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My 84 yo Mom has chordoma cancer in her spine. We are dealing daily with the loss of bladder and bowel control and her gradual loss of the ability to walk. We are also dealing with the loss of control over many aspects of her life but we are muddling through. She have VNA's that come 3 days a week and home health aides come on the off days to help shower etc. She is at her own home with my aging Dad and because of the constant pain she is in, is now house bound. From looking over this site for the last few days I feel we are doing everything right as far as her care. We are a close family and I and my 2 brothers live at least 1 hour away from Mom & Dad but we all visit at least once a week on different days. My dilemma is that my Mom is SO worried about what will happen to my Dad when she is gone. To the point where when I call her every day she