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.
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