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Dad and I

Minaha
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2012

Exactly 2 weeks ago (4th March), I lost my father to a malignant brain tumour. He was my everything in life, my friend, financial advisor and most of all my dear daddy. I grew up as his only daughter and we shared a very special father/daughter bond and regardless of the fact that I was now in my 30's, he still treated me as his 'little girl'.

He was diagnosed Easter of 2011. I had been abroad for a mini break but had taken extra time off work so I could spend a few days with my parents including Easter. Little did I know what was ahead of us. He was already in hospital when I got there as he had taken a 'turn'. They had done a scan and I should have known it wasn't good news when the doctor took myself and my mother aside into a private room. He said he'd seen a shadow on Dad's brain. At the time I had no idea what that meant. He explained it could be a tumour. As it turned out it was. He was then transferred to a City hospital to have the biopsy. I was with him the day they gave us those results as I was collecting him to bring him back to his hometown. I knew once again it wasn't good when I was told not to leave until a doctor had spoken to us. The doctor arrived and told us it was malignant. We knew it wasn't good news but didn't realise he had just been served his death sentence. We drove back that day with a very dark shadow hanging over us and he kept pleading with me not to tell my mother.

Then it began, could they/would they operate. They decided to risk it but could only remove part. Then he was offered 6 weeks radiotherapy with oral chemotherapy. This he chose to undertake despite it meaning he had to travel 2 hours each way on a bus each day to receive it. There is no radiotherapy unit in our local hospital. He never missed a day of this despite how ill it made him. All I remember of this time was he was either in the city or in bed. It was 6 weeks of hell for him. When he finished this he was referred to our local hospital for chemotherapy. He only had one session as they decided his platelets were too low to continue. One night he called me to tell me how upset he was that the 'doctors had given up on him and that he was going to go in and demand his treatment as it was his life'. This was the only time I ever heard him complain and while I heard the words at the time, they haunt me now. Just after this he was moved from dealing with oncology to Palliative Care. Again, while I heard the words, I didn't allow myself to know exactly what it meant at the time. After going from bad to worse, Dad was admitted to hospital on 28th December when his mobility went from bad to practically zero overnight. We were told it was likely he only had a week or two to live. 3 weeks later the hospital were discharging him as they refused to keep him on the basis of his illness any longer.

Thankfully we found him a bed in a Nursing home nearby. There's no Hospice near us. From 28th December I stayed by his side as I knew we were on very limited time. We formed a very strange bond and our roles almost became reversed. I was suddenly feeding him as he could no longer co-ordinate his hands. Each faculty was disappearing and his speech was almost non-existant. I was sitting there watching him dying and again at the time, I just kept going, sat there holding his hand for hours, talking to him even though he couldn't answer, perhaps I was hoping for a miracle but I know I wasn't delusional either. On reflection now, I find it strange that each level he dropped I became climatised to and dealt with.

His final week I cannot get out of my mind. I have nightmares about it. I never, ever want to watch somebody go through that again. I was with him when he eventually died. It was just before 7.30am and I had actually just joked to the Nurse who was going off night duty that he might be waiting for St Patrick's day. She left the room and a few minutes later I realised something was 'happening'. His eyes were open, his colour had changed and his breathing had changed. I held his hand and told him everything was going to be alright. As realisation grew in me, I put my arms around him and held him to me. He died in my arms. One would think it was an apt ending after all we'd gone through but I can't get it out of my mind and have been wrought with guilt that perhaps I could have done something to stop it.

I lost my hero that morning and it's tearing me apart that I'll never get him back.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1306
Joined: Aug 2010

when it mattered most. You could not have stopped it and it's no use wondering that.

It sounds like you are a very good daughter. I know he would be proud of you.

Minaha
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2012

Thank you for your lovely reply. I think I am only beginning to grieve now. I'm not even certain. In Ireland, the first 3 days are very quick as you wake the person, have the 'removal' (everybody comes to say goodbye and sympathise with the family) and the following day the funeral mass and burial. There is no waiting around. They are in the ground within 2 days normally, in my fathers case 3 days as there was another large funeral in town which treathened to steal his thunder. Ironically, they both had chosen same burial ground so are buried next to each other one day after the next (very unusual even in Ireland).

