Kathy David's health problems could have been the end of the road. But a nearby United Way-funded health clinic offered her a new beginning.
Taking care of her health was something Kathy never really thought about. She was a divorced mother of four who either didn’t have the time or she didn’t have the money. “ I wasn’t thinking about my health at the time,” she says.
Kathy struggled with what was diagnosed in her 40s as severe depression, which contributed to her ill health. “It’s a cycle,” Kathy says about how mental illness affects your physical well-being. “You don’t feel like doing anything. You don’t care.” Then her body began showing the ill effects of being a lifelong smoker – she started the habit at age 9. The smoking, combined with failing to see a dentist throughout so much of her life, left Kathy with gum disease and tooth loss. She ended up retaining only four teeth.
“It was really hard,” she says. “Kids look at you and say you’re a witch.”
Thankfully Kathy realized that she needed to address her health and started by seeking help at the neighborhood health clinic. Countless people living in our community would likely be without adequate health care without these safety-net clinics. The clinic found she was facing a whole list of health issues: high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, congestive heart failure, and a need for oxygen.
Kathy began to work on her health. She quit smoking. She changed her diet and increased exercise. She got her remaining teeth removed and was fitted with a full set of dentures.
“For 20 years I didn’t do a lot of smiling. I didn’t have a lot to smile about,” Kathy says. “I smile a lot now.”
Actually, Kathy is doing a whole lot more. She can play hide-and-seek with her grandchildren and was able to go to the top of Pike’s Peak on a family vacation.
“I am proud of myself,” she says. “I enjoy my life even more than I did when I was younger. My whole life is different and I am going to live longer!”