Saturday, November 22, 2008

We Live Our Choices--But So Do Our Loved Ones

Saturday, November 22, 2008
Work 8a-6p

As put to paper Thursday night...
I sit frazzled and exhausted after spending the last 36 hours on the "other side" in the hospital. As I do, my father lies sedated and swollen in the ICU, the right side of his neck bandaged from the surgery that cleaned blockage from his carotid artery. I never enjoy seeing medicine from this perspective, but it is always enlightening.

While I was standing there feeling as if someone had just kicked me in the gut, looking at one of the strongest man I've ever known look as vulnerable as I've ever seen him, it occurred to me that not only was he a product of his choices, but so was I at that moment. We are all free to pretty much do as we please, make the choices that we want, and I feel strongly that this is how life should be. As we do make those choices, however, we should understand that we do not make them in a vacuum. We will live the consequences of those choices. Those loved ones who choose to stay close to us will live those consequences as well.

My father smoked for 30-some-odd years and shortly after quitting developed diabetes. That was over 15 years ago, and during that time he has not taken care of himself. For years a blood sugar of 250 was something to rejoice about. He ran the roads as a trucker, sleeping in short naps for days at a time and eating truck stop food. When he came home on the weekends, he took advantage of the home-cooked Southern meals and desserts. I can't count the number of times I begged him to quit long-haul trucking so he could take care of his medical problems, long heartfelt conversations always ending in tears. Eventually he retired from trucking, but he didn't take any better care of himself, and slowly the consequences starting stacking up. He developed horrific congestive heart failure, refusing to seek help until his legs were the size of tree trunks (he'd gone past cankles to thankles) and he could barely walk the 15 feet from his chair to the restroom. His vision began to decline and has reached the point that he has to read from large print books. He developed peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) that took away the feeling in his feet and lower legs and enteric neuropathy that led to diarrhea that almost killed him. Now, the vascular damage has reared its ugly head in the form of this blockage they have now removed from his carotid and two blockages in his heart that lie ominously in wait of intervention. His kidneys, weakened from the diabetes and hypertension, will not tolerate the contrast load of another cath for at least a month. So we'll go home and hope for the best between now and then.

At times, he acknowledges the problems, but most often he just ignores them or supresses any worries and becomes brooding and grumpy. My siblings and mother and I are the ones who talk and worry and beg him to change his ways. I find myself alternately angry and tearful--angry at him for not taking care of himself, for making the choices that brought him here. And when I break into tears, it is because I know those choices have shortened my time with my father, and my heart breaks to think of it.

He has made his choices, and he is living the consequences. He does not whine or expect anyone to feel sorry for him. He does not even expect us to suffer the consequences with him, but we do because we love him. That is the choice we make, and as such, we live the consequences of his choices as well. My hope is that my siblings and I learn from this experience and make our decisions accordingly, understanding that if we are blessed enough to have people who love us enough to hang around, our choices affect them, too.

Dad made it through the surgery beautifully and is well enough to be grumpy about going home which looks like it might happen tomorrow or Monday depending on his kidney function. His kidneys aren't happy about the insult of the contrast, but so far, they look like they will recover without requiring dialysis. Now, we just have to wait for the heart cath to place stents that will come in the next month or so and hope that his kidneys respond equally well the second time.

TODAY'S WORKOUT: Has yet to be done since I'm so off schedule working during the day, but I'll get it in later.

5 Rounds for time which ended up being just a fuzz over 20 min:
Pull-up x 5--assisted with the green band for 3 rounds and the green and black bands for 2 rounds
box jump x 5 push-up x 5--on one foot with the other foot crossed over. I've found this helps me create tension.
pistols 2/2--assisted w/1hand on the door jam
hindu push-ups x 8
jumping lunges x 20
Then...AMAP 16kg TGU's in 15 min=22
I had initially considered throwing a few rounds of swings onto the end of this, but as I went through, I realized that my body just wasn't up for that. The stress of my cold, the sleepless time in the hospital and worry coupled with dehydration just weren't conducive to a longer workout.

THURSDAY'S WORKOUT: None. I was exhausted when I got home from the hospital and needed the therapy of lying on the couch with the dog and the hubby.

WEDNESDAY'S WORKOUT: None. Worked Tues. night, slept a couple of hours and got up just in time to make it to the hospital to see Daddy before his cath. Spent the night with him there, so just didn't get it in.


  1. I wish your dad well... he is lucky to have you as a daughter.

  2. Thank you, Fawn, on both accounts.