ADHD Footcare nurse preventing amputations around the world

Laura Roehrick is a registered Nurse and the Founder of the International Foot Care Alliance. Recently featured by Tom’s Shoes, Laura took the time to share her story with us. 

 

Laura Roehrick, 62
Founder, International Footcare Alliance & Registered Nurse
Santa Rosa, Ca
Age of ADHD Diagnosis: 30s

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your work?

I’m a CFCN (aka Certified Foot Care Nurse) and have been in this field for 22 years. Being only the 2nd nurse in the United States, that I am aware of, to have an independent practice as a foot care nurse, I am a pioneer in this field. Being self taught, I followed my intuition and have developed techniques with equipment that no one else was using. Besides providing foot care to patients, I have also been training other nurses in foot care through out the US and the world since I first began in the field. I have taught in Africa, Malaysia, England, Canada and most recently in Nepal.

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Tell us a little bit about your ADHD journey. When were you diagnosed and what was that experience like?

I’m 62. I was officially diagnosed in my mid-30s after I’ve had a my two daughters. I always thought I different from most people, but my real issues surfaced after having a very stressful time dealing with the death of my mother in law, with whom I was very close. I finally made an appointment to see a psychiatrist. I was prescribed some medication, which only compounded my issues. Those first few years were extremely difficult, but fortunately had the support of a husband who worked in the field of education and well understood the issues involved with my diagnosis.

What are your favorite ADHD resources or strategies that help you thrive?

 

Books –Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown and “Exuberance: The Passion for Life” by Kay Redfield Jamison

Epson salt baths – I have my “bath days” where I am in an out of a hot epsom salt bath that has a valerian/hops bath oil I am addicted to in it! After having a very busy few days, full of ideas and activity, I usually have a day of very low energy. I have learned to “go with my flow” and am getting to enjoy these days, instead of feeling guilty about not being productive.

Diet – I went off gluten 7 years ago and that made a huge difference in my life. It really leveled me out considerably. I highly recommend a gluten free diet.

Exercise  – I have osteoporosis. My 27 year-old daughter, Tasha, developed a weight bearing exercise routine for us. It will help prevent this disease for her and help reverse mine. We go to the health club 4 mornings a week at 5:30 am. I also swim when I have time and I’m even meditating now, on a semi-regular basis. Those are all things that I wish I had done when I was younger. Better better late than never.

Organization – I have great difficultly with organization and find that I have to have things where I can see them. I use a lot of clear containers and baskets!

Forgiveness – Also, let’s not forget self forgiveness. I am trying to treat myself like I would treat one of my best friends, and not be so hard on myself when I do something ill thought out and impulsive!

 

What inspired you to start the International Footcare Alliance?

For those with diabetes, proper routine foot care can be both limb and life saving. There’s about 1.2 million amputations per year from diabetes. Something as minor as a long sharp nail pushing into the next toe can start an infection that could result in an amputation for those with diabetes.

85% of amputations are preventable with proper nail and skin care. Reading this statistic changed my life. I said to myself… “my God! I have a skill that can save a lot of lives. And when I realized that almost no countries on the planet teach foot care skills to nurses in nursing schools. I knew what I had to do with my life. I actually made a vow to the universe that I would do everything humanly possible to prevent as many amputations from diabetes as possible.

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My foot care work made me fully aware of the diabetes pandemic. There are about 387 million people with diabetes around the world. That is 8.3% of the world’s population! With the anticipated global increase in diabetes, one in every three people on the planet will have diabetes by the year 2050. 10 years into my career, I started going to international meetings and I would ask people at these meetings, “Who’s cutting toenails? Are nurses doing this?” Nobody knew what I was talking about. I ended up, long story short, going to Africa in 2007 where I brought a 100 pound suitcase full of foot care equipment to help with the training of 20 nurses and doctors there. Instead of letting me distribute this equipment to our students, the doctor I was there to help kept it for his own personal foot care practice. I could not believe it. I can home furious and started my own 501c3, with the enormous help of my husband, so that I could make sure that equipment and training got to the nurses and doctors who so desperately needed it.

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What tips or advice would you share with other business owners who have ADHD?

Number 1, right off the bat, get a really good bookkeeper. Somebody that you can trust and relate to and if you can afford it, somebody to help you get organize your paperwork and files. In the past I have actually made duplicate filing systems, because I forgot or could not find the first one I made. It is a constant struggle. I do my own billing and always seem to be having issues with that. My business is very unique, so there was no one I had to model it after. I just made it up as I went along. These are the joys and the challenges of having ADHD. The rewards in the end have been worth every ounce of frustration. You just have to persevere.

