Mindoro man crochets mittens for his wife and Mayo dialysis patients for comfort

Dialysis patients who feel cold received warm mittens from Mindoro man answering call of support

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) – When it comes to a crisis, care from those we love — is often the best medicine. A Mindoro man uses a special skill to bring comfort to his wife, and others who need support.

In moments of crisis, who answers the phone?

“Your faith and your family and your friends,” said Linda Achterkirch of Mindoro. “That’s what you rely on.”

Linda Achterkirch relies on her husband Bob who lives by the promise, “in sickness and in health.”

“He’s my Chauffeur,” Linda said. “He’s just there for me when I need him.”

Linda’s kidneys no longer work like they used to.

“When you first start it’s a scary experience,” said Crystal Anderson-Schmidt, a nurse manager at Mayo Clinic Health System in Onalaska.

These machines add years to her life.

“Well, it’s four and a half hours,” Linda said, talking about the length of each dialysis session.

Dialysis performs what her kidneys cannot, cleaning her blood.

“Three times a week,” Linda said. “So, that’s a lot of days.”

Anderson-Schmidt said dialysis is exhausting for people.

One of the side effects is, “These people are very, very cold,” Anderson-Schmidt said.

Blood is what normally keeps Linda’s hand warm.

“Their blood is not going through that hand,” Bob said.

“She had a cold arm. Me and one of the nurses figured out what to do.”

An old family pastime comes in handy.

“My mother did so I knew how,” Bob said.

“This is therapy. It kills a lot of time. And you make something that’s useful.”

Bob has been at this endeavor for a while.

“He’s been doing them as long as I’ve known him which is over six years,” Anderson-Schmidt said.

As residents of Mindoro, both Bob and Linda show people from small towns can do big things from someone else.

Bob crochets these handcrafted mittens for people all across the Mayo Clinic system.

“I’ve made darn near 300 of them,” he said.

Bob sent mittens to patients at Mayo locations in Fairmont, Albert Lee, Owatonna, Wabasha, Rochester Minnesota, and Decorah Iowa. Even as far as Arizona.

“So I got ‘em all over,” Bob said.

Linda feels the difference.

“Oh yeah,” she said. “Yeah, it helps. Keeps you warm.”

Crystal Anderson-Schmidt said it warms her patients’ hearts.

“I think it’s very comforting,” she said.

Not to mention the support her staff feels, after two years of pandemic stress on their lives.

“Everything means a little bit more during this time,” Anderson-Schmidt said.”You appreciate all the extra help, the extra support.”

People can rely on Linda for support too.

“She writes everybody Christmas cards and birthday cards and anniversaries,” Anderson-Schmidt said.

Linda always closes her letters with the words, “Stay safe and take care.”

Bob and Linda answer the call filling the prescription we all need.

“Bob and Linda both really show the other patients that they care and that they support them,” Anderson-Schmidt said.

A gift from people who are grateful to spread comfort and joy.

“We’re really thankful that we’re still around,” Bob said.

Bob said he gave a mitten to one patient dressed in winter clothes. After that, she took off those clothes because the mitten made a huge difference.