Angie's world is still a fragile one

TOLEDO Angie Giummo is not bitter about her paralysis, and she doesn't envy people who live without
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

TOLEDO

Angie Giummo is not bitter about her paralysis, and she doesn't envy people who live without it.

The 25-year-old doesn't wish she died along with her mother, Penny Giummo, in the car accident that changed her life when she was just 3 weeks old.

"I have never heard her say, 'Why me?" said Phyllis Nickoli, her great aunt. "I even have tried to talk to her about it, but there's no sense, it's just the way her life is."

Angie said she has never known anything different. How could she envy something she never had?

She has lived in a hospital or nursing home for all but three weeks of her 25 years.

Her birthday party was Dec. 8 at her new home, Fairview Skilled Nursing Rehabilitation Center in Toledo. The party was one month after her Nov. 10 birthday because an infection sent her to the hospital.

She's survived deadly infections several times, and was in isolation for an entire year.

Her days are spent mostly in bed because a sore on her backside is aggravated when she's in her wheelchair too long.

She colors with markers in her mouth; she dials the phone with her tongue; and she uses a voice activator to play on her laptop.

The monthly $40 allowance she gets from the state goes toward what many 25-year-olds would buy: ordering take-out, especially pizza. If she could afford it she would like the Internet.

"The state pays for her care; there's no way (a parent) can keep up with that," said Ruben Hicks of New London, whom she calls dad.

In 1984, Debbie Kolakowski married Angie's dad, John Giummo, who survived the car accident.

After Debbie and John divorced, Debbie and Ruben dated. Debbie has since married Ben Kolakowski, who Angie also calls dad.

"I didn't get to meet her for a while," Ruben said of Angie. "She is so happy, so cheerful. I almost have never seen her down. If people could have her cheerfulness, the world would be a so much better place."

The one person Angie doesn't like to talk about is her biological father, who declined to comment for this story. He is no longer a part of her life.

But Angie will tell you almost anything else if you ask -- or if you don't.

"How's that lasagna coming?" she bellowed from the head of the birthday table.

"Watch that tank, sweetie," she said as a party-goer got close to her wheelchair and oxygen.

"We are going to sing," she announced.

When her 3-year-old nephew almost escaped from the activity center, she's the only one who noticed.

"Close the door," she ordered.