And if you can afford to, get a house cleaner too!

What do you think some of your ADHD superpowers are?

The ability to hyperfocus. My energy seems to come in waves, which I now recognize and take advantage of. I seem to only be able to get anything done when under a bit pressure or if the mood strikes me. When the wave hits, I grab my “board” and hop on and ride it for as long as I can. I can clean, organize, do computer work and even book keeping tasks on some of these “waves”. When I’m in those moods, I can do more in a few hours than I could do in a week. These energy waves are usually followed by my “bath days”. So I may be a bit cyclothymic as well as ADHD. They are not depressions, just very low physical energy days. I now allow myself to enjoy them. I watch a lot of netflix and take bathes most of the day.
Luckily, I’m creative. My mother was an artist and I seem to have inherited some of her genes. I can sew and I knit, and have even made shoes. I’m herbalist and love to develop my own formulas and make herbal medicines and cleaning products.
I really love to fully emerge myself in researching new interests and passions. I am inventive, intuitive, resourceful and see things from a “big picture” view.

I also have “the gift of gab”, which I got from my father. I love people, most of them anyway. I am what Malcolm Gladwell calls a “connector.”

 

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What advice would you give your younger self?

I drank a lot in my 20s. Looking back, it was self-medication. I was 16 in 1968, lived in Stinson Beach, Sausalito and Mill Valley. It was the era of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Summer of Love and all that. I was in the heart of that movement. Right now, I only drink a few times in a year, on really special occasions, it’s not a part of my daily life. I think alcohol is not a good thing for most of us with ADHD.

Really be careful about who you hang out with. Stay in school. I did not drop out, but had no intention ever of going to college. It just sort of happened. I was lucky and got into nursing school at age of 19. I had heard that if you were a nurse, you could get a job anywhere in the world, which sounded great to me. That was the only motivation I had at the time for entering the field of nursing.

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Tell us about one of your favorite ADHD adventures

In 1980, after a bad break up to a boyfriend ( who is now my husband! ) I quit my job and took a train to Utah on the spur of the moment, to play the part of “Dr. Maggie” in a horror movie that my friend wrote called “Don’t Go In The Woods.” I drank my way up there, and through out the filming of the movie. Had a great time actually. Never ever thought it would make it to the big screen. But it did, and it has become a “video nastie”, cult horror film. It is currently still banned in England. This was a month long, spontaneous adventure that I will never forget! I have even gotten two fan letters. Quite a thrill.

 

And you’ve been married for 31 years?

I really think my two unborn daughters and the universe brought my husband into my life. After all, without his DNA, they would not be here! We are so very different, yet we seem to work well together despite these differences. We’ve had our ups and downs, but our family matters more than anything to both of us and we are a solid team.

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What do you wish the world knew or appreciated about women with ADHD?

I wish there could be an interview process, testing or career-counseling in high school to get an earlier diagnosis. Although there still remains a stigma to having this diagnosis, it is also a tremendous gift, when the energy is channeled properly, we can accomplish things that no one else can. I would not trade my mind for any non ADHD mind, but do wish I knew more about it a bit earlier in life.

One of the things that bothers me the most is I have so many people in my life saying Laura you have to focus, you’re just doing too many things, you really need to focus. My answer now is, you have no idea how many things I’m not doing that I want to be doing. This is focused for me, I am in focus. That’s just the way we are, deal with it.

Bucket list?

  1. To be able to play at least one song on my guitar. And I’m taking guitar lessons now and have just completed this list item. I can sing and play DONT THINK TWICE, a Bob Dylan son.
  2.  Get foot care nursing curriculum and training into a nursing school in a developing country.
  3. Write a book with my eldest daughter, Kaity, who is a talented writer. I have the stories, she has the writing skills. It’s going to be called “Forts and other Cozy Places.” It will be based on the childhood adventures I had growing up on a houseboat in Sausalito.

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There’s nothing that women with ADHD can’t do!

Absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree and they just need to be supported to do that.

 

Now it’s your turn! Share your story through the Kaleidoscope Society Project and join us in dispelling the stigma around ADHD.  Participate here.

1 Comment

  • Theresa, LPN says:

    This is truly inspiring. I decided to go back to nursing school at age 47 and just diagnosed with ADHD. I was unsuccessful my 3rd term and I felt I had to let go of my dream of being a nurse. I’m still contemplating my options, but your success and mission does give a glimmer of hope of going back to school and trying again. Thank you for sharing your story.

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