Baby Boomers Beware – Eight Surgery Tips

A surgeon might save your life someday, but vanity and hasty decisions can bite baby boomers in the butt!

A surgery is elective in my book unless its purpose is to save your life, or prevents you from becoming deformed or crippled, or stop terrible pain.

And, unless someone is using a scalpel to remove a splinter, there is no such thing as minor surgery.

Like most of us, my opinions are based on my life experience. I do not claim to be qualified to give professional medical advice. We each need to make our own decisions.  It is not up to the doctor – it is up to you because you are the one who must live with the consequences – good or bad.

Surgeons are in the business of performing surgery and do it all day long.  Most are very good at what they do because they get regular practice. But, they sometimes treat the idea of surgery as an easy, natural option and no big deal.

Sometimes this may help a patient feel less stressed out about undergoing surgery, but it can often lead to

Surgeries that have no business being performed in the first place

And the recovery periods are often understated.

I just ran into a baby boomer neighbor the other day who was out walking her dog.  Cathy turned her head away and tried to hurry back to her house. There was something I had been meaning to talk with her about, so I called to her and asked how she was doing.

Putting her hand to her mouth, Cathy adjusted her sunglasses.  “I know I must look a mess. That’s why I have been trying to stay inside.  But, I couldn’t stand it in the house any longer!   I needed to get some fresh air and walk the dog

Cathy is a generally well-dressed baby boomer in her late sixties.  She had what looked like an elastic brace or bandage wrapped around her head, her ears and her neck.  Below the bandage I could see black and blue marks on her neck.  Connie explained that she had a minor facelift and that it turned out to be more involved than she thought.  “I was in the chair for eight hours” she said.

Connie was carrying an ice bag.  “Is it still hurting you? Can I pick up something at the store for you so you don’t have to go out?” As Connie took off her sunglasses to give me a peek, I saw big black stitches and heavy bruising across her eyelids.  Cathy said:

“I can’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me.  I did this to myself.  But, now I wish that I hadn’t.”

I tried to cheer her up by suggesting that she was going to be beautiful and turn a few heads when her wounds healed up. “I hoped so.  But, now I am not so sure.” she said. After surgery it is too late to change your mind.

I dared not ask how much she paid

I dared not ask how much she paid to put herself through this torture, as that might put more salt in the wound.

It was her decision and ultimately we all have to decide whether a particular surgery is right for us.  I am not judging her, yet I feel bad because I think she did not fully understand what she was getting herself into.

The cost? According to RealSelf, the average price is $12,125! Medicare doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery unless it’s needed because of accidental injury or to improve the function of a malformed body part.

Sometimes baby boomers are very happy with their facelifts or other cosmetic surgeries once the wounds have healed.

For other baby boomers, the fix that they are looking for can only be found within themselves. The help they need cannot be found with the surgeon’s scalpel.

A New York Daily News article mentioned a report commissioned by RealSelf.com – an online community around elective cosmetic procedures.  It showed that the trend to seek help from a cosmetic doctor is on the rise by more than 200 percent.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were over a 1.5 million cosmetic surgery procedures in 2015, with 87% of them being conducted on female patients.

Besides facelifts these surgeries include such things as breast augmentation, buttock lifts, liposuction, tummy tucks, upper arm lifts, eyelid surgery, lip augmentation and hair transplantation.

Personally, I am a chicken.  I admit it.

Three Times Doctors Insist on Surgery

There have been at least three times when physicians have recommended — no, almost insisted that I have this or that surgery.

Fortunately, time has proved me right in avoiding them.  In fact, had I not backed off from an insistent OB/GYN (obstetrician/gynecologist), my daughter might never have been born.

A miscarriage at ten weeks caused me to call the doctor and ask “What do I do now?”  We made an appointment and he performed a D & C (dilation and curettage).  The doctor then proceeded to inform me that he really needed to do surgery or I might never be able to carry a baby.

Apparently, I had fibroid tumors which the doctor decided must come out.  (I was already over 40).  If I was lucky, he said, my body would recover in a year or so, and perhaps then I might try to get pregnant again.  The doctor had an opening in his schedule two days later. “We should schedule the surgery now, before you go home!” he said.

Talk about feeling confused and pressured!  I had just lost my baby and now I was hearing that I had to have surgery and I needed to do it right away.

One of the major turning points of my life

Here I was on the brink of trying to make a decision on a matter that would become a major turning point in my life. And this yahoo was more focused on trying to fill a hole in his surgical schedule!

My son called, upset to hear about the miscarriage and rightly so.  After all, he was an only child and this might have been the only chance of him having a blood sibling — someone who he might rightly be able to call his brother or sister — someone who shared his blood.

None of the OB/GYN’s in the Annapolis, MD area were willing to give me a second opinion in the foreseeable future!  In fact, they did not even seem the least bit interested.  I wondered whether this was some kind of an old boys club where they covered each others butts.  My husband took me to Andrews Air Force Base as he had privileges there as retired military.

