|Posted by forestwood on March 7, 2010 at 5:26 PM|
Nowadays it seems there is an expectation that as one ages, we can expect have a knee replacement/hip replacement/ bypass surgery etc. The health care system (especially the public ones) are strained by an affluent society with expectations that each niggling pain and ache will be dealth with promptly.
Is this an unreal expectation? I have known many people who have had a hip replacement, only to pass away six months later, never havig gotten out of the rehabilitation wheelchair; other more mobile citizens being told they need a knee replacement but ten years later they are still mobile, albeit in some pain, but still not enough to warrant them consenting to a knee replacement.
I have an 88 year old father - in - law with circulation impaired enough in his leg that his knee bone is dying. Yes dying, and ten years ago they drilled a hole in his kneecap to initiate further bone growth. This worked. Now the problem has recurred. At 88 what would he do differently if he knee was magically fixed. In his words, probably nothing different, except perhaps walk a little further than he does each day. He would not play any more lawn bowls or sport than he does now, would not be taking on any marathon challenges, so does he need the magic wand, even if the Doctor had it? Probably not, although some pain relief would probably be desirable.
I am not in any way demeaning the suffering of those with a very serious condition who do urgently need replacement joints. This will always be necessary in some cases. And I can only imagine the agony that some people go through with their joints. I really hope I am never in that situation myself.
However, perhaps insted of lamenting or questioning a health care system that is struggling to cope with the masses of patients, and a shortage of beds, we should rather question modern lifes' expectations in senior years and the quality of life that is possible without resorting to major surgery.