I’m getting my dad a chocolate shake for his birthday today.
It never fails. There has never been a year when I’ve known what to get my dad for his birthday….or Christmas, or Father’s Day, or any of it.
He is nearly impossible because he is a man with very few wants, and does absolutely no hoarding or shopping at all. Not even a little bit.
In the past, the fallback gift has always been a gift card to Fleet Farm or Lowe’s because then he could put it towards a new tool or toy for his main hobbies – working outside in his yard, or downstairs in the basement woodworking.
But currently, my fallback gift is not a fallback gift because he’s not working in the yard he loves (it’s winter, so he wouldn’t be doing it a ton anyway) nor is he woodworking in the basement.
Happy Birthday, Dad
Today is my dad’s birthday, and for his birthday I got him a McDonald’s gift card so he could have a chocolate shake whenever he wanted one.
Right about now your eyes are bulging out and you aren’t quite sure you’re reading my blog.
But you are.
On January 4, I drove my mom and dad up early in the morning to the VA in Minneapolis. It was the day Dad was supposed to start chemo.The only problem was he had been horribly sick, lost even more weight, and I knew deep down that not only would they not start chemo that day, but that he would once again be admitted to the hospital.
And I was right.
That day was a struggle. I found my heart breaking a million times and cried along with it. He was in so much pain, and his kidney-functioning numbers were incredibly off. He had also lost 10 more pounds since Christmas, and nothing was adding up.
Before anything else that day, he desperately needed a pain management system, and even though it took hours before he got any, I was adamant that they not just give him the pain IV, but instead that the anti-nausea medication be administered first. Dad was not happy with me – at all. I had to explain over-and-over why I was doing it and what the rationale was.
It took 15 minutes for all nausea meds to drip, and then within just a few minutes, the pain medications were in. And all was calm. There was no throwing up (Hallelujah, I was right about the nausea!), and Dad was finally hooked up to a hydration IV and at peace.
The team of doctors reviewed everything with us, and long story short, felt that no, no his kidneys were not failing, but instead that he was just severely dehydrated.
And that’s what it was, too. Within a couple days, he regained all 10 pounds and left the hospital.
Sodium and Calories
So back to the chocolate shake for Dad’s birthday today.
Part of the problem was that he was losing too much fluid (he actually does drink an adequate amount of water on a daily basis), so to button that all up they asked him if he likes McDonald’s shakes? I cringed, but then just listened. They said those shakes have more sodium in them than a large fry. Ever had ice cream? Okay then. Now you know why you’re so thirsty afterward.
Dad perked up, “Yes, oh yes, I love a chocolate shake from McDonald’s. In fact, I was going to get chemo today, get out of here, and grab one on the way home.”
I rolled my eyes but laughed.
So they told him to drink up those chocolate shakes – sodium and lots of calories.
On Sunday, Isaiah and I stopped at McDonald’s. I pulled up to the drive-thru and said, “One, medium chocolate shake, please.”
When I brought it to my dad, I said, “And if you drink all this, next time I’ll get you a large.”
And guess what? Within 30-minutes, it was gone. The entire chocolate shake was gone. (To be clear, he has not been putting down food or liquids like that at all anymore.)
He loved it, so for his birthday today, I got him a McDonald’s gift card so he could have a chocolate shake whenever he wanted one.
Do I wish my dad would drink bone broth, eat liver and onions, take probiotics, and nosh on prebiotics, stay away from dairy and sugar and everything else that I know could help him, even if just a little?
Yes. Absolutely, 1,000%, no doubt about it, yes.
Have I tried?
Yes. Absolutely, 1,000%, no doubt about it, yes.
But that was never, ever, ever my dad….not before his diagnosis and not now. If you know my dad, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, just believe me.
And right now, during these days, in these moments, and especially on his birthday, my one and only goal is to keep and make him happy and comfortable without any hassle or heck.
I will never stop my agenda for attempting to get him to add things to his diet that I think will help him during these days, but if he wants a chocolate shake, sugar-filled cake, or anything else for that matter, and that’s what he’ll eat to help keep the weight on and dehydration at bay then guess what?
I NEED my dad here to see his birthday again next year, and the next, and the next.
But I also can’t be selfish.
Whatever Dad wants – I’m making happen – focusing on now, today, this second.
So bring on the chocolate shake.
(But really dad, I could make you this Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake and you might like it better?! And also, Dad, whenever you want a new tool or toy from Lowe’s or Fleet Farm, I’ll just buy it because that will mean you are feeling well enough to enjoy your hobbies.)
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