If I hadn’t emotionally disconnected from my dad and the family he has created after him and my mom separated, I would have been dealt some jarring news earlier today on some of my dad’s views on life and the way he chooses to live it.
His wife had made an appointment with the doctor for a general physical at the end of January of this year. In doing so, she signed him up for an appointment for the same physical to make sure everything was running smoothly (or as smooth as possible.) My dad is between five foot ten and six feet and weights over two-hundred and fifty pounds; I know things aren’t alright. He on the other hand is convinced that everything is going just fine inside and outside his body. By him telling himself this constantly, he has justified the need to not go to the doctor unless a drastic emergency (i.e a heart attack, stroke, or seizure.) So when he was told the news about his physical, he got in a bad mood and tried to explain to me that he doesn’t like the doctor and really doesn’t want to go.
Time went on, he eventually made it out to the doctor, they ran some tests on him from his blood and told him to come back in a week. A week has gone by and he can since come back with his results. Aside from his obviously unhealthy lifestyle choices: overweight, drinks more than ten beers a week, smokes a pack of cigarettes about every two weeks, eats unhealthy foods then proceeds to sleep right after inhaling his meals, he found out that his blood sugar is too high and he is a borderline diabetic. The doctor recommended he take some medication to help assist with this, to which he denied. This stubborn behavior comes as no surprise to me. My dad is a creature of habit and like he had mentioned before, it will take a drastic, life-threatening emergency to get him to change in his ways. He convinced the doctor that he planned on controlling his blood sugar with his diet, and that no pills were necessary. He now has to get one of those diabetic blood sugar checking devices that you have to prick your finger with and send the strip into the machine so it can measure how high or low your sugar is.
Him being a creature of habit, I know this is going to be easier said than done. I politely suggested that maybe he try exercising more than what he argues working at a grocery store, walking around all day would be enough. He has had this job for over twenty years and nothing has changed. I tried to tell him just walking after your meals and eating slower could make a big difference not only in your blood sugar, but your energy levels. I don’t want to get too geeky on the physiological benefits these two things promote, so I’ll just say he wasn’t convinced by what the doctors told him to do, let alone his own son who is studying the ways in which the body functions. He didn’t really have a plan as to take control of this issue, and didn’t seem to take it seriously. I tried to explain to him that preventative care is just as important as any other thing you can do for yourself. He then proceeded to reveal his deeper and more self destructive philosophy on life.
My dad told me he was capable of losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle, he then said that if that were to happen and he all of a sudden gets hit by a bus and suddenly dies then he would have performed all that work for something that doesn’t make him happy as a person. He explained that he was happy and content with his unhealthy lifestyle and had the nerve to tell the doctor that he was not going to come back for a further evaluation. To him, preventative care as a concept seemed like a waste of time. If something is going to happen, let it happen he would say. The scary part is a good friend of his recently underwent a stroke and was on the verge of having a fatal episode because of the same lifestyle choices being made. Although his friend can now speak and begin to move his limbs, he is now in a debt their family will never be able to pay and will have to undergo therapies to return to a once normal state. If this experience doesn’t give somebody like my dad a realization that that may happen to him, than nothing will.
There are two sides of me that are conflicted with this point of view. As a son I want whats best for my dad and wish he wouldn’t do this. I’ve had nightmares of my mom showing this same type of apathy only involving her finances instead of her health. Now to see my dad choose to willingly throw his health away is a shocking thing to take in. Since I have my foot in the door in working in the medical field, I have learned through work and by living with my dad long enough to learn to disconnect from things I know will emotionally cripple me and prevent me from bettering myself. Which is what leads me to the second point of view I still have.
My dad is a human being born and raised right here in southern California. He has lived here all his life and has fully adopted the notion of the freedom to do whatever you want as an American. It is hard to argue with this, free will can never be argued against no matter how hard the elitist dictator in me want to control it. He can do with his body whatever he pleases and there is no one who can force him to do anything different. Not only that, but he tells me that he is happy living the way he lives. To most of us, this is our goal in life. To be happy in our own skin and to enjoy life however it may come. Just because I disagree with his definition of the things that make him happy, I cannot deny him his happiness, which is his entire argument. As much as I don’t want to say it, he has a point.
As one human being to another, I have to respect his decision to stick with what he knows, and what makes him happy. As a biological son and family member, I am worried that something serious is going to happen, he is going to end up doing irreversible damage to himself, tons of debt is going to be passed on to his children, and there is nothing we can do about it. Going back to the perspective of one human being to another, this is equally as devastating to see first hand when it comes to the grand scheme of living as an organized population. What with the Affordable Care Act starting to take full swing, it’s people like my dad who’s medical bills I am going to have to pay for while he chooses to slowly kill himself. I as an American citizen am unwilling to contribute in helping someone that doesn’t want the help that is being provided for him. I told my dad I would be upset if I was his doctor because he told her how to do her job and that no matter what she said, he wasn’t going to follow what she advised. It’s attitudes like my dad’s that give me no hope for the human race. He is slowly burying himself, and causing a future burden for others; more importantly, to his family. I can see two different opinions on this matter and have to respect his decision no matter how much I disagree with it.
I learned something new about my dad today. Had I not detached from him like I wish for his other children to one day to as to prevent future frustration, I would see this the same as the nightmares of my mother burying herself in debt with no regard for her financial well-being. This is going to take some time to digest but when speaking of the here and now, life must go on.