Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Irony In My Life

We have known how fortunate we are to be approaching our mid-50's with all of our parents still living and until recently, in good health.  We have watched our friends struggle with difficult decisions regarding care of their parents and been fully aware that it was only a matter of time until it would be our turn.  Late last summer, my father-in-law (age 85) was diagnosed with cancer of the sinuses.  Already showing signs of dementia, the weeks of radiation and chemo to his head and neck area have truly taken their toll.  The treatments worked for the cancer, but we've come to understand that the whole process made a tremendous impact on his mental capabilities. As it is with most cancer patients receiving treatment to the head and neck area, a feeding tube had to be inserted because he would not or could not continue to eat. Because of his diminished mental capacities, the feeding tube caused problems from the beginning that were unrelated to eating.  It was finally removed a couple of weeks ago when his doctor determined that, although not eating anywhere near normally, he was eating enough to sustain his weight.  Unfortunately, now he is refusing to eat at all.  (There is family history here and compelling reasons why he may or may not be doing this on purpose, but that is not the point of this post.)

My husband has gone to their home this morning to make some decisions with his mom about how to proceed with his dad's care.  As he was leaving, I told him through my tears, that I would give anything on this earth to be able to give his dad these last 22 pounds I am struggling so to lose and this appetite I cannot seem to control.  What an incredible irony that I sit here on my sofa begging for the strength and courage to stay motivated NOT to eat while across town, two of the most precious people in my life, beg for the strength and courage to know how to motivate someone that MUST eat in order to stay alive. 

In BOTH situations, just the right amount of calories and nutrients will solve the struggle.  This is the amazing wonder and miracle of how our bodies are designed.   In BOTH situations, the struggle is more mental than physical.  This is what motivates me today.   These are the ironies of life.


  1. Oh how sad. I do hope your father-in-law gains some strength through an increased appetite. Sadly once dementia gains a hold, reason and motivation seem to vanish. (My ex MIL has become a shadow of her former self and it's heart-breaking to witness this once strong, talkative and slightly bossy woman reduced to an empty shell who just sits and sits, in silence.)

    There is a great irony there. One of my fears is becoming immobile as I age, yet I spend far too much time sitting. I think we just have to do the best we can with our healthy and active years. I'd hate to look back and see that I wasted opportunities to move and to really live my life. With fat padding it's so much easier to become 'older' than we really are.

  2. Sharon,
    I am so sorry. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  3. I am so so sorry to hear of these challenges for your husband, you, and his family. I am thinking of you all and just prayed for you.

  4. These are some of life's most difficult circumstances - dealing with the aging and deteriorating health of parents. I've been there 4 times (inc. in-laws) and know how stressful these times will be. Prayers for all of you as you make important decisions.

    Margie M. writes at:

  5. Don't know if medical marijuana is legal where you live, but one of the main reasons for it is to increase appetite. Most people die thin, even if they weren't usually that way.