My husband has a diabetic complication in his leg, but refuses to let doctors amputate it. He says he would rather die. What are my options?

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He is 60 years old.

Answers 1 to 10 of 17
If he is competent and this is a matter of vanity or being obstinate, you cannot force him to do anything unfortunately. But at some point the
decision will not be his choice.

Ages ago my paternal grandmother had gangrene set in on her toes
due to complications from diabetes. She was good about taking medication but not about hygiene. MD wanted to remove 3 toes. She refused. It spread to her foot. When the pain got unbearable about year & half later, she decided that NOW she wanted the toes removed. At that point, they had to remove above knee and also removed all the other toes on the other foot. Any decision making ability had been taken from her as she waited too long/too late. She got fitted for a prosthetic but refused to work with rehab. Her MD's were totally over her and who could blame them. She could not return to her apt and dog, as she HAD to be ambulatory to live there- this was before ADA. Ended up in a sub-par nursing home just miserable as it was all avoidable. This was ages ago.... point is she had a choice and made the worst decisions.

Have you met others who have gone thru the surgery and have a prosthetic? Their really amazing. Maybe you can contact the
Amputee Coalition of America for help not just for him but for you to understand what the situation will be like for you.

60 is really young, is this a matter of pure vanity or is it fear? Are there other issues - like diabetic eye problems? Does he take his meds and watch his diet? If not, who is going to take care of him when he can't?
Yes, it is vanity and fear, no doubt. He has had three amputations on the same foot in the past 8 years because of gangrene, he now has only a partial foot. He takes his meds, however, we do not have insurance, which is another difficulty in itself. Even when we did have insurance he has had an open sore across the entire width of his foot. I believe he is getting gangrene again. He has just started receiving disability, from what I understand he can not apply for Medicare for two years, and makes too much money for Medicaid. I have contacted Amputee Coalition, but have not heard back from them.
Top Answer
It's a difficult situation.
3 in 8 years that's such commotion to go through. Maybe reflecting on that is keeping him from going through another surgery. Also none of these have solved the problem so perhaps he thinks another surgery would be the same. Were these all the same surgeon - or three different ones?
If it's always been the same MD, it might be a good idea to see someone
totally new, if they were all different maybe go back to the one that you all got along best with. What does his internal medicine MD recommend?
Are you going with him when he talks with his doctors? If not ,you really should as they may have been more conservative with his 3 amputations
because that's what he insisted upon and they wanted to do more.

The key seems to be having it done below the knee as it's a more sucessfull prosthetic "fit" and your knee is easier to make it work.

What is his pain level? Will he tell you? Is it constant?

Yes, you're right about Medicare - it's 62 and older. You can sign up 6 months in advance of his birthday. However, if he starts drawing his
Social Security and Medicare at 62 it will be at the lowest possible monthly payment. If you can wait till 65 or even longer, the payment will
be substantially more over time. Finances are such a part of what can be done. The New York Times has a blog - "The New Old Age" that is really realistic on $$ issues you might want to check out. Good luck

If he is considered disabled which it sure sounds like he can get medicare earlier than 62 someone needs to look into this for him but if he refuses surgery you can not make him but when the pain gets worse he will want the surgery but it may be too latgive him another chance maybe another MD who might get through to him-there are people who can not imagine losing a leg you can only try to make him understand and if you have done all you can you may just have to step back and let him make up his mind but have him tell you why he does not want to have medicial attention-let us know how it goes.
Yes, please contact us for information. That's why we're here!

What an agonizing decision he had to make! Amazing spirit and bravery. If he or his family needs information, they can contact us.

For information about limb loss, limb loss prevention, prosthetics, the ACA Youth Camp and the ACA Peer Visitation Program, contact the nonprofit organization The Amputee Coalition of America, at 888/267-5669 or visit them at
Maybe showing him a video of gangrene and what happens to bodies and limbs? That is not a good thing for anyone, let alone a diabetic to ignore, especially if there is a break in his skin. Good luck! It is nice that others have shared resources that are available to you.
Many thanks to everyone that has responded. Your words are helpful.
and encouraging. I have indeed had to take a step back, and he has asked me today to make another appointment for him. This too is very encouraging. I appreciate all of the advice here.
Best of luck to both of you.

Remember to write any & all your ??'s down between now and the next appointment. Let us know how it goes.
Thanks! Will do!
Well, all I can say is you need to call him a big baby...there are thousands of amputees living a full active life with prosthtetic legs, arms, hands...I realize he is used to having his legs he was born with, but you need to lay before him how if he dies, he won't be able to be with his family anymore. If he DOES have to have his leg removed, (and agrees) then it should be cut where a prosthetic can be put on after it heals. I have seen blotch amputee jobs where the patient had to go back and have it cut AGAIN to be able to fit a prostheitc. My heart goes out to you, and your Dad, but sometimes tough decisions have to be made in this unfair world that we live in. Remind him, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

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