I raised my voice to my old Wisconsin friend Mabel. “Get out! Get out! Get out while you can!” Each staccato word was a higher decibel. In much abdominal pain, she’d finally gone to the hospital ER. Initially misdiagnosed by her regular doctor, she had a urinary tract infection. After just a day and a half of intravenously administered antibiotics, the hospital doctor said she was well enough to go home. In her mid-80s, Mabel refused; she liked the food and the attention.

That’s when I became nearly hysterical: “Mabel, have they seen how you walk? If they think you’re disabled, they’ll kill you!” With an extremely unsteady gait, she gets around using a walker.

I called her last living relative and, in the same eruptive manner, I left a message. By evening, Mabel was safely back home.

Three months ago, my loving husband John, aged 94, a paraplegic for 18 years from a farm accident, also had a simple UTI. I took him to the hospital. A doctor, claiming to be Catholic, counseled me: “Your husband has lived long enough.” How was I to take that? After a torturous stay of a week, which I, as his daily caregiver, witnessed, my wonderful husband died.

John came from strong, religious Croatian stock. His father was 97 and his grandmother was over 100 when they passed. I feel certain John was deprived of his final years, and I with him.

R. Ann Sumich

Blachly, Oregon