Sickness, and plenty of it.
My Dad must have had the constitution of an ox, he always kept very good health, until he got sick, then there was some beauties, so many heart attacks I lost count, a violent reaction to penicillin, bowel cancer, an aorta operation and diabetes, that covers the main ones.
Dad lived by the creed that you have to keep trying, “If you give up you’re buggered”
For nearly the last 30 years of his life he took pills by the hand full, no doubt they helped keep him going, but I firmly believe that it was his will to live that was the main factor.
I told him once he’d better spend his money he couldn’t take it with him, “I won’t go then” said Dad.
After his aorta operation, which became a life or death situation for a while, he showed me this huge angry looking scar where they had opened him up, “gee that looks nasty, is it painful?” I asked, “no Son, I’m a bit worried about that, perhaps a man’s to stupid to feel pain” he said.
Another time he came home from hospital after a serious heart attack and stated, “that’s the best thing that ever happened to me Son,” when I queried how he had come to this conclusion, he said, “well I went into hospital thinking I was going to die, they treated me, changed all my medication, and sent me home feeling great.”
You think whatever you want, I call that a will to live, with an attitude like that he would live forever, so much so that I told him that as soon as he turned 100 I’d be coming down with a big stick to finish him off, Dad thought that was a great joke.
There was the time, again after a heart attack, the night nurse found him toddling of down the ward, complete with saline drip, at 3am, she asked where he was going.
Dad replied, “I’ve got to milk the cows” a conservative estimate would be that it was 50 years since he had last milked a cow!
When he got home from that one it was about the time he’d given up gardening, he disappeared on the second morning home, when I went outside to find him he was busy upending a half 44 gallon drum with a small tree in it.
“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled at him, “don’t you like it at home?, do you want to go straight back into hospital?” Dad said “well it’s got to be done or they’ll all die” when I looked around he had about 20 of these bloody trees in drums and his plan was to transplant them all.
He was quite happy when I said I’d do that job, but really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, “I’m really quite well now!” he said.
Dad was the perfect patient, never complained, was always bright and cheerful, did everything he was asked to do, BUT he just couldn’t resist the temptation of a loud “RUFF” accompanied by a lurch at the poor unsuspecting nurse who was attending him.
There were no exceptions, from the Director of Nursing, to the aides who brought him meals, they all got the same treatment, nurses who looked after him would often say, “he gets me every time with that, even though I’m waiting for it.”
Dad flirted outrageously with all and sundry of the ladies who looked after him, each one got a “thank you my darling, you’re my favourite” and the nicest smile to go with it, they lapped it up.
I’m almost, but not quite, tempted to want to try this out, I wonder is the health care system so starved of nice patients that they just fall about when ever they are treated decently, or did they collectively catch a glimpse of my Dads wonderful nature.