Dear Annie: I was just 18 years old when a routine doctor's visit exposed off-the-chart high blood pressure and landed me in the emergency room. As a carefree teen in my first year of college, I felt healthy and assumed it couldn't possibly be anything more than a little stress. Even the ER doctor took a look at me and said he was sure there couldn't be anything wrong. Imagine the shock when the blood tests showed I had stage-four kidney disease. I was dangerously close to needing dialysis or a kidney transplant, but I had no clue that I'd been suffering from a silent killer.
Kidney disease often goes undetected because symptoms may not appear until the kidneys are actually failing. One in three American adults is at risk due to high blood pressure or diabetes, two of the leading causes. The good news is that early detection and proper treatment can slow the progress.
My battle with kidney disease has turned me into a fitness guru and an advocate for kidney patients. I now do something active every day. By following a careful diet and working closely with my doctors to manage my high blood pressure, I have been able to prevent further damage. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude can affect your medical prognosis in the best possible way. I can attest to it.
Will you please encourage your readers to get their kidneys checked? March is National Kidney Month and March 14th is World Kidney Day. The National Kidney Foundation is urging Americans to learn about risk factors and get their kidneys checked with a simple urine and blood test. For more information on these tests and staying healthy, and for a schedule of free kidney health screenings across the country, please suggest that your readers visit the National Kidney Foundation at kidney.org. -- Leslie Field, Bradbury, Calif.
Dear Leslie Field: Thank you for reminding our readers how important it is to get regular checkups to make sure their systems are running smoothly. More than 26 million Americans have kidney disease, and most don't know it. People often don't consider their kidney health, yet it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of one's life. We hope our readers will check the National Kidney Foundation website for more information.
Dear Annie: Now that I'm part of the over-50 crowd, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to read the expiration dates on goods, even with my reading glasses on. Particularly troublesome are the expiration dates that are at the bottom of a white box where the numbers are indented and also in white.
The manufacturers would do us baby boomers a great favor by marking the expiration dates in an easy-to-read location, preferably in black ink with larger letters and numbers. If we can see them, we will replace them more readily when they expire, which would be a boon for business, as well. -- Maryanne
Dear Maryanne: You've made an excellent argument, and we hope it wins over the product manufacturers. We're on your side.
Dear Annie: "Faithful Wife" said her husband of 44 years was showing some intense behaviors around an old flame, spending $12,000 on a facelift and accusing his wife of lesbianism.
If these behaviors are a continuation or exacerbation of old behaviors, I am right with you on your advice. But if they are changes from a man who used to be reasonably "normal," then I would suspect frontotemporal dementia, of which these sorts of socially disruptive disinhibitions are classic symptoms. -- MA, LSA
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.