View Full Version : Dad on brink of a heart attack but won't change his behavior.....

06-21-2005, 05:52 PM
Well I've recieved good advice about random people skills crap so hopefully I'll get some good advice about this.

My dad is a very smart and very successful lawyer. He works hard and spends all of his free time volunteering for the community. The overload of work, lack of exercise, and a fondness for Ruffles potato chips gave him a heart attack.

After his first heart attack he briefly changed his eating habits and attempted to work out but it didn't last long. Now he is starting to have the same signs as those before his first heart attack. Basically his temper is out of control and he is very difficult to talk to. I noticed it, my mom noticed it, and my sister (a doctor) is flying in to talk to him tomorrow. My mom doesn't think he'll be around much longer.

Since he's become so difficult to talk to about this stuff I'm going to send him an e-mail with my thoughts. Basically, what I'm asking for is if anyone has any advice on writing this thing. Links to stories about how people changed their life around after a heart attack would be good. Anything inspirational would be awesome. Also ideas to get his ass working out. He's not a big sports man but he likes sailing (won't buy a boat though) and made a very weak attempt at kayaking (bought a kayak but never really followed through). He's very dumb when it comes to treating himself. My brother Mat had to buy a ticket for the Formula 1 race. Then, and only then, did he decide to go. He didn't even go online, he bought a ticket from my brother.

I'm going to include Blarg's descriptions about how peoples taste change over time. Maybe that will help him in attempting to avoid the Ruffles. I need to find links as when he is in this state he won't listen to me. He is so stubborn it's ridiculous. When he is angry (for random reasons) he would rather pay a technician $200/hr than ask for my help setting up a wireless router. When he isn't angry he has no problem asking me for computer help. As smart as he is, he can be extremely stupid, insecure, and short sighted.

I'm probably screwed on this one but I have to try.

-in a pickle


06-21-2005, 05:56 PM
I have no advice, but I hope everything works out man.

Johnny Richter
06-21-2005, 05:57 PM
Is he a smoker?

06-21-2005, 05:58 PM
I would almost tell you to send him that post along with a few more personal lines, but its a very specific high risk play, so go with the ABC line...

06-21-2005, 05:58 PM
Is he a smoker?

[/ QUOTE ]

No. He kicked my butt when he found out my best friend smoked cigs in middle school.

sam h
06-21-2005, 06:05 PM

I would wait until your sister has had her talk with him, get a report from her about how it went, and then proceed with that knowledge under your belt.

I don't have much specific advice other than the general feeling that what you can convey when talking about your own feelings and how much the situation has you worried and upset will be enormously more powerful than linking to other examples or stories. Some relationships with dads don't necessarily lend themselves to a lot of emotional stuff, but if you can convey the sentiments in your post in whatever terms you think are appropriate in a straightforward and heartful manner, then I think you will have done the best you can.

Good luck,


Patrick del Poker Grande
06-21-2005, 06:10 PM
I really suck at these things, so I don't have much of anything useful to say. I just wish you luck and hope your father can find his way to good health.

The Stranger
06-21-2005, 06:18 PM
sounds a lot like my dad minus the heart attack.

My Dad's heart is very healthy, though.

Very difficult to talk to guys like this about anything. From the sounds of things, you probably have some pretty healthy activities that you do (other than posting on and moderating OOT /images/graemlins/grin.gif). Maybe you should consider just bringing up how much you enjoy the things you do in your life, without even bringing up his lifestyle.

The power of example sometimes is the only way to get through to very stubborn people.

06-21-2005, 06:21 PM
How old is he?

Any chance of his retiring soon?

Any grandchildren he would like to live to see grow up?

The anger/temper/stubbornness aspect is the most disturbing part of this. If he cannot enjoy life, why would he bother trying to prolong it?

If I were him, and at the right age and financial situation, I'd see this heart attack as a wake-up call, and do something like quit work, take all my money and travel the world on a slow boat.

06-21-2005, 06:22 PM
Explain to him why it's a good move for him to stick around.

Do it for the family sounds about right.

Sorry man, this news sucks. /images/graemlins/frown.gif

06-21-2005, 06:34 PM
How old is he?

[/ QUOTE ]

Early fifties.

Any chance of his retiring soon?

[/ QUOTE ]

5 years possibly

Any grandchildren he would like to live to see grow up?

[/ QUOTE ]

My brother, who is serving on the Korean border right now, is thinking about getting engaged.

06-21-2005, 06:48 PM
I wish I had some advice to give. Sad fact is it seems lots of people like that are so unwilling to change. The only thing you can do is to make sure and tell him exactly how it makes you feel, and how special he is to you and how hard it would be to lose him. I hope it works out for you man, and that he listens.

06-21-2005, 07:12 PM
Sounds like his anger might be killing him. When constantly steeped in negative emotions, our health fails. I think you need to get face to face and draw him out about what he is feeling.

