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An Honest Answer and Getting the Respect I Deserve

I finally have an answer to my continuing hip problems. From a doctor who didn’t discount me because of my age.

A little history…I tripped and had a bad fall at the end of May.

Sadly, I was given a wrong diagnosis by an emergency room doctor. After weeks with no improvement, I saw my primary care who suspected something more serious was happening and sent me for an MRI and bone density test. She was right. The tests showed my bone density was fine but I had cracked my femur in two spots and torn my cartilage.

 

She referred me to one of Stanford Hospitals leading Orthopedic Surgeons, specializing in hips. He refused to see or treat me, simply because I was over 50! That pissed me off no end!

He passed me  off to a different Stanford Orthopedist who treated me negligently. He just honestly, didn’t care about me. After demanding attention and answers to questions he didn’t want to discuss, he politely told me to find another doctor. Thanks for that advice doctor. I took it and left.

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Last month I found an Orthopedic Surgeon who actually cares. Which is sadly, a novel experience. Rather than standing in the examining room, he sat across from me and looked at me as I spoke. He studied at all my past test results. Then ordered some new ones to see how the break was healing. He told me he was going to be brutally honest. Which I thanked him for, because I’d been getting the runaround for six months.

An Honest Answer and Getting the Respect I Deserve

 

The verdict is when I fell, I flattened the cartilage in my hip. Crushed it. Cartilage doesn’t just puff back up. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I am virtually bone on bone and need a hip replacement.

 

I have to be honest. I’m scared of the surgery. It sounds more extensive than I’ve ever endured. Hell, my bunion surgeries were some of the most excruciating experiences in my life.

He’s given me a Cortisone shot to see how long we can control the pain. He is simply stunned that during this whole process no other doctor gave me one to help with the pain.

 

It doesn’t matter that I’m 59. This outcome would’ve happened at any age, from my fall. That’s a small relief. What matter’s about being 59 is that I had to fight to get the care I deserved. Too many doctors didn’t care because of my age.

I’m still annoyed at myself for tripping. Silly, I know. That’s why accidents are called accidents.

 

Did I mention the earlier Orthopedic Surgeon appeared to be in his 50’s? This one is young, sharp as a tack and caring. I joked with him that I’m now more confident with doctors who look like Doogie Howser than Marcus Welby M.D. I’m not sure he knew who Marcus Welby was. But he recognized the name, Doggie Howser.

So the moral here is be your own medical advocate. Demand answers. Insist you are taken seriously. Keep getting opinions until you find a doctor you feel totally confident has your best interests at heart.

 

Pam and I were on another blab this week talking about Style For The Woman Over 50. The replay is here if you’d like to listen or watch.

 

 

Style Your Day Beautifully,

Jennifer

 

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73 Comments

  1. I am appalled that an orthopedic surgeon refused to see you because you are over 50. On the other hand, that must make his case load much lighter! I wonder what will happen when he starts having prostrate trouble and can’t get anyone to see him because he’s over 50! Good for you for being your own advocate!!

    Stay sassy and don’t take sh$t from anyone!!

  2. Oh, my friend!
    This distresses me no end, because it means there are lots of uninterested, quick-to-diagnose doctors out there, talking to women our age. It also means THEY ARE NOT PREDISPOSED TO HEAR OR BE INTERESTED IN US! I’m pissed-off for you!!

    After 10 breast cancer surgeries–two crucial, live-saving ones I DEMANDED–and eight rounds of chemotherapy, I know from experience: We have to be our own advocate; don’t take “no” for an answer; listen to your little voice; don’t be intimidated by a physician, and continue to seek answers until you get one. Your life and well-being depends on it.

    As far as hip surgery… The pain will eat away at you and you can’t take cortisone for very long. Talk about being bad for your bones and hips! Research, research, research… Find the absolute best surgeon–it doesn’t matter if he’s not in your town–get his opinion and the opinion of the next surgeon on your list. When you decide what your next step is, you plan and get ready so you emerge from surgery with the best possible outcome.

    I’ve been doing self-hypnosis and Guided Imagery since 1987, the year my first husband died. A great hypnotherapist helps all kinds of patients prepare for surgery, maximize healing, addiction, chemo, etc. You name it. Thirty years later, I still do some form of self-hypnosis or Guided Imagery almost every day, because it works!

    If I had enough room here, I’d tell you about the baffled anesthesiologist who couldn’t understand why he didn’t need to give me as much anesthesia as the surgeon required to keep me under for a six hour breast cancer surgery, or how quickly I healed from those 10 surgeries, including a total hysterectomy, 10 years before breast cancer, and chemo.

    In your part of the country, there’s bound to be lots of hypnotherapists or guided imagery specialists–also hypnosis. Find them! They will make you a tape recording of your session to take with you. I listened to my tapes twice a day and before surgery, chemo, etc. It is amazing the power our mind has to help us–AS DOES THE RIGHT DOCTOR.

