The Inability To Accept Giving Up
Posted on March 11, 2013
There is an unfortunate consensus between my husband, brother-in-law and me that my father-in-law-who-doesn’t-know-he’s-my-father-in-law may be giving us less-than-subtle hints that he’s either giving up or given up. It’s something that’s been on our minds the last couple of days, only none of us knew the other was thinking it nor did we want to be first to say it. This would seem to be one of those rare subjects that’s brought up as a last resort and no one wants to jump the gun. Yet, it would appear to be staring us in the face.
A part of me can’t honestly blame my FIL for having these thoughts since every step forward he takes during his recovery winds up with having to take two steps back. You cannot begin to imagine what’s been going on with this poor guy. He hurt his back, then finds out he needs surgery to correct it. He has surgery only to find out that the vertebra has metastasized cancer. They diagnose him as having lung cancer, only before he can begin chemo, they discover a tumor pressing against his spine. He has radiation on that only to have the tumor swell and leave him unable to walk. They operate again.
He completes radiation and enters rehabilitation to help him walk again, only he ends up back in the hospital due to low platelets. They treat the platelets and discover he has the beginnings of pneumonia. They treat the pneumonia only to lose his place at the rehabilitation center and have a couple of veins give out from the IVs. On top of that, the medication leaves him constipated and in pain from that.
It’s literally been one thing after the other. He’s been in constant pain in one form or another since December and it’s taken its toll. FIL has simply decided he doesn’t want to eat anymore. When we push it, he fights us. When we ask him why he doesn’t want to eat, he stops talking. He can hear us just fine and he’ll respond to everything else, but not that. Or, quite honestly, a few other topics. Because his body is starved for nutrients, he’s no longer a candidate for chemo and that has all of us, including his doctors, worried.
If one applied logic to this, it would appear obvious that he’s depressed by all of this. Hell, who wouldn’t be? It could be due to the medication they’ve had him on and the medication they currently have him on. Meds can screw with one’s emotions and thought processes. And if this is the case, it seems prudent that we ask the doctor there to have FIL given a psych evaluation so that he can start receiving help.
My father-in-law has the hardest part in this. It’s really all on him, but we’re all having a difficult time with this, too. I’m not someone who gives up. I’ve fought all my life and if something doesn’t seem like it could be won, I’d find a way to turn it around so that it can be. It’s just in my nature. So I’m having a hell of a time accepting defeat in this situation. Then, too, I’m not the one in pain here. I may have a very different outlook the situation was reversed. That being said, my family (including my FIL) would be there right by my side doing exactly what we’re doing for him.
Each of us has our own unique perspective and gift we bring to the situation. My husband brings calm rationale, my undersexed brother-in-law brings the necessary tough love with an optimistic endgame, while I look for the humor in things to lighten a very gloomy time. It hasn’t been easy for any of us, but we’ve managed to persevere. There hasn’t been a day since this began when FIL has been alone. Not once. We just need to get him on board and in a little less pain in order for him to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m already losing one father to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, so I’m not ready to throw in the towel with my father-in-law and all the crap that’s happening to him. Not yet. Not while a chance still exists. The man just finally started referring to me as his son’s other half and partner. I won’t give up on him and I won’t allow him to give up on himself. I’m just not sure what else I can do.
I’m just not sure…
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
12 Responses to “The Inability To Accept Giving Up”
March 11, 2013 at 9:54 am
I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this. Cancer is hell and chemo can be the tenth circle of hell even when the prognosis is good and there are no other issues. I just completed chemo for breast cancer and there were quite a few days when I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. Not one more treatment. Not one more day of feeling like I had been run over by a truck. If it wasn’t for the support and love of my husband, I don’t know if I could have made it through. Keep supporting him and being his strength. I’m sending lots of healing energy to all of you. *hugs*
March 11, 2013 at 10:23 am
If we’ve done something right, it’s that he hasn’t spent a single day by himself since this began in December. Whether he was at home, in the hospital or in the rehabilitation center, he’s not spent a day alone. Other people didn’t get visitors for days at a time, but he knew we’d come and we did. And he knows we’ll still come. I think that may be the glue that continues to hold him to this world, but how long that lasts has become the question.
I’m extremely glad you got the support you did and still have. I’m glad you’re still with us and I hope you continue to be with us for as long as possible.
