health

"I used to see my father as invincible. Now I'm worried about his health."

Terry White Chemists
Thanks to our brand partner, Terry White Chemists

From the time I was a child, I grew up with the idea that my dad was well and truly invincible. Sitting by him along with my two sisters, he would regale us with stories of his childhood growing up in a small village in Macedonia. He would tell us about all of the mischief he and our uncles got up to when they were our age and detail all of their narrow escapes from situations my sisters and I could only imagine being in.

He would explain how my grandparents would be so worried about his safety, they would confiscate his push bike so he would stop going out and getting himself into trouble. Knowing my dad was clever and practical, my grandparents had to keep coming up with new and more unique places to hide his bike so he wouldn’t come across it. Once, they went as far as to hide it in the roof but of course, that didn’t stop my dad from prying it out and taking it for a ride when they weren’t around.

He would tell us of the days he and my uncle would hunt for bees and hold them against their skin just to see if their sting would really hurt as much as their parents said it would. I would listen and I would think about all of the courage he had that I knew I didn’t.

All of the things that I would be too scared to even think about. All of the things that he and my mum would say not to do and how I would obey. How I wished I would have just a fraction of his courage and that flicker of mischief in his eye, that was still there as an adult when he spoke to me.

"He would regale us with stories of his childhood". Image: iStock.

But now as an adult myself, I can pinpoint the exact day when I realised that my dad wasn’t invincible. That despite all of his close escapes and cleverness a child, that he wasn’t immune from getting himself in serious trouble or that one day, his health would catch up with him. That was the day he came flying off his motor bike.

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He had been driving along a main Sydney road when a car darted out of a side street without having seen him. Noticing the car out of the corner of his eye, he tried to swerve out of the way to avoid its impact. In the process he came off his bike and scraped against the pavement as his bike skidded off down the road.

He was taken to hospital where thankfully the doctors said he hadn’t sustained any serious injury, just some painful scrapes and bruises. He wasn’t able to move for a few days out of the pain but within a few weeks he had healed and was back to his regular self.

However, despite my dad being back to normal, I myself as his daughter, wasn’t the same. My perception of him from childhood began to change as I became more worried about not only his safety but his health. I began to think about the fact that high blood pressure and high cholesterol were common to much of his family.

That my dad smoked since he was a teenager and as an adult was pushing nearly two packets a day. The more I ticked off the health checklist in my mind, the more I became concerned for his health.

"High blood pressure and high cholesterol were common to much of his family". Image: iStock.

My dad wasn’t the type to visit a health professional unless he was practically on his deathbed. He would push on through the colds and flus and ignore the pangs of pain in his stomach that would come every now and then. My mum who works for a health fund has always been very health conscious and worlds away from my dad when it came to looking after herself. I would listen as she would tell him over and over again to keep an eye on his health, sounding like a broken record.

Then the complaints about his stomach pain became more and more frequent until one day, he decided to call an ambulance. Knowing what my dad is like, I knew it must have been severe for him to make that decision. The doctors kept him in overnight to run tests when they finally informed us that he had an abdominal hernia. We were told this occurs when there is a protrusion of an organ or piece of tissue from its normally contained space.

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As a result he was forced to have surgery and stayed in hospital for just under a week. He was then on bed rest for a few weeks after and was instructed to take it easy. On mine and my mum’s insistence, he continued to get regular checkups to make sure he was healing and looking after himself. It was months before he was able to function normally and continue regular day to day lifting.

"He was healing and looking after himself". Image: iStock.

Since then, I’ve continually been encouraging my dad to take a proactive approach to his health care. This involves getting regular checks to make sure his blood pressure isn’t too high as well as managing his cholesterol. While he hasn’t quit smoking yet, he has decreased the amount of cigarettes he has per day which is a start. He’s also been looking more closely at his diet since he had the abdominal hernia and is on his way to achieving his goal weight.

Better health starts with looking after yourself every day and I’m constantly telling my dad not to wait until pain reaches the extreme to go and get it checked by a professional. He’s not a child anymore and although I think he’s amazing, he’s certainly not invincible. That’s why the men in our lives need to start looking after their health today to make sure they have a healthier tomorrow because I know I certainly want my dad to have lots of tomorrows.

Have men in your life neglected their health?

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