    I have so many things to add, if you’re interested. Email me and let’s talk if you decide to have surgery. Self-hypnosis and Guided Imagery is one of the smartest things I ever did.

    XOXOX,
    Brenda

    1. That fascinates me Brenda! I’m a firm believer that our minds have a strong influence on our health and our body. I will look into it!
      XX

  3. Hi Jennifer. I’m glad you finally found a doctor to listen and offer solutions. My 56 year old husband had a hip replacement earlier this year because he was also bone on bone & was in a lot of pain. He was also motivated to regain full mobility and did. His surgeon said he got great results in part because he was so “young”. Go figure.

  4. I had never considered that a doctor would refuse to treat a patient. They take the Hippocratic Oath. May your pain lessen and your worries ease. Sounds like you are in great hands. My friend Who is 70 had surgery on one hip one year and the other the following year and she is doing way better. It does work. Congrats on your perseverance.

  5. I’m so relieved you’re on the right path!

    A friend who is 72 had both hips replaced two years ago. She can’t understand why she waited, and pushed her brother to stop complaining and go see her surgeon.

    I’ve heard from friend who’ve had hip replacements that the healing is relatively straightforward and uneventful. On the other hand, knee replacements are still problematic, although after I fell and landed on my right knee (yes, owwch), I saw a knee surgeon who told me that knee replacements are getting less and less difficult and sometimes they don’t even need to replace the entire knee, which makes the healing less of a deal.

    It is hard to find a doctor (male or female) who takes women seriously. There must be something in the training.

    Well, you better go put a polish on your tap shoes, I expect great things of you!

  6. Oh Jennifer. I am so happy that you found this guy. Unfortunately I know all too well about the age discrimination in the medical field. I have experienced it myself. I’m happy that you are calling attention to this because unless we talk about it those thoughtless doctors will just continue their BS. I’m trying to get up the courage to write letters to the doctors who wrote me off as hopeless and sent me out the door in pain. The Very Very Best of Luck to you. You know that we’ve all got your back or I guess I should say HIP!

    1. We do all need to raise our voice of dissatisfaction and anger at being disregarded by the medical profession. That’s the only way we can effect change.

  7. I also wanted to add that I hear good things from the people I’ve talked to who have had hip replacements. I think they are pretty successful, should you decide to do it.

  8. First things first, those are super cute shoes! Where are they from?

    I’ve been following along with your problem and I am glad you’ve found a doctor you can work with. I wouldn’t want a hip replacement either. I’m trying to put off a knee replacement myself, at age 50. Someone suggested looking into a stem cell procedure where they’re growing cartilage, or something like that. I don’t know if that is legit, haven’t really looked into it yet. I’ve been trying physical therapy to try to get some relief (the bad knee is causing me some hip and ankle pain) and I’ve learned some good stretches for my hips. I don’t know if that would help you get by a while longer, but maybe look into some physical therapy if you haven’t already. Best of luck to you.

  9. Jennifer, I’m so happy you found a doctor that is a positive force for healing. I am, like the others, sad to hear it took so much effort to find him. I wish you all the strength and grace you need for what lies ahead. Your dedication to finding answers and taking good care of yourself sets a good example for all of us and will be rewarded. Thank you for your blog. I appreciate that you share the ups and downs of your life. It is encouragement for the rest of us to realize we all need support and connection. Wishing you the best.

  10. Sad state of affairs when doctors are practicing age discrimination. I always go to a teaching hospital whenever it’s a serious situation. The young ones know what they’re doing!
    Hope you’re back to 100% quickly.
    b

    1. Stanford was a teaching hospital!! That’s part of what was so wrong with my lack of care. I know young interns need to learn, but they’re not learning on me!

  11. I read ur recent blog with disbelief. You are so young. I sold homes for decades to a cross section of society and retired seven years ago because of the housing crash. There was great satisfaction in finding families homes they loved and were happy in. All professions reflect a cross cession of society. Each profession has its “klinkers”. Whether it is a repulsion of age because of being afraid to face their own mortality or drug abuse etc. A doctor is simply a person. We seem to expect that the healing oath would carry over to their treatment of patients. It does not. You have to be your own health advocate in all areas and stay informed with the Internet. Many doctors simply can’t be bothered and want to be sure u fit into the 15 minute visit schedule. Others only like to treat young athletic types and refuse to make appointments for anyone else. There are , however many young really sharp good doctors under fourty who are new and building their practices. I am so happy that you found one. If a doctor disrespects you ,write a letter letting him know how he acted and how you felt. No one does this and it needs to be done. It isn’t possible to hit “delete” with a hand written letter. They also carry a strong message that lasts. He will always remember the letter and what you said. It is quarantined to bypass the ego and remain in the conscious and subconscious mind. It is called,”I will be heard!”. I am 85 and still refuse to be invisible. This life is such a gift and life has speed bumps in it but it is your most precious possession. The older the life is, the wiser and more precious it is. That is why the saying ,”Youth is an accident and age is an art” has been around so long. It’s true! Best wishes on your health challenge. You are such an inspiration to others so I know your body has the power to heal and mend quickly. Best wishes and thank u for the many inspirations. Take care, Doreen

    1. You’re totally right Doreen. I will write a letter. Probably a scathing one. I’m just so furious at his disregard, callousness and neglect!!