My $0.02

06-21-2005, 07:22 PM
Sounds like his anger might be killing him. When constantly steeped in negative emotions, our health fails. I think you need to get face to face and draw him out about what he is feeling.

My $0.02

[/ QUOTE ]

Grandparents lived into the 90's. (started family very late) I agree about the anger thing. Somehow I doubt he will.

06-21-2005, 07:34 PM
Wacki my mom does a lot of self destructive things and makes a lot of bad choices. For a long time I tried to convince her to treat herself better. It was very frustrating and not productive.

I finally realized that all I could do was be supportive and accept her decisions and choices. Trying to change her wasn't working and it was damaging our relationship. This way works much better.

Maybe sitting down with your dad and letting him know that you love and care for him and that you will miss him when he is gone and want him to be around for as long as possible. Let him know that you respect his choices and that if he ever wants any help with making some healthy lifestyle changes you are available.

Whatever you decide to do good luck.

06-21-2005, 07:45 PM
Since he's become so difficult to talk to about this stuff I'm going to send him an e-mail with my thoughts.

[/ QUOTE ]

I'm going to go out on a limb and say he probably wont read it. I think this is just one of those crapy situations where he needs to hear it from all of you. He needs to know how concerned the entire family is. If you send the email, there is no guarantee he stops reading halfway through.

Maybe I am wrong and misread what you wrote and he actually will take the time to read it but he is just had to talk to. If that is the case, then good luck with the email but make sure you save a copy just in case. You may end up having to read it to him yourself.

06-21-2005, 08:04 PM
He is 1,000x more inclined to pay attention to the e-mail than not cut me off in a face to face verbal sit down.

06-21-2005, 08:14 PM
An e-mail isn't such a bad idea. As you said, he may shrug off verbal advice but really take in what you spell out to him in a letter.

Hope everything works out for you, wacki.

06-21-2005, 08:17 PM
My Dad had a heart scare end of last year. Basically had to have a couple of stents put in. He was mid fifties, about 30 lbs overweight, a heavy drinker (probably borderline alcoholic - a bottle of wine a night and a couple of whiskies) and did no exercise. He also would get himself in a rage over the most incredibly dumb things (lines in stores that kind of thing). I thought he wouldn't last long to be honest. I couldn't imagine he'd quit drinking after all those years. But I also felt, that if he did really want to keep drinking, then I had to respect that decision.

I made sure to have a long talk with him. I wanted to make sure that he understood that he either changed his lifestyle, or he would have a drastically reduced life expectancy. He said he understood and he seemed to understand and I left it at that.

Its about 8 months later now, he's lost that 30 lbs, he walks 10,000 steps a day, goes to the gym three times a week (they have a special class for people with heart problems where they're all monitored and stuff), drinks just one glass of wine a day, and no longer lets stupid things stress him out. I'm immensely proud of him. I know its not been easy for him, especially having to cut back on his career and maybe a realization that his career has now peaked.

I'm not sure I have any advice to give you. At the time I thought my Dad wouldn't change. I knew I couldn't make him change his lifestyle. I just made it clear that I didn't want to hear any BS from him, any rationalization of his behavior, or any 'it won't happen to me' crap.

Good luck anyway.

06-21-2005, 08:19 PM
Very rough situation, Wacki. I wish you well and hope things can be done that at least slow things down, even if the danger can't be totally eliminated.

Do the doctors have anything to say about his supposedly worsening condition? Does he go to them regularly? It sounds like his diet didn't really become rigorous or change much because of the heart attack? I've known a number of people who have had heart attacks, including members of my family(very bad genetics for that in my family), and usually the doctors get them to make some real changes in their diet. Have the doctors tried much of that with him?

My dad was very hard to talk to about a lot of things. Do you communicate well with him? It sounds like he's having problems communicating or accepting any help or advice, so it's going to be rough going getting even the best help or advice to make a difference, no matter who it comes from.

Lots of kids and parents don't get along and never communicate more than a tiny part of what they really have to give each other. Do you particularly admire your dad for certain things he did, or ways he can be, or how he thinks? Is there something that he can give that will go missing when he's gone, and the world will be lesser for it? Not just your family's general happiness, or the comfort of having someone to talk basketball with while watching the game or something, but other things?

I keep on thinking of corny things like asking him to write and seal up in an envelope what it is he would like to tell his grandson, since he won't be around to see him and tell him himself. But it just sounds bitchy and corny. I'm not sure anything sounds really great in this situation. I have to tell you, though, if my kid said that to me, it would really set me to thinking even if I was a real SOB. Being who I am, it might even get me to pick up a pen.

People don't change the life habits that kill them unless they change their lives, so unless your whole family adapts and changes to his heart attack, it's going to be very hard for him to do it. He won't want to be the exception and stand out, probably, or show weakness or a desire for pampering. If your whole family eats pizza and burgers and Ruffles, most everybody will join in, heart attacks or no. That's why one of the key things that helps people quitting smoking or drinking is to get away from even the most semmingly benign environments where everyone else is smoking or drinking. People who need to change lifelong orientations and lifestyle habits can't do it by dieting or being the only one who's "different" in a crowd.

