Monday, February 28, 2011

Something I need to get off my chest

This has nothing to do with politics, guns, law, current events, big bums, beer or any of the things I usually talk about here, but this is my forum so why not write it here.

My father has an thoracic aortic aneyurism. He's had it for several years now, usually it stays the same size, occasionally it'll grow a fraction of a centimeter. This is the kind of thing where if it blows there's a good chance they're not going to be able to save him. My grandpa died of a massive heart attack in his late 50's with no symptoms, warning signs or previous heart trouble. According to dad the autopsy said something to the effect of "it looked like a bomb went off in his chest," so the assumption is poppop probably had the same thoracic aaortic aneyurism dad has.

Since he got the diagnosis dad's been under strict orders to lose weight, change his eating, lifestyle, stress* level, drink less beer and avoid anything beyond light/moderate physical exertion. He's also not supposed to lift anymore than 20 pounds or so. He hasn't done most of these things all that well and trying to look out for him is like talking to a brick wall. The man is more stubborn than I am for christsakes.

When we get significant snow I'll pack a bag, drive to my parents' and shovel everything. Despite my coming home specifically so he will not shovel he'll be right out there with me no matter how strenuously I object. Hell, last during last winters dumping he and my 87 year old grandpa were out there shoveling with me despite myself, my sisters, and my mother repeatedly telling them to go inside. To make matters worse he'll come in after doing something like that and then complain about not feeling well. *headdesk*

I visited this weekend to take Zack to the park and what was dad doing when I pulled up? Oh, just hauling a 50 pound bag of dogfood out of the trunk and into the house. He'll also sit in a 103-104 degree hottub for half an hour or more which I damn well know he shouldn't do, but he refuses to turn the heat down.

I don't know, it just frustrates me to all hell, because nothing I do or say makes one damn bit of difference. In fact, it's usually met with annoyance that I dare tell (suggest) him what to do or a pessimistic "I'm gonna die anyway." The man may frustrate me like hell and we may not always get along, but I'd like to have him around for another 10-15 years at least.

*It's a good thing I don't live there now. Dad doesn't really have my demeanor. My presence often tends to cause/exacerbate bouts of narcissistic rage that are made worse by the fact that I don't react in kind. Such episodes can't be good for his heart (or my stress level)

**Nearly 1 in 5 patients dying within a month of having surgery on a thoracic aortic aneyurism does not sound "encouraging" to me no matter what the headline suggests. Note that this is for endovascular repair, which is supposed to be less risky than open heart and which dad isn't a candidate for.

OK, there's my mindless, uninteresting rant for today. The free ice cream is shitty today. Deal with it folks.


North said...

Honestly, Mike, it is a fine post. You don't have to be on subject for me, and probably not for anyone else. If it is a cathartic post that helps you, then good. I do the same, too.

I hope everything straightens up.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

What's the point in having a blog if you can't write about what's bothering you?

My dad's going to be 69 this year, and I'm starting to have to face not having him around forever. I remember the days when it felt like he was going to live forever just to spite me.

It doesn't sound like you have any good options. You can either tell him that you're going to do what you think is best, and he better learn to live with it, or you can tell him that you're done coddling him and when he's decided to stop acting like a fool he can call you. Neither one is a great choice. You're pretty much damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Make your best decision, and realize that no one but you will know that you've been a good son.

North said...

Sean: I have an octogenarian. I was thinking of him and trying to come up with a bit of advice for Mike. But I think you helped. You presented two choices, neither of which you thought were good choices.

But then a third choice, Mike, would be to tell him - perhaps expressed with frustration - that you are giving him Sean's two choices and that neither is a choice you like.

This might open him up to see things from your point of view. And perhaps he will see then without the fog of stubbornness that he needs to cooperate.

Mike W. said...

You know, after writing this I realized I DO understand where he's coming from, I just don't like it.

I mean hell I've been guilty of the same at times when recovering from surgeries etc. You want to live your life, do all the things you used to, etc. It's a pride issue.

North - Thanks for commenting and for the kind words. I hope you keep on reading my ramblings here.

Sean - My dad will be 63 this year. In all honesty I'll probably keep on bugging him and helping out. I can't really expect my sisters to come help with manual labor. My brother has his own family to care for and just isn't around to help with such things. If I don't help out who will?

Sean D Sorrentino said...

"If I don't help out who will?"

No one. And whose fault would that be? The fact that you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something.

If you decide to continue helping, you need to be clear about why. If you are doing it because you think that it is the right thing to do, and you can stand never getting any recognition, and probably getting hated for it, then keep helping. If you are hoping that he will change his mind and suddly start appreciating you, it's going to hurt.

If you know in your heart that you are right, nothing anyone else, including your dad, says will matter.

North said...

Mike - If it is OK, I'd like to link to your blog in my blog roll. Please let me know.

Sabra said...

Mike, I know how you feel, pretty much exactly. My uncle died in 2004, in his mid-40s, from complications from Type I diabetes. He never took care of himself. He ate what he wanted, chain smoked, didn't take his insulin when he should have, etc. He was more of a father to me than my own dad, and it was sheer hell to watch him decline, even though the worst of it happened after I'd married and moved away. It breaks my heart that he only met my oldest daughter, and that just once (when she was a baby).

There's not much chance of him listening to you. There wouldn't be even if you both got along better. Most parents don't listen to their kids. Help if you want to, but like Sean said, you don't have to. You have zero moral obligation to bang your head against the wall trying to get your dad to save himself.

Weer'd Beard said...

Good post, Mike, and I hope it does take some weight off your chest.

My Mom is an RN and has taken care of many a terminal patient. She's decided that she's not going out that way, and has written and verbal orders for her not to be on extended life support, and if she does come down with a terminal illness she'll be DNR. Also she's informed us that if she really starts slipping she's going to quit eating.

Now none of those things are terribly pleasant to talk or think about, but Mom has set the terms on how she's going to live.

Maybe that's how you need to discuss this. Obviously such an aneyurism is terminal (of course we never know what's going to get us, he could get hit by a bus, or slip on a banana peel)maybe you need to ask him what's more important. Living for as long as he can, or sacrificing some time to live how he wants to live.

There are no right answers. Many chose the former, and certainly that's the Doctor's advice. People like my Mother have chose the latter, where she'd rather die early than live sick and infirm.

Best wishes to you and your family, buddy, this isn't pleasant stuff at all.

Lawyer said...

I'm stopping by to offer my prayers and support. Honestly, I don't have anything else to add to the advice already given.

Best to you and your dad.

Laura said...

Yep, there's no question: with regards to stubbornness and refusal to act in the best interests of your health, you and he are two of a kind.

It's a pity your sisters can't be arsed to help. Yes, you CAN expect them to long as they're in good health and are capable of lifting things, they're fully capable of being out there with you. Hell, I helped my dad every snowfall and matched him load for load until I moved out (and I'll go back and help if my mom lets me know he could use my help).

PS: get to the doc about your hand already.

Mike W. said...

Laura - Yeah, we're both stubborn as all hell.

My sisters have helped in the past, but didn't this year. I'll admit I was more than a little annoyed that they were sitting inside watching movies while I was outside working my ass off. (and you know damn well how much snow we've gotten the past two winters.)

I still haven't gotten anything done about the hand...

As for dad, I need to keep him around at least long enough to win that $100 bet with him, so he needs to stay around for at least another 13 years.