My Mother, Your Mother
Anatomy of an Illness
You Can Heal Your Life
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Hello, you have stumbled on to another episode of Get Your FILL. Financial Independence and Long Life, where we explore ways to achieve both of those goals.
The music that’s playing now is from today’s guest, Eric Keyes. The song is called: Everyone Knows My Drinking, No One Knows My Thirst. And I was gonna say that that sums up Eric’s approach to life, but actually there is no real way to sum up Eric. He is a true Renaissance man.
You hopefully met Eric last week when he told me how to cook eggs, which turns out to be all in the shopping. But in addition to being a musician and an excellent cook, Eric has many other talents which will hopefully be revealed today. There is a link to Eric’s music and his website and other stuff for him on my website, GetYourFILLPodcast.com.
Eric, thanks so much for joining us today. But I wanted you to share – When we talked the other day you were talking about caring for your parents. And that’s something that a lot of us are either are dealing with or are gonna be dealing with soon. And I just wanted to kind of, I know a lot of people struggle with the decision: Should we try to care for them are we gonna try to kill ourselves and others if we do this, or should we put them somewhere where theoretically they’re gonna get “professional care”? How did you decide what to do?
E: Well, it’s a combination of both. When I was a child, my mother, I’m adopted, and my mother worked at the daycare that I was at, so she found a way to be hands-on and make a little money. I had a really frugal mother and my best friend, Jim Taylor, was adopted across the street. His mom, Charlene, did the same thing. They both worked at La Petite, it’s like a little kids’ day care center that we were at.
So when my mom was at work, and we weren’t in school we were over there, but she worked there in the morning and the afternoon and so that kinda taught me a little bit about that there’s a different way than just drop your kids off.
You know, my mom actually found a way to combine the two, ’cause she was hands-on, she wanted to see that I was okay, but she also wanted to make a buck so she could figure out how to do both, right?
C: Well, but also wanted… She probably wanted you to socialize with other kids.
E: Right, right and she knew that I needed to learn how to compete exactly what, we were always in right from the get-go, were in gymnastics and swimming all that stuff. So to answer your question, when my parents started to become… There was a real point where I just saw. I’ll tell you the story, it’s a powerful story. It tears me up. At first, my mother and father were still lucid, they were living in their home in Houston. And my mom was starting to have a real hard time seeing with her glaucoma and so they had given her two different eye drops, and then there was some type of pill she was taking. I don’t remember exactly what it was for but it was related to it and my mother was always so lucid and always so good with budgeting and writing things down, stuff like that. And so she asked me, she said, “Hey Eric, I don’t know how many of these pills I’m supposed to take a day and when I’m supposed to use these eye drops and I said, “Okay well, let me look on there and I read the directions, I read all the – I even went as far as to read, you know, what the risk were, the side effects and stuff. I was real careful about it, everything seemed pretty benign, so I took a big marks-a-lot and there was one of the eye drops she was taking the morning. I put a 1 on that and an AM on the jar. Big as could be… And then the other one was eye drops that she was supposed to take in the morning and the evening and then she was supposed to take this pill with her meal, in the evening. And that was it. So, basically I wrote the number and then when she was supposed to take it and the amount on these jar, and then she was like… Well, I don’t understand or I can’t see it and… And I said, “Okay well, do you want me to do, Mom? Could you write it on a big piece of paper where I can read it and I said, Sure, okay, I’ll do that. So wrote it on a big piece of paper. And I was just fixing to leave and she started again, she was like… Well, I’m just not sure, I don’t know which one to take. And this went back and forth for about 30 minutes.
And I had to go back to Denton and I was stressed out, I was still trying to keep my business going and everything, and I realized, wow and I kinda lost it there, right towards the end, you know I just got mad at my mother and I said, “Well what part of one, two, three, can you not understand, you know.
And then she got upset and she started crying a little bit, and I caught myself and then I said: Wow there it is. Here we are, this is a shift now. The roles are reversed. These are my responsibility.