You know, I've never had a kid, but I always thought that if that pregnancy thing did become a part of my life, I'd want my wife to take incredibly good care of herself. This business of boozing and drinking coffee and stuff while pregnant would scare the crap out of me, since basically a whole life and death and future destiny can be decided by what goes on in those nine months. I'd want her to be taking fantastic care of herself, and eating and drinking really nutritious healthful foods. That would be demanding, in both senses of the word, on her. And how can you expect people to do things they don't want to do while sitting on a high horse and not being able to do it yourself? So I figured if I were in that situation, I would knock off the pizza and stop drinking soda and being really careful and strict too, so things would be easier for her and she wouldn't be so tempted to just do the same things everyone else did, which is eat crap constantly.

I'm trying to tie this in to your family's lifestyle and eating habits, however clumsily. If you guys want him to eat well and exercise more, are you setting a good example and eliminating garbage food from the cupboards? Or are you stocking the larder with crap food, eating it freely when you go out, exercising not much or pretty randomly, and expecting him to change his lifelong habits and stick out like a sore thumb from all the rest of your Ruffles-eating brood? Note -- I'm not saying I know a damn thing about how you and yours live; I think that's just what most families do -- eat and exercise indifferently at BEST, and probably much worse than that.

If so, that would encourage your dad to not have a healthy lifestyle because that's what seemed normal and what he saw everyone around him perfectly capable of doing and happy to do, but to try to somehow be the freakish exception in the crowd. And not by doing something he wants to do(indulge). But to be the stand-out freak by doing something he doesn't even want to do in the first place. That's asking a lot.

So he doesn't just need a healthy plan; he needs a healthy environment to execute that plan in, and turn it into a lifestyle. Otherwise, if he's like most of us, it's just a matter of time till he caves in to his bad habits all over again(if he ever manages to get off them in the first place).

Anyway, the problem is not just him; it's his environment, and that means his whole family. If he's going to change, it will be very hard to do if his whole family doesn't change too. It will seem more like being dictated to from on high -- maybe from his bratty punk kids and annoying wife and other people who should mind their own damn business, if he gets in a mood about it -- instead of just living the same old normal sensible life that everyone else is living.

It is always easier to get people to do the easy, normal thing than the exceptional one.

Anyway, that's what's crossing my mind right now. The burden of changing him is better spread across all of you than just dumped on him. And there's probably a much better chance of success that way. Is changing the lifestyle of your whole family to become healthier something you've talked over with your mom and the rest of your family?

06-21-2005, 08:25 PM
here's a link that might be be helpful in figuring out where your dad's at...


it talks about something called the stages of change (used for pretty much anyone who needs to implement behavior changes), i'm heading into my 3rd year of med school, thats where i heard about this, so your sister might know more or even have some experience with it.

may or may not be helpful, but i thought i would throw it out there

06-21-2005, 10:40 PM
First, I wish you and your family success.

I think it would be better to get the e-mail or letter to him before your sister talks to him. The reason is that I imagine your doctor sister is going to have a lot of advice and reasoning in what she has to say, if your letter is more of an emotional appeal it makes more sense for it to come before the rational advice. Think of it as opening him up, making him more receptive to your sister's recommendations.

If this makes sense to you I would leave all the advice regarding exercise, diet and the rest of it to your sister and just write about your love for him. If there's anything you haven't said before, like, a thank you, a memory you want to share, an apology, an expression of forgiveness, use this occasion. This could work in two ways, it gives you a chance to say whatever, and it indirectly impresses upon him the seriousness of the situation by the way you are looking at it.



06-21-2005, 11:44 PM
My father had a heart attack in May of 2000. He did the same thing. He change his habits for a few months and then back to the same old. My father joined the Navy at 17 in 1957 and retired at 40. Then went back and worked civil service and retired at 55. Then he went into civilian contracting, he was a workaholic. He was a meterologist for 43 years and on March 28th of 2001 he finished work and called on his way to his small apartment near Ft. Polk, Louisiana where he was working at. That was the last time I spoke to my father. He was found dead the next morning in his apartment, he had a massive heart attack while getting dressed for work that morning. I would give anything to have my father here for just five more minutes to tell him how much I love him and how much he meant to me. I know it will be hard to face your father, I assume like my father he is a great man of pride and honor, but pride unfortunately for my father meant a funeral 2 weeks before his 61st birthday. You will have to be tough, but let him know it is only because you love him and want him to be a part of your life for as long as he can.


If you need to talk my AIM is Talk2BigSteve2

06-22-2005, 12:57 AM
Never been in this situation and have no idea how to handle it, but good luck man. Best wishes for you and your family.