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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Dad the Dialer

The comics section of the newspaperWhen my father retired, his hobby became to call free health lines.

Soon after I moved in, his early morning calls awoke me. I chuckled as I heard him explain his issue in his Argentine-Italian accent. But as his question was lost in translation, I ran to his rescue, cape and all.

He often requests a Spanish-speaking representative so as not to bother me, but a repeat caller, I cringe at times, wondering if they will recognize the name or dad's "distinguished" voice. And yet he receives the answers he needs and I am grateful those representatives are patient. I like that he seeks answers. He asks, “Will my insurance cover this new round of medications?” and “Is there a cheaper, generic brand I can use?” When he first started taking Advair and Spiriva, he called to find out about drug interaction and drug usage.

I was proud of him.

Then there are times I hear the frustration in his voice. Insurance issues around what Medicare covers or does not stress him. So when I hear him gasp for air, I motion him to end the call. I offer to follow-up for him. Luckily, he accepts because at times he doesn’t want my help, understandably so.

Helping him, however, allows for bonding. It is an exercise in patience and it allows for fun. Recently, I reminded him of the time I played a prank on him. 

One day, I called home while mom and I were out. At the time, he was the calendar chair of an organization. When he answered, I decided to play. Instead of speaking in Spanish, I disguised my voice in English and said, “Hi! Is the lady of the house home? It’s her daughter.” My dad said, “No, she’s not home, Isadora. How are you?” When I realized this, I continued, “Good, how are you? Listen, I’m calling because I have something for the calendar…” He said, “Okay, give me a minute-” I could hear him scrambling and shuffling for a piece of paper and that little pencil he uses. When he returned, I laughed out loud, saying, “Daaaad, it’s your daughter, not Isadora.”

And just the other morning, dad was on the phone again. He was calling the newspaper because a section was missing. I could hear the representative on the other end saying, “I am so sorry. Which section was missing so we can send it to you immediately?”

Dad replied, “The comics.”

Follow Elizabeth's story on Twitter: @lizunga 

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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.