I have to admit that ever since we got my dad’s painstaking diagnosis, “So, It’s stomach cancer”, I’ve been eating for two. At the beginning of this nightmare, the doctor said, “Shigeo, you need to gain some weight before we remove your stomach,”… and I’ve taken his words to heart. As I have watched my dad rapidly drop down to his rock bottom weight of a mere 97 pounds—I compensated by taking in extra calories via cheeseburger, pizza, ice cream, sweets and fries. I can’t explain it. I don’t know. People donate blood, hair…even kidneys! So, why not weight? Why can’t I donate my extra pounds that I really don’t need to my dad –who needs them desperately?
Well, two years later… I’ve learned that I can’t. No matter how much I eat… it doesn’t help my dad at all!! His weight is his weight, and my weight is my weight. I guess I always knew, right? Hopeful thinking… Here’s the thing, today my dad is 5’7 at 113.6 lbs. and I’m barely 5’4 at 120.8 lbs. Statistically, we are both in the “okay” zone… except we are not. I’d like to wear a swimsuit without crying. And for my dad, I’d really, really, really … did I mention… really… like to stop our crazy monthly follow-ups with my dad’s nutritionist and east/west medicine doctor.
Let me paint the picture for you all. I wake up before the sun comes out… drive an hour to pick up my dad… drive another hour and a half to the hospital… in traffic. Sit in the office and listen to my dad describe in slow motion what he eats and doesn’t eat. Listen to all his problems and symptoms… get told by the medical professional to keep a journal and to STOP eating RAW EGGS. Yes, raw eggs! Then sit in traffic again, except now, its worse and takes double amount of time. We usually get new tips and insights which requires finding and purchasing these new “add-ons”. Finally, I get home after the sun goes down. We do this twice a month every month. And then the cycle repeats itself…like Groundhog Day. It’s always the same. No, he’s not eating 65 grams of protein a day. No, he’s still eating the raw eggs and other bad-for-you processed foods. Thank you for the new amazing tips, but no, he hasn’t incorporated them into his routine. I know, I know… because he’s not where he needs to be, I get it… he needs the monitoring. Yup, see you in a few weeks!
Now… these insanely crazy days could be entirely skipped if he gained 5 pounds. The real problem for being underweight, and the more serious one, is his bloodwork. It’s all completely off. There are certain foods where the nutrients are absorbed in the stomach. Although the stomach is not a vital organ needed to survive, it is an important one. So, not only does he need to eat properly, and frequently, he also needs to make correct choices for him. He can’t just go and get fast food because it’ll give him dumping syndrome and make him lose more weight. When he makes poor decisions about his food, which he does more often than not, he loses weight. (And when I make poor decisions about my food, I gain wait.) So… there lies my frustration. He has the tools and resources to gain weight properly; he just doesn’t want to do the work.
This Tuesday, while parked on the freeway… in traffic… I looked over at my dad, and finally said, “Please help me… help you. Please!”
And he quickly shot back, “Do you know how hard this is for me? Watching what I eat. Eating carefully. Planning and making five healthy meals. Cooking and thinking about food. Viewing food as medicine to fuel my body? Counting calories and grams of protein. Keeping a food journal! It’s so hard! It’s just awful!”
A light switch turned one, and I swear I heard music…. I said, “Yes, dad, I know. Everything you just described is what we all should do…even people with healthy stomachs!”
Sooo………. Long story long we officially came to a compromise—ladies and gentlemen, I present the Pound for a Pound Challenge. For every pound he gains, I must lose one. We agreed on five because that is safe to do in one month for both of us. It requires working out, eating right and living a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it’s hard and it’ll be a challenging month, but hopefully, it’ll just turn into a habit and we won’t have to work to be healthy. We’ll just be healthy! That’s the goal at least…. So wish us luck or join in! Time to get healthy… oh and as an added bonus I’ll save so much time and gas money!!! And as much as I LOVE my dad’s team of doctors and nurses, I wouldn’t mind seeing them less.