That’s when that moment came for me and that’s something that it was really hit me hard, I was like, Wow, you know? And I realized that it was… it was deeper. It’s not that… How many pills do I need to take, or when. What it is is: Hey, I need you.
That’s what people don’t get. It’s never the symptom, it’s the… people in the medical industry, especially in the United States, ’cause we’re not even 300 years old, they’re so busy pulling people out of the river to keep them from drowning, they never go up the river to see who’s throwing them in.
That’s the challenge and yeah, I do have a sibling… And she’s not a factor in my parents’ care and never has been, she’s younger than me, and adopted. She came home a lot later than I did, five weeks, and so she always had a real chip on her shoulder with my mother and so they didn’t get on well, and so we had… It is what is it’s just family dynamics, it, nobody’s a villain or anything, it’s just is what it is, but when it comes time to take care of your folks, somebody’s gotta roll up your sleeves and do it. I don’t know, I could not, I could tell you this, I couldn’t not do it, ’cause they were good folks.
C: You said you were trying to keep your business going at that point, it sounds like that didn’t ultimately work out.
E: Well, what I was doing, I was living in Denton, Texas, which is about an hour, well, not that quite far, but a little bit hour north of Dallas and my mom and dad were still in Houston, the town where I grew up, and I was driving down there to see them to take care of them and I was doing it once a week. I would drive down every Wednesday and I would take them shopping, to their appointments and all that and I hired a little lady, a really great Hispanic lady in their neighborhood. Her name is Socorro which is the Spanish word for work, and she was a blessing. Once I found her, she was able to take them to church, bathe my mom, help them get out of bed, make them breakfast, all that stuff.
That was a real blessing. The funniest story about her was… So she comes over and she’s like… Eric, I have to meet your parents because I don’t know if we’re gonna get along. And if I don’t and if I don’t get to along with them, it wouldn’t be fair to you or them for me to accept this job and this responsibility. She was a very proud little lady, a little bitty lady too, it was really funny.
So she comes over and meets my parents and if you don’t like my parents, there’s something wrong with you. They’re a couple of good people, and what ended up happening was so everything was kosher and she said it was cool and she said… Okay, well, I need to speak to you privately. And so we went into the garage and we didn’t even sit down, we were just standing there. And she goes: Okay Eric, I will accept your offer to take care of your parents. But I have to tell you, you have two parents. So I’m gonna have to charge you $50 a day.
And I looked at her. Well, all right then. I almost offered her double that. We could have afforded it… It was the funniest thing ever. And I had some of these home health agencies and stuff, that when we looked into before my dad had his VA benefits and stuff, it was they wanted $35 an hour, and they don’t, they come over and they don’t do anything.
You know all they do is watch soap operas and stuff. This woman was so hands-on. So that’s what I tell people, this is the other thing, it does take a village, localize it, it’s what makes Uber work. Find somebody around you who needs the work, who cares.
Don’t use home health agencies ’cause what they’re doing is they’re sending somebody over and paying them 9 bucks an hour and charge you $35 and they’re keeping the rest and so the incentive is not to love your loved ones. For example our caregivers have come to our parents’ funerals and things. That’s the way it should be.
C: I know, my dad had a stroke last year and he’s been – the people who come to the house to try to care for him. She, this one lady, she’s supposed to come over in the morning and give him a shower, once a week. And she came and she said to him, “Okay, George, you have to tell me what to do. How do I do this? I don’t know, I’m a little afraid.” It’s like, seriously? Why did they send you? If you don’t know how to give a person a shower, what are you doing there?
I don’t know if they just say Yes, I could do it so they can have the job or what, but it’s crazy.
E: She’s from a home health agency?
C: Yeah, yeah,
E: Wow, that’s incredible.
C: But I that’s part of it, it’s the VA benefits and PACE and stuff like that. Some of these programs in general, they have a lot of good things about them, but you’re not getting… Usually you’re not getting the top shelf kind of folks. It seems, not a small town where my parents live in. That could be part of it too. It might not be.
