MADISON, FLA -- Jan Zinn, 53, is temporarily confined to her bed due to an abundance of illnesses that would make the ordinary person give up all hope. But Zinn is no ordinary woman.
"I'm like a Timex," Zinn said. "I take a licking and keep on ticking."
To say that she has more than her fair share of hardships is an understatement. She has paralysis on the left side of her body because of a faulty operation on her spine, has little or no feeling from her right arm down and is considered a legal quadriplegic.
That is only the beginning. She is a diabetic, receiving two shots a day, has had a triple bypass, has kidney dialysis three times a week and is a double amputee.
With all this happening to her, one would think that she has resigned herself for the worst.
"I've always been a goer and a doer," she said. "You get nowhere sitting in a corner and crying about it."
In 1985, she became a legal quadriplegic due to a bad operation on her spine. She had a wheelchair, but preferred to walk with the aid of a brace. Then from February 1986 to December 1987, she almost lost her leg because of a brown recluse spider bite. She went through seven surgeries and 279 hyperbaric oxygen treatments before her leg was saved.
In 1994, within 14 days, she had a triple bypass and had her left leg amputated below the knee. Four months later it had to be amputated above the knee. In 1996, her doctor told her that her arteries were clogged again.
"The doctor didn't think she would make it," said her husband, Ed.
Still more setbacks awaited her. In 1999, Zinn had a heart attack while at work. Her husband had left not knowing her purse was in the car containing her heart medication. By herself, she went too long without assistance, and considerable tissue damage was the result. Even after the heart attack, she kept working with the CCM and the food bank.
Zinn finds her strength not from the medication she takes, but her desire to help the needy. "My biggest baby, my heart is the Consolidated Christian Ministry," Zinn said. "That's my God's work. It's something that God laid on my heart."
Zinn and her husband had been involved with the Second Harvest Food Bank, where Zinn worked part time because of her disability. It was a common sight at the food bank to see her pushing her wheelchair with her right leg trying to gather food bags for the needy.
She and Jan Grant, who worked with the United Methodist Cooperative Ministries, put their resources together with the help of several volunteers to form the Consolidated Christian Ministries to further aid to the needy in June 1997.
"There was a handful of us from different churches at the beginning," Zinn said. "Now there are nine directors with the CCM board."
Zinn became the CCM director and held that position until last year. In April 2000, she found out that in addition to her heart problems, she needed to have kidney dialysis three times a week. She also found out in February that the combination of medication she had been taking for 15 years had become toxic.
"She was out of it," Mr. Zinn said. While Zinn was confined to her bed, an infection developed on her right heel and became gangrene. As a result, on April 24, she had her right leg amputated below the knee. On the advice of her pastor, friends and the CCM board, she had to step down. Her illnesses have confined her to bed.
However, Zinn considers her condition only temporary.
"It's her dream to be back," said Joe McClung Sr., CCM operations director. "Every time I see her, she says she'll be back. She has a lot of spunk."
McClung said that Zinn is loved by everyone that he knows. She and her husband have bent over backwards beyond what the CCM board would have expected.
Zinn and Grant's efforts have resulted in the CCM now having 25 churches from basically every denomination and has participation from both white and black churches in Madison County. Every third Monday of each month, the CCM gives out bags of food -- two bags per family, meeting the federal income gui
deline to include those on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
Zinn said she wanted to thank Madison County and its commissioners for donating the building at 900 S.W. Pinckney St. in Madison. "Without them, there would be no CCM," she said.
Wednesday, Zinn and her husband traveled to Tallahassee, Fla., to begin her fitting for a prosthesis for her right leg. She hopes to be back in a wheelchair in two months.
"I just want to go someplace so I can say I'm free," Zinn said.
She also wants to get back to her people at the CCM, especially the older people. "I adore my old folks -- those people count on me," she said.
To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.