Probe, Dec. 7, 2001

December 07, 2001

QUESTION: I have a needle buried in my bottom. I didn't know it was there until 1996 when I went to the University of California San Diego Medical Center. The doctor X-rayed me for arthritis and discovered the needle. He said it is about 2 centimeters (almost an inch) long.

He said it's better to just leave the needle alone. I don't think so. I am disabled. I have so much pain on my right side. I think all my trouble comes from the needle.

I don't know what kind of needle it is. It may be a sewing needle or it may be a needle that stayed inside after an injection and the person who gave me the injection just didn't say anything.

Do you think there is a kind doctor who would remove the needle from my buttock? I have MediCal. — Stuck, El Centro


We don't know if a kindly surgeon will remove the needle since a San Diego doctor suggested letting it stay put. Apparently there's no sign of infection or other indication the needle is causing a problem.

If the needle causes a flare-up, you will be able to find a doctor who will remove it.

QUESTION: My mother is 55 years old and has resided in this country for 15 years. She applied to be a U.S. citizen. She doesn't speak English but she thought she qualified to take the test in Spanish.

She got a letter saying she must be 55 and have lived in this country 16 years to take the test in her native language. If she waits another year she will have to pay the $250 application fee again.

Can you find out what the rules are before she does a second, expensive application? — Protective Son, Calexico

Your mother qualifies to take the test in her native language — unless there is something we don't know. It's possible she applied before she actually reached 55. Many responsible, efficient people don't like to wait until the last minute to do important things. But the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service insists that to get the waiver after 15 years of residency, you must be 55, not almost 55, when you apply.

Section 312 of the immigration code says that a 50-year-old who has lived in this country for 20 years may take the test in her native language, said Mavis Salgado, supervisor in the INS examination office in Calexico.

For some strange reason, at 65, the residency period climbs back to 20 years.

If you have more questions, you can call Salgado at 768-3622, INS at (800) 375-5283, fax INS at (619) 557-5550 or send an e-mail to Good luck!

HELP FOR HOLIDAYS — You had a letter Wednesday from a mother trying to stay off welfare who lost her last welfare check ($500) at Wal-Mart. There are several Valley agencies who may help her.

Tell her to contact the Family Resource Center in Niland, United Way in El Centro and Turning Point in Holtville. These agencies have resources to help families in need, especially during the holidays. — Worried Educator, Brawley

We hope so. Her fear is that she lived with a friend for a month while she waited for the welfare check and owes the friend for the back rent. This is no time to be out on the street.

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