Helms keeps on ticking with help of Sanford Wound Care
WORTHINGTON — There’s no question about it: Kim Helms is a glass half-full kind of guy.
“There’s no sense in getting depressed,” professed Helms, a 65-year-old who has logged 34 years of service with the Worthington Post Office.
“You need to make the most of what you have, and that’s what I’ve done.”
Despite a string of what others might call bad luck, Helms has persisted in his daily routine and is grateful for the care he regularly receives at Sanford Worthington Medical Center that allows him to maintain his health at its optimal level.
A lifelong resident of Worthington who graduated from Worthington High School in 1970, Helms injured his back in 1979 and has dealt with chronic pain and complications to some degree ever since.
“My back is the worst because it’s never fully healed,” he acknowledged. “I’ve had surgery on it, and some days are worse than others.”
More recently, Helms was involved in two motor vehicle accidents that have left him largely disabled.
“I was in two bad accidents; I didn’t have the best of luck,” Helms said. “One was in 2013 [in rural Round Lake] when I was hit from behind, and the other, in 2015, was in downtown Worthington when a guy ran a stop sign and t-boned me.”
The 2013 accident resulted in Helms losing his right leg; the 2015 accident exacerbated the pain he already experienced from his previous back injury.
“That took a lot out of me,” Helms admitted of the accidents. “Now I have trouble with balance and with walking, but I walk with a cane or walker and I have a prosthetic leg.”
Even so, Helms considers himself fortunate.
“Compared to some veterans who have lost limbs, I feel very lucky,” assured Helms. “Losing my leg meant I had to change how I did some things, but I’ve adapted and I’m fine with it.”
A brain bleed Helms suffered a couple of years ago further compromised his overall health profile.
“I damn near died,” he said. “I was put on dialysis because my kidneys were kind of shutting down, but I didn’t have to stay on it for very long because I improved.
“But then I got an infection and landed back in the hospital for six weeks, getting an antibiotic every four hours.”
Thereafter, Helms was relieved to find a convenient and less time-consuming option that now allows him to manage his health conditions and remain comfortably at home with Dolly, his wife of 42 years.
Sanford Worthington’s Wound Care and Lymphedema Services center assists Helms with twice-weekly saline infusions that let him avoid dialysis.
“It helps a lot in flushing out my kidneys, so I go in for two hours at the same time every Monday and Friday and they hook me up — I have a port, so they don’t have to find a vein every time,” explained Helms.
“The gals there who do the infusions are great, and I couldn’t ask for better people — and the infusions help me a lot.”
Dolly is a former nurse who retired following Helms’ accidents so she could be more present to aid him with his ongoing care needs.
“Dolly gives me the shots I need, and she does very good,” praised Helms.
“Once in awhile she might get a little cranky if I ask for too much; she gave me a little bell to use — and I ring it now and again just to give it a trial run,” he chuckled.
Although his motorcycle-riding days are now in the past, Helms thinks fondly of the many years he spent tooling down the nation’s highways on his Honda Gold Wing.
“We took a lot of motorcycle trips,” Helms mentioned. “Dolly had her own cycle for a time, but when we went on trips, she rode behind me.
“We went to the Hills a lot, to the Rockies — wherever we felt like going, away we went.”
Helms’ love of motorized two-wheelers stretches all the way back to age 8, when his dad gave him a moped.
“It’s right up there with God talking to Moses,” joked Helms. “I loved the sense of freedom from riding.”
These days, Helms’ trips are more commonly to and from the hospital for his infusions, or around the county because he continues to work as a highway contractor for the post office, hauling mail to Brewster, Round Lake, Bigelow, Wilmont and Lismore. He also walks for exercise — using his walker — near his central Worthington house or at the store.
“I like to exercise to keep everything going,” he said.
Otherwise, he spends most of his time at home, where he and Dolly enjoy their extensive clock collection and Helms watches movies, with a strong preference for Westerns or whatever’s on the Hallmark channel.
“We’ve got all kinds of clocks — train clocks, whistler clocks, cuckoo clocks, musical clocks, grandfather clocks — and they don’t bother us a bit, but sometimes when the grandkids come over they ask, ‘Grandpa, can you shut off the clocks so I can sleep?’” he related humorously.
With three daughters, five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter all in the Worthington area, Helms has plenty of people to check in on him, but he remains grateful for his additional “family” of skilled medical helpers at the Sanford Worthington Wound Care center.
Assured Dolly, “He gives them rave reviews.”