Author Topic: Am I losing my mind?  (Read 11016 times)

Juls

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Am I losing my mind?
« on: August 11, 2010, 07:28:09 AM »
I lost my husband in June to Pancreatic Cancer.  He was 60 years young.  He started getting sick in September of 2009 and from that moment on it was a whirlwind of activity.  Learned everything I could about this cancer, researched clinical trials as well as standard and alternative treatments.  Talked to anybody and everybody with information.  Read everything I could get my hands on.  I fought with doctors who just wanted to write my husband off and insurance companies that questioned every, single treatment.  We were in and out of emergency rooms.  We traveled back and forth to Denver.  Finally we closed up our house in Colorado in the dead of winter and I drove him to MD Anderson in Houston.  Through it all he stayed so strong, but his poor body was literally ravaged by the treatments.  I know that on some level I was in a perpetual state of shock over the whole process.  It's brutal and unforgiving.  But I was so determined that this cancer was not going to take my husband from me, that every thought of "we're losing this battle", was swept aside.  No time for emotions, doubts, thinking of anything but getting him better. 
Now I 'm not so busy anymore.  There's too much quiet.  All that 'stuff' that I kept at bay for so long is coming back like a tidal wave.  I feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes.  Crazy thoughts: he can't be dead I didn't finish reading him that book, if I drive back to Houston he'll be there waiting, did I tell him enough that I loved him - did he know?  I feel like I'm losing my grip on reality sometimes.

Jeanie's Mom

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2010, 08:58:12 AM »
No you are not losing your mind.  Seems like it I know.  We fought a battle to keep our precious nine year old daughter alive so I know and understand fighting to not lose someone.  I found myself after she died setting a place for her at the table and calling her to the table.  I asked myself the same question  Am I losing my mind? No I wasn't..  It is just all part of grief.  I am so sorry about your husband.  They fight so hard to stay with us so sad they couldn't. 

browneyedgirl

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 08:59:23 AM »
Dear Juls ~

I am so very sorry for the loss of your husband, I can't imagine going though that, it must have been so very hard for the both of you.  

I can say with certainty that he does know that you love him, and I am sure that you told him many times, you may just not have remembered with all that was going on.  I am sure he is still with you, in your heart.  

Welcome to webhealing, you will find a loving support system, unfortunatly there are other members here that have lost their spouse, and I am very confindent that they will reply to your post and offer advise better than myself.  

Please come back and let us know how you are doing.
Tony Repola 07/20/66 03/29/09
I know you are fishing in the oceans and streams of heaven

closs86

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 06:22:26 PM »
Hi Juls,
   I am so sorry for your loss, my husband had a stomach ache also 60, thought he caught something from the kids, 3 weeks later, he was in memorial sloane kettering diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that spread to his liver and his gut, and 3 weeks from entering the hospital he was gone, so I know about shock, it is a terrible sickness, and they really can't do much for it.  I also thought I was going crazy lots of times, and still do sometimes, My husband passed April 6, it still feels like he will be coming home any minute.  Before that 6 weeks he was perfect, healthy, walked 3 miles every day, ate all the "right things" so who knows, I don't think the professionals even know.  All I know is that he is gone and I have a broken heart, we were married 44 years, he was my life, my everything, it is very hard to be here without him
but everyone says one minute at a time, so that is what we have to do
   Come here when you want to vent, this is a good place it has helped me
take good care of yourself,
Karen

querencia

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 10:22:15 PM »
To Juls: My experience is fairly parallel to yours (my husband died of cancer in July)---and it sounds as if both of us earned a A in being wife of cancer patient---so what a rotten dirty trick that, with such marvelous support, they died anyway. Not fair, is it? So now after living in a high-pressure tank defined by a zillion medical appointments, treatments, and procedures, all seasoned with constant research and negotiating with the medical establishment...and then the rarefied world of being caregiver to a very sick and finally a dying life-partner...after all of that, quiet. Don't know about you, but I feel like a deep-sea diver who ascended too fast and can't get used to a lower-pressure atmosphere.  The first couple of weeks I felt assaulted by stunned disbelief, anger, a manic need to work all the time reorganizing my home, and some depression. No appetite. Heart palpitations (but nothing on the EKG). Constant expectation that he is coming home soon from a long trip---if I can just hold out until he gets back. After three weeks I decided that my life is now divided into Before (good) and After (bad) and that my task is to weave strands of Before into After, if that makes sense, integrating this new reality into my life.  So I am keeping things organized at home, because I find that pleasanter than living in chaos. I am becoming involved in church life (I wasn't before).  Since I'm too old to go back to work, I'm taking on some volunteer work. I've signed up for a spousal bereavement group. I feel a little surprised that there actually is a life ahead of me. I would give anything to have him back, not sick and ravaged like he was at the end but the way he used to be.  That doesn't seem to be an option. Are we crazy? No: we're coping.



Juls

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2010, 02:30:59 PM »
You know, the hardest part so far has been accepting the fact that he's just gone.  How does that happen?  How does a human being, who occupied such a major part of my life and heart, be there one second and gone the next?  Are we all really that fragile?

