Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dealing with family illness

Hi everyone,
I am writing what I am dealing with this past week. I received a call from my father in law on Monday afternoon that my mother in law was taken to the hospital. She is on a ventilator, she collapsed and she was given all sorts of tests.  We have come to find out that she was diagnosed last year with COPD and heart disease , but never told us she was sick, she didn't want us to worry about her.  My mother in law has been smoking heavy for over 50 years, and her mother died of lung cancer due to her smoking.  I would have figured that after seeing her mother so ill for 7 years, that she would stop smoking.  Instead she continued her 2 packs per day.  She has now been diagnosed with advanced stages of Pulmonary Emphysema.  Seeing her on a ventilator was so hard for me and my husband.  I'm hoping that my daughters will stop smoking now that they have seen how bad their grandmother is suffering.  I can't tell my daughters what to do, they are adults, but I make sure all the time how I don't want them smoking around my grandchildren. It's not fair to them to have their lungs ruined because of second hand smoke.

My mother in law is holding her own, but we have been told that she is in respiratory failure. All we can do for her is make her comfortable, and spend a much time as we can with her till the end.  I don't think she realized how it hurt  us that she would hide this from us all this time.  She has had rapid weight loss over the last 9 months, she stated that it was due to stress. I new that she had a severe deep cough, and she was becoming more winded just walking short distances.

I had to experience my dad struggling with his stroke for 7 years, but then be stricken with pancreatic cancer and pass away after 3 weeks from his diagnosis, but suffered terribly the entire time. I was just proud that I was able to spend almost the entire time with my dad, and made even a closer bond with him. We spoke our deepest thoughts, his fears and how proud he was of me and he loved me very much. There were 7 kids in our family, but me and my twin brother were his sidekick when he was home. My twin brother and I were at our dad's side when he passed away. I am hoping that he understood that when I told him it was alright to let go that mom would be fine, he new that I said it out of love for him.  I just couldn't stand to see him suffering anymore.

I know this is going to be the same situation, but she is my mother in law and not my dad, but we were still close.  I'm happy to be able to be there for her, my father in law and my husband during her last days.  My husband was on deployment at the time my dad passed away.  He wasn't granted leave to come home until he passed away.  I never felt to alone during those 3 weeks.


  1. Tara, I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. My husband and I also just recently lost his parents (yes both) in 2010. My mother in law was also stricken down with cancer and we did not find out until about 2 weeks before she passed. Both of my in laws knew for awhile, but did not want to burden us with any of it. I really look back and wish they would have. My father in law passed almost 6 months after my mother in law and I let him know we would be around no matter what and tried to get him to open up, but looking back there was still things he kept to himself only. She sounds like a very loving and caring individual. She sounds like one who took care of everyone else and most of people like that are totally happy with doing just that. They are usually not comfortable with the tables being switched as that is not who they are. With all this just know that she loves all of you unconditionally and was trying to spare you of any pain and burdens.


  2. Wow, heart goes out to you, and you made me cry. I lost both of my parents in the past 10 months and your description of being by your dad's side really hit home. I live in Michigan and my dad lived in Florida so I wasn't able to be there when he left this world. My oldest brother was with him...and had me on the phone when he (my brother) told my dad "it's okay to go, Dad"...and he took his last breath. I felt it. I could actually feel him pass away even though I was 1,200 miles away. I feel for you...sounds stupid, but hang in there. *hugs*