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Horizon Health Care provider helps Faith woman walk again

Finding the right provider was the key to getting Norma Antrim back on her feet.

Antrim has lived in Faith for 50 years, working as a dispatcher for 30, and providing support for her husband, who was an officer with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. She lived an active life working in her yard and raising five children.

Five years ago, that active lifestyle screeched to a halt when her health took a dramatic turn for the worse. She had difficulty walking and experienced numbness in her arms. She could no longer complete basic tasks like fixing a meal.

“I didn’t feel like life was worth living,” Antrim said.

She’s been a patient with Horizon Health Care in Faith for several years at both the medical and dental clinics. Providers sent her to a multitude of specialists who gave her an MRI, checked for a hearing issue, and treated her for arthritis. They were all stumped to find the new issue that was affecting her health. A heart specialist in Bismarck detected a heart murmur but that was it. 

“I have been a very active person up until the last five years,” Antrim said. “I didn’t know what was wrong. I kept getting sicker and sicker and sicker.”

Finally, she began seeing Rachel Olugbenga, FNP-BC, DNP, at the Faith Community Health Center. That life-changing first visit would be the key to better wellness. Olugbenga said Antrim was in so much pain at that visit she was in tears and using a wheelchair. Olugbenga referred her to the Mayo Clinic. Her son brought her there in August.

“I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” Antrim said. “When I got down there, I was in pretty bad shape. My blood pressure was at 200, I couldn’t walk.”

According to Antrim, they “ran her through the mill” by doing a battery of tests. In the end she was told she needed an operation on her neck. She wasn’t sure if it would improve her ability to walk or help the numbness in her arms. She was in rehab for a month and a half and eventually could use a walker. The nurses that visit to help with her therapy think she’s doing well.

“I’d just like to get stronger,” Antrim said. “I’d like to be on my lawn mower mowing my leaves up. But I just can’t at the moment.”

However, thanks to the care she received from Olugbenga and the Mayo Clinic she can cook for herself again. She still has numbness in her arms and wakes up with leg cramps that disappear once she “gets to walking.” She’s able to walk the length of her 60-foot house several times a day.

“I’m doing things that I couldn’t do two months ago,” Antrim said.

She’s grateful for the care she’s received and the health she’s getting back thanks to working with Olugbenga.

“She’s been my girl,” Antrim said. “She’s tried to help me the best she can.”

Olugbenga and Antrim have gotten to know each other through the process of figuring out how to improve her health. Antrim is full of sunshine, Olugbenga said, and wants to learn more about her Nigerian culture. Continued access to a federally qualified health care center in their community is critical to reduce the stress of trying to find care further away, which saves time and money. Olugbenga is grateful to donors to the Horizon Health Foundation.

“It helps keep healthcare accessible in our communities,” she said. “It helps provide care to those who are financially restrained.”

Antrim is adamant that the community of Faith retain its current access to care.

“We need them here,” Antrim said of Horizon Health Care’s clinic. “There are 35 widows in this town. A lot of us can’t be running back and forth to Rapid City. We need someone here.”