E: Where your folks at?
C: They’re in New Hampshire.
E: Well one of the keys is, if you can get somebody privately and sometimes we did a little bit of both, dad with his VA benefits. He did have somebody coming to bathe him three times a week, the VA paid for that and they had some wound care come out and there was a lot of great benefits: they would send pull-ups, incontinence pads whatever things he needed, but my mom – through Medicare we were able to get someone to come out too and help. And then what I did was, once Dad got Aid and Attendants, I started using that money, instead of – ’cause we didn’t really need it, I started hiring people privately. I would pay $500 a week to have somebody here 9 to 5 and I would usually get somebody from the Latino community around here that was really great because I noticed something about the Latino community: They don’t put their parents in nursing homes.
They don’t do it. I’ve spent a lot of time in nursing homes, you know I play the guitar and perform in them, just to give back and all the stuff, and I can’t think of, I can’t even think of one time – and I’m 50 years young – that I’ve seen a Latino person in a nursing home. They take care of their loved ones even if they amputate their legs. My caregiver for my parents – the best one we ever had – took care of her grandmother, she had a leg cut off. They don’t give a damn because they think it’s a rip off, and they do a better job.
C: Well, it’s also cultural – whether these folks – whether you believe that your parents and the older people in the community are a blessing with their knowledge and their experience, or whether you think that they’re a curse because they’re taking time out of your busy life or whatever. It’s cultural.
E: Yeah you’re right, it’s cultural. And I also believe it’s economical. I just think that somebody who really works hard for a living sometimes has a really hard time coming up with 6-7-$8000 a month to put a loved one in a nursing home. If you don’t have insurance, you don’t have Medicare or Medicaid or whatever those things so you’re kind of forced to do it but it also, it makes things a little bit more real as a person that’s kind of toeing that line between – because you know at some point with dementia and Alzheimer’s and/or disabilities, it gets to where nobody could do it.
It requires 24/7 care and I’ve even seen people do that at home, but you almost gotta go to hospice. Somebody’s just coming and going the whole time.
C: Yeah, that makes it tough. It’s also, it’s somewhat a factor of space as well. My parents have kind of a small place, they couldn’t have a live-in person. They lack a spare bedroom for them.
E: Yeah, when my mom and dad were both still living there wasn’t enough room. My mother passed away in October of 2017 and after that we had a caregiver from Honduras, who was really… She was very good and diligent.
She was very pushy and she would just over-feed my dad, she was obsessed with him gaining weight and stuff like that, but that’s not a negative thing. Like somebody really wants you to eat. She’s trying to make him live. That was her way to do it. Yeah, and it was adorable, but at the same time I was like, “Wow.” Constantly calling me: Eric, your daddy ran out of bananas, you have to go get some bananas.”
And it was driving me bananas because I had a caregiver that wasn’t… She was just like constantly heckling me.
You have to kinda toe that line a little bit. The two things I’ll say the most about doing that, what we call aging-in-place and taking care of your parents at home, and not putting them into a nursing home until it’s just you have to do it is – one: I can tell anybody this – is that you’re not gonna regret it. Once they’re gone, you’re not gonna regret it and then if there is some kind of afterlife and there is. You’re probably gonna get some good poker chips or however it works out because every religion says that. Honor your mother and your father.
I can’t think of one that doesn’t say that. I probably even… Yeah, so there’s something to that, right? Success leaves clues, so if you raise your kid right – my dad used to tell me he says: you gotta be smarter than the dog to train the dog.
No, it’s true, and with kids sometimes, you gotta out-smart them a little bit, but you don’t want your parents or the people that teach you those things they’re bringing you up and so at the end of their lives when they start to become helpless, you just… You gotta do it.
