Packing your funeral dress for a potential funeral is a weird feeling. Am I being pessimistic? Am I doubting my dad? Needless to say, I buried it way deep in the suitcase in its own pocket so I wouldn’t have a visual reminder of the situation.
My dad has been struggling with G.I issues for a few months now. The doctors don’t know why it flares up. I have a theory that it is stress related.
The issue is stress triggers G.I issues. G.I issues cause stress. Thus my dad was stuck in an endless stress loop cycle.
I flew home immediately. When I got to him, he was ridiculously close to death and ridiculously refusing to go to the hospital.
It’s like all his energy was focused on ending the pain, and the hopelessness was directing him to the path of least resistance: death. He kept saying, “I just can’t live like this.” I would reply, “You definitely can’t. Which is why you have to get healthy. Death is not the only option here.”
I am good at running because I can focus with such intensity that I feel like I am actively willing the future. I get this from my dad.
This can be great if your mind is fixated on running 1.57.
This can be a death sentence if your mind is fixated on dying.
I felt helpless, but decided the best thing I could do was to get him to focus on healing instead of dying.
1. Get dad to quit saying “I want to die.”
2. Make him laugh
3. Help him believe he will get better.
This is when I came up with the idea (mostly for my own peace of mind) of making him say, “I will get healthy” every hour.
The conversation went a little something like this:
Hey, Dad, I think you should say “I will get healthy” every hour. It sounds stupid, I know. Look, I’ll do it with you. I’ll say, “I will run 1.57.”
Hey, Phe, that’s stupid. Do you not see how much pain I’m in? Your voice is making my stomach hurt. If I say it, will you shut up?
Victory was mine!
The first few times my dad was not the least bit enthusiastic.
(eye roll) yes, I’ll get healthy. ..if I don’t die first.
I immediately made him correct it to “yes I’ll get better”
His tone was still crappy.
I said, “I will run 1.57” confidently.
I literally called him or visited him every hour and made him say it on the top of the hour. Every hour. “I will get healthy”
“Good! and I will run 1.57” I said.
He was snarky McSnark pants for the first 2 days.
Every time I saw him I was sure to point out why he looks better. I think deep down, he really appreciated it.
“Dad! You totally don’t look like a zombie after that blood transfusion!”
“Dad! Your mood is way better!”
“Dad! Your test came back not-worse! That’s so good! You’ve halted it!”
The morning of day 3 in the hospital something amazing happened. He called me just to talk and be normal. At the end of the conversation:
“I will get healthy”
“Yep. And I will run 1.57”
He finally got to the point to where my voice didn’t make his stomach hurt, and he became aware of other lesser problems! Which is totally a step in the right direction!
“Phe. My body is withering away. I was doing that stair stepper all the time, and my butt was so firm, you could bounce a quarter off it. I’ve been looking at my butt in the mirror for the past hour and it’s not there! I have an oldman no butt”
“Phe, I think I look good thin. I’m going to keep the weight off but get all lean and muscley.”
“Phe, I think I’m addicted to milk. I think about it all the time. I crave it. I want it. I would drink 2 gallons a day if I could. I think this is what heroin addicts feel like. And I have to give up milk because I think it could be the cause of this disease.”
On day 5 of the “I will get healthy” experiment, he saw significant improvement! He is talking about the game plan as to how he will stay healthy. His main concern is mostly about how talking about digestion issues is really killing his game with the hot nurses.
Day 6, I fly back to Seattle. He has had a minor set back. I think it’s because he snuck and ate that package of Oreos. Like myself, he cannot be left unsupervised around food.
So today, he is doing OK. Not 100% but definitely toward improvement. I continue to call him daily.
If you want to join in the fake-it-til-you-make-it experiment, feel free to feel stupid and state your goals out loud with my dad and me at the top of the hour. I’ll totally believe in you--even if you temporarily don’t believe in yourself, because it works.
I will run 1.57.
Side note Thank You:
Hospitals create Picky eaters! And Picky bars came to the rescue with some nom noms! Thank you for that Picky care package. Life savors, literally.