Too old to live?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by GinnyB, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. GinnyB

    GinnyB New Member

    I was seeing a doctor, one of only a few in the U.S., who does gastric pacemaker surgery for gastroparesis. After several consultations with him, I asked his nurse when he was going to do the surgery. She asked how old I was. "72," I said. "Well the cut-off age for the surgery is 70," she said, "so you're not going to have it." I walked out of his office and never went back. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

    PS--Hope I haven't posted about this before.

  2. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    Wow!! How awful.

    I was just diagnosed with sleep apnea and I was talking to my sleep doctor about my dad who is almost 92 and I am pretty sure he also has it. He said that anything that can impove quality of life no matter what age should be treated. Of course he was speaking in generalities as he is not my dad's doctor. But it was refreshing to hear.

    Now if I could just get my dad to listen.

    I am really sorry this happened to you. I'm glad you walked out.

    Take care.


  3. Tizz

    Tizz New Member

    Unfortunately, that "rule" is not uncommon. I'm not JUSTIFYING the obvious ageism but I do know why doctors have "cutoff" ages for certain procedures. They have read studies, etc that say the risks for those procedures - usually including the risk of death - go up after a certain age. And they don't want patients dying on the operating table or during surgical recovery.

    Personally, I think it makes MUCH more sense do decide on a case by case basis, because as others have pointed out, a young person might be LESS healthy than an older one. Norms and averages and study results CANNOT tell a doctor whether you're healthy enough to withstand the physical stress of surgery or whether you would be able to tolerate anesthesia.

  4. Sacajawea2

    Sacajawea2 Member

    So sorry to hear that, of my closest friends is in her early 70's. She spins circles around me, and is such a big help to my family...she doesn't have our health issues but regardless, age shouldn't matter in general terms.

    I saw this on my aol page the other day and it's a harrowing story of what age discrimination can be like...and if you read the whole story, you'll see the family tried many times to get her treated, tests run, etc but they ignored everything because of her age.


    New York Woman Lived 'Nightmare' After False Cancer Diagnosis

    An 85-year-old grandmother stricken with stomach pains was told she had fast-spreading cancer and only two months to live.

    But after 18 harrowing months of at-home care, which Ramona Jimenez spent heavily medicated and in bed, she and her family learned she didn't have the deadly disease and had been wrongly diagnosed.

    In fact, the Long Island, New York woman wasn't sick at all.

    "It's been a nightmare," her daughter Martha Micallef told AOL Health.

    The ordeal began on Thanksgiving of 2008, when Jimenez -- who suffers from gastritis -- developed a bad stomach ache. Her family took her to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, sure that doctors would tell them it was one of her usual attacks and send her home with medicine.

    What they said instead was too terrible to believe. The CT scan showed black spots all over Jimenez's abdomen. Doctors told her family she had stomach cancer that was spreading through her lungs. They said she was dying, and had only two months left.

    "She screamed, she cried. She couldn't believe it," her granddaughter Tammy Micallef told AOL Health.

    Jimenez spent a week in the hospital and then was set up with at-home hospice care. Doctors and nurses refused the family's repeated requests for more tests and treatment. They said Jimenez was too old and it would be cruel to put her through it, according to attorney Jacqueline Siben, whose law firm Siben & Siben is preparing a multimillion-dollar malpractice suit against Brookhaven.

    When they suggested they might want a second opinion, the hospital threatened to cut off Jimenez's hospice care.

    "I think the doctor must have read somebody else's X-ray -- not mine," the New York Post quoted Jimenez as saying through the translation of her daughter Brunelda Morua. "The medicine they gave me was not for me. I couldn't use my legs. ... I suffered a lot. We all suffered a lot."

    Meanwhile, nurses gave the grandmother increasingly high doses of morphine. She quickly got addicted and is still struggling to be weaned off the powerful painkiller. In the midst of it all, her husband left her.

    "He couldn't deal with the whole thing," Tammy Micallef said.

    Even worse, the morphine made Jimenez crazy.

    "She was psychotic," remembered her granddaughter. "She was hallucinating."

