We are Macmillan. Cancer Support
Trying to be supportive to recently-widowed mother while suffering from long-term depression myself
It's a month since J's dad's funeral and his house is awaiting being sold. It's odd driving into town and not going round to see him! J is 'okay' and 'fine' and hasn't said a word about his dad at all. Nothing! He appears quite cheerful and is busily getting on with life, so I just leave him to it and make sure he knows he has someone to talk to, should hell freeze over and he wants a Heart to Heart. Very heavily starched upper lip, has J.
Mother is on the phone every day, obviously lonely, and I do my best to be cheerful and positive and so on. #1 daughter spent 3 weeks with her, helping to catalogue 2,500 books (some of my dad's library). That was fine, but when daughter got home, it transpired she had been bitten by some monstrous insect and the bite was horribly infected: as in Jabba the Hut living on the back of her thigh. Many, many, many visits to doctors, nurses and out of hours surgery later, she has still got a packed wound and has twice-weekly dressing changes by the pracice nurses. The infection has gone (I think) and she can now walk again, so that's good. It was very nasty but she's a stoical lass (unlike her mother).
Son is due to start work at Mercedes on Monday, an induction day, so he's raring to go. Quite a weird feeling, my little boy (16 and 5'9 and still growing) being a Working Man. Life is all change, isn't it... No standing still.
Stepdaughter #2 is now 36 weeks pregnant and has got to the fed-up stage (I remember it well) and just wants the baby to arrive and for all to be well. She was on heavy medication when she conceived (unplanned) so we'll all be relieved to see Junior here, fit and well, God willing.
I am in the process of reducing my dosage of my antidepressants, currently on 20mg, down from 30, in the hope of getting rid of them once and for all. I was down to 10mg every other day, last summer, before my dad's cancer became terminal, and that was the end of that. I've put on about 2 stones in the last 18 months (probably due to my own idleness, greed and nothing to do with the drugs or the menopause, which I blame for everything). I'm a bit fed up with being flabby and round but am making a big effort to move more and eat less and hope that makes a difference.
I find myself quite down and disheartened today: despite a letter telling me that my routine smear test result is 'normal'. On this site, of all places, that is great news, and I am SO thankful for it. Memo to self: stop whingeing and start counting blessings. Not sure if the reduced-level pills have anything to do with it, but I'm very tense and jumpy and tired, and not a lot of fun to be with. Trivial things are upsetting me and I don't like it!
End of ramblings: nothing really wrong, except in my head. Just wanted to tell somebody.
J's dad died about 3 a.m.on Saturday 23rd June 2012. We had bee tensed up waiting for it to happen since 8p.m. on Thursday... It was a difficult couple of days and nights (or however long it was) with 4 adults in his room at his bedside (his 3 offspring and me, there to keep an eye on J).
On the last night we were joined by Margaret, a lovely Hospice at Home nurse, who was quiet, calm, gentle and efficient, and that was very reassuring. About 1 a.m. she sent the 4 of us into the residents' lounge (in the care home) and 2 slept on recliner chairs and J and I were on the floor. We had resisted leaving the room but were obviously all shattered and we did all manage to sleep for a couple of hours. Margaret called ius through and it was obvious DIL had only a few minutes left: his breathing had gone from stertorous to almost imperceptible and his colour had changed again. (At this point J went off to the loo and I had a very nasty moment thinking he would be having a pee while his father took his last breath...but no, he got back in time).
Margaret discreetly left us in private for a while and then the care staff (extremely caring and so nice, all the time, to all of us) had made us what appeared to be afternoon tea which we all picked at. It was quite surreal, at 4 in the morning! The doctor came and then the undertaker (who had overseen J's mum's funeral back in 2009, and knew the family well and is cheerful and kind. We took our time to make the bedroom look as though 4 squatters hadn't been camped out there and packed up all DIL's stuff. Then we went our separate ways: SIL to near Penrith (where she found her dog had had hideous diiarrhoea ALL over her kitchen floor and her husband and daughter were obliviously asleep...yuck), BIL back to DIL's house for a nap before driving back down to Derbyshire, and J and I in separate cars back home (5 minutes away). Throughout almost the whole ordeal the rain bucketed down and the world was grey. Seemed appropriate.
