Virginia Ronning

There were days when even the low-exertion act of sitting at her sewing machine would be too much for Virginia Ronning. That is until she began receiving 24-hour-a-day infusion of inotropic medication in May 2016 to treat her congestive heart failure. Virginia, of Ettrick, Wis, carries around the medication in a small bag similar to a fanny pack. Her heart, which once only pumped at 10 percent of capacity, now beats at close to 40 percent.

The timing of her improved health is particularly important because it coincided with her debut as a great-grandparent. Her son and his wife welcomed Emree to the world three months ago. Already, Emree is attached to the quilt, which was made by Virginia with equal parts skill and love. “What a special moment that was to meet Emree,” Virginia said.

Virginia and Donald, her husband of 58 years, have lived in the same house (about 30 miles north of La Crosse) for almost all of that time. “When we moved in we were the youngest ones in the neighborhood, and now we’re the oldest,” Virginia said.

Virginia’s heart troubles are likely a result of complications from the radiation and chemotherapy treatments she experienced to treat her leukemia. Even though her energy was sapped over the last year or two, she was initially reluctant to commit to infusion therapy. But once she tried it, she realized it made an extraordinary difference.

The pep in her step was apparent to all. “It puts a smile on your face to see how much more energy she has,” said her son, Keith. “She’s back to more of a normal life.”

Added Virginia: “I feel so much better. It’s wonderful to not be out on the road all the time going to doctors. Now, I have energy to garden and keep the house up.”

And sew, of course. Emree’s prized quilt, featuring elephants, monkeys, horses and cows is proof of that.

“It puts a smile on your face to see how much more energy she has… She’s back to more of a normal life.”