always thought of how she could encourage someone. She always
lifted me up and thought of my needs before her own. She had a
caring heart. Not to just do for others, but to provide stimulus
for them to stand on their own feet. Charlotte had a way of impacting
those around her. One friend said to me the other day, "If
I'm troubled or have to make a tough decision, I ask myself "What
would Charlotte do?" You often hear people say "She's
been such an inspiration to me." Charlotte was a weak physical
vessel, but God used His power manifested through her to touch
many lives. Charlotte was humble but able to talk boldly to anyone
no matter what their position. She was truly a woman of virtue.
She was beautifully handcrafted by her Creator. I have been blessed
and privileged to spend almost 28 years with Charlotte (Rokke)