My Dad’s a Goldfish – Gallstones (part two)

cropped-goldfish-87-1254566814ncva1.jpgI’ve rather left the Goldfish (before he was a Goldfish) languishing in hospital – see last post if you need a reminder.

He’d been admitted with agonising stomach pains, brought on by an infection caused by gallstones. After thirteen days, for ten of which he wasn’t allowed to eat in case they were going to operate, he was discharged – with his gallstones intact. The infection had been sorted (as had the pneumonia he contracted while in hospital) and the doctor decided a low fat diet would keep everything under control.

While it was great to bring him home, it was terrifying that his 80-year old wife is now ‘looking after’ him and hasn’t a clue about how to provide a low fat eating plan. She refused my offer to prepare a handout of healthy recipes. I think because she knows they might involve the use of the grill or oven, neither of which she will ever turn on because she thinks they are too expensive to use. If it can’t be microwaved or fried in a pan or deep fat fryer she doesn’t cook it. She used to use the oven once a year to cook Christmas dinner but hasn’t needed to do that since family members took over cooking the festive meal for her.

A few years before the gallstones episode dad took part in a blind trial for a cholesterol drug. The participants and their families were invited to cookery demonstrations to show the variety of low fat meals which could be helpful in reducing cholesterol. His wife refused to attend. Even when at the end of the trial dad was told he had been on the placebo but did, indeed, have high cholesterol, she refused to change her menus – which seemed often to consist of cheap sausages.

Dad’s welcome home from hospital meal consisted of scrambled eggs and Brussel sprouts. She’d found the sprouts on the reduced price shelf at the supermarket – an enormous bag of them, which will last for days. The meal, if unappetising, was at least low fat.

I printed out a couple of pages from a website which gave a clear and simply-put explanation of what it means to have gallstones. We added the hospital’s logo so it looked as though it came from a more official source than Google. Dad was absolutely delighted with it and said he now understood much better. It would be so simple to do something like that when they are in the hospital. The envelope also contained lists of foods divided into three columns for good, to be eaten in moderation and to avoid.

Oven chips are on the moderation list, which means a maximum of once a week. When she expressed delight at the inclusion of over chips the DH was puzzled because he knows she doesn’t use the oven – so how was she planning to cook them? You can’t do in a microwave. She seems to think it’s okay to chuck them in the deep fat fryer!

Despite all the problems, dad was looking and feeling better. He’d been told he’ll be called back after six weeks to see the consultant for a decision on taking out the gallbladder. In a way I hope they don’t because once it’s out there’s no need for a low fat diet – other than for his cholesterol and his heart….I’m sure she’s hurrying him towards an early grave. No, that’s unkind. She’s 80 and it’s hard for her to give up long held beliefs on diet and nutrition – and calling women ladies, and expecting men to open doors for them and believing that men provide for their wives financially while what the wives earn is ‘pin money’ and kept for themselves…

So far no sausages have appeared but she’s already sending the poor man up to Tesco to check out the reduced price shelf.

Nothing will ever convince me that the appalling treatment in hospital, combined with the appalling diet he was fed combined with the drugs to combat the high cholesterol (caused by the appalling diet) did not contribute hugely to the dementia.



30 thoughts on “My Dad’s a Goldfish – Gallstones (part two)

  1. Again, I’ve liked this blog although it’s left a bittersweet taste. I now see the awful existence your dad had at the hands of both the hospital and his miserable wife. Although it’s not nice to say, but at least with his dementia, he was hopefully oblivious to the resentment coming from his wife. I fail to understand what he did to deserve such appalling treatment though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ruth. He didn’t do anything to deserve the appalling treatment other than getting dementia which interfered with her life. I’ll never forget the day she told me she was leaving him and asked me if I didn’t think she was entitled to a peaceful life. As for the crap diet, I didn’t realise for a long time just what she was feeding him – though she never ate the cheap high fat sausages herself!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This story is particularly heartbreaking because if your father’s wife had recognised and understood the facts of his dementia, it’s possible that the progression of his decline–while inevitable–could have been slowed by proper diet and medical care.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly so, Barb. We know the dementia would have happened but it might have been delayed for quite a while. His wife remained in denial about everything from what constitutes a good diet to what is meant by intellectual stimulation (she thought parking at the supermarket was an exciting way to spend time – while waiting for the price reductions).
      It took us two years to get the actual diagnosis – they really need to change the test.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is such a sad tale. I had gallstones and I still remember the excruitating pain. I still can’t get my head around a woman who deserts her husband when the going gets tough, especially when there is family around to support her. i thikn you and Wee Sis were absolutely amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She refused to accept the help needed because she didn’t want people coming in her house – she wanted a peaceful life.
      My nephew is in hospital right now with gallstones. He had a scan yesterday and was told he had so many stones he could make a necklace. They are going to do another scan to make sure there isn’t a blockage anywhere – but at least they are letting him eat because the op won’t be for another two days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very sad indeed. Some people are only friends, or partners, for fair weather and can’t bear the thought of looking after others (for whatever reason). I’ve known quite a few people whose dementia seems to follow closely from an episode of delirium due to a physical illness (and of course there are different types of diagnosis, and most tend to combine vascular causes with others). As a daughter or a son, it is difficult to know how much you can ‘interfere’ or ‘help’ into your parents’ lives and I can only imagine that in your case with his wife it must have been even more difficult. Thanks for sharing, Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Olga. You’re right about the difficulty of knowing how much to interfere. I often look back and think about how I should have stepped in sooner even if it was going to cause arguments with the step-monster. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!


  5. I’m more than a little taken aback – and saddened – by his wive’s unwillingness to use an oven or grill if it means creating a healthier meal for her husband. Changing someone is certainly not easy, especially as we age… That’s what I’m reminded of! I’m just glad you’re telling this story in retrospect rather than in present time, Mary xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Christy, thanks for dropping by. The step-monster is the meanest person I ever met with regard to saving money. Everything she bought was the cheapest. She learned when the supermarket put its cut price, almost-out-of-date items on the shelves, checked the trolleys and baskets for receipts and took them to the check out to claim the loyalty points… and so not using the grill or the oven was simply one more money-saving item. Saving money became an obsession. It was never goign to be possible to change her ideas in any way at all.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, that’s my plan and is partly why I’ve not been posting regularly enough on the blog because I’m caught up with writing the book – or rather, re-writing and re-structuring the material I already have. I’ve had problems finding my way in, finding the place to start but I think I’ve sorted that and hope to keep going with it now. I’d like to think I could have it ready by the end of this year but it depends what other stuff life throws in the way!

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