Dear Annie: I switched doctors six years ago — and my world fell apart. My new doctor insisted on all kinds of new tests, and I’m glad she did. Simple blood and urine tests let me know that there was a good possibility my kidneys weren’t functioning well.
I didn’t know that there are rarely any symptoms until the kidneys are failing. I didn’t know that one in three American adults is at risk for kidney disease. I didn’t know that high blood pressure and diabetes are two of the leading causes of this disease. But I learned quickly that early detection and proper treatment can slow its progress.
I learned so much in the following months: why I need to watch my weight, why regular exercise helps and why I need to make sure my high blood pressure is under control. I’ve been able to maintain the same degree of kidney function since being diagnosed, but not without lots of information and changes in my lifestyle.
March is National Kidney Month. March 13th is World Kidney Day. Won’t you help me join the National Kidney Foundation in urging Americans to learn about the risk factors and simple blood and urine tests for kidney disease? There are many free kidney health screenings around the country. The National Kidney Foundation at kidney.org provides information about these screenings and about staying healthy. Thank you.
— Gail Rae-Garwood, Glendale, Ariz.
Dear Gail Rae-Garwood: Thank you so much for sharing your story. We hope our readers will take your advice and check for screenings in their area or discuss their kidney health with their personal physicians. We are sure your letter will help many. Bless you.
Dear Annie: We are in our late 60s. We have four children, and between them, there are 10 grandchildren, ages 2-15. They all live far away, so we don’t get to see them often.
For Christmas and birthdays, we spend quite a bit of time and money buying, ordering, wrapping and mailing presents. We never receive a thank-you note, even when we include a self-addressed envelope.
We know you’ve addressed this issue many times. We don’t want to stop sending presents altogether. Should we send a check and stop spending so much energy on gifts? Should we discuss it with the parents, even though we suspect that would create problems?
— Frustrated Grandparents
Dear Frustrated: It’s perfectly OK to call the parents (and any grandchild) to ask whether your gift was received, saying you worried it was lost en route. Young children need to be taught to thank those who are kind enough to remember them with gifts, and you can try to instill this, even though it is really the parents’ job. And if it would make you feel less put out to send a check, we doubt they would mind. But also suggest to the grandchildren that they acknowledge gifts via email or text. It may not be as proper as a handwritten note, but it is certainly better than nothing, and you are more likely to get a response.
Dear Annie: I think “Grandpa in South Dakota” could teach his voracious reader of a grandson cursive writing himself. I have heard of schools that have Cursive Clubs because it is no longer taught. It would be a fun project to do with a grandchild.
— I Would
Dear Would: An excellent idea. Schools have only so many hours in a day and cannot cover everything. We are sorry to see cursive go, but we understand why and think it’s a great idea to learn these skills outside of school.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.