How do I keep positive, to keep her positive

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How do I keep positive, to keep her positive

My wife was being treated for overactive thyroid gland because she was losing weight, after months of treatment she woke up to shortness of breath and problems swallowing. After going to emergency room they detected a large bloody tumor that was close to breaking which could have made her drown, she was admitted and getting a probe to see if good or bad so next day CT and MRI were done. They found a tumor in her spine that broke a vertebrae and pushing against the nerve , if she has moved incorrectly could have been paralyzed and also lung cancer. To get a sample of the tumor in throat she had to get trachea tube, which she'll now have to keep because tumor stops her from being able to breathe. They then operated putting plates and screws to support the spine, then commenced with 27 treatments of radiation and all this within 4 mths. We are now waiting for the decision if chemo treatments will be done, and all of this is palliative treatment to lengthen what little time she has. We have not been given a period of time yet because they wanted to see what radiation accomplished, and the specialist from tumor clinic were waiting for CT after radiation. We know she will not survive and taken measures with burial plans and such, I just don't know how to keep up her spirits as my spirits erode while taking care of her and working 40hr weeks. I've lived in Germany 38yrs because this is her home, and I'm afraid to be alone here after she is gone and have no idea how at age 58 I can start new home in the states.

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Re: How do I keep positive, to keep her positive

Hi Slick,


On the day my husband finally retired I had some really bad news. I could not tell him that day and when he arrived home after the work Christmas party, I pretended to be asleep.  When he had finished telling me in the morning I told him the really bad news.  I just couldn't hold it to myself any longer.  We had bought a motor home, decked it out, had the maps and were just so excited!   I felt I had ruined his retirement.  Could not tell our children as it was Christmas Day 3 days later.  They were all rushing off on holidays and I did not want them to have to deal with it then.  After brutal surgery and radiation 5 years ago, I swore I would ever go through something like this and would immediately put some end of life decisions together.  Until it happened. Due to timing and circumstances, I just could not.


What has helped me most, is my husband's unfailing optimism and his kindness and patience.  On the weekend of the diagnosis we checked out a local cemetary as I do not want to be cremated.  There were some times in there where we developed a dark humour about the whole situation.  Or we would find laughter in the silliest of things.  Sometimes, no we're not joking about that and later we could.  It does take time to let emotions settle. I realised something, I was grieving for not being around for him and how would he live without me?  There's grief on so many levels, but this one was big.  


When I was sorry that this was how he was spending his retirement, he was - No - I am just so grateful to be her.  To be able to help you through this.  Every action, every word shows me that's really  important to him.  Sometimes when I asked him for something - he rushed off as if on a mission.  Eventually we had to talk about this because he didn't let me finish and ask for the second thing and I just felt he was stressed about trying to fulfil my every need quickly.  When I saw how hard he was working with all the housework, shopping, cleaning, cooking etc., I realised this is what women do all the time(mostly).  No wonder we get very tired.  My husband was not good at housework and avoided cooking for 50 years, minimal involvement in housework or finances. We have lived together for 50 years and he knows where nothing is? He's had a rude awakening and has worked really hard on caching up. 


He does keep me laughing and smiling throughout a terrible time.  It's given us lots of time to talk about our children, wonderful friends and all the stories we share.  My news and progress changed a little to a more positive one.  Still a long way to go.  It would be so much harder if you know your wife will not survive as you said.  We are still making our own story on how we handle this and some beautiful memories.  Again, we try not to dwell on us not being together as right now - we can push that a little further away.   


In your situation I can imagine it would be hard to keep up the positivity.  Perhaps turn it around and get through this time with gratitude as you had all that wonderful time together.  Yes, it will be hard to be on your own and especially whether you return to Germany after living in Australia for so long.  I'm not sure whether you would have a strong network of friends and family to help you in the grieving process.  You have a long life ahead of you and there are so many things that you can still do.  Of course your wife would want the best for you in the future.  I think you really are the one to work on the positivity.  She just maybe too sick to give it back to you right now.  My husband has not done these things but I know I would love it - read to her. Bring her breakfast in bed, or a cup of tea with flowers. Listen to music you both loved.  Make sure she knows how precious she is to you.  You could try some counselling but that's hard if you're looking after someone.  


I can't take your pain away, I'm sorry.  I think there are many ways to show your positivity without dressing up in funny costumes or something.  You also need to give yourself assurances that you can do this and the better and stronger you are, the better that is for you wife. I wish you well on this very difficult journey and I'm sorry I don't have the answer to it all.

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