But there is a point where you cross that line in the sand where you have to say: Would my father, who has dementia, want me to die from the stress and try to take care of him by myself, or would he rather have a team of people that can help him and do that? You get to that point too, because I lived it, I had the social worker at the VA. They’re good folks. I have nothing but positive things to say about the VA from what I’ve seen, I hear all this negative stuff but we just sure haven’t seen it. They’ve done nothing but great stuff for us once we got the benefit for my father and the social worker there at the clinic in Plano told me she goes, “Eric. You know that 40% of people who try to take care of a loved one with dementia pass away from stress before the loved one does.”
I and I, I didn’t know that, but I started to kind of live it. I took care of my dad for about a year by myself and I got all that help and then it was the first three months of 2019, where I did it all by myself when my back went out, my right arm went numb and I really learned. Stress is for real. You always hear stress’ll kill ya and stuff, but it is – it will get you if you got it.
C: Yeah, and that’s it, it’s a constant… You don’t have… I’m watching this with my mother and trying to help her to offload some of her stuff ’cause she’s the one care for my dad after his stroke. And it’s just, it’s relentless, it’s not like you go to work and you work really hard and you get to come home. You never leave work, you’re never able to really just like… Even when he goes to his little daycare thing he’ll go for three hours in the afternoon to do his therapy and stuff. And they take him, they come down and pick him up and stuff, but she’s always gotta be watching the clock. Oh, I gotta be home to get him back in the house and stuff and she’s not able to sleep ’cause he needs her to take him to the bathroom in the night so she’s not able to sleep all the way through the night. And that’s the main thing I think is the loss of sleep. It’s just, you can’t cope with anything if you don’t have your rest.
E: It’s relentless. In nursing homes, the best one my dad was at – this wasn’t a nursing home this was a skilled nursing facility based out of Dallas, called The Reserve. I have nothing but positive things to say about them. And what they do is they have a rotating eight-hour shift, so every eight hours is a new shift three times 24, so your loved ones are getting a new person every eight hours. There’s no burn out, everybody’s fresh, everybody’s ready. That’s why it’s $6000 a month but it was on a lock down. I’ve never seen that kind of care.
My dad was there for 100 days and he gained 20 pounds a top of what that lady was feeding him at the house and his pressure wound got 80% better. His disposition and all that. So you learn that the system unfortunately, it’s not sustainable for most folks.
I would recommend everyone read this book, that’s going through this, it’s called: My Mother, Your Mother, by Dr. Dennis McCullough, you can find it on Amazon, and it’s about a guy who was an MD and he thought he had it all figured out. Hey, I’m a doctor. I know what’s up: my parents are gonna age. I’ll take care of this and his mother started declining, and he was trying to keep up his practice and keep up what’s going on with her. He more than enough had the money to put her somewhere… But even with that, he talks about it, he calls it slow aging. How to deal with it, a Modern Approach to slow aging.
And the thing I’m most proud of with my mother and father: my mother passed away and was on zero medications, nothing, for the last four years of her life under my watch. She was on nothing.
And my father is 90 and he’s still living and is on nothing, nothing… And when I bring them to doctors, the doctors can’t believe it. They’re like, “How can this be that this person is on no meds?” I say, “Well, they’re well taken care of and they’re well fed. Why do you wanna give them? There’s nothing wrong with them. And most of the meds are bad for them anyway.
C: I know that’s so many people are just… Have a fistful of pills and I don’t think they have any idea how they interact with each other, they’re just like, “Oh you need this for that, and this for the other thing and then something else isn’t working so well.
And we saw that with my dad when he was in the hospital, and then a nursing home at the beginning, right after the stroke, ’cause they had him on I think they had him on 13 different pills.
It turned out that one was causing a problem that the other one was supposed to be fixing. And when my mother a hold of him… She’s like, “Well the first thing we’re doing is getting you off the dope.
They don’t know how they affect each other, or how they affect an individual person. The way to… ’cause I forget what the problem was that he was having, but my mother said I think it’s this one drug that he’s on and the doctors are like: Oh, no, no, no, that wouldn’t cause that. And sure enough, when he got off of it, that symptom went away.
It’s just… You just have to trust yourself. They can’t know how every drug affects every person.
