communication and emotions

Hi, my husband has prostate cancer which has spread into his bones, including his spine. He has done amazingly well on two clinical trials, but once they had finished, he had chemo and it's all been downhill from there, physically and psychologically. He is not comfortable, mostly with back ache, and has absolutely no energy. He exists between the sofa and his bed for most of the time. I really feel for him. He is not a man to discuss how he feels physically, let alone emotionally, although I can see he is very scared. We are looking at months now, not years. I do my very best to support him physically and emotionally, but I feel I can't reach him. He has always been moody, but is now very snappy much of the time. I'm not criticizing him, he has every reason given the situation he is in. I just find it so hard not to get upset. His illness affects me too, although he doesn't quite get that {I'm sure he does somewhere in his head, but is just filled with terror at his looming death). Please can anyone advise how I can best support him and cope with the verbal unpleasantness, without getting too hurt by it? I know people always lash out at those closest, but I get so dragged down when he is shouting at me and so on. I also feel I should count my lucky stars I'm not in his shoes and should stop whinging. Thoughts please, fellow carers.....x

  • Hi, I'm not sure I can offer any advice but wanted to empathise.  My husband has incurable lung cancer which was discovered after he broke a vertebrae so has an amount of pain in his spine.  You're absolutely right he has every right to feel as he does with so much to cope with but that isn't to say that its not hard for you.  Are you having any counselling? or do you have a really good friend who will listen so you can off load all that is happening without judgment?  I think you're going to need an outlet to be able to cope with everything in the coming time you have together.  My husband has just been referred to the hospice for pain management and they have offered us a variety of services including counselling, is that something open to you. Its very hard not to be hurt by things that are said but a counsellor might be able to give you ways of coping through that time.  I don't think you should be so hard on yourself, you're going through a really tough time and while you are not ill yourself you are dealing with a grief for the future that you're losing.   

    Lucy x 
  • Dear Summerwine

    i finally lost my temper with mr husband two days ago. He has been vile and cruel for the last four months. I’m angry with him for the way he is treating me in our final time together but I can also see that it isn’t him. He has said things to me in the last week which he has never said in forty years together. I’m worried that I won’t remember all the great times we’ve had, the way he could always make me laugh. I feel that I’ve already said goodbye to him. 
    I pointed out to him that there were men his age on the ward when he was admitted to hospital a few weeks ago, who didn’t have one single visitor. No one advocating for them. No one caring for them at all. 
    I have stopped trying now to point out who we were and to remind him of the love we’ve shared all these years. He is already gone. I’m nursing a man I barely recognise. I’ve given up. I’m just going through the motions. I already miss him. 
    Loosing my temper with him seemed to remind him that I’m a person and for a few hours he was almost pleasant. 

    then yesterday he began the cruel comments again so I got up and left the room. 
    The cancer in him seems to come out as poisonous thoughts directed at me. 
    I’m not being patient anymore as it has begun to make me ill too. I’m just leaving the room. 
    I may only have a few weeks left with him. I’m not going to spend it listening to his vile words. When he is gone and no longer suffering I will look through our photo albums and watch films and remember all the good times. 
    he refuses to have a conversation about what is happening. He tells me to go do things for myself. He doesn’t even realise he can’t be left alone. When I’m feeling calmer I do know he isn’t thinking about his impact on me at all. It is as though he is a completely different man to the one I’ve known for forty years. 
    sorry this turned into a rant. 
    I hope your husband can connect better with you in the days to come. 

  • Hi Lucy,

    thanks for your reply. I'm sorry to hear about your husband. I do have friends who I can offload to, which is helpful.They do say his illness doesn't give him the right to be verbally abusive, and I agree. My husband's view is that people always hurt the ones they love, and I think he feels this gives him carte blanche! I haven't been offered any counselling, although I know I could approach the Maggie Centre, which may be a plan! I think the fact that the remaining time together is precious, and the reality being that it's so unpleasant much of the time, is what's difficult. I find I dread his presence when he's so tense, and feel relief when he's not around, and this is something I struggle with when time is so limited.

    Thanks for your help and suggestions,

    Summerwine x

  • Hi M,

    There's so much in your reply that resonates with me. I too feel that the time we have left is being destroyed by his nastiness. I dread his presence for much of the time, and feel relief when he leaves the room. Then I feel bad for feeling like this, as time is running out. The line you wrote about the cancer coming out as poisonous thoughts directed at you, really struck a chord. I also feel it is affecting me, my tears are so close to the surface. I do leave the room also, though this further enrages him as he perceives it as running away from things. He can't or won't make the connection. 

    I like the way you've taken control of the situation psychologically with your plan to look at the photo albums etc after your husband has passed. I can take inspiration form this.

    Thank you M, and good luck

    Summerwine x

  • I’m glad you’ve got some support and you’re friends are right it doesn’t give you’re husband the right. 
    When my husband was first diagnosed he went into business mode, that he had to sort out things with the house, wills, finances etc and was shut off from me. He struggles to deal with emotions and was very cold towards me which left me feeling completely on the outside and wondering if he actually still wanted me around. I thought he’d looked at his life and realised he’d made a huge mistake being with me. Things have improved a lot and I’ve learnt it’s his coping mechanism but you’re right, you’d hope that you’d make the most of whatever time is left. 
    We’re away on holiday this week in the middle of his chemo and I don’t think we should’ve as I don’t think he feels that well but he just won’t say that. I know he’s not feeling great because again I’m pushed away. I don’t know the answer and as horrible as it makes me feel I just have to accept this is how things are. 
    take care of yourself xx 

    Lucy x