Mrs. Koppel explained that she went for a complete physical in 2001 because she couldn’t walk for half a block without needing to stop and catch her breath. At the end of the physical, her doctor simply told her “lose ten pounds and you’ll feel like a new woman.” She said she was not given a simple breathing test that she now knows is available in every community and would have diagnosed her problem.
While on vacation with her family, she couldn’t even walk three steps and was gasping to breathe. Her breathing was noisy and difficult. Rushing to Mayo Clinic, it was only then that she was given a breathing test and discovered she had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Her COPD had progressed so far that she was given five years to live.
My mother-in-law might be alive today, might have lived to see her grandchildren enter kindergarten, if her physicians had been willing to consider that her sudden loss of 80 lbs might be a symptom of something, say, failing kidneys, rather than a reason to celebrate.