I think back to all those times that I checked him in the middle of the night - my heart pounding in my chest - praying that he was still breathing.  Then at the end I actually prayed that he would stop.  So much pain. Yet the very second it happened I instantly wanted to take it back. 

Yesterday I decided to go back and erase old messages on the phone.  As I scanned through suddenly I heard his voice.  It was a message I hadn't heard before.  I thought I had gained some ground in this grieving thing, but I crumbled like a house of straw.     

tahari01

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2010, 04:22:46 PM »
I'm so very sorry for your loss.  I haven't lost my husband, but just lost my mom on August 1st.  She just retired July 2nd, and moved in with my husband, son and me on July 31st.  The very next night, she yelled and said, Lilly! I have a pain!".  I'm the baby of the family and she was really close to me and my son (who turned 20 today...very very bittersweet).  I have awakened myself twice now yelling in my sleep.  The first time it was calling out for her.  Last night, I don't know what I yelled.  I am very tired of not sleeping well...of yelling out in my sleep and waking myself up.  I did have two dreams of her, both pleasant. I think that was her way of telling me she's alright.  I know you're going through alot.  We have to lean on each other no matter of its here, or with friends or family when we need it.  I have no friends where I live, so I rely heavily on the grief therapy I started this morning with my son.  I have a doctors appointment next week and will talk to my doctor about getting me on antidepressants.

Just know that we are all here for you.  I'm new here too and wish to God I didn't have to be here.  But everyone here has been so very nice to me.

Sending you healing hugs,
Lillian
In loving memory of my momma, Helen Blankenship. Gone to Heaven 8/1/2010

Juls

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2010, 09:45:00 AM »
My brother-in-law called me last night, apparently to add to the already mounting pressure in my life as well as throwing in a nice dose of guilt.  He thinks I should hire a lawyer to sue our health insurance company.  They had denied my husband's chemo treatment by saying it was experimental, initially postponing it for weeks and ultimately forcing us to move forward without the full protocol.  The  treatment was not experimental and I forwarded the Phase III clinical study to prove it.  But who has 60 days to sit around waiting for an insurance company to respond to an appeal? 
I would dearly love to hit that insurance company where it hurts but I don't have the money to hire an attorney!  And I sure don't have the emotional stamina to fight a lawsuit.  I'll be lucky if I get out of this without having to file for bankruptcy.  This man (my brother-in-law) is literally worth millions of dollars, but he calls me insisting that this is what my husband told him he wanted and that I owe it to my husband's memory to follow through.  I was so angry I couldn't sleep and I'm still angry now.  Who do these people think they are?

mousewife

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2010, 09:17:29 PM »
Juls,

You don't owe anything to your brother-in-law.  He is wrong to approach you in this manner, but he is probably doing it as a way of coping with his brother's death.  He may feel he needs someone to blame for what was not within anyone's control.  I know what the insurance companies can be like.  The "nurse case manager"  kept calling me under the guise of helping me and being someone I could vent to, when really all she was trying to do was get me to have hospice come in to save them money.  My husband was taking trials too for brain cancer.  Sometimes we just get illnesses that can't have a successful outcome.

I know what you mean about becoming the caregiver to your love. It is surreal.  I also know what you mean about praying they will live, then praying they will go, and then torturing yourself and regretting that you ever wished that.  But I can say, that when we pray for them to go, we are doing the right thing at the time.  It is a selfless thing to release the person we love the most in the world because we think that it will be better for them.  I'm sure he knew how much you loved him.  We have done our best under the most stressful, chaotic, confusing and hurtful times.  Now, all we can do is to take care of ourselves and work on healing and building a new world to live in.

Peace and Healing,
mousewife

Juls

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2010, 05:10:21 PM »
You're probably right.  I know people are doing the best they can under difficult circumstances.  Maybe I'm feeling a bit sensative these days.  It's just that when you think you've finally landed on some level ground, something like this comes at you and gets things all riled up again.

