Anxiety & Poison

We are struggling a bit at the moment with the parents and all of their illness stuff. They went to visit my Aunt up at the Gold Coast for a week as a last hoorah pre-chemo and Dad ended up in hospital after he passed out for no specifically discernible reason.

With the stage 4 Cancer, dicky heart and Alzheimer’s, he’s not exactly the picture of health and this isn’t the first time he’s randomly keeled over.

Emotionally speaking, we are probably struggling more with mum and her anxiety than the fact that Dad’s dying. Her lack of coping skills and anxiety issues makes us concerned she’s at more risk of problems herself just from the stress and I’m not entirely sure how we will deal if both of them go down, plus all of our own crap.

On the bright side, compartmentalising is our super power so we are able to beautifully detach enough to cope. We’ve been journaling a bit and want to share some stuff here, but our writing is all over the show and hard to stick into blog order, so sorry if the formats weird or it seems repetitive or there are conflicting about something, I’m trying to put a few things up here from some different “aspects of self” aka alters. Still hate that word. Anywho, if I know who wrote something & have permission to share I’ll stick their name at the bottom.

Cheers, Kate


Mum has not come out and directly said that she doesn’t want my Dad to have Chemo treatment for his prostate cancer, she keeps saying to him that it’s HIS decision. BUT she couldn’t have dropped bigger ‘hints’ to not have it if she tried.

She has consistently expressed her disdain for the “terrible poison” and repeatedly emphasised it’s “horrendous side effects” and how awful they would be for my father to experience and how she’d never in a million years put “that poison” into her body.

She ruminates about this often out loud, and repeatedly says (in a wavering & slightly dismissive warning tone one might give to someone about to make a terrible choice), “but it’s not up to me darling, it has to be your decision” while her body language screams “don’t do it” and in any discussions surrounding it she is 100% negative.

Dads navigated Mums tone/word confliction & passive aggressive tendencies their entire marriage, but the Alzheimer’s has made it much harder for him to decide even simple things and he often needs her to choose for him.

The thing is, she’s always relied on him to make decisions because of her anxiety and is really struggling at this new role in their marriage which means now they go around in circles a lot for just basic stuff, let alone big life altering choices.

Now the decision about whether or not to have Chemotherapy genuinely had to be a choice based on what he wanted, what he has expressed he’d want in the past and how much it will help him, not what Mum is scared of.

After many gentle non biased discussions with medical professionals and myself regarding the risks and benefits he said he wanted to try the round of chemo to improve his quality of life and if it was too horrendous and not helping he could stop at anytime. I have ascertained and am comfortable believing that having the treatment IS what he really wants.

Because Mum keeps going on negatively about it he’s still trying to please her and so he’s feeling bad about saying yes to treatment because he thinks she doesn’t want him to have it.

Out loud, she keeps saying she wants him to be comfortable (the goal of this treatment is to improve quality & length of life, not a cure) and yet in the next breath she says she hates Chemo, tells horror stories about people who’ve had poor outcomes and says again that he has to decide (even though he already decided) and it is basically confusing the crap out of him.

Poor man had declared in a panicked tears the other week that “Your Mum wants me to die!”

Mum’s reality here is that she’s scared of looking after Dad as he gets sicker and her go to coping mechanism is and always has been denial, even now when he has a good day memory wise she still says things like “Look he’s so good today! I think the doctors are wrong you know, maybe it’s not Alzheimer’s after all?!” Then she gets all surprised when he gets upset because he couldn’t work out how to call my brother from the TV remote.

We think She’s scared because she doesn’t have the capacity to do it on her own and has been refusing to accept community services or any offered help for things around the home by anyone except me because of her extreme anxiety she’s “too embarrassed” for people other than myself to go into her house (her house is totally fine, it’s all just anxiety).

Unfortunately when Mum gets anxious about something like this, her solution to the problem is to just pretend it’s not happening and do nothing.

Procrastination and denial in cases like this make everything So. Much. Worse. I hate to say it but if I hadn’t have pushed her into getting Dad to the specialists in the first place she’d still be putting off making the phone call now.

I have a lot of guilt for waiting as long as I did to let her contact the specialist on her own before I stepped in and forced the situation, it’s sad that it is likely the reason Dads cancer metastasised and is no longer operable. I know her and I really should have pushed harder, much sooner.

Dad’s need for increasing care is now a reality she has to face, between the cancer and the Alzheimer’s he is eventually going to need round the clock care and she’s going to need to swallow her pride and accept outside assistance because frankly I can’t just up and leave the husband and our four kids to move in and look after them.

-Catherine