E: Yeah, the side effect of the drugs are detrimental. My mother was battling glaucoma, that’s something that kind of shows up in her family, a little bit… And I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but I knew she was dealing with it, so when she was still lucid and making some of her own decisions, I went down there to see her one weekend and she was on the couch and she was kinda in the fetal position on the couch – you know when you take Raid, you spray a wasp with it and they fall and they try to curl up that’s what my mother looked like and I said, This is not right, and so I looked at what she was taking… She was taking something called Cosocks eye drop medication, so I did some research on it. I’m a geek, I like to read.
I don’t know if I’m a geek, but I like to read and I just started reading about it. I looked it up and I called my buddy out in Hawai’i. I called my buddy, talked to him about it, and I came across this thing where they had started noticing – this is the way that pharmaceutical companies and doctors think – they’re scientists. ER physicians were noticing when people came in from car accidents and they had the shards of glass in their body and they were bleeding, that their blood pressure went down and that makes sense, right?
C: Yeah, ’cause you’re body’s trying to maintain some of its blood, yeah, and you’re losing blood, so naturally the pressure goes down.
E: You’re leaking that so the body slows down.
So they thought, “Oh okay, this is cool. So some knucklehead physician said, well, pressure to the eye, glaucoma, why wouldn’t that work the same way? So he made these eye drops, Cosocks… And what he did was he took particles of fiberglass in the eye drops so it would lacerated the eyeball and cause it to drain.
C: Oh my God!
E: And the thinking was the same as the ER physicians. Oh, this is gonna get the pressure down to the eyeball. Now, it did but here’s the challenge: everybody thinks that the greatest elimination organism that you have is the skin and that’s false, it’s completely false. The greatest elimination organism you have is your lungs. And I’m a singer, and I know that to be true.
And so when you have a lot of residue from microscopic particles of fiberglass from those are going into my mother’s lungs and that creates enormous amounts of mucus to try to evacuate it from her body. And I just figured it out myself because you know what? I’m smart. I have the ability to look at something and figure it out, and I’m not somebody who believes everything I read. So I knew what was going on, so I went to her doctor, I still remember, a doctor Lim, a Vietnamese guy in Houston off of Ella Boulevard and I went to him and I said, you’re giving my mother these eye drops and they’re likely to kill her.
He said, “what are you talking about?” And I said “Look how she is. She’s horrible. All the stuff was going on, and she’s sick all the time and she don’t look right and he was trying to fight me on it and I tried to explain to him what I explained to you, and you know what, he didn’t even know that. He was like: what, how would that ever get past the FDA? I said: Well, it did. You should look at it cause he’s a doctor. They’re trained. Doctors are so busy pulling people like I said earlier, out of the river to keep them from drowning, they never go up the river to see who’s putting them in and it’s the same thing.
That’s why acupuncture is such a great thing because it’s been around for a long time but the body knows what to do.
Surgery is… I wouldn’t want, I don’t think there’s a better country to be in the United States.
If you needed, if your leg got broke or you got run over or something and you needed surgery, there’s no better country to be in but these other kinds of surgeries that aren’t necessary. Come on, you know?
Oh, I know a guy who’s a lawyer, couldn’t control his eating – he got really big 4-500 pounds – went and got the Lap-Band surgery and it was unsuccessful and he went into septic shock and lost his toes and fingers and became blind.
C: Oh my God!
E: From Lap-band surgery.
You’re not supposed to do that, though right, make your stomach the size of… It doesn’t work.
C: All the people I know who’ve had it done, it didn’t work, it’s extreme. So what are the things, what should I ask you about that would be helpful? What should I ask you about caring for folks and all that whole process that you think people would find helpful.
E: Well, I would tell everyone to ask for help. You’d be surprised if your loved one is a veteran, all that stuff that you hear about the VA and everything – if you do your due diligence – it’s not true. It’s just that there’s so many people that apply and do stuff, it’s like looking for a job. If you don’t have perseverance, they just can’t accept everybody. If everybody’s not gonna do what they’re supposed to do.
