As COVID-19 fills ICUs, chronically ill patients face delayed surgeries

California
A health care worker tends to a COVID-19 patient while she is using a continuous positive airway pressure machine to help with her breathing at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley on Jan. 11, 2021. (ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images)

A health care worker tends to a COVID-19 patient while she is using a continuous positive airway pressure machine to help with her breathing at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley on Jan. 11, 2021. (ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images)

In the early years of his illness, as his kidneys began to shrink and toxins coursed through his blood, the same four words often floated through Miguel Rangel’s mind: “I’m going to die.”

Although some people live much longer, the average life expectancy of dialysis patients is five to 10 years, and Rangel, who has last-stage chronic kidney disease, lives with constant pain and for the last decade has gotten dialysis nightly via a catheter into his abdomen. Still, the 43-year-old electrician, who lives in San Fernando, has trained his mind to linger on hope.

“This life is beautiful,” he often repeats as a mantra. “I want to keep going.”

But for now, he’s in a holding pattern — one exacerbated, in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ushered in a new level of anxiety for many patients with underlying conditions. Like Rangel, they are now confronting a cascade of delayed surgeries, while also weighing hard choices between risking exposure to the virus or further putting off important, at times lifesaving, health actions.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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