Sunday, September 23, 2007

Live and Learn

Hi folks. It's been a long, long week. I had forgotten how hard it was to be a caretaker to an ill person. I've been living with my father-in-law the past week, until he had to be admitted into the hospital early Wednesday morning.

He's very sick with lung cancer that has spread to his liver. He is being treated at a Veterans Administration Hospital, normally, but this emergency admission was to another, non-VA hospital. At the new hospital, the medical staff began pushing hospice and hospice care. In my father-in-law's mind, that meant being sent somewhere to die. What he made very clear to me in the days since, is that he is not ready to give up, he does not want "to be made comfortable until the time comes." He wants to keep fighting, so he wants to be transferred back to the VA hospital. The doctor there is willing to keep treating him as if they can cure it, and my father-in-law wants to go that route. I told him that I would honor his wish, and would fight for him to keep fighting, but that if or when the time came when he was ready to stop fighting, he would have to tell me just as clearly. He understood, I understood.

Should be cut and dry, right? Let me tell you, that situation is horrible. Everyone around him wants him to accept the inevitable (medical staff, that is), but he wants to keep the war going. And I will honor that, and have his back no matter what. This man, as some of you might remember, was going to be taken off life-support in May of 2006, yet here he is today.

As long as he is of sound mind, HE will decide whether his quality of life is such that he wants to live on. And I will support him.


  1. Hi Jimmy,
    Way to go ... good for you both for helping your father-in-law determine his own course of treatment and for being such a good son-in-law. I've heard so many stories about people who fight their way back despite the fact that doctors were ready to give up on them that I can't help thinking that your father-in-law knows best. More than anyone else, he knows his own will to live.

  2. Anonymous11:40 AM

    FIL has the right... and I say never give up hope. NEVER. I'm glad you're supporting him and there for him Jimmy... just one more reason I like ya so much. Sending hugs and prayers.

  3. Anonymous11:51 AM

    Has your father-in-law been getting quality care at the VA? I'm hoping so. Ive just never been real confident in the VA's.
    Its wonderful that you are supporting his desire to fight. People with terminal illnesses that have the determination to fight are the ones that survive.

    Take Care..
    ~Terry Ü

  4. Anonymous12:28 PM

    I'm glad you are with your FIL. It's such a hard battle when they are ill and everyone wants to push their views. My mom made it very clear to ME in the end she was 'finished' with the fight. She told me because she knew I would fight for whatever she wanted. I really do think people know when it's time.
    Love ya, Jimmy!!
    Jackie aka BamaWmn

  5. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Kudos to you for honoring his request!! So many times, the patient is so tired of fighting, that they give up. Double kudos to FIL for hanging tough!!
    xoxo ~Myra

  6. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Jimmy your FIL has the right to choose his own destiny ~ I am so glad you are standing by his wishes ~ "but I knew you would" ~ The Doctors may have given up but he certainly hasn't ~ Ally x

  7. Anonymous1:16 PM

    Jimmy I am glad you are honouring your FIL's wishes the Doctors may have given up on him but he certainly hasn't given up on himself ~ Ally

  8. Anonymous1:20 PM

    I'm glad to hear from you, though very sorry for your situation with your father in law. He is so very fortunate to have you beside him, Jimmy ~ no matter what the future holds. I will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers.

    Strength and Hugs,


  9. Linda1:25 PM

    You keep fighting for his right to fight! I hope I have someone just as strong in my corner if I ever need to fight. Lina

  10. Thanks for the update. I was wondering how you were holding up. It's a huge and exhausting job.

  11. Anonymous1:48 PM

    I know this situation....I was in this situation two years ago. My mom fought hard and had his mindset about hospice. My opinion is that whatever they want is what should be done for them. They know better than anyone how much fight they have left.
    All I will say about hospice is that IF you need to use it...they are wonderful. I cannot say enough good things about how they treated my mom and my family at that time.

    Take care,

  12. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I was just thinking about you, wondering where you've been and if everything was ok. I'm so glad your FIL has you by his side to fight for him and with him. I was in the same position with my Father several years ago. I agree, let him fight as long as he is ready to fight. He will be in my prayers.
    Hugs, Martha

  13. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Right on Jimmy! It is HIS body, HIS life, HIS choice! You honor him by honoring his right to decide. Such loyalty is hard to come by. He is blessed to have you on his side and in his life.

  14. Anonymous3:35 PM

    As long as he is of sound mind, it IS his decision and the medical staff have to respect that. If he is unable to make decisions, it falls to his power of attorney. He's lucky to have you watching his back, as you said. You are such a great guy, Jimmy. I know how stressful this is. I had to go through that with my Mom. It's awful!
    Be sure to take care of yourself during all of this, ok?

  15. you must be exhausted!!! thinking of you and knowing how hard it is caretaking!

  16. Anne/ksquester4:42 PM

    Jimmy, sending you an email. Anne

  17. Anonymous5:07 PM

    Jimmy, I am so sorry that your father-in-law is going through this...My daddy died about the same way...It wasn't easy on him,me or my mama...but I learned an lot from him those last few months because I took an unpaid leave of absense so I could help my mama keep him at home and care for him there...I would do it again in a heart beat. I am so thankful that your father-in-law has you to be there for him. I am praying for you and him and the family.
    love ya,

  18. Anonymous6:22 PM

    My God, this actually worked! Anyway, you have a good heart. My prayers are with both of you. It just seems that since people are beginning to take an understanding attitude where death is concerned, they are also taking a cavellier attitude about hospice. It isn't up to them to force their ideas on him. He has to accept it himself. Still, you took on a huge chore. Take care of yourself the best you can throughout this.