C: You definitely have to make calls and be persistent and be your own advocate.
E: Give your loved one that – if they’ve got that benefit, they deserve it and be diligent and get it.
And you know what, when I tell everybody it’s the same thing everybody says, “Oh well, I’m not spending any money on attorneys and stuff like that. I applied for my dad for the VA benefit when he lived down in Houston, and I started the process ’cause I thought that would be the wisest way to go because he was eligible for those things. Why pay out of pocket for things he’s eligible for? So I started doing it and it was one rejection after another rejection. Yeah, yeah, we got a lot of like I, I got too much income. You got too many assets, you got this, you got that, and we really didn’t. My parents were middle class we grew up… We got a little… We’re not rich… We weren’t loaded, or anything, but we did well, we worked hard all of us and so when I moved them up from Houston to Dallas I had them close and I could really spend time on it, so I went to the VA hospital here, and reapplied and just started being diligent about it, and one of the social workers up there took a liking to me and she said, Mr. Keyes. I’m gonna tell you something which you need to do is hire an elder care attorney because once you do that, all this stuff is just gonna kinda happen. Bam, bam, bam, you’re not gonna have to do this, not gonna have to do that.
And she gave me a card of a guy and I did, I called him up and I hired him, and he was very helpful and I had to pay him about $6000. I sold my car to get it, but I’d do that for my parents. My cars paid off, I sold it and the guy that bought the car was so happy and I paid that attorney and you know what in two weeks I had an answer from the VA of yes that I didn’t have in two years. So what I also tell people is…
Yeah, I you can do it all yourself but you better not have a job and there’s people who are connected that it can do things like that and a lot of people don’t even know about elder law. There’s a guy down in Houston called Pi-Yi Mayo who is a real ground-breaking guy in that field and he sued the government. You wouldn’t believe how many elderly people became indigent and broke. The number one… What people don’t know and they don’t know this. The number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills and the number one thing that kicks people, elderly people, out of their homes is property taxes, ’cause once you’re not working anymore, you’re just getting your pension and social security, how are you gonna afford $14,000 a year of property taxes? It ain’t gonna happen – it might happen if you got a nest egg for a while but if you live to be 90-95-99?
There’s no way. So what’s important to do is just see and you can always apply to Medicaid. I tell people that but just make sure you hire a good attorney and do it the right way. Because the government is going to also require you to prove your income needs to be. I think right now it’s under $2,313 a month. If your income fixed is under that then the government will pick up the difference if you have to go to Long-Term Care it and you can pick where you want to go. Obviously you get a really good option that way. And the other thing is just depending on… You have to get a good attorney to get this taken care of too, but there’s a thing called a Miller Trust where you can, if the income is kinda close and somebody has a pension, you still gotta pay their bills for them, even if they’re placed in a facility, they still have got some bills and things like that then you can apply for that, but that’s why I think an attorney, sometimes is a good thing, not always but it’ll save you some bucks.
C: Yeah, I’ve never heard of an elder care attorney. I didn’t know they existed.
E: It’s very big here in Texas because Texas likes to take care of its elderly, it’s a great state for that. A lot of the senators like our senator, Van Taylor, is doing a really great job of trying to keep property taxes in check, ’cause that’s really what gets a lot of people out of their homes, they just can’t afford it anymore. And Don Huffines, another senator out here doing helping a lot with the property taxes, but every state’s different. So that’s what I tell people. How are things in New Hampshire?
C: it’s not the worst, not the worst, by any stretch. My dad does have his VA benefits, and he loves his doctor, he’s been great.
And they have other kinds of services and stuff like that, but it’s just tough to find people who are really good at what they do, tough to find people who truly care who keep up. Like you’re saying you do know anything about what the heck drug is prescribing it’s so common that they’re not keeping up with the reading and keeping up with the trends, and understanding what they’re actually prescribing to people and the… And I then it’s a tough if you… Now, we’re no longer in that generation where we think that the doctors are gods, and that they never make a mistake because we’ve seen too many… Too much argument to the contrary for that, but it’d be nice if there was somebody who could be like: we are the experts.
