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My son, the caregiver

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

My son was 13 1/2 when he had the burden of being a caregiver to my husband - he had the issues of being home alone a lot when we were at the hospital, taking care of his father when I had to be out, having his father lose 45 pounds in about 2 months and seeing him very ill and on the edge of giving up. Once my husband recovered, I urged my son to go to counseling, as he'd been through a lot. He refused.

Now, at 14, he's been going through some teen issues. I urged him to get help and he refused again. Then a friend told a teacher she thought he was suicidal - he admitted that he'd thought about it. That enabled me to check him in at the hospital last night and he is going to be there at least a day or so, after which he has agreed, reluctantly, to attend whatever group/individual sessions they suggest.

Advice, insights, experiences, etc. welcome.

ddpekks's picture
ddpekks
Posts: 162
Joined: Sep 2011

I have no insights for you, but I am so sorry that your family is going through this. I have a 14 year old grandson who has watched his Mother battle breast cancer this last year. He is just beginning to act out by a slight drop in his grades and a wee bit of attitude. We are hoping that it is the mere fact that he is 14, but are monitoring his behavior closely.

The only advice I have is to continue what you are doing. It sounds like you are very astute and are doing the right things. I can tell you are doing it with love and compassion.

Our children have so much on their plates in today's new society, then this terrible disease comes along and complicates matters.

I shall keep your family in my prayers.

Deb

Barbara53's picture
Barbara53
Posts: 659
Joined: Aug 2009

My daughter was miserable as a teenager, and I placed her in a residential program at one point, which was probably an expensive mistake but I was doing the best I could at the time. Looking back, if we could have found a local therapy group, it would have been best all round. She cut herself off and on for several years, once bad enough to get our GP very involved. She is 25 now, college grad, and takes Rx for adult ADD and has valium for panic attacks. She has a five-year record of responsible use, recently started seeing a counselor (her idea and initiative) to help put some old skeletons to rest.

Best of luck, teenagers are such bundles of misery sometimes. Keep it simple, make daily agreements that he will not harm himself that day. Look high and low for a good group moderated by a pro. Your son is much more likely to be accountable to a group of peers than to family. I don't mean to sound bossy, but been there done that and it was no fun at all.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1306
Joined: Aug 2010

You did the right thing, Mary, as hard as it may have been.

Good doctors, the right medication and talk therapy are all excellent tools.

I was overwhelmed with my husband's care and the circumstances: 13 is very young to deal with such issues.

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2057
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi DrMary,

I think you did the right thing too.
I found this at the National Cancer Institute (don't know
if will be of any help).

When your parent has cancer: A guide for teens

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/when-your-parent-has-cancer/page2

Hugs,

Jim

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

First - I think the guide will be helpful - thanks for the suggestion. I'm going to ask Allen to check it out - even if he has moved beyond the issues in the guide, his opinion would help, as I'd like to suggest it to a student of mine (16 - her mother has breast cancer and I get the feeling things might not be going well; today she was on the phone a lot in my back room). She is a very private person and has not talked much with her school counselor - I've let her know my experience with cancer, and offered her my room as a safe place to hang out when she needs some alone time. She's taken me up on that, but hasn't shared much in the way of talk yet, so the site might be a good resource for her.

Allen is home - they decided he was not a risk to himself and were comfortable with his plan to see my daughter's ex-counselor (she is a pastoral counselor at our church, and he used to go with me when I drove my daughter there, so he's OK with that). They did think that some of his depression might be helped if he could get more sleep (runs in the family) and so suggested Trazadone. I'm not overly happy with that, as it can have similar withdrawal effects to Prozac and Zoloft.

Anyone have experience with Trazadone? Since we're close to a break, I'm going to suggest he first try routine changes (no videogames after 9) and maybe some yoga to supplement his Tae Kwon Do. After New Year's, we'll think drugs.

MTB

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2057
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks for the update and hope all goes well.

I can't imagine being a teen ager now.

Hugs,

Jim

Barbara53's picture
Barbara53
Posts: 659
Joined: Aug 2009

Good idea to wait on the pharmaceuticals. The docs are over-eager, I think. Good sleep habits are learned, or at least they were for me. No work or video or even TV after 9 unless it's really mindless junk.

LeeandShirley's picture
LeeandShirley
Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2011

When the my husbands oncologist was suggesting pain relievers for my husband, I asked her about Trazadone. She knew I did not want morphine based drugs and she said that Trazadone was morphine based. I do not think a morphine based drug would be a good choice for a depressed person. I am not a doctor and really am just passing along what I have been told. I do hope the best for your son, and hope he can overcome the trauma of being a teen caregiver. It's hard enough for us more mature adults that have been through many of the hard bumps in life, but for a 14 year old , it's too much. Bless him and may he recover from having to deal with so much at such a tender age. And bless you and the rest of your family.

here4lfe
Posts: 296
Joined: Jan 2010

We went through some issues with our daughter and caught it in time. I'm sorry that you have to now switch to caregiving again, and the process is the same. Get a good medical team, and encourage him to work through his problems.

Best

JackieA
Posts: 150
Joined: Mar 2011

My husband is a stage iv breast cancer with mets to all of his bones. We have an 11 year old son. Our son was 8 when the cancer came back. Since that time my son and I both went to counseling. I will pick it back up after the holidays. He was having some anger issues, and little smart mouth towards me. We keep the lines of communications open. Even though he would tell me he did not want to talk about it, I would bring it up at opportune times to keep us talking about his feelings. I let him know it was okay to be angry. The hard part about it, his father has cancer, his grandma (my mother was dying from cancer), his grandfather (my husband's father was diagnosed with prostate)...this thing hit us hard at one time. I prepared my son for my mother dying by just being honest. I spoke with a counselor and was told not to shield children from realities of life. We want to protect our children so much that sometimes we hinder them from normal expressions of fear, anger, hurt. I know that they are young, but it has helped us a lot. We want to shield them so that when something happens they won't know how to feel. They don't know it is okay. A lot of times children suppress their feelings because that is what we teach them by pretending everything is okay---instead of being honest. Then all of a sudden our children blow up suddenly with burst of anger-because we taught them to suppress. We have to teach them how to respond. Hang in there. I think you are doing the right thing...but no med with morphine...addiction will be a big concern.

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