As I stood there in my pantry after having a tough conversation with my mom, I immediately reached for the box of crackers to relieve my hunger at snack time. Crackers are the one thing I tend to grab if I am feeling stressed, emotional or overwhelmed. I learned that a few years ago when Bill deployed. Maybe it's because I would watch my Dad eat a whole roll of Ritz in one sitting. I thought for a moment and said in my head, "NO. You are not doing this..go grab the fruit in your fridge." So I did. I didn't even open the package so it was easy to put it back. I felt proud of myself for not caving in. It's interesting how I CRAVE certain "foods" in certain moments of my life. Usually, I am completely under control.
So my mom is doing great! She drives herself to her appointments and is back in a normal routine of life. I see her about 3 times a month not related to her illness. I typically call her every day around 3pm when I know it's her snack and medicine time. We will chat anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 minutes. Before her diagnosis, we would talk 1x a week, sometimes more... Today was longer than I thought.
My dad had a moment which concerned Bill and me while we were celebrating xmas together this past weekend. He had hiccups and started banging his chest as he headed out for fresh air. I was on alarm..but then it went away. For Bill to randomly bring it up to me the next morning, I knew it must be a big deal and I was reminded of it again. I sent my parents a text with some info: Man's only heart attack clue-non stop hiccups. This can indicate inflammation around the heart or a pending heart attack. The whole thing we observed seemed....DIFFERENT. yet, as his daughter, of course I must have blocked it out or been in denial that very day. I learned that he does get them from time to time, more so lately.
If you know me, or anyone in life, I don't want people gossiping about this. My dad would probably be really mad at me if he knew I was writing openly about him. However, if you do KNOW me, you know how he is my greatest motivator for why I do what I do: Help others get healthier.
My mom and I were talking about his depression. It has been getting worse as the months go by. Partly for his dreams being crushed of retiring in Florida. He is just so focused on being able to have some time in life not working in the warmth. With my mom's recent diagnosis, she cannot be away from the medical care up here. Among other things, I have noted to her this summer, that while my dad IS a quiet guy generally..His silence seemed louder, than ever. Do you know what I mean by that? It feels powerfully loud. What hit me hard was when she said he has lost a twinkle or form of light in his eyes, that she doesn't know how to help.
It's hard to watch someone struggle. We talked about how her whole 40 years of being married to him she has tried to help him and show him the way to happiness.."Mom, you can't make someone change if they don't want to." I said. I see it in my line of work. People truly will "get healthier" when they want to and are ready. Even if they're paying someone, sometimes that's not even enough to make them want it. If a family member wishes, it won't even be enough for that person to change either. "Sometimes, it takes a heart attack for someone to change their ways to be healthier...if it's not too late." I said. I have come to terms with being at peace that I can't change anyone, except myself. I can only help those who want to be helped... My mom said, it's not a matter of IF he gets a heart attack anymore. It's a matter of When." I got silent, I know she is right.
I have spent so many of my adult years knowing that we would get to this point with the junk he eats as fuel and comfort. An attack hasn't happened yet...Poor health will eventually catch up to you. In his case, addressing the hurt from his child hood could have made a difference. He didn't think he needed it. His growing belly will eventually win.
I feel angry. When I see how many other people in our country look to be about his size, I want to yell, "WAKE UP!" But somehow it is socially acceptable to NOT BE HEALTHY. It is acceptable to be at the point of having medical conditions. It is not acceptable to voice concerns because you could offend someone. That's where we are at.
I KNOW my Dad's story is going to be just like so many Americans. Children are going to lose their parents at a young age. This could be prevented. This could be delayed! I just don't want other people to go through what I've gone through as a child of someone depressed/obese.
Back to my mom. She mentioned how with her illness she wished my Dad could be the rock she needs. He is crumbling...I was quick to say, "You've got me, Mom." I hope that's enough.
My commitment to myself (and others by default) is to always prioritize health and my own mental well being. No matter what is thrown at me. I am going to stand up, look in the mirror, and fight. Fight for me. Fight for you.