Young Widow Forum

Time Frame => Shock Wears Off, Reality Sets In ( 6 to 12 months) => Topic started by: Nicky11 on February 16, 2017, 01:36:56 PM

Title: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Nicky11 on February 16, 2017, 01:36:56 PM
We found out my husband had metastatic cancer in his spine and t4 vertebrae 90 days before it took his life. He spent the last three and a half weeks of his life in the ICU, numerous surgeries, chest tubes, blood clots, confusion, ventilator to transport him to a cancer hospital when his only hope was chemo, and then his back broke. He suffered so much... I can't even put it to words. He writhed like he was on fire for an hour every time the nurses moved him (every four hours) and all I could do was stand by his head and tell him "I'm here. I love you." You think when someone is in the hospital, they'll control the pain, right? Oh no. It's so much more complicated than that... it's all a balancing act of blood pressure, heart rate, pain management, fluid retention, blood clots, confusion...

He was so strong just six months before! He came home from a deployment to Afghanistan just six months before he passed. We were together for over 18 years and all I see, every day, over and over, is him suffering. It was horrific. I have photos all through the house! Good memory photos! But when I look at them, all I see is him suffering. How do I get that image out of my head? His last three and a half weeks just keep playing over and over and over... I passed the six month mark five days ago.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Trying on February 16, 2017, 01:51:09 PM
Nicky I am so sorry for all the suffering your husband went through and the suffering you have experienced from witnessing it.  My husband died only 4 months after he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and suffered so much in that time.  I'm not sure when I was able to stop focusing on those 4 months instead of the 25 years we shared but it was definitely after the first year.  Some of it is just the healing nature of time and some of it is retraining your thinking.  It takes work to replace those horrid memories with better ones.  For me it's that time of year from diagnosis to death that really gets me reliving things and I have to work at replacing those thoughts with memories of those months in all of the years that came before. 

The only other thing I can say is that I needed to release the guilt I felt for what he went through.  Not that it was my fault, I was a good and loving caregiver in horrible circumstances.  The guilt didn't make any sense and I can't really articulate it now but for a long time I felt I owed it to him to remember.  Rationally this makes no sense but often the grieving mind doesn't. 

Gentle hugs to you as you find your way through this.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: beth_krkswidow on February 16, 2017, 03:45:35 PM
Nicky, I am so sorry.  So very sorry.  I don't know when, but they say (the omniscient "they") say it will come.  I am at 8 and a half months, and I cannot remember the good times.  I cannot.  All I think about is the fact that he's gone, and the last 48 hours of his life.  I cannot remember the good times.  I have heard (probably here) that it is normal not to be able to remember the good times at first.  I don't know why; but I know it's true.  So very very sorry.  Hugs.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Nicky11 on February 16, 2017, 08:10:53 PM
Oh Trying, I'm dreading May 13 (the day we found out his backache was cancer) to August 11... probably to August 20 (his funeral)... or August 31 (his memorial at Ft Drum). I don't know how the heck I am going to get through it. Maybe I should journal it. "A year ago today" and allow myself to relive it and process it. Everything just happened so fast. It was diagnosis, biopsy, radiation, endoscopy, MRIs, pet scan, colonoscopy, port, brain scan,  dr apt after dr apt after dr apt, everything we had to do with the military apts, hospital... and then he was gone.

I was also a good and loving caregiver. There isn't anything I could have done better than I did, and I guess that's a blessing that we can recognize that. And I was a good wife so no regrets there either. And he was an amazing husband. He loved being a soldier and I don't think he would have changed anything even if he had known somehow what the future held.

Trying, I'm so sorry that you and your husband went through the same thing... and that he suffered so. I will never understand why such unimaginably severe pain exists. It's so cruel.

Beth, it does seem like the good memories are so hard to remember. Maybe it's because the good memories are the value of what was lost... and it's not even measurable because the loss is so huge. I'm so sorry for your loss too.

Thank you both for the hugs, and for listening, and for helping me when you're suffering yourselves. (hugs)
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Trying on February 17, 2017, 07:35:33 AM
Nicki feel free to reach out as you approach the anniversary of his diagnosis. My DH was diagnosed May 15,2013 and his first day of chemo was May 22nd, witch was our 20th anniversary.  I found that people around me didn't anticipate that being a hard time and I probably should've shared it with those closest to me so I could have more support.

