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Two weeks ago, I was visiting with a woman from our church, who was scheduled to go into surgery for an angioplasty. She was 76 and the main caretaker for her 80 year old husband who has parkinsons. She was discussing the upcoming operation with my MIL and me and said that she told her doctor: "I've probably only got a few years left anyway, why can't you just leave me alone? I really don't want to do this!" Her doctor replied that she'd better be careful what she asked for, as another doctor might very well leave her alone and where would that get her?

Well, the answer is that might have given her a few more weeks/months of relatively pain-free life, as opposed to two weeks in ICU, thousnds of dollars in hospital bills, and now a funeral and the question of what will they do about her husband?

On that fateful morning, this woman went in for a procedure that was supposed to take less than an hour, and she was supposed to get to go home at the end of the day. Instead, while on the table, her kidneys shut down. While trying to get her kidneys going, she had a heart attack. They got her heart going again, got her out of the OR, and she ended up in ICU. She never got out of ICU. She spent 12 days in ICU before she passed away Saturday morning.

My middle daughter was very close to her. She called her "Ms. Bobbie" and always made a point of running up to her and giving her a hug before services started. This dear little woman was only about 5 ft tall and her husband was over 6 ft. DD#2 had been greeting her every Sunday since she was in 2nd grade looking up at her to 10th grade, towering over her. She was one of two women who DD#2 looked on as an extra grandmother over the past 8 years. I'm now left to try to explain to her why, over Ms. Bobbie's objections, her doctor insisted that she needed this operation.

So my question:

Why is it that doctors are so hung up on extending life at all costs. Shouldn't there be some designated age that says if you pass this milestone, then all your treatment becomes optional? Why do we put our older citizens through all this? Bobbie was prepared to die, she didn't fear it at all. What she did fear was being in pain for no good reason, which is exactly how she ended her days. Whatever happened to "do no harm"?

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