How My Father’s Health Condition Made Me Shift To A Healthier Lifestyle

Two years ago, I was 25—young, carefree, and restless.

Not saying that 25-year-olds are all like this but I guess, when you’re in the quarter life age with all the passion and energy overflowing, you think you’re indestructible. You think you can do everything. Even go through sleepless nights in a row, travel to different places thinking nothing but the great outdoors, try everything you want, not minding what might happen next.

But the same age has made me look at life on a different perspective, after my family faced one challenge we need to conquer as one.

Back when I was in college, I stay up to 4am and wake up two hours later for my first class. I skip meals, drink lots of coffee and energy drinks, binge eat, stay till the wee hours again and drink more coffee to keep my eyelids from shutting down.  

But I guess my being overworked in extra-curricular activities (I was president of a student organization and an editor for the school’s paper) took a toll in my health. During my last year in college, I was confined in the hospital due to pneumonia. I neglected the fact that I am just human. I thought I can do everything.

I had to underwent pleural effusion because I had water in my lungs. I had to be in the hospital for two weeks. My parents where here and there, thinking how to pay the bills. My sister even forego her interview appointment for a job she wants, so she can accompany in the hospital. I was late for my application for practicum. In a nutshell, my then fast-paced, pressured college lifestyle was replaced by sights of dextrose, white walls, and frustrations.

As if this wasn’t a lesson to me, I continued staying up late at night after a few months. You see, I got back to school again and went straight to my responsibilities. What I usually say as my alibi is that I don’t have a vice. After all, smoking and drinking alcohol are not my thing (okay, the drinking part is a half-meant). I am slightly a nocturnal person too. I find myself on a productive state upon nighttime, when all there is to it is complete silence, with the tiny sounds of my keyboards as the only thing I can hear.

But last year was a turning point in my life—and as well as of my family’s. My father, who has diabetes and had a mild stroke years before, was diagnosed to have a chronic kidney disease. What supposed to be just a clinic check up ended up him being admitted, and eventually undergo dialysis treatment. You see, undergoing dialysis is lifetime.  His kidneys are not functioning well anymore, that is why he needs dialysis twice a week.

But we are up for that lifetime challenge though we know it won’t be that easy. The one week ordeal we had to go through in the hospital was something I will not forget. We had to wait for days so my father can be treated for dialysis, along with hundreds of other patients, senior citizens included.

But we know we can handle it in a swift by just working together as a team. Me and my sister are both working already. We’re confident we can support. My mother is still working and is set to retire this year.

We shifted tasks. My sister is my father’s personal nurse. She’s the one looking into every medication of my father. She accompanies my him to the dialysis center every Tuesdays and Fridays. After her work as a teacher, she’ll go directly there and together they’ll go home after his treatment.

I am living in Makati City, a couple of hours away from my parents’ home. My task is to regularly schedule an appointment for PCSO, a government-funded charity organization which helps people in need. I am fortunate that we get to receive regular assistance from them for my father’s medication, because they are too hefty. It also helps that we found out that there are a lot of government agencies who are willing to give in assistance, you just have to line up for hours and submit requirements.

Good thing I decided to shift into a freelance lifestyle so I can be able to make errands for my dad. My work is now in flex sched and I get to have projects on the side too.

Upon seeing sick men—the young and the old—I couldn’t help myself but think of the bad habits I’ve been doing to my body. I see these old men dealing with the sickness. Some say their neglect in the body when they were young is now keeping up with them, taking a toll on their health.  

I know this is a wake up call for myself to not just neglect the things I take for granted. In this case, my health. You see, we can’t say that despite being in our prime years, we can be always in the pink of health. Not all the time. People who are health buffs—those who frequent in the gym, eat healthy, and live their lives without vices—can be struck with some disease at some point in their life. The thing is, diseases can strike any minute, in times we least expect it.

Fighting off health risks

Diabetes runs in my family. My father has it. My uncle and aunt have it. And if I do not look into the state of my health, I might as well get diagnosed with it in the near future. A thing I really dread.

That is why in my own little way, I am starting to help myself. I want to improve more on my cardio, that’s why i find it really refreshing to jog and run. I now run three times a week. From being that person who easily pants while climbing the stairs, I can now say I have improved a little. Now being a member of a gym also excites me. Not that I am aiming for that bikini-body but I am after having to tone my body than to aiming to be super thin.

Being s coffee-drinker that I am, I like my coffee with less sugar this time. I am looking forward to that day when I no longer need sugar in my freshly brewed cup. I know now how to consume less carbohydrates and sugar and find time to do calorie counting. Knowing the right information is really key to starting a transformed lifestyle, even in little ways.

 Finding time to read helpful articles on health and fitness also encourages me. I love how I work with doctors and fitness enthusiasts who are all up for a healthier lifestyle. I guess, when you spend more time to uplifting, motivating reads and people who can be your inspiration for a more transformed lifestyle, the encouragement will come through in an instant.

I know these are small, baby steps to shifting in a more active lifestyle which obviously i do not have some years back.  My father always reminds us not to take our health for granted. Take it from him, he said. We always think that we are working hard so we can provide for our loved ones. Before we caring for others, start first with ourselves.

Gelyka Dumaraos

Gel is a writer and wanderer from the Philippines. She maintains this blog, Musings and Pathways, as a platform for her thoughts on love and life and stories of places and people she meets while on the road. Aside from writing and being a freelance media consultant, she is recently into baking and cooking. Gel lives with her fiance in a humble, work-in-progress abode in the beautiful province of Rizal. Email her at gelykaruthdumaraos@gmail.com.

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