March 11, 2013 at 9:55 am
Ah, Kris! My heart goes out to you and everyone involved in your FIL’s illness, and I can see everyone’s individual point of view. As to his eating, I’m sure the doctors could keep him nourished intravenously (I’ve been there/done that). But the bottom line, which only the doctors can answer, if they will, is whether all this effort will result in an improved and prolonged life for him.
As my own mother lay dying of lung cancer, I fought every inch of the way: “If we try this, then maybe…” or “If we try that, then maybe…” trying to prolong the inevitable. And in the end, she died, and I have cursed myself ever since that I did not simply allow her to go as peacefully and painlessly as possible.
It is hard to let go. If there is any chance for recovery, fight on. If there is not,…
March 11, 2013 at 10:27 am
In the end, it’ll be his kids decision after he’s made his own. The doctors have been honest and feel the fight is still worth it. His doctor is extraordinary and she takes the health of her patients very personally. She doesn’t like to lose. If things were to turn so bleak as to not have a decent way out, I know I’ll support the decision they make. It’s just difficult to fathom that the man was his typical cantankerous self a mere three months ago and now this. It defies logic.
March 11, 2013 at 11:02 am
Kris, I really feel for you and the Ralph here. I went through this with my mother. She was dying from liver disease, and went back and forth from being okay to lapsing into a coma as she was unable to process food normally and the ammonia built up in her blood.
The last time, she looked at us and said, “Enough. It hurts, I’m tired and the next time, don’t bring me back.” The worst day of my life was going with my dad to shop for caskets and making funeral arrangements when my mom was still alive.
But the truth is, it was her choice, and I respect it. The pain and never-ending back-and-forth treatments with the end result being the same left her almost deaf, unable to eat anything she enjoyed, and facing death anyway.
Please, please let him know it’s okay. It hurts us, but it’s selfish. Our loved ones know when they are ready. I miss her every day, but I don’t miss seeing her in pain.
Love to you. If you need me, I am here.
Lloyd Meeker says:
March 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm
Yup, FIL gets to decide. Love dictates respect for his decision, even if it’s not a popular one. That’s how I see it, anyway. I for sure do not want to be kept around after I’ve decided enough is enough, just because my relatives want me to stay longer. It’s an issue of dignity, love and respect, not preference.
It’s not easy to witness that, I know from first hand experience. I urge you to surround him with respect, calm love, and understanding. He needs you to hold the energetic door open for him.
That’s how I see it, FWIW.
Vastine Bondurant says:
March 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm
It’s so easy for us to urge them to keep up the fight. But, after seeing my son-in-law at the same point, as well as my father, I see it all so diffeerntly now.
To fight, if a fight can be won, is one thing. To spend the remainder of a life in pain, tired, weary, depressed trying to stay alive to make others happy, when you’re really wanting SO bad to just…rest and be at peace….is something altogether different.
Truthfully, it’s not ‘giving up’, it just letting their bodies and hearts tell them that it is time to move on to a better place.
Vastine Bondurant says:
March 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm
And I meant to add **love and hugs** to you all.
Lloyd Songal says:
March 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm
Quality of life is a huge part of the puzzle wether meds are a result of his refusal to take nourishment by muddled thinking or given him the courage to follow through with his decision it would be difficult to discern given he will not talk about it with you. Possibly by talking to a professional, if he is open and amenable to have such a discussion. As you have mentioned Kris, you can not make him meet you on you level, but rather meet him on his terms. A very difficult situation filled with angst for all to be sure. By getting him to talk to a neutral outside professional might be able to give everyone piece of mind if he is willing to share his feelings with an outsider. Just a thought.
March 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm
I’m very sorry your FIL is going through this. It’s hard on all of you, and my heart goes out to the whole family.
I deal with this kind of situation professionally, and it’s hard, especially when the family and the patient don’t see eye to eye on what to do next and how hard to fight. There’s always the question of which decisions and desires are for the family more than for the patient.
His quality of life and his dignity are important considerations. Lloyd’s suggestion of an outside professional is a good one.
Vincent Ravencroft says:
March 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm
Here’s some links for a few things that might help in the healing/curing process, that I’ve come across while looking for some other alternative/natural treatments, that seem promising, to help my mom with her skin cancer
I hope these can be of some help to you, Kris
March 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Unfortunately, it’s too late for that. We didn’t realize just how much the cancer had gone throughout his body. But the links may be extremely helpful to someone much earlier on in the process. =) Thank you, Vincent.