The most powerful and healing remedies in Myrtle Royce’s life don’t come in orange prescription vials. They come in the form of pint-sized kids — namely, her grandchildren Kylie, Jake and Ellie, ages 5, 3 and 1, respectively.
“ ‘They’re like your dose of medicine,’ ” said Royce, quoting her boyfriend of 13 years, Albert Miranda.
The trio, she said, bring her infinite joy. But they are only a small part of a complex rotation of treatments that keep Royce, 50, of Miami moving. She’s dealt with diabetes for most of her life, but the real problems didn’t begin until 2005, when Royce fell and injured her back while stepping off a malfunctioning elevator at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, where she worked as a switchboard operator for more than a decade.
“It was all downhill from there,” she said, nodding her head slowly.
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What followed was a six-year-long series of medical exams and court dates to determine whether Royce was eligible for disability benefits. Today, she suffers from high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction and kidney failure — the latter, Royce said, is a result of too much vancomycin, an antibiotic she was given at a hospital in 2006 to treat a bacterial infection.
Simple household chores require extra help; bathing alone is near-impossible; grocery shopping trips take longer because each and every nutrition label must be examined for sodium, phosphorous and potassium content.
On Nov. 12, dialysis was added to Royce’s medical routine. Dialysis is an intensive treatment in which waste and excess water are removed from the blood, mimicking regular kidney function. It is performed by hooking up a patient to a machine using a catheter.
“[Albert] worried that if they put me on dialysis it would kill me, and I said, ‘No, this is going to help me to live,’ ” Royce said.
However, each of her dialysis treatments, which happen three times a week and last three hours each, leave her “poofed.”
“I have no energy to do anything,” she said.
The result is a monotonous day-to-day, peppered by little more than three square meals and hours of television.
Royce feels fulfilled by her family, made up by her daughter, Krystal, 31; her three grandchildren; and her boyfriend, Albert. And she doesn’t ask for much. But a new couch on which she could escape her circumstances by tuning into the Travel Channel (one of her favorite channels) and a new dining set, on which she could eat her favorite foods (the few that still meet her conditions’ dietary restrictions) would go a long way.
“That’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my life,” said Miranda, looking over at Royce. “I will repeat it 10,000 times: the best ever. She deserves good.”
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