Maybe you can plan some self care and pampering around that time. If you have a therapist schedule extra appointments or plan on getting a massage or something else that comforts you. I don't think we can avoid the pain, the best we can do is set up support and whatever we need to help us get through it.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: JustLola on February 22, 2017, 12:05:04 PM
Oh Nicki,
I'm so sorry for the pain you're going through. I also lost my H to cancer. He was being treated in a different city the last few months of his life, and every time I would visit him the change in his appearance, mobility and pain level was startling. I was with him at the end and it was the hardest 48 hours of my life. I, too, thought I wouldn't be able to get those last images out of my head. What made it worse is that photography was one of my husband's hobbies and for the last several years had included regular self-portraits. Unknown to me, he continued it up until the end so every now and then I'll find a photo of how he looked at the end.

For the memorial, our daughter put together a video of him. Somehow looking at that - at him actually walking, talking, dancing - helped push out the ugly memories in my mind - much more than still photos did. Now, 11 months out, more often than not I remember the man I knew for 26 years instead of the devastated version caused by disease.

My son, however, still carries it around with him, especially the moments after H died. His counselor calls it what it is - trauma - and is recommending a special program to help him get through it. Perhaps there is something similar in your area.

Know that we are all with you and holding you through this difficult time.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Nicky11 on February 23, 2017, 03:54:19 PM
Thank you, Lola. I'm so sorry for all that you went through and lost. (hugs)

 I absolutely despise the word "fortunate" when talking about anything to do with Brian's cancer, but I'm going to break my own rule and admit I was fortunate that I was able to stay at the hospital with Brian. During that three and a half weeks, it was like the rest of the world just stopped existing... all of my focus was on Brian all of the time... and then he died.

And even when the goal was just to get him off the ventilator so he could maybe possibly say goodbye... I was still shocked that he died. And there I was, alone. Not really alone, our daughters were there and our grandson, my brother, Brian's sister, a few of his Army family... but I left the hospital without my Brian. This might sound odd after everything his battle with cancer took us through, but I think leaving him (even though I know he wasn't there any more) at the hospital after he passed was the hardest thing I've ever done.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: marjoe on February 26, 2017, 05:20:08 PM
Nicky - it doesn't sound odd to me. I felt the same way - walking out of the hospice room at the hospital, into the sunshine of a hot July day, I literally couldn't believe the world was still turning.

There came a time, and I don't know if it was at 6 or 8 months, when, all of a sudden, I remembered. I was so frantic, I wrote down all of my good memories - I don't know what triggered it, but the good ones started to come back. Still, that movie reel of those 4 months are burned into me. But at least I started remembering the other - it will come to you. Hugs, Marsha
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Nicky11 on March 01, 2017, 08:12:43 AM
Thank you, Marsha. "Burned in" is a perfect description. I hope the good memories start coming back soon. I've been trying to talk more about times before cancer... but it's like the details are locked away.

Today is Brian's birthday... I realized something this morning, I need to lose all expectations I have of everyone. I don't mean that in a snarky way, but in an honest way. I've been so disappointed with the lack of invitations, phone calls, pop ins, etc. People say "call me any time!" but then you call and go to voicemail, or text and they respond hours later. When I need to talk, I need to talk now and being sent to voice mail is extra painful. I'd rather just not risk that hurt, so I don't reach out. I've told everyone this! I've asked that they call me when they have time, but they don't. I need to learn to be ok with that I guess. I thought for sure someone would stop over for coffee with me this morning... and when I do invite people, they're always too busy. Maybe being around me is draining. I don't know.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: MR on March 01, 2017, 09:59:47 AM
I am so sorry that you have to go thru this Nicky11. We all have noticed what you are experiencing. I was not able to think anything except why this happened to me. I went back to India for 2 weeks end of Dec and was feeling bad that everyone else is back to normal except me and her mother (they were close). Came back and had a very bad month. Then decided to join a meetup group of singles (divorce/separated/widow(er) ). Now I am part of the group and whatsapp and noticed how everyone is try to move forward. It is similar group like widda but just more physical and virtual meeting. I was able to meet different people like 4-5 times in last 4 weeks. It has helped me to see the world in different way now as I can see there are lots of people like us.
If you can join similar group please try.

Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Mizpah on March 01, 2017, 11:44:45 AM
Hi Nicky, I see the thread has taken on other topics, but I wanted to respond to your initial one - concern over remembering him sick and not well.  My situation was different, but I'm nearly six years out and thought perhaps my perspective on this could be helpful to you.  DH was hit by a car while he was on a sidewalk and had extensive physical injuries, and a severe brain injury.  Though it wasn't a prolonged illness, there was a hospital time and I saw very very disturbing things.  I was obsessed from the beginning with remembering him as the so-very-alive, young, healthy, vibrant man he was, and not the being rendered powerless and just not-him by injury.  These years later, I can't say that I've forgotten the hospital not-him, but *mostly* I remember the real him, the him-him.  I have to really allow myself to or choose to think about the hospital stuff.  It's still there, but it's not at the tip of my brain/heart when I think of him.  I hope that brings you some comfort. 
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: beth_krkswidow on March 01, 2017, 09:38:09 PM
Nicky - it doesn't sound odd to me. I felt the same way - walking out of the hospice room at the hospital, into the sunshine of a hot July day, I literally couldn't believe the world was still turning.

I know that feeling exactly.  HOW can the world just keep going?  I remember looking at a gas station ... a gas station, why?  No clue.  I looked at it and just couldn't believe that it was still operational and going on as if nothing had happened.  It was just a gas station, nothing significant about it. 

No clue how we'll make it.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Raymond on March 02, 2017, 08:26:13 AM
Good Morning Nicky, I hope all is well as it can be.  I'm coming up to 6 months as well. 

His pain has ceased but ours continues.  So it must be. 

When those memories, of which you speak, knock on your door, you must let them in.  Sit at the table with them.  At this juncture, they require an audience.  Dive into the pain and agony of those moments as the physical body requires this, at least mine does. 

I have a trick I do, when the sharp pain, crying etc. . . subsides, I remember a silly memory where we both belly laughed.  (I couldn't remember any initially after her death, as you can relate, and truthfully I use the same one, as I still find it difficult to remember the thousands of millions that exist in our 25 years together.  Mayhap a bit sophomoric, but the memory involves her tooting at the most inappropriate time -- I'm chuckling now, as I write, thinking of it).

Then her pain, my pain and our pain morphs into something else.  Hard to describe this feeling, but it calms me and I find it very uplifting.  It is as if, for those brief moments when the funny memory kicks in, there is no past or future, only that moment that is relived in my current present. 

As I've stated earlier on this site, as terrible and gut wrenching the pain is when the memory knocks, I've come to welcome him in as I know that when he leaves I will be reassured of the vastness of the love.

Grief is unique and so is its path that we walk with it. 

I hope my "trick" is helpful. 
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Nicky11 on March 06, 2017, 02:57:46 PM
Thank you all! I'm trying all the tips and tricks... and will keep trying.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: Bunny on March 06, 2017, 08:42:41 PM
My husband was sick for two years, and after he died that was all I could remember and obsess about for months on end- it was horrible! The only way I found I could break myself from it was to force myself to stop those thoughts (I would literally say 'stop!' out loud) and redirect by going all the way back to the beginnings of our marriage, only allow myself those memories and no others- I had to get as far away from the cancer as I possibly could.

Almost 5 years later, I try to never ever think of- or talk about- those last two years.
Title: Re: I want to remember him not sick...
Post by: twin_mom on March 24, 2017, 10:38:14 PM
I'm 4 1/2 years out, April 21 it will be 5 years since diagnosis, July 10, 5 years from finding out the chemo killed him instead of saved him, August 3 he finally stabilised enough to be sent home to die, August 24 the phonecall from the doctor that it was time to stop the transfusions that were keeping him alive and call hospice, September 1 he died.... Yeah, the memories of those last months are so prevalent even now.  But eventually they weren't the first memories i would have, and around year two they started sharing space with other memories that happened previously during those times.

It sucks to hear it I know, but you're still in the early days. Give yourself some more time, the sharpness of the memories of your beloved's illness will dull and other memories will become prevalent. I promise.