The second opinion doctor said

that, statistically, one in three pregnancies results in a miscarriage. He said there was no reason to assume that the fibroid tumors were necessarily the cause.

Some people have severe pain and bleeding with fibroid tumors, but since I had neither he saw no reason to consider surgery. Our visit ended with him saying:  “Just go home and try again.  If you continue to have miscarriages we can reconsider.”

Shortly thereafter, I had a successful pregnancy with no complications, thank God.  Today, I have a wonderful grown daughter. I cannot imagine my life without her.

My son has a sister who he loves and cherishes.    These two siblings are twenty years apart in age.

My son was born in 1970, my daughter in 1990.  In this photo, taken at the rehearsal dinner the night before his wedding in 1994, my son shares a special moment with his sister, who had the honor to be the flower girl at his wedding.

A special moment shared between my two children
A special moment shared between my two children

For many years, my husband, Keith, also enjoyed his daughter immensely.  Little could I have known when we were first dating, what life had in store for us.  Despite the fact that he was 50 years old at her birth, he would proudly tell anyone who asked if she was his grand-daughter  “Why, yes. She is grand and she certainly is my daughter.”

If I had followed my first doctor’s urgent recommendation to have the surgery, it is very likely that my daughter would have never been.  I was already pushing the envelope of time in which a pregnancy would have been viable for me to carry a baby safely to term.  I firmly believe that God’s hand was guiding our direction.

Do You Really Need a Hysterectomy?

My mother narrowly avoided an unnecessary hysterectomy.  Remembering her story of her doctor stopping the surgical staff as they were wishing her into the operating room has left me with a healthy skepticism about the surgery.

Two different doctors each recommended that I have a hysterectomy.  But suffice it to say, I still carry around those private parts that they both say I don’t need.  But, I don’t need the surgery either!

The year that the first doctor recommended surgery was 1992.  The second was in 1998.  The  symptoms the surgeon would have cured quickly went away on their own.

I may be a chicken and I may have lucked out.  Or, maybe the Good Lord was healing me Himself.

But, sometimes I think that doctor’s recommend things to cover their own butts – to protect themselves from a law suit.  It is a shame that society has gotten so messed up.   What about the Hippocratic oath – “Do no harm”?

The way I look at it, if it does hurt, why fix it?  I know this can be the wrong way to look at it.  There are many people could sight me examples of situations in which it is better to have a surgery to remove a small cancer tumor, or something else.  But, It pays to at least get a second opinion.

Baby Boomers Should Get a Second Opinion

Just last night, I was at a ladies game night and sat at a table with two ladies.  Ironically, both ladies carry an EpiPen wherever then go.

Until last summer, I had never even heard of an EpiPen.  But EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injector, is for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.  My grandson needs to keep one handy in the event of an allergy-related emergency.

One of the ladies, an attractive and healthy looking 37-year-old, is on a whole host of medications. She will have to take these medicines for the rest of her life.  If she doesn’t she will most likely die. She had a brain tumor at the age of ten and then a stroke in her late twenties.

The other lady is a 56-year-old yoga teacher.  She had back surgery at the age of 27.  Now she is trying to get off of medications that she has taken since she moved to the U.S. from Japan twenty years ago.  Her allergies are so severe that she has been in the hospital emergency room and almost died because she could not breathe.

Take Care of and Be Grateful for Your Health

Wow! I started to realize how fortunate I am.  Having never spent a night in the hospital in my life, it is sometimes difficult to image the health issues with which many people are faced.

Our hostess, Tammy, came to the table at the end of our game night, and joined the medical discussion.  A baby boomer, Tammy is concerned about having a recommended surgery for a pinched nerve in her arm.

Our hostess continued: “The doctor said that I need to get this taken care of right away, so I agreed to schedule it.  But, then I realized when I got home that I didn’t understand what the surgery is really going to do.  Now, I am having the same tingling feeling in my legs.  I need somebody to go with me.”

If you must undergo surgery,

Baby Boomers need to beware of being over anesthetized.

The hidden dangers of going under anesthesia may have lingering side effects on the brain, even years after an operation according to an article in Scientific American.

This is particularly true for baby boomers – those in our sixties and seventies. Whatever you can do to lighten the anesthesia, the better.  You can read the complete article at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/hidden-dangers-of-going-under/#

Eight Tips For Baby Boomers to Remember before Having Surgery:

  1. Only you can decide what is best for your own body and health. The doctor is not always right.
  2. Take somebody with you to talk to the surgeon before you agree to an operation.
  3. Get a second opinion if you have any doubt about the surgeon or about the procedure.
  4. Understand and accept the risks involved and the recovery time.
  5. Avoid acting hastily – unless you are in a life threatening condition.
  6. Don’t risk your life on a surgery you don’t need
  7. Talk to the anesthesiologist about going lightly with the anesthesia
  8. Preserve your health – be grateful, and appreciate what you have in live.  It is tough to lead a long and healthy life, living it to the fullest when you take unnecessary risks!

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