querencia

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2010, 08:20:28 PM »
Reply to Juls: I can identify with your asking "how does this happen?"---I keep asking,"How can a person just disappear?". I knew that my husband was near the end---Hospice gave me a list "Signs That Death is Approaching"---but I didn't think he was actually dying right THEN. Our son arrived at 9 at night and we had to rouse his father, who was glad to see him but went right back to sleep. Then at 4 AM he woke up having trouble breathing. The  morphine Hospice said to put under his tongue didn't  help. Punctiliously following instructions, I waited the time then gave it again. Oh God, if I had known he was dying I would have poured the whole damn bottle into him, anything to give him ease. And a part of my mind kept trying to tell me "This is the end, this is it, now" because a line from the (Episcopalian) Book of Common Prayer kept running through my mind, "Suffer us not in the last hour through any pains of death to fall from Thee"---message being "this IS the last hour" but the rest of my mind protected me from knowing that reality. By the time dawn came I had called our son who was now sitting there feeding his father ice chips and constantly adjusting the pillows. Called Hospice---the night nurse said to give him more morphine. Still he was gasping for breath. Finally by 8 our son got him settled on pillows and he fell asleep. "Come and get some breakfast while he's quiet," I said. "A lot is going to start happening at nine o'clock because I'm going to call [our regular Hospice nurse] as soon as she gets in and she will be here." Five minutes later I looked into the bedroom and my husband had died.  Regrets, regrets. Why didn't I say to our son "You go get some breakfast and I'll sit here with him"? How could I have ignored the signs that he was going? And why didn't I, damn the rules, give him enough morphine to let him just sleep his way on out?  I couldn't have prevented his death but I could have given him an easier death.  And he was well and truly dead. In one instant, everything of him was gone---85 years of memory, experience, relationship, study, professional life, travel, liking hot chocolate and football and kitty cats and knowing how to play the flute and being a good gardener---gone with the last expired breath.  And where did it all go, where did he go? Search me. Tomorrow morning the Hospice chaplain is coming over to be with me when I place his ashes in the nice oak box I bought for them. I  have been sitting here tonight trying to form a relationship with a plastic bag of ashes aka pulverized bone. Nothing happens.  I feel nothing. That's not him, not at all.  So, Juls, I am right where you are in asking "How does this happen?".  I guess there's good reason for death being called a mystery. I  can't grasp it.  I don't understand any of this.


toprngr

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2010, 05:36:44 AM »
I am very sorry for what is happening to you and you have all of our condolence here. In fact, there is one thing you should know, which is the fact that you are not losing your mind. It must be a tough time for you and it is hard for you to go through this all alone. In fact, I am definitely sure that he knows how much you love him and he will not regret the moments you have been together. Please stay strong.
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Autumn Leaves

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2010, 04:47:51 PM »
I am so very sorry that you and your husband had to suffer so and that you're still suffering. I understand how difficult this must be for you and how tempting it is to "get back" at the insurance company that denied treatment for your husband. My husband died needlessly almost four years ago after enduring over a year of excruicating pain and sepsis and other deadly infections due to blotched back surgeries. I felt like screaming at the doctors & surgeons over their lack of compassion and care. They seemed more interested in passing the buck than accepting the blame or even doing something beneficial to my husband.
I can't say your life will be all better in time or that time will heal because you'll always have this empty spot in your life. I'd been married 35 years so that's a heck of an empty spot that I'll never fill but it's getting smaller. Life will gradually become a bit easier to get through as this big hole in your life becomes less like a pit that keeps sucking you in and more like a big pond that can comfort you. The spirit and memories of your husband will always be with you, in your heart and your mind. Right now  you crave the physical presence but memories and life will greatly help as will supportive family & friends & religion (or a greater power).
RJ

Juls

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2010, 11:25:22 AM »
Oh, that wonderful little blue book from Hospice.  The one that takes the whole dying process and lines it out in a neat and precise order - a one size fits all approach to end of life.  Nothing in that book could prepare you for what was happening to your husband.

Maybe it will help you to know that had you done things differently - had you given your husband that morphine - you would just be dealing with a whole other set of issues right now.  See, I did give my husband more.  The hospital had upped his morphine to the maximum allowed through the IV.  But the nurse gave me a little button connected to the pump and told me I could push that button, every 8 minutes, and he would get an even greater dose.  She let me know in a quiet and subtle manner, that these extra doses would have a cumulative effect.  I knew exactly what she was telling me. 

I sat there next to his bed, holding that button in my hands - holding that kind of power in my hands.  I had fought with every fiber of my being to save this man's life.  I had even bargained with God that if some damn blood sacrifice was needed for my husband to live, then I would take the cancer.  Now suddenly not only do I have to give up all hope, all faith that he might survive but I have to decide whether or not to end it sooner?  Me?  Such a responsibility I would not wish on my worst enemy. 

I layed my left hand over his heart and held the button in my right.  Every 8 minutes, for over 3 hours, I pushed that button.  I never took my eyes off his face.

I will have live with my decision for the rest of my life.  Did I do the right thing?  I think so.  I hope so.  But the truth is this life and death stuff is more than any mortal can ever feel truly comfortable with.  So you see, you and I - we handled our husband's medication in two very different ways - yet we each have our own doubts and regrets.   I guess what I'm trying to say is there is no one right way, despite what that book says.  We're just ordinary people who did the very best we could under horrific circumstances and somehow we're both going to have to forgive ourselves for not having all the answers.   

Autumn Leaves

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Re: Am I losing my mind?
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2010, 07:58:38 PM »
reply to quercena: you sound like you're doing what you can to link the "old" with the "new". This is an incredibly difficult time for you. Based on experience (almost 4 years), your "new" life will become easier (less difficult, less of a struggle). You'll have more "normal" days where you're not thinking about loss and lonliness. You'll even have good days where you enjoy life and even have a good day.
It helps if you keep busy, keep your mind occupied and your body busy. Volunteering, taking part in the church, working or spending time with children, spending time with family or friends - all of these things will be good for you and help replace some of your sad times with happier times.
RJ