  19. Anonymous8:07 PM

    The patient always has the right to continue the fight or stop it!! Hospice is wonderful tho and comes to the house too---you don't have to be "put somewhere" . Hospice helps to live as well as possible. I am glad you are supporting him, no matter what he chooses! Barb

  20. I know your father in law realizes all that you are doing for him - on various levels. He is so fortunate to have you in his life. You are a kind soul, Jimmy.

    Just remember to take care of yourself as well.

  21. Jimmy~
    Wow! I was getting worried about you (it is unlike you to comment on one of my "girly" entries :p ). You have been busy and I am sorry it has not been under better circumstances. If it is any consolation I think you are doing the right thing by honoring his wishes. I know it is probably hard to watch him suffer and even harder to let him continue fighting. My prayers are with him (and you as well).
    Love ya!

  22. The will to survive is about the strongest in human existence - that's awesome that he's putting up such a great fight.

    I firmly believe that all of our days are numbered - we will pass from this mortal stage of our lives to the next stage when it is our time. There are too many unexplained medical miracles and catastrophes where people die or live despite all human efforts - someone else is behind the control box for this life.

  23. Jimmy, you are the nicest person. He is so lucky to have you.

  24. He sounds like an amazing guy(sorry Jimmy Ü ) AND SO ARE YOU!
    Laughter IS the best medicine, & with your sense of humor, & his will to live, HE WILL CONQUIRE this disease!
    We ALL need to believe in miracles, b/c they happen everyday.
    Keeping you both in my prayers~

  25. Anonymous10:18 PM

    thats right you two, keep the faith. that's all you have sometimes, yet that's all you

  26. I would fight the gods themselves to not slip off this mortal coil. GOOD FOR HIM! We were given one golden ticket, it will take more than a little cancer to wrest it from my hands.

  27. Anonymous1:44 AM

    Keep fighting for him! My father was in the same situation, they wanted him to accept hospice, he wanted to fight for life - he lived 5-6 years beyond the time they wanted to put him on hospice. They kept trying to prepare us for his death, he wasn't ready. Keeping you and your FIL in my prayers.


  28. Thank you Jimmy for standing up for him and not letting the medical doctors dictate his quality of life.


    You guys hang in there!!!!!!!!!!

  29. I remember my dad saying once that if he's not aware enough to know what's going on, don't take him on as a burden. He wanted to make that clear now. But I just know if and when the time comes, it's not going to feel that clear. I do not look forward to the decisions I will likely be faced with (especially as the oldest child) in the future. I really admire you and hope I remember this post when I am faced with similar situations.

    The men in my family have a habit of staying clear headed and lucid all the way to the end, so I think something akin to this experience of yours is a likely eventuality for me; and it's so difficult to watch someone suffer.

  30. Hard situation, but I'm glad you're supporting him. It's his life, after all.

  31. Wow, I'll be sending prayers for you and your father-in-law. I know it can't be an easy time.

  32. That is so nice that he has someone like you in his life to be there for him. He needs someone to help him keep his strength. I'm saying my prayers for him as well as you and your family. Take care, be strong, and above all keep a smile on that sexy face. Luv ya!

  33. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Been there with both of my parents. Good for you for letting him make his own decision on this and for having his back. If everyone gave up every fight because they might not win, this would not be a good world to live in.


  34. I say let him live and die like a soldier. His courage should be respected by hospital and staff. I believe in miracles!

    Thanks for writing me back Jimmy!

  35. hi jimmy
    i know, been a long time:) i'll send an e-mail asap.
    anyway, getting back to yuor column....this is why my mother & i have opted to keep my 90 yr old. alzheimer ridden nana with us as long as possible!!she took care of us all for years, it's the least we can do for her, & trust me, it's difficult at times.
    but if you look in the nursing homes, even the good ones, it's scary...& lonley. we can't subject her to that no matter what. how others do that to people they supposedly love amazes me! keep up the great work!!

  36. thinking of you at the mo and hugely proud of the work you are doing, the love you are giving and the time you are spending. x

  37. hey jimmy,

    first of all i can't believe you're taking care of your father-IN-LAW! that in itself is very selfless, that's for sure, especially since you're divorced, right??? although you're an amazing person to begin with so it shouldn't surprise me.

    secondly, i believe that folks need to come to terms with the persons inevitable demise so therefore THEY need to make arrangements in their heads & hearts that the person is "leaving", hence the "give in/give up" routine. it's difficult for people to have hope especially with something that is so many times terminal.

    i think it's great that you're there to support him, no matter what course he wishes to take. it's important to have an upbeat sense of wellbeing when you're fighting something like cancer. i know, i'm a survivor myself. when i was diagnosed i made sure my entire family did not fight & was happy...ALL THE TIME!!! or at least while they were around me. for some reason that was really important to me, and they all obliged, which made a big diff. in my recovery.

    he's lucky that you're there for him supporting him in more ways than just physically. it's important to him that you believe what he believes.

    good luck to you both & Blessed Be.


  38. Sounds like a real challenge. Good for you for sticking up for him. Hang in there.

  39. I'm sorry to hear that he is terminal, but I agree with you. As long as he is of sound mind the decision to fight or give in, should be left up to him. We all have that right, and it should not be taken from him until he is ready to give it up. God Bless him! What a fighter!


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