Tis the season for concern


It always seems so much sadder when things that cause us grief happen during the holiday season.

Last week we lost one of the council members of our village. She had chest pains and went to the hospital. Before they could schedule surgery to put in stents, she had a heart attack. She appeared to be very healthy at Halloween. She was directing the cake walk and was wearing a delightful witch’s outfit. She, by all outward appearances, was healthy the day before and gone by 11:oo the next day. She was in her 80s.

Maxine, who always has the latest news, talked with me this morning. It seems two husbands in our neighborhood are having medical difficulties. One of them fell and broke three ribs and is now in rehab. He has been having physical problems for some time now. It was decided his body would heal better if he could stay in a rehab situation. I don’t know his exact age, but he is in his mid to late 70s I think. He is also dealing with cancer.

Right across the street from him, another man was going to have a gall bladder operation. He went in for pre-op testing and was admitted to the hospital with liver enzymes, kidney function, and blood pressure issues that were off the chart. There is some talk of perhaps his needing liver or kidney transplants. When I heard that news, I was floored. My first thoughts were for his wife. He got laid off his job a month or so ago and lost his insurance. I was so worried that she would be wiped out with medical bills.

I called a friend of hers to find out just how bad off he was. The friend told me as much as she knew. I asked where he was a patient. When she told me the name of the hospital, I was somewhat relieved. I was expecting to hear that he was in the county hospital. It seems a couple of weeks ago, he and his wife were able to get on COBRA and are covered for the next fifteen months. I am so thankful he was able to get insurance. There is some talk of his needing a liver or kidney transplant.

A few weeks ago I wrote a response to someone who thought insurance was a privilege for those who could afford it and too bad for those who couldn’t. This would have been a perfect example of a woman who has been for most of her marriage a traditional stay-at-home wife. She devoted her life to her husband and two children. Without insurance, she and her husband would have lost everything. It just wouldn’t have been right. Due to the high number of people who have lost their jobs, I guess that COBRA has become much more reasonable. However, I’m wondering what the next step for them will be. Perhaps he will be on SS disability by then. I know nothing of insurance in that situation. However, I’m wondering how she will get coverage. She is scared.

The friend I called has been fighting four bouts of pneumonia the last two springs and falls. She has been extremely healthy all her life. Now she has something that is proving difficult to cure. She has an appointment with an infectous disease specialist to try to find out why she can’t shake this problem and be well again.

Maxine’s husband has had troubles with his knee. I thought he was going to be scheduled for knee surgery in the near future but I guess that option has been postponed in lieu of doing other things first. Supposedly there is a new treatment available. There is a new medication available made out of the combs of roosters. Who would believe something like that could be discovered?  It is an injection called synvisc one and is supposed to give relief for six months. Maxine is very thankful this treatment is available since her husband is now 88 years old.

Next door to me, my neighbor has aterial disease in her legs. She had to have veins removed, turned around and transplanted into her arteries in her legs. Both her legs were sliced open from her groin almost to her knees. Her doctors told her she had “skinny white woman’s disease”. Evidently, in that subset of the population, arteries tend to close down as women age, and very petite women have more of that type of problem than more average size women or men. She was in so much pain she could hardly walk from her bed to the bathroom nearby. She is still in her fifties so it wasn’t a result of too much aging. Maxine and I were happy to see she was outside taking a brief walk this morning.

I saw a friend at the church concert yesterday. I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. She was walking with a cane. When I asked what had happened, she replied that she had had a cancerous tumor removed from her kidney. It was much larger than they had suspected from the MRI. However, she admitted that the films were taken last January. She just hadn’t done much about it.

My neighbor across the strett has lived with a bad knee for quite a while. It has finally gotten to the point where he has finally agreed to have a knee replacement. He will be recovering after the surgery the first week of February. Two of my other neighbors have also had knees replaced in the last year or two.

I guess this time of our lives is when we start to wear out. Everyone I mentioned today is over 60 except for the woman with the arterial disease. We are all starting to fall apart.

I guess I could concentrate on how much pain and suffering is occuring in this neighborhood, but that doesn’t do much good. I am praying for them and hoping their situations will improve.

This is the season when we are all supposed to deck the halls and be merry. We are all supposed to be filled with the holiday spirit. In truth, this month is no different from any of the other eleven months when it comes to medical problems. It just seems so much more serious at this time of the year.

So far I am doing quite well, thank you. I hope to continue to enjoy the season and my friends. I am trying to be as much support as I can to my friends and neighbors. I’m happy I know them well enough to care. How much do you know about your neighbors? Is there anyone around you who could use some help? How are all of you doing? I wish you good health. Now it’s time to walk with my neighbor. Namaste. Attic Annie

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