Re: My 73 Year Old Dad, Diagnosed 2 days ago with Advanced CholangioCarcin
Hi Lisa- what I did was hope for a miracle, but inside I had to be realistic with what was happening. My philosophy is that we never know what is in store, so temper your realism with a dash of hope, because many miracles have happened and continue to happen each day.
This is your dad's experience, for the most part... I really tried to gauge what my Dad needed from me and tried to react to that. If I felt he needed hope, I gave it to him. If it was reassurance he needed that we'd be ok, I tried to do that too. There were times when I just wanted to cry and cry, in front of him telling him that this was so unfair and I was just so heartbroken that this was occurring.
My Dad had a hard time with emotion... extreme emotion... he was ok with tears, but not with heartbreak. My mother felt strongly that we shouldn't show our emotions around him so as not to deflate him. So, I imagined a moment where I'd have a talk with my Dad as is recommended in all those books... but there was never that "moment"... it was not my choice... please try to keep in mind that there are so many resources out there to tell you how to let go, but those resources don't speak to every situation.
I was not able to have the talk I thought I should have because there wasn't the right circumstance. I felt that I was robbed of an opportunity until I realized these books are often written for an ideal and a norm. Lisa, there is your situation and that is unique. You do what you feel is right and what is in your heart to do and say. That is what will pull you through. I also realized that that "talk" was more for me... I refocused on my Dad. I was so lucky that in my life nothing was ever left unsaid with my Dad... he knew how loved he was and I am so grateful for that.
So many times I wanted to chat with him and share memories, but towards the end he needed rest and I was only able to just be with him silently. But there is nothing wrong with just being there. That is important too... that is rarely mentioned in those accounts. Illness is exhausting... there must be a comfort experienced by our loved ones when they open their eyes and see their closest loved ones there, not expecting anything more from them than their very presence. So... don't have any expectations for yourself and for the process. Follow your heart.
Think of what will sooth your dad and try to do that if you can. Those last few weeks when my Dad was sleeping a lot I read Final Gifts which comforted me much.
Lisa, I don't want to be the reason you lose hope... but if you find that things look like they are not going to improve and if there is an end in sight, one thing to keep in mind... I don't know what your religious beliefs are and I don't want to preach mine... I believe in a life after this one... at the end of my Dad's life I imagined that my mom and I were holding his hand just until someone else took it on the other side. I saw it as a sort of birth for him and as such I wanted to help him in that moment by providing love, support, telling him what I felt, etc. It might sound odd, but I truly felt that by doing that we were helping his transition be a peaceful one.
So... your best course of action is to be aware. I'm not suggesting to suppress emotion, but be aware of what your dad is saying and wanting. He may not want to take his meds and that is his choice, but there are some meds that will really help with the pain. Make sure you investigate side effects too because the stronger the med, the stronger the side effects sometimes and as a result, more meds will be prescribed to deal with the side effects. Also, my Dad experienced difficulty with nausea and vomitting that the meds didn't help with. Eventually it was discovered that his stomach wasn't absorbing the meds properly, so he took them intervenously and that helped him immensely.
My prayers are with you and your family hoping that your dad will be able to be helped.
I know how very difficult this is, Lisa... your dad is lucky to have such a caring and loving daughter to watch out for him.