Dad's Feeling Sorry for Himself... Advice?

terabee Member Posts: 3

Hi, so my dad had his third major surgery in three years March 31, he was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma (liver bile duct cancer) February 2013. This surgery he had a 21" incision from sternum to below belly button, made to perform exploratory searches to find whether or not he had more cancer or scar tissue causing obstructions in his intenstines. They did find he had little "studs" of cancer in and around the lining of his intestines, and he was also given an ostomy...

First off, my dad has always been a pessimist his entire life, and I have reason to believe he is every so slightly bipolar since I always remember coming home from school worried and wondering what kind of mood my dad might be in. For more perspective, he is 63, turning 64 in October, and I am 30, turning 31 in August (female, only child, also adopted, single). I have lived in Seattle for 5 years, before emergency flying back April 2nd to Columbus, OH, where my parents are currently located.

I have made the decision to move back to Ohio (a place I hate), leave my friends and boyfriend behind in Seattle, to become primary caregiver for my father. I am flying back to Seattle May 18 to pack up my stuff (I haven't been back since April 2), say my goodbyes, drive across the country, and be back by June 8th. My dad's supposed to start his 2nd round of chemo following the most recent diagnosis June 13.

He has not made any progress AT ALL since the surgery. And we are well aware it does take time, but he has not pushed himself to do anything, in fact, he did more when he first got home from the hospital than he does now. When we first brought him home, yeah, he slept a lot, but he'd push himself to go downstairs to the basement, watch a little TV. But the past few weeks have been him either laying on the couch, or sitting in a chair, whimpering, dozing, and ultimately feeling sorry for himself. He wants my mom or I to be around all the time, does not want to talk to people on the phone, have visitors, do ANYTHING. Now, I know all of his symptoms would deduce he has clinical depression. We talked to a therapist as a family, and also got a prescription for Celexa from his oncologist. He started the Celexa and began throwing up, which then made him afraid to take Celexa, and eat. 

So now we're back at square one, and I'm typing this after having a crying fit because he was being so mean to my mom and I at dinner. In the past 5-6ish weeks since he's been home, he's had to manage by himself for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, aside from that my mom and I have constantly been home or he's had someone around (church friends while he naps, and we can run errands). He has been an ABSOLUTE A**HOLE to both of us. He constantly complains about how sick he is, and how he knows other people go through a lot, but this is his third major operation, how he has too many pills to take (probably around 10 TOTAL every day, which we believe is nothing compared to some folks), and how we just think about ourselves. It's UNBEARABLE, and there's no way of getting in to his mind to help him realize we are still our own people with lives. I'm also having to re-adjust my entire life and livelihood as I have known it as a 30-year-old to come home and take care of him, which he seems to forget about. And my mom's big 65th birthday is next Wednesday, and he's been the biggest butt about letting her meet a friend for lunch! I just can't believe how blind he's being, and I know it's the "cancer talking," but it's getting ridiculous that he wants to do nothing to help himself.

Any words of encouragement or advice would be greatly appreciated. I don't want to resent him, but it's getting close.


  • sherylcv13
    sherylcv13 Member Posts: 23
    edited May 2017 #2

    My husband is recovering from chemo/radiation (Oct - Nov 2016) and surgery (Jan 2017).  He is 70 years old so, generally, in the same generation as your dad.  He has not had any anger issues but has sleep issues.  I wonder if these things could be caused by fear (of the cancer, of the future, of the unknowns involved, etc).  I think maybe some men of that generation feel that they should be the 'fixers' of things and when it comes to something that they can't fix, they don't know how to handle things so become angry and/or lose sleep.  Caregiving is a difficult thing to do but it's obvious that you and your mom are doing so out of love for your dad.  Take time for yourselves and continue to give your dad the care he needs with all of the love you've shown. 

  • Ladylacy
    Ladylacy Member Posts: 773 Member
    Your father

    My husband died from cancer at the age of 78.  He decided after 2 rounds of radiation (72 total radiation treatments) 10 rounds of chemo and major surgery that he had had enough and declined all further treatment at age 75 because his cancer had spread and the only thing offered was chemo and we were told it wouldn't cure, only prolong and possibly hasten his time.  I can honestly say he was never angry about anything and continued to do for himself until the last 2 months of his life.  I was his only caregiver and I still left the house for an hour or so several times a week and he was okay with that.  I think he didn't get upset because he knew that years ago when they thought he had aggressive lung cancer (which turned out to be a severe lung infection) he promised he would stop smoking and drinking his beer but he didn't.  Now he never wanted to talk about it and he would lie to the doctors about how he was feeling, pain level and depression.  He lied to the hospice nurses too and I would say he wasn't telling them the truth about depression and pain.  He did take medication for depression at the last.  Just remember everyone is different in how they react to any serious illness.

