Thursday, December 29, 2011

To eat or not to eat?

My father-in-law went to the hospital a few days ago. He had just returned from a weeklong stay, 4-5 days prior. He was treated for anemia, possible pneumonia, and coronary heart disease. He came home yesterday after treatment for hyperklemia (high potassium), chronic kidney failure, anemia, gastritis, and other conditions.

He has diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, a pacemaker (he had several heart attacks). He takes nearly a dozen medications.

He's 80.

Usually when he gets home from his twice-a-year hospital stays, the family begin their lectures: don't eat unhealthy foods, drink more water, walk more. Sit up. Don't always sleep.

His diet is "kept under control" for 2-3 weeks after he returns from the hospital.
Then the complaining begins. He'll say he can't stand the food. No one cares about his feelings. He says, he is dying. He gives my mother-in-law a full-blast guilt trip. While my sister-in-law and I encourage her to ignore his bad food requests, he gives her the "You don't care about me, don't you?" speech.

In our culture it is understood if an old person wants to eat the way they want, their wishes are to be respected for they may not have long to live. In theory it is a beautiful treatment of our elders, while in reality it is a speedy way to get to death.

While the family repeatedly tell him to keep his health in check, it all goes away after a few weeks. They have their own health issues to worry about.

My mother-in-law gives us her own guilt trip. "You will understand someday..." she says, speaking of restrictions we may face in food eventually.

My brother-in-law is probably the only one who actively tries to keep his health in check in this home. It's hard in a house where food is loved and prepared with care. The tastier the food is, the happier spirits are. While some enjoy the food spicy, others cannot tolerate it. While some eat this, others rather eat that. It can be tough living with many people.

I have my own spicy-limit food tolerance. But I ignore it most of the time until my body shuts down. Having to prepare separate meals makes me anxious. Nervous.

Maybe my mother-in-law sees it the same for my father-in-law. Maybe it makes her uncomfortable to serve him "less tasty" food than the rest of the family." It almost seems as if he is being restricted from food altogether.

When we are allowed to eat something "better than him" we are reminded to keep it hush-hush.

Meanwhile the family will make their routine visits. Health tips will keep pouring in. People will go on with their lives. And so will he until his body cannot take it anymore. Once again. (God knows best).

May God give us the wisdom strength and perserverance to carry on.

1 comment:

sippingchai said...

Wow, Subhanallah, that sounds like a tough position to be in. I can understand part of it for sure. My father needs to be on a special diet. He is still young and has the chance to improve his health, but it is always the same cycle. First few weeks he watches his diet and my mom cooks accordingly. Then, he decides he'd rather enjoy his meals. Ameen to your du'a!