My Dad has had a horrible month, he had a stroke, then found out he is diabetic, now he has learnt that he has locally advanced bowel cancer.
He is still in rehab at hospital and goes to the toilet hourly, and is losing a lot of blood.
He's been told that the cancer cannot be operated on but radio therapy and some chemo may assist to reduce it to an operable size.
After his stroke Dad was determined to get better and was positive and hopeful, since his colonoscopy he is down, very down. He seems annoyed when we visit him in rehab and keeps telling us to go away. He has even complained to the nursing staff that we (his family) are stressing him out. We have dedicated a lot of our time and energy to him in the last 5 weeks but he just doesn't want a bar of us anymore, he is angry at us and speaks meanly to us, even the Grandkids can't put a smile on his face anymore.
I have spoken with the rehab staff about his mental state and they have said we should give him some space.
I think he may need to talk to someone, but language is an issue for him as well, because English is not his first tongue and I don't think he would get benefit from an English speaking cousellor.
It is so hard to not visit or see him (to give him space), is this what he really wants? Has anyone else had a loved one react like this and how do you handle this?
We are normally a very close knit clan, I feel so hopeless.
I understand your feelings and to an extent maybe your dad's. I think you need to allow him to keep some of his pride and dignity. These have been assaulted and it's harder for an older man than a younger man to have his loved ones see him this way.He needs to not be seen in this state .
My husband told me not to visit him every day when he was expecting to be in hospital for 4 or 5 days for a cancer operation .I did visit every day but some days he was too sick and asked me not to stay long . Because of complications he was there for 2 weeks and he allowed our daughter to visit a couple of times only. Our sons and friends didn't even know he was there.
I am only telling you this to explain how some people feel when struck down by illness.I was in hospital for an operation for 5 days about 15 years ago . Only my husband and work colleagues knew. I didn't want my children to see me like that . It was a pride and dignity issue for me.
Perhaps your dad has a male friend or relative he especially gets on with and who speaks his language who can help. Maybe you can discuss the possibility with a counsellor or hospital staff. Still ,only if your dad agrees.
I hope this helps a little.In time your dad may change his attitude .
My Dad reacted similar.
Dennis passed from Leukaemia and was a builder by trade and the eldest child of his family. He was a strong capable man and never asked for help it wasn't his character. He didn't cope well with people seeing him weak and sick.
The last xmas he ever experienced I was to fly home and he told me "what would make my xmas is for you to live and enjoy life" go camping and fishing at Eden. So I honoured he wish and did that.
Later that year in July when his kidneys failed.....I was fussing over him and rubbing his back and he whispered, PISS OFF.......I cried and cried and can't tell you how much therapy I have had to get past that comment, but he was sick and dying......and I didn't listen to him all the days before, that is when I backed off.
I would still go to the hospital but sat all day in the lounge. If Dad or Mum needed anything I was there, but didn't let onto Dad I was there all day......acted as if I just got to the hospital if caught out by nurses talking.
Dennis, My dad was Catholic and alter boy. He turned away from the church most of his life, but the only people apart from my Mum daily who were allowed in his room were the Nuns.......he prayed and took communion and prayed more........this gave Dennis comfort.
Also feeling hopeless is part of our journey as family looking in.....its part of the journey for the passenger.
Everything that your Dad is doing is natural and universal of all sick men. I do hope my story of my Dad, Dennis has helped you.
When my father-in -law was dying I saw him a few times in the hospital then my husband told me that he would go in alone. I thought that of course they needed that time without me. He too was a strong man and maybe was embarassed to have me there. I never asked. I still wanted to see him one more time but it never happened.
He went into hospital because he felt his gp wasn't trying to sort out why he felt ill and was misdiagnosing him .He never came out.They found cancer ,so much that they didn't know where it began.It was all over in a few weeks.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I can only imagine the sense of loss of independence, 5 weeks ago my Dad was vital, energetic, constantly doing "stuff" - your right it must be hard to be the way he is now.
Thankyou so much Jules, your comment of feeling hopeless struck such a chord with me - it is exactly how I feel.
It is so hard to back off when all you want to do is SOMETHING! And the irony is, there is nothing real that I can do.
Dad has another 3 weeks or so til radiotherapy - fingers crossed it assists in making his tumour smaller and in abating some of his symptoms.
Thanks again Jules
I'm so sorry that you never got to see your father-in-law that last time that you had hoped.
It is heartbreaking when you are pushed away and so sad that it was all so quick for you all.
Thankyou for sharing your experience with me.
Wow, my husband is behaving the same way. I just posted a blog about it. I feel so emotionally abused right now and kind of traumatized by his reaction. I understand that a cancer patient is sick and maybe terminal, but why do some react so cruel to their loved ones? It hurts me to have him reject me when all I'm trying to do is help him. I feel so helpless and I don't know what to do. Then I feel guilty for even complaining about the abuse because I should just take the abuse since it comes with the territory of being cancer patient.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.