|At 56 years old with husband|
A mere ten years ago, I had more energy, like I wasn’t fifty six years old. I just acquired a new husband, slim with blue eyes, blond hair and mustache. I had a full time job that gave me $38K a year. That was no big deal but it was good enough for me. I shopped at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I drove a red coupe I named Slick. I wore stiletto high heels everywhere and drove with them. Then, End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) happened.
Slowly, my body changed. Cold temperature that used to be tolerable felt like freezing to me. The summer heat in Kentucky that reached 90+Fahrenheit didn’t use to bother me. One day, while doing door to door preaching, I felt dizzy and weak. I was told to rush back to my car and turn on the air conditioning.
“It can’t be the heat, I came from a tropical country,” I said.
“You’ve been here two years now, your body has adjusted to American climate,” the Elder said.
There in my car, I cried. I realized for the first time, it wasn’t the climate, it was the kidney disease. My new husband divorced me after I was diagnosed. I lost my job the month I started dialysis. I could no longer afford the red coupe. I was told by my doctor to quit wearing high heels. He said if I should suffer a fall I might get crippled.
So, where did the benefits come in? First I got unemployment benefit for one year and a half. With nothing to do, I started writing a book. When I traveled, I got a wheelchair and a man pushing to take me to my next gate, no more stress over missing my next flight, or lining up at airport Immigration counter, or catching my luggage at the revolving ramp.
When the unemployment benefit was exhausted, I got social security SSA and SSI. It’s a very small amount compared to what I was earning but I got my basic needs. I got disabled parking. I still have time in my hands to write some more, so that I finished two books. I got a blog going, then a YouTube channel. Those were not enriching, not exactly fifteen minutes of fame, but gratifying.
I found friends in Facebook groups of dialysis patients. I have patient friends I found at the dialysis center lobby while waiting for our treatment. There, early mornings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, all five of us ladies, one American, one Chinese and three Filipinas, sit in a half circle and discuss our concerns. The techs call us “The View, broadcasting live from the lobby of DaVita!”