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Ask Dr. Gott 11/01

A little extra help for woman living alone

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I'm a 70-plus-year-old unemployed woman in fair health except for high blood pressure, severe arthritis and COPD. I have no relatives in this area. I attend church regularly and do have a few very close friends.
    If something should happen to me, such as a heart attack, it's likely no one would be aware of it for days except for my cats, who just can't get the hang of 911. I can't ask a friend to call me every day to make sure I'm not dead. Can you suggest a solution to this situation?
    DEAR READER: Look into using a special device from your area hospital. Called Lifeline, the unit can be activated by pushing a button and will notify the hospital that you are ill or injured.
    Second, I advise you to ask one of your neighbors or a close friend to take on the responsibility of notifying one of your family members if a serious health problem requires attention.
    This approach does not require a daily phone call. The thrust is to have emergency services available on short notice.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: When I was 6 years old, I had scarlet fever and my eardrums burst, which caused many earaches. I could never get a drop of water in my ears without getting an earache. An old doctor tried to cap the eardrum with the membrane of an egg shell, but it was too moist and wasn't successful. When I was in my early 20s. another doctor successfully used a piece of cigarette paper, cauterizing around the edge of the drums and placing the paper across. He did this once every week for three weeks, and my eardrums closed. It worked, and then I was able to shampoo my hair without having a dreaded earache. The drums did pop several years later, but after the infection cleared, the drums closed. I am now in my 70s and am so thankful my hearing is good and I am free of those awful earaches. In fact, a young audiologist told me that my hearing was better than his.
    DEAR READER: The cigarette-paper procedure is a good one. The paper serves as a foundation that the body uses to aid the new growth of cells that form the eardrums. I am glad that you responded to this technique so successfully.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my recently updated Health Report "Ear Infections and Disorders."

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