    Your mother needs to meet her friend for lunch regardless of how your father acts and you too need to get out.  As caregivers we are important too regardless of what the patient thinks.  Your father is afraid of his diagnosis and what is to come and this is not unusual.  My husband only told me at the end that he was afraid of dying and I told him we all are and that it is like going to sleep but only not waking up and that not of us are promised tomorrow or the next hour for that matter.  Pain medication can and does make a person sleepy. 

    It is a shame that your father doesn't realize everything that you and your mother do for him and it is a shame that he doesn't realize what you are giving up to be there for him.  I certainly wish our grown children had done that for us but then again we didn't expect them too either and wouldn't have asked them too and no they didn't live near.

    Wishing you and your family peace and comfort.

  • Noellesmom
    Noellesmom Member Posts: 1,859 Member
    First of all

    I wish to goodness you had not left your life in Seattle and if it is not too late DON'T DO IT!!!!!!! It will not help this situation. Go back to Seattle.

    As a mother and lifelong caregiver to many folks, your dad nor your mom should be willing to let you sacrifice this way.

    Terabee, no one can actually motivate someone else. It has to come from within.

    You and your mom are suffering emotional and verbal abuse. If you had a friend in this situation, I hope you would advise them not to tolerate this.

    Tell your dad because of his behavior and obvious unhappiness with the care he is receiving you are asking social services to send someone to evaluate his needs.

    Ugh. We see abusive patients all over this board and it is WRONG.

  • Catholic
    Catholic Member Posts: 86
    I was born and raised in the

    I was born and raised in the midwest.  I love the midwest.  There is a lot to love in the midwest.  Laughing  If your feeling really down, stop by Wisconsin and we can share stories.

    Seattle is different and if you love Seattle, thats great.  Leaving Seattle which is a place you love to move to a place you dont love is a bad move. But if you made that decision (and you probably made that decision to protect your mom) and plan on following through, please dont tell me your moving in with your parents as well.  At the very least, get your own place to live in Ohio.  You will go nuts if you have to live with your parents.  Just get a 6 month lease which several apartments offer.

    Resentment will come and grow.  And if you let the resentment build up, it will eat away at you and drive you nuts.  You dont want that at all.  The next phase after resentment is training yourself to ignore the angry outbursts.  You become numb to the daily abuse and ignoring it is the only way to get by. The caregiver is a not a sponge to abuse; the caregiver is not someone who can just take daily abuse and shake it off.  Abuse hurts and it hurts when its directed to you and/or your mom.  You get tired of it.  You have find ways to distance yourself from it.  Getting your own apartment is one way to control the situation and help keep you sane.

    Dont hesistate to take me up on the offer to stop by Wisconsin.  


  • JerzyGrrl
    JerzyGrrl Member Posts: 760 Member

    We don't have the whole picture, but from what info you've provided, this is not a healthy situation for you or your mother. Your father has a history of unpredictable "moods," is currently being demanding, angry, controlling, depressed, and directing all of this at you and her. Just because this kind of abuse doesn't leave bruises or break bones makes it no less abusive. His being a cancer patient is no excuse.

    No one deserves to have this sort of abuse thrown in their direction, NO ONE. Not you, not your mother. Being his child, only and/or adopted, does not make you deserving of this treatment, nor should you seek it out. There are church friends, there are resources that the medical team can connect you with, there is more than one medication for depression. There is no law against it nor will it cause your father harm if your mother goes out to see a friend on her birthday or any other day. If he has access to weapons, if you believe he might otherwise be a danger to himself or others, call the police. His diagnosis is no excuse. 

    Do NOT move away from your friends and the nurturing life you've made for yourself. Do not move to a place you hate to be the primary caregiver for a hateful person. If you are doing this to support your mother, there are other ways to support her that do not require you to destroy yourself.

    I'm an only daughter, only child, so I get it. But there are limits. There need to be limits. Stay safe, stay nurtured, take care. Whatever you decide, keep us posted as you are able.