    "She used to talk to ghosts," added Jimenez's grandson Scotty Cajigas.

    Two months came and went, and Jimenez didn't die. Her granddaughter, who is a nurse, says she began to doubt that her diagnosis was accurate.

    "After the two months, I questioned the hospice nurse," she said. "She said, don't worry."

    The nurse told the family that in another six months, Jimenez would be examined again to confirm that she had cancer.

    "Six months went by and she didn't do any tests," her granddaughter said. "How do you know what's going on just by listening to her breathing? We tried to get a second opinion. There were times my grandmother couldn't move. We couldn't take her anywhere. She couldn't do anything."

    In May of this year, Jimenez got another bad stomach ache. Her family bypassed the hospice staff and instead took her to Stony Brook University Hospital. After doing a round of tests and X-rays, doctors there delivered the stunning news: They found no signs of any cancer.

    "We were there all day long. They had no idea what was wrong with her. They couldn't find any cancer. They said she had gastritis," Tammy Micallef told AOL Health. "I couldn't even think. We were all in shock."

    Jimenez was astounded when they told her she wasn't sick.

    "She was very happy and then she was very angry," her granddaughter said.

    Brookhaven spokesman Christopher Banks declined to comment on the case, citing privacy laws, according to the Post.

    Jimenez and her family have been struggling to come to terms with what happened. The grandmother lost nearly two years of her life and her marriage, and is now battling drug addiction.

    "This is a classic case of misdiagnosis ... a calamity of errors," attorney Andrew Siben told the Post. "This woman's whole life has completely fallen apart."

    And though Jimenez is now recovering at Morua's North Carolina home and is much better than she was, the morphine turned her into a different person.

    "She was a very alert, active, happy 83-year-old when this started," Jacqueline Siben told AOL Health. "This just changed her entire demeanor. She's addicted to an opiate now."

    The family is angry at the thought that they may never have learned the truth.

    "All the medication could have killed her and we would have thought it was the cancer," said Cajigas. "We would never have known."
  5. amomwithsickkids

    amomwithsickkids New Member

    That is what you experienced. Run away as far as you can and find another facility.

    You are not asking for something unreasonable IMO. 72 is the new 52 nowadays.
  6. HeavenlyRN

    HeavenlyRN New Member

    That nurse sounds like a real 'winner.' I hope you double-checked with the physician to make sure that that truly was his policy. If it's true, maybe some day he'll have the same thing happen to him and realize how unfair his policy is. I bet he's doing it in order to avoid a lawsuit!!

    As a former hospice nurse (I'm currently on disability) I hope people reading the above article won't come to any misconceptions about the role hospice can play at the end of a person's life. ALL people signing on to hospice, as well as their families, should have it made very clear that they can always sign themselves off of hospice. It's not signed in concrete.

    The author of the article spoke of the family "bypassing the hospice staff" and taking the patient to the hospital. Patients and families always have the option to go to the hospital. The road-blocks to doing that lie within the government and how insurance policies are written and carried out. Insurance companies will usually not pay for testing to find out what's "wrong" if a patient has already decided that they are not going to attempt treatment to "fix" the problem.

    Exceptions to that rule are, for instance, antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. We all know how uncomfortable a UTI can be. Antibiotics are often given to provide COMFORT, as opposed to attempting to CURE the UTI.

    It is too bad that the family felt that they had to go behind the backs of the hospice staff. When I used to sign folks up for hospice, one of the first things I would tell them was that they could always sign off hospice and come on again later. There is no limit to the number of times a person can sign up for hospice. And, in order to STAY on hospice, the patient has to continue to show signs and symptoms of decline.

    Anyway, sorry I got off topic, but I just felt like I had to say something in response to the article!

    Good luck in your quest to find a responsible doctor!
  7. GinnyB

    GinnyB New Member

    Thanks so much for your letters. They really help. I haven't found another doctor yet, but my gastroenterologist here is pretty good. I do, however, want to check out Massachusetts General. I have two friends in Boston, and they're arguing over whose house I'll stay in!

    Ginny B