E: You know what the life expectancy of a doctor is?
E: 56, look it up collectively, amongst doctors, the life expectancy is 56. and many of the reasons is because they work so long hours, even when they’re in medical school and stuff, they get addicted to these uppers and barbiturates and stuff. And do you know what the average time spent what the patient is?
C: Not long, I don’t think.
E: Under five minutes. So do you want somebody telling you Okay you need to take this pill for the next year and I’ll see it ya six months because not, it’s just wrong to do it, that other…
C: In all the time we’ve spent together, I can tell you, you need it, right?
E: Yeah, well that’s why I always tell people, “if you can, it’s a little subtle shift, but for your parents and for themselves, try to find a good – what they call a DO, a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Because the training, there’s a little different to treat the person, not the patient or… I’m sorry, I’m sorry, let me say the correct way. Treat the person, not the symptom.
That’s what I meant to say. treat the person not the symptom because so many times, and then the book that everyone must read this isn’t even negotiable. If you don’t read this book, you’re doing yourself the greatest disservice of all time. But there’s a book called: Anatomy of an Illness, by Norman Cousins and it’s an interesting read. But Norman was a guy, he went to Russia, this was back in the ’60s, or ’70s, or something, and he acquired some disease and remember that word dis-ease, he was not at ease, something was wrong.
And we went to the hospital and they said, “Hey dude, you’re toast and you’ve got blah, blah, blah… I don’t even remember what it was, but get your affairs in order, you’ve got six weeks to live.
So he said, “Well screw that, I’m not gonna die in a hospital, I’m going to a hotel.
He had a little bit of money so he said, you put me in a hotel. I want y’all to put flowers in my room. I want funny movies, I want my friends to come over, I want a bunch of booze whatever I wanna do.
And he did that, he put a party in his hotel room. If I’m going out, I’m not going out in a hospital.
And you know what happened, you already know the answer he… Yeah, he got better and then after he got out of the hospital, he kinda couldn’t believe it. Kind of like when Donald Trump won, you could kinda tell Donald Trump didn’t believe it when he won. Seriously, I think there was a little bit of that guy, he was like holy moly, I pulled this off, now what? So that’s how this guy was and you know what happened? It came back, whatever the illness was, because he didn’t believe it.
Louise Hay tells the story, and I like Louise. I think she’s a pretty hip chick, but she was the one that wrote that book, You Can Heal Your Life. That it’s a great book. That woman was the real deal ’cause she overcame resentment from being raped which manifested in the cancer with her. So this stuff is real.
And so that’s when he said in the book. He said, listen – and this is the most profound statement I’ve ever heard and what I would call the healing arts and medicine – what Norman Cousins said is if you can figure out how your illness is benefiting you then you’ll get better. And that’s a weird one because somebody says: I’ve got cancer how is that supposed to benefit me?
Well, take a look at it.
Or I got diabetes, you know what diabetes is? It’s the lack of sweetness in a person’s life, the lack of love so they eat sugar and sugar and sugar. They’re trying to compensate for the lack of love… And it makes sense – what did they used to call diabetes before the Industrial Revolution? It was called sugar diabetes.
I don’t know, that’s what I would say about the big picture we’re talking about is that. First of all, it’s really simple, honor your mother and your father. Make that the most important priority of your life and then everything else will work itself out because they worked their butts off their whole life to make sure that you were in a good spot. So if you got to that spot when they’re that old, you owe it to them. It’s just that simple.
And then some of them are really smart like Trey’s mom said something really cool. I thought was smart one time. I don’t know why my mom never thought of it, but she kind of did in her own way but Trey’s mom said, “Hey, I would never want you to have to go through with Eric’s going through.”
So she bought some good insurance, you know, for that.
