INDIAN TRAIL – Mayor Michael Alvarez may be losing his arm, but he is not giving up hope.
Alvarez was diagnosed with lupus as a child and endured organ failure and two kidney transplants. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a cancer affecting the arteries. Doctors were concerned with hot spots in his right arm.
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Pain has returned in recent months. Doctors determined the best course of action was to amputate his arm just above the elbow.
“This is something that was always on the table,” Alvarez said. “It’s the only option if I want to live another 50 years. Technology today for prosthetics is absolutely amazing.”
His daughter would like to see him with a prosthetic arm like Bucky Barnes, better known as the Winter Soldier in Marvel comics, but Alvarez will likely have something more modest.
It will take four to six weeks for his body to heal after the surgery. Then he’ll have a custom-made computer prosthetic that connects to his nerves and muscles. He’ll spend another six months learning how to use the prosthetic.
His time away from town hall comes as government buildings across Union County have been closed to the public due to the spread of coronavirus. The town is still operating but has been limiting in-person interactions.
Alvarez said there is no rush to fill the town manager vacancy after parting ways with Patrick Sadek last month. The town brought in longtime Albemarle town manager Raymond Allen in the interim.
Alvarez describes Allen as an “amazing administrator.”
The mayor wants to help residents stay positive amid the spread of COVID-19 and help connect people, especially shut-ins and the elderly, to the essentials they need.
“Hopefully what that does is give humanity a reset on how to talk to each other – how to help each other,” Alvarez said. “We desperately need it. We desperately need a reset for humanity.”
He’s optimistic the federal government will roll out a stimulus package that will help the average American and the economy will recover once this passes. He believes elected officials must put people before partisan politics.
“This brings attention to the fact that our healthcare system needs attention,” Alvarez said. “We don’t have enough beds. We don’t have enough services. We are not ready for this. That’s the biggest issue in keeping people self-quarantined.”
Alvarez said his priority is taking care of the health and welfare of Indian Trail residents.
“We need to think about each other rather than ourselves,” he said.
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