Saturday, January 7, 2012

Struggling With Loved Ones' Choices: A Guest Post from The Happy Nurse

It's the Happy Nurse (the Happy Rehab Doc’s husband) here with a little post.

I'm Canadian yet I've lived and worked in the U.S. since the mid 1990's. My parents are retired and like so many Canadian seniors they head to warmer locations for the winter. We had the good fortune of having them here with us over Christmas this year, as they stopped in on the drive south. Unfortunately my father had some chest pain on Christmas day and spent a few days in the hospital having labs and other tests performed.

I spend my working life taking care of patients immediately after open heart surgery. I'm a critical care nurse and enjoy the challenge of open heart, trauma and ER. In short I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I like having to make quick choices and having to be really good at my job. Yet I still know that however many numbers I'm looking at, however many labs I'm reviewing, however many xrays I look at, it's always some one's mother, father, son or daughter. I think that the real strength of my job is being able to blend the technology with the person. Medicine is both art and science. When we bring the two together we are much more successful than either alone.

This time it was my father lying on the hospital bed waiting to find out if he was going to be ok. All the knowledge I have doesn't change the heart ache of seeing him and my mother scared. It's debilitating. I find myself having a very difficult time being objective. I try to remember this sensation, the fear, the helplessness, when I care for patients. If I do then maybe I can ease the pain of another family.

My father is a wonderful man. I have learned so much from him about how to live, give and love. It hurts to see him and my mother worrying about what will happen. I wish so much I could take that pain and worry away. My father also eats poorly. He smokes and doesn't exercise very much. I do my best to help him make better decisions but they are his to make.

I'll always love him no matter what he chooses. I know that others out there struggle with loved ones who make poor choices, I see it at work every day. I know your pain and I share your prayers. Thank goodness everything worked out and he was discharged to continue the trip.

I can't control or force him to change. I can try to lead by example. I can make sure he sees how much happier and healthier I am when I choose to eat vegan. When I choose to get on the rower rather than the sofa. When I celebrate life by living it to its fullest. I have my own health challenges. I have years of poor choices including what and how I ate to overcome. Today I choose to try to be an example to myself and my family.


  1. I can really feel your pain!
    My parents passed away and at that time I didn't know what I know today but with what I knew then (by reading a lot)I tried to make better choices.
    And it made me feel even more helpless to hear repeated over and over that bad food choices (sausage, fat, bacon, cake...)are what make life worth living.
    And it is simply not true, not at all.
    But it is their live and their choices.
    You are very wise HN and I hope your example makes a difference!
    Thank you for your post, Silvia

  2. Happy Nurse - thank you for the post. I'm sorry you & your family had to experience the scare with your dad. It's an eye opener to remember that our bad choices & careless regard for these amazing bodies we've been given not only affects us but those we love. Thanks again for sharing.

  3. Great post Happy Nurse !

    - Steve

  4. Those of us who were on a path similar to your Dad's (and struggling to do better) need to be reminded that our choices very much affect those we love. Thank you for your thoughtful post.

  5. You write beautifully. You clearly are a very caring nurse, able to convey empathy to your patients and their families. Glad to hear you are making good choices; it can be difficult to do. With love, Lucy

  6. I hope your father continues to do well. It is difficult to watch loved ones make bad choices, the same is true of my parents. You and Cat seem like an extremely caring couple and your parents will benefit from that that even if they don't change their habits.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on watching our loved ones go down the wrong path. We woke up at some point so maybe, possibly, they will too. *fingers crossed*


  7. Needed to hear this today... Leading by example is the best way. Thank you for sharing this!

  8. Thank you all for your warm comments. I hope that anyone dealing with similar situations find comfort knowing you are not alone.

    Thank you,

    B The Happy Nurse.


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