My mother was never like that she was more like… She liked Land, she was someone who like to invest in land which is not a easy, there’s an old change when you start to get it into elder care: Well, you can’t eat bricks and land and right, you start to get older that’s that thing where people gotta figure out… Okay, well how long am I gonna stay in my house as maybe I could downsize, and go to an apartment, and I can go to assisted living and then towards it for people who live long enough where it becomes a real challenge, when you just can’t do it anymore then you may have to put a loved one in the long-term care facility.
I’ll tell you a beautiful story on Father’s Day, this last Father’s Day, I went to the place where my dad’s at right now. We’re just trying it out, we’re trying to make sure that it’s best for him but he seems to be doing well there.
And I went up to see him, we were having lunch together, and there was this gentleman across the table, who’s always there but I never see a family member there and he’s slouched in his chair, he almost looked like a marshmallow just kind of pouring out of his chair. But they feed him, he eats. I didn’t know much about him.
Well, this really kind lady shows up… And she’s sitting right next to him, and she’s brought a really nice Father’s Day card and she’s trying to show it to him and she’s talking to him and I could tell she called one of their kids and put him on the phone and told him to say Happy Father’s Day. And the guy was – she asked him, she said: Do you know who I am, do you know who I am? I’ve asked my dad that before too – You know he didn’t, but he did enjoy her energy and her being there… So I looked at her and just because I’m an empathetic person, I said: Is that your husband? How many years y’all been married?
She said 64 years. My parents were married for 64 years. And she looked at my dad. She said, is that your dad. I said yeah, that’s my dad. He was in the service? My dad always wears his navy hat. I said, yeah, he was in the navy. And she said, I’m 89, he’s 90 and I said I’d never put him in a nursing home. I said, I’d never do it.
And she moved up from around your area, her son moved her down to Dallas and took care of the dad and mom in a guest room in the son’s house, and then their dad’s dementia got so bad that the mom couldn’t do it anymore and the son finally said, “you’ve gotta put dad in a nursing home or you’re gonna be dead, Momma. We’re gonna have to take you to the graveyard with all the stress.” And she admitted that to me, she told me that in person, and I don’t think things like that sometimes are always coincidences, we kind of meet the people we need to meet at the time we need to meet them. But you can tell that was a really gut-wrenching decision for her, but it was better for her and better for him, because obviously her husband, became such a burden to her that it was gonna kill her. But the same time if she took care of him and killed him.
And so this depends on how you look at it. You wanna give them that dignity and I think that’s how it happens that the long shining path of life at the end of your life, sometimes you need 24/7 care. It happens like a baby. Well, that’s why there’s Child Protective Services, and there’s Adult Protective Services because there are both places of where things can really go wrong if somebody didn’t do it right so that’s what I think about all that stuff.
C: Thank you very much for sharing all your thoughts and wisdom that you’ve accumulated dealing with this over the years, what kind of things do you want people to know about you?
E: I would say it’s really simple. I am an adopted son of a great couple from the ’50s who raised me in a way that I wanted to be able to respect them back and it really wouldn’t matter what I did when I was a kid. I wanted to be Mario Andretti, be a race car driver, which is a dangerous position. But if I would had chosen to do that, and I didn’t, but if I would have chosen to do it, my dad would have been on the side of the race track with a video camera and my mom would have been there with a flag cheering me on, so that’s the kind of parents I had.
If I would…you know how that is? Even if you become, most moms, you become even a screw-up. They’ll still go to bat for you. So I think it’s important to not do that and really honor your folks. For me, that’s kinda where I see it.
I hope that frames it in the right way. But, yeah, you have to… Because aging is not for sissies so if you don’t know what you’re doing, and you’re not informed on it, it can really get you and it may get you anyway so it’s better to prepare.
C: Yeah, for sure, even though aging is no picnic, I think it’s better than the alternative.
Eric, thanks so much for being a part of the show and sharing your experience with us and thank you, Listener, for listening, have a very Happy Thanksgiving and remember to tune in next week.