J and I slept for a few hours but are still drunk with tiredness. It'll take a few days to reset our body clocks, I guess. We are all sad, but accepting. He was a good dad, J said (himself the best dad I've ever met). The siblings all get on well and were all unceasingly gentle and loving towards their poor old dad, who was so very frail and tiny. SIL (the ex-nurse) really came into her own with her practical care of him: I'm definitely NOT that kind of a daughter, but it obviously makes a difference if your dad is lovely and you love him dearly.
Although it was a difficult experience, I thiink, no, I KNOW I am glad to have had it. It exorcised a few demons for me: it was the kind of experience I wish I had had with my own father, but it couldn't really have been more different. The image of DIL's drawn. skeletal face and open mouth is very vividly before me, but I believe that, latterly, he wasn't in pain any more, and I hope the image will fade, and that this experience will 'cancel out' my earlier one last November.
Thank you for your kind comments and hugs, everybody.
The latest today is that a syringe driver is being fitted, a Macmillan nurse is caring for DIL in the care home and he is too far gone to be moved to a hospice (or to any other place, despite J's bossy sister's somewhat harebrained ideas). As usual, it's not possible to give a time frame, but the mac nurse reckons on days at the most. (Which is what I'd thought, though nobody listens to me...) J is with his dad just now (DIL asleep most of the time now) and will, I think, take this hard. J is definitely not a heart on sleeve type of bloke, but I know...
Little My is quite right: at 97, you can't expect someone to have much of a future. He's been retired over 30 years!!!! The trouble is, he was so spry and active and cheery that he didn't seem his immense age and his offspring presumablly believed he would go on forever. There can't be many men of J's age (nearly 65) whose fathers are still around.
The waiting is nasty though. Our lives have been a bit surreal for the last six months or more, and now we are all back in the strange limbo I was in back in October/November when my dad was dying. J is better off than I was in that he has two siblings and me by his side, where I was marooned in Perthshire with all my family down in Cumbria. That was VERY hard. I wish I'd used this site back then!
I know it's EXTREMELY petty, but I am quite sad that I'm having to give away my precious Brooooce tickets to a colleague: it's not the right time to be going anywhere. I am absolutely gutted about it as it was my 'something to look forward to' after dad diedand mum was/is so awful, and I've wanted to see him play for more years than I can count. Still, never mind. Not the end of the world.
There have been some developments with DIL in the last few days. He has become even more immobile and unresponsive. He complains of pains pretty much everywhere now. I don't understand this since we were told he was on morphine (oramorph, I think) and I had hoped that would blot it all out. The care home says the dosage may need to be adjusted as he is much sleepier (suggesting the dose is too high, maybe? but then why is he in pain?).
Yesterday the home was talking of obtaining a different kind of bed for him so that he could be more upright in bed, and today they've arranged for a Macmillan nurse to visit him 4 times a day. The first visit is tomorrow when J will go along too to see if he can get more information on what exactly is happening. Oh, and they're now wondering about taking him into a hospice (to my mind, the BEST possible option) which makes me wonder if all his problems ARE from the cancer, that it's spread.
We were told there was no other site of cancer apart from the prostate and that was supposedly slow-growing and nothing was necessary apart from hormone tablets. To look at him, you would think he wasn't long for this world. And yet this evening, apparently, he had been roused from his sleepy state and had eaten. (They've started to puree his food into mush which he can manage from a spoon). J talks about his dad 'rallying' but I can't believe it.
J's sister was keen to have him transferred to a care home in Appleby (an attractive place overlooking the river) and there was talk of DIL being wheeled out into the gardens. I may have this completely wrong, but I'd be surprised if he lasted the week in the state he is now. According to J, his dad is pretty much comatose and doesn't appear to be reacting much to anything. I am reminded of my dad's final days...
It's a daily routine of tension and leaping out of our seats when the phone happens to ring. And waiting (without acknowledging it) for That Call in the night to say he's died.
This is Daisy, my stepgranddaughter in Taiwan. Her daddy is J's son and her mum Lucy is Taiwanese. The dachshund is Cooper, the other dog (a stray daddy rescued from the street) is Kai. The standing cat is Alabama and the other cat is Indiana. Daisy's middle name is Indiana too... Hope this makes somebody smile :) I miss her. Only met her once, last xmas, but skype weekly. x x x
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