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Judy Mayo Information

Mayo Battles Debilitating Disease; Promotes Recycling Program

Evan Jones, Banner Editor

The night of November 15, 1997, started out as so many others for Jackie and Judy Mayo. In their comfortable Tiptonville home, they ate, watched a little TV and retired to bed.
But within minutes, a life-changing event had taken place and Judy is still recovering and coping almost nine years later.
“I thought I was having a heart attack,” she said.
“Jackie drove me to the hospital and when we left, I could buckle my seat belt and everything. But within four hours, I had to be carried to the car.”
Mayo, now 54, had been stricken by Transverse Myelitis (TM). It strikes without warning and has no known cure.
It affects only four out of every one million people.
It is a disease that makes the body to attack its own spinal cord, causing the myelinen around the spinal cord to swell and shut down the nerves that allow the body to function.
“In my case it attacked the vertebrae C4, 5, 6 and 7,” she said. “I completely lost my ability to walk, use my arms and hands and I had no bowel or bladder function. And my body felt like it had a giant rubber band around it from my rib cage to my hips.”
She spent 17 days in Baptist Central Hospital in Memphis following the attack. “The hospital is now gone (closed and imploded in downtown Memphis) but unfortunately, the TM is still with me,” she says with a smile.
But her recovery, while slow, has been remarkable.
She has returned to her job as a customer service rep at Lake County Utility District. She proved to be lucky in one respect. Only one-third of those stricken have some form of recovery and she was among them. “I did regain the ability to walk. I can use my hands and I did regain bowel and bladder function to a point.
“Unfortunately, the banding did not go away and is a constant reminder of the illness. I have learned to live with that and become somewhat accustomed to it.”
She had to relearn to type because of weakness in her hands but has been able to master that skill. “My hands are very weak and I have no sensation from my chest down. I can feel a touch but I cannot distinguish hot or cold or pain.”
She can’t distinguish extremely hot or cold water making even a shower of bath a potentially hazardous endeavor.
“But my reflex function style works and I can automatically jerk back from hot or cold, to a point.”
And then there is another hazard all Lake Countians can appreciate.
“Mosquitoes can eat me alive from the chest down.
“But I have learned to cope and keep going.”
She said her husband Jackie “has been wonderful. He and my little sister (Donna Whitson Howerton) have been my hands through all this.”
She retains her cheerful outlook and smile and still looks more like 44 than 54.
“Everyone at Lake County Utility District has been great,” she said. “They came to pick me up when I couldn’t drive. My job was still there when I got well enough to go back to work.”
David Gooch, Mayo’s boss and the manager of Lake County Utility District, admires Mayo’s resolve through such a trying time.
“One day she was as normal as could be, and then the next, this happened to her,” Gooch said. “But one thing you can say, she has never quit. She keeps on going.”
Researchers have made gains in the past years but it still remains a disease with no cure.
Now she is very active in the Transverse Myleitis Association (TMA) and travels to other parts of the country to meet with other victims and their families. “Families are important, “she added. “And this disease has no respect for age striking everyone from children to persons in their seventies.”
As part of TMA, Judy is active in their recycling program and urges everyone in this area to take part.
TMA has partnered with a recycling company to collect and recycle empty printer inkjet cartridges and empty toner cartridges from laser printers and copiers. For every empty cartridge that is sent, the TMA will receive 35¢ to $3 per inkjet cartridge and $3 to $8 for every toner cartridge. All shipping supplies are pre-paid and fees are pre-paid by the recycling company so there is no cost to the person donating or the TMA.

“This program has incredible potential,” said Mayo. “Imagine if only 100 persons participate (that would be two per state) and they each sent three inkjet empties per month! That is a potential of $1,800 per month. Over a year’s time that amounts to $21,000. It is easy to see we can make a huge difference.
“Recycling keeps large amounts of plastics out of our landfills. Every year over 300 million cartridges are thrown away. This means for each cartridge, about 2.5 pounds of plastic is thrown in a landfill and will never go away.
“To produce a single new laser cartridge, over three quarts of oil are used. In contrast, a recycled cartridge requires only one quart of oil. This year alone, toner cartridge recycling will save over 11 million gallons of oil!”
Persons who wish to recycle toner and inkjet cartridges can contact Judy Mayo at 253-6873 or log on to http://www.recycle.myelitis.org.
For more information about the TMA check out www.myelitis.org on the web.

"If all or part of the Class of 1970 will join with me and do as the story suggests,  I believe
we can collect a lot of things that can used."  - Judy Mayo, Class of 1970


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