  12. Well I am very happy you finally got some answers. Getting the run around is beyond frustrating when it comes to your health. I empathize with you.

    I know a surgery is scary, but hopefully this will get you back on your way to feeling like yourself. You’re strong and determined…that is half the battle.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  13. Come to Durango Colorado where we have the best ortho surgeons in the states! Everyone bikes, hikes, skis here. My mother in law had a hip replace in KS at age 75. She is doing so much better! Love and Light to your hip(s).
    Mary

  14. This is confusing. You are NOT old! WHY? I don’t get it. BOOOOOO!!!!!

    And yes, I do this with my daughter:

    “[…] be your own medical advocate. Demand answers. Insist you are taken seriously. Keep getting opinions until you find a doctor you feel totally confident has your best interests at heart.”

  15. Jennifer, I still cannot believe those other doctors. Who wouldn’t be needing a hip replacement after 50? That is nuts. Thanks goodness you found Doogie Howser. He sounds great. I think the hip replacement is not nearly as bad as the bunion surgery. Sounds crazy , but true. My friend just had bunion surgery and I cannot believe how long it took for her to just get up again. Do the surgery while you are still in shape and can bounce back. Waiting longer is not better. You are so active, you need to enjoy life!! Love and hugs, Kim

  16. So happy you’re finally on the right track. I’m still appalled at all you had to go through to get to this point. Have you scheduled your surgery?

  17. What you speak of is insidious because it emanates from our culture. I saw it when I was younger and took care of my mother as she was ailing and now I feel it and see it with myself! I know how it feels to be sort of invisible now……Just when you need help the most with your healthcare, it gets more difficult to be taken seriously and respected. I’m so frustrated and trying to not be angry with every new doctor before we’ve even started interacting.

  18. I wish they hadn’t even booked you with someone who would express that atttitude. I also wish he’d accepted you so you could reconsider, meet #2 and tell #1 that thanks anyway, but you feel his age might be a problem.

  19. Gosh, Jennifer, I’m so sorry you’ve had the run-around from your doctors. And you were turned away because of your age??? Wow! Hip replacements in the UK are done no matter what your age (and free, of course) and quite recently someone who is 112 had their hip replaced. Yes that’s right! 112!!! I attach a link from the BBC so you can see I haven’t made that up! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34549997

    Also a friend had her hip replaced just recently – she’s 61 and was the youngest on the ward and at physio. She was an in-patient for 4 days and then went home, and I saw her 6 days after her op practically pain free after years of arthritic pain and resisting the idea of having an op. Anyway, very best of luck to you, as I’m sure you’ll be fine. x

    1. Thanks so much Penny! It’s encouraging to hear about women who’ve had this surgery and are doing so well. Pain free is a dream for me right now.

  20. Dear Jennifer I am so glad that you finally have the right surgeon to help you. I have been through much of the same thing and it is awful. It could be a long recovery and rehab or NOT. It is different with everyone. Having a skilled, concerned and caring surgeon is the most important of all! Call or write me anytime [email protected]

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

    1. Thanks so much Karena! I know you’ve struggled with many of these things. I jotted your number down and will call you!
      xxJennifer

  21. Good morning Jen–I am glad to hear you finally have an answer but a hip replacement was not what we were hoping for. I am relieved that found a caring physician who can be straight with you about treatment. Scott’s surgeon from a couple of weeks ago was in his 30’s, I’m just sure of it. Excellent surgeon and bedside manner. 🙂 I’m sure he knows who DHowser is. We are off to wine country now that my patient is healed enough to enjoy himself. Have a wonderful weekend!
    Let’s catch up soon!
    xx, Heather

    1. It really wasn’t what I was hoping to be the answer. But I’d rather be treated respectfully and told the truth. So now I deal with it and move forward. I hope my nurse is half as good as you’ve been to Scott!!
      XXJennifer

  22. Congratulations on finally finding a doctor that would do his/her job. Sheesh. I can’t believe you received such cavalier treatment. Hope things continue to look up from here on in.

  23. More and more these days we’re required to be our own medical advocates. It’s scary because we don’t know medicine. But we do know when we’re being brushed off.
    My son broke his leg last month, 500 miles away in college. When my son asked his Orthopedist questions (answers I wanted, actually) he was brushed off, treated with disrespect because of his age too (I’m sure). Wonder what age it is that allows you the luxury of medical respect.

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