Monday, April 28, 2014

Fake it til you make it

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.
Game plan:
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.


  1. I've read your blog before but never commented and I love this post :). So, I'm going to participate.

    I will run a sub-45 minute 10K on May 17. And you will run your 1:57, confidently.

    I wish the best for your dad :(. GI issues stink (no pun intended), and it's hard for us as we face our parents' health issues and possible mortality. Also, big kudos to picky bars for supplying you and your family with snacks during your dad's hospitalization.

  2. Fake it until you make it.

    Wishing your father great health Pheobe.

    He WILL get healthy. You WILL run 1:57.

    Think it. Say it. Do it.

  3. I will fix my back, and run again.

    1. I like that! If you are ever near me, I'll run with you.

  4. Great post. Best of luck to your dad, he will get healthy. You will run 1:57. And I will break 15 minutes in the 5K.

  5. Phoebs, Despite your incredible lack of filter at times, I am a big fan! I also have a very sick parent and wish the best for your Dad. Your recent blog entry is quite helpful. I am looking forward to watching you BALL this year at Pre and elsewhere. Also, love your blog. Way to go! @billpowers1970

    1. Hah! I laughed out loud at the first part of this! Life is boring if we censure everything.

      But I'm really glad it helps. Being sick sucks. Especially for the support system. I send you good vibes, and hope your parent gets healthy!

  6. Hey Phoebe,

    My thoughts and prayers are with your family and father. You WILL run 1:57. I will run 2:59 at this fall's Portland Marathon.

    See you at Pre!

    Eric L

  7. My thoughts and prayers for your Dad.I'm pulling for you to run that 1:57!! You will run that 1:57. I will finish my first marathon ( The Eugene Marathon) without walking, and with a big smile on my face!!

  8. Sending healing and speedy thoughts to your dad, and you, respectively! There is something about saying goals out loud -- even with the most individual of battles (health challenges, running fast), you find that there are so many behind you pulling for your success. You will run that 1:57 and your dad will find respite from his troubles! Godspeed to both of you!

  9. This hits close to him. Stay the course. Thanks for the candour.