I have to admit, I feel so scared when I read some of the posts here from people grieving a LOT longer because I can see it's not going to be a short or calm journey.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1306
Joined: Aug 2010

You will walk your own walk, Mina. While there are some common stages to grieving (do an internet search on Elizabeth Kuhbler-Ross: The Stages of Grief), everybody moves at their own pace. Some last minutes for one person and days for another. There is no right way or wrong way to grieve and nobody's grief really looks like anyone else's.

Just allow yourself what you need and you will come through it just fine.

Hugs.

Lilllly
Posts: 16
Joined: May 2009

Your story made my heart ache. Thank you for sharing it. I lost my dad February 24th, 2011 to stomach cancer. I'm now 29. The last year has been a difficult journey at times, especially since I was planning a wedding and my dad wouldn't be there. I had grieved before he passed, while he was ill, and of course after his passing. The hospital days....they still haunt me. At first I had regular nightmares about them and it being "that time" all over again. It was reliving the anguish and pain over and over again when I went to sleep. I thought I was okay after he passed...I have studied psychology, religion, human and social behaviour, I thought I had it all figured out. I was soldiering on, having some bad days and some ok days. Looking back at the year though, I wanted so badly to tell myself that I was done grieving when I wasn't. I wanted to be done the pain, I wanted to be at the point where I was picking up the pieces so badly, that I didn't realize I was still watching them fall. Grief came out in many ways - mostly anger and anxiety. I began to get angry at things...VERY angry and upset and would just cry in frustration. I began to get nervous at the prospect of a stressful situation...so nervous that my entire body would erupt into tremors and I would nearly faint. I went from extreme highs to extreme lows and some days could not get out of bed. I took on too much. I took on a new job at work immediately after returning, I began taking more college classes, all on top of helping my mother move out of our family home, and planning a wedding.

I worried for my mother, my sister, myself. My dad was our ROCK. He was the true man of the house, the guy that got stuff done, took care of everything, confronted whatever needed confronting, handyman, financial adviser (like yours!), life adviser, important work figure, STRONG STRONG STRONG. To watch that strength be taken away from him was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. At the end of his illness, like you, I (with my sister and mother) spent weeks by his side at his bed, holding his hand, talking to him, and when we were alone, telling him everything I loved about our lives together, my favorite memories, how much we loved him and a man like him will be in a great place after this.

Those conversations...those moments are not typical for most our age to experience. I have a difficult time relating to my friends sometimes, but I am finding more peace these days, less anger and less anxiety. I have a doctor's phone number written down, because some lows were very low and I became concerned for myself. I never did have to call it, but I can see understand how some people do.

I'm not telling you this all to scare you, I'm just telling you about my last year with this grief. I tried so hard to look past it that it became very difficult to deal with, and unrecognizable in a way. It is incredible looking back on a journey like that - how you cannot believe you were able to get through it. I know that everytime we heard bad news, I would think deep down inside that I couldn't bear any more bad news or any worse condition - but it happened, and I did what I needed to do for my dad, because if he could have gone through that, I could have taken his hand through it. Grief is similar, I put myself on a fast speed chase over the past year of trying to be everything to people and prove to myself that I was in control. Once I realized what was happening to myself and that I was spiralling down, I was able to acknowledge the grief and have it. I am feeling much more peace, less anger and anxiety and have stopped taking on so much and am looking to the sky and smiling these days. My heart is still broken from losing my father - but he told us to celebrate life. I feel and see moments that remind me of him and instead of becoming sad about them (all the time)...most times I try to smile to myself and know that is a "hug". You were close with your father and shared something difficult, but did so in a supportive, loving way. There is nothing to feel guilty about, the feeling of helplessness is normal, and totally understandable. Celebrate your life, and stop and look around every so often to make sure you're doing what you need to do for yourself...I think we get so used to thinking about others that we forget what we ourselves need. Meditate, pray, take long baths, long walks, listen to music, do what ever it is you know relaxes and puts you at peace. The pieces that have fallen apart WILL come back together, you're a strong woman and are fortunate to have had such a loving father. Hugs.

Minaha
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2012

Lillly,

Many thanks for sharing your story. It's comforting to know and hear of similar situations. I've had to pull it together the past few weeks again as Mum is not well.

Minaha
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2012

Lillly,

Many thanks for sharing your story. It's comforting to know and hear of similar situations. I've had to pull it together the past few weeks again as Mum is not well.

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