My FIL was admitted to Hospice care after several months of increasing health issues. He was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and even though after his treatments were concluded, he was told the tumors were shrinking. Unfortunately after one of his follow-up appointments they found tumors scattered throughout his body. When they attempted to treat one area, it would negatively affect another organ. Then when they would treat that next organ, another would fail. The cyclical pattern was telling: there was nothing more they could do as far as treatments.

This news has sent the in-law’s family into turmoil, driving a wedge between those who think the doctors gave up too easily and those who think he should be allowed a chance to pain-free and comfortable days. When I first heard that he was going to go through chemo, I was stunned. I didn’t agree with his decision, nor the encouragement of his decision, to go through treatments that would make him feel like crap with the slim chance it would actually add time to his life. If he was 70 instead of 20 years older, I would feel differently. In other words, I thought his quality of life was severely diminished.

And then the chemo DID make him horribly sick and now instead of spending quality time at home, he’s too weak and requires continued care in a nursing home. Not so say he wouldn’t have possibly spent time there if he hadn’t gone through chemo, but being laid out for weeks in a hospital bed prior to making the hospice determination is where I think his health was negatively compromised.

Sparring Partner and I are not seeing eye to eye on this, but I am trying hard to keep my mouth shut. This is not happening to MY dad; I don’t know what he’s really feeling. I just know he leaves almost every evening to see his dad and returns well after the kids and I are in bed. During the day, he is prone to moments of brooding and even tears. After all these years of hearing stories of childhood, I wonder where the sudden change of heart is coming from, but as my sister explained, for my husband’s family, their dad acted as the true patriarch of the family and was actively involved and had final say on anything they did. Not like my dad who was this person who would only say, “Ask your mom…” when there were decisions to be made (if not just an outright “no”).

It’s a strained atmosphere around here. Waiting for the other boot to drop.

8 thoughts on “Hospice”

  1. My husband went through something big when his Dad passed. It caused a “what kind of man am I?” and “how will my kids judge me as a man?” crisis. It was very hard on him.

  2. Sending hugs to Sparring Partner and his family as well as to you. I hope that they all kind find peace with these final moments. I don’t know what else to say other then to let you know I am thinking of you all.

  3. I don’t know what to say other than I’m so sorry you’re all going through this. It flat out sucked a few months back going through it with my Grandma. She elected not to treat her cancer, and at one point I was mad – I felt like she just gave up. My grandma was the definite matriarch. She ruled our family – and right up until the end, I couldn’t grasp that she had actually gotten OLD. I am so thankful my grandparents’ frugality (and my mom’s healthcare background) gave us the benefit of being able to keep her at home until the end. But I absolutely understand your husband being there for hours. There’s a sense, when you’re there, of time suspended, and knowing that every moment that passes is one less you have with them. There’s the excruciating feeling of wanting to be anywhere but there, but also only there, because you don’t know when the end will come. The phone become a cruel torture device when you’re not there, because any call could be ‘the one’. Somehow, it feels like it would be easier if you’re present when it happens, so you don’t have to get THAT call. It’s a completely unfair, shitty torture, and I’m really sorry you and SP are there right now.

    1. Tracy makes a bunch of good points. SP is between a rock and a hard place. It sounds like his dad might have been less than cuddly in years past and it has to be so hard for SP to see this man that was once “king” of the family now reduced to a frail man. It’s confusing and must bring up tons of conflicting emotions. One thing is for sure…the two of you not agreeing over what happened in his previous treatment plan should be put to rest because it makes no difference now. All you can do is be there for SP when he needs you (if he’s like the men of his dads era he will insist he is *fine* but trust me, he will need you).
      But…..don’t forget to take care of yourself too. I know your mom and dad are not in spectacular shape and all this coming down on your family at once is a lot to handle.

  4. I’m sorry – it’s always a hard choice with cancer. And the family has a hard time accepting what the one afflicted chooses – because they just want that person to be around longer. I watched my husband’s family wandering around hoping for some sort of miracle – natural cures, organic food, what have you. Keeping your mouth shut is the best thing you can do.

    I hope your FIL can have the best ending possible, and that Sparring Partner has some time to get used to the idea.

  5. So difficult to see and to go through. Something simliar happened to my DH’s grandfather. He was about 88 and my MIL did not want him to go through chemo and radiation for lung cancer. He did and it definitely negatively impacted the rest of his life (very short). Sorry that DH and you are going through this. It is so hard on everyone.

  6. I’ve been thinking of your husband and his family, and you too. Three and a half years ago I was in basically the same place you’re in, feeling helpless to help my husband through what was happening in his family. I hope your FIL’s remaining days are as painless and peaceful as possible.

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