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Memories of Daddy, Post 59: Daddy Deserved To Live, Not Just Survive.

The lifespans of the Dalmia men leave a great deal to be desired.

Before Daddy passed away, his two older brothers both passed away of heart disease at the extremely young ages of around 51-52 years. His father had a massive stroke at around 51 as well if I recall correctly. Daddy had a heart attack at 39, stroke at 51, and passed away at 64. Daddy had the advantages of much better medical care than his brothers, both fortunately and unfortunately. This is some very scary shit for me.

Granted, I don't have many of their "modifiable" risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol (I've been on a statin and baby aspirin since I was 26), diabetes, tobacco use (my dad used to smoke and so did his brothers), poor diet, and lack of exercise to name the ones that immediately come to mind. But the genetic predisposition is there, both because of my extensive family history, but also because South Asians have a much higher risk of heart disease than many other populations in general.

How many more years do I have left to be completely functional?

How many more years do I have left before I pass?

I'm not trying to be morbid, but these are things I have no choice but to think about. Now, I could completely modify my lifestyle to be as healthy as possible, and many say I should. But I pose some food for thought:

Where is the line drawn between living and surviving?

I have a passion for good food, good drink, traveling, staying up late and losing sleep to be with my friends, just to name a few things. If I had to give those up, I wouldn't, in my mind, be experiencing the joys of life. I would simply be surviving, and to what end? When I get married or have kids, my definition of living could very likely change. And I hope it does. But at this moment, those things bring me joy. They make me feel alive.

I always harped on Daddy after he had his stroke to eat better, to exercise, to do this or do that. And he hated it. He missed eating the foods he loved. He disliked doing things he never liked to do. Near the end, Daddy's heart failure was so bad that if he had even a little bit too much fluid, his lungs would fill with water. So he was on strict fluid restriction. And every day I saw him, Daddy begged and pleaded for water. And I kept telling him he couldn't have much because of how sick he was.

But just imagine for a second what it feels like for you to be extremely thirsty, and then multiply feeling like that for nearly 300 days straight. F*$king hell for my dad.

But as Daddy got sicker, I started to realize what I wanted for Daddy was exactly what I would never want for myself: to survive, and not live. And I hated that I did that. When Daddy came home for only a couple of weeks last year before he permanently went back to the hospital, Mummy let him drink what he wanted (to a liberal limit), and let him eat what he wanted (pani puris were one of his favorites) because she wanted him to live. I remember at first getting mad at her for this, but she gave Daddy an opportunity to experience some of the simple, and most taken for granted, joys in life.

And I'm so thankful she did that.

Daddy had a brief opportunity to live in the midst of him dying, thanks to Mummy. And I hope my loved ones allow me to do the same in my last moments of "life".

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