Russ Mitchell

The Mitchell Report

Russ Mitchell is editor of The Dickinson County News. He has been in Spirit Lake since January 2010 and began in journalism in 1997. The Mitchell Report can be about anything and everything. Comments are invited.


Buying time, day by day

Friday, September 30, 2016

The phone call only lasted a moment and for some reason, I confess, the name of the caller is escaping me right now. I guess I must have been so happy to hear what came after the introduction that it slipped my mind.

The most important part is: Colleen Daly is getting a kidney transplant within the next couple of weeks. The wife of longtime Spirit Lake Fire Chief Pat Daly is one of the nicest people we've had a chance to meet. She's been through a lot. No one has to give her directions to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

On top of the list is a heart transplant in her past -- and the biological adjustment hasn't been smooth. There are patients who go through a heart transplant "that do absolutely wonderful and there are some that have bumps in the road," we learned. Colleen said she had a lot of speed bumps. Some of the drugs that tricked her body into accepting that mischievous heart may have caused the damage to her kidneys.

"We don't look ahead," she told us once. "I get up in the morning and thank the good Lord that I've got another day and that's the way I've looked at it and that's the way you have to look at it. It is no different than anybody battling cancer or any other diseases that they're going through. You take one day at a time. If you look at the big picture of what's going to happen next you get overwhelmed and you get depressed."

Colleen has received a great deal of support from the Lakes community, so occasional visits to the newspaper office to publicize a fundraiser are just her way of chipping in.

But the visits aren't easy. Colleen's immune system is weak and common ailments can be dangerous to her, so we'll often see her wearing a surgical mask.

We try to meet on days that aren't too cold. We've avoided the days with dialysis appointments. When she arrives, she'll hand us a flyer and patiently answer questions about her medical ordeals. She'll pose for a photo and tell us about the great food and entertainment coming together on her behalf.

As for that depressing big picture, the surgical mask may block tiny, harmful particles from coming in, but it can't keep that smile from getting out. You can see it in her eyes and you can hear it in her tone of voice: She's happy for the day she has. She'll be happy for the next one.

And, soon, one of those next days is going to include a new kidney.

Soon after that, Lord willing, we might see her at the newspaper office again.

We wouldn't have it any other way.