Born againJuly 12, 2022
The patient who is not “sleeping”July 28, 2022
They brought him to my outpatient clinic. His file read Mr V, 90 years. The tall built elderly gentleman, flanked by his two sons on either side, looked tired and slightly out of breath as he trudged along to the patient’s couch.
He had progressive breathlessness for the past 7-10 days, which had increased significantly over the past few days. He looked pale and was taking in short, quick breaths. His chest was barrel-shaped, typically seen in smokers, although often seen in the aged, and had a few crackles in his lower chest. As I was nearing completion of my physical examination, I casually asked him
“Did you smoke earlier?”
He looked at me, bewildered. I repeated the question, and almost felt embarrassed at asking this 90-year-old, such a weird question when his puzzled look gave way to toothless laughter.
” I used to and still continue to …” and chuckled as his sons echoed his reply
Now it was my turn to look bewildered.
He explained how in the past many doctors had told him to stop, then added.. “You are now old, it doesn’t matter,.. continue to smoke. ”
I spoke on the ill effects of smoking and about quality of life as opposed to longevity. I explained how smoking could indirectly be the cause for his regular episodes of chest pain that he had, while secretly cursing other fellow members of ‘the noble’ profession, who advised him so. After all, he had few chronic illnesses that stalked men of his age and were likely to have a good number of years left.
After jotting down the prescription and necessary tests, I asked him if he would keep his word. Taking a long drawn breath, he nodded and left.
Who are we to decide if someone’s time is up? Age is just a number and there’s no switch up there which will be turned off the moment one crosses a certain point. Why do we not value the lives of our aged folk?
Today’s 70 is yesterday’s 60 …
And tomorrow’s 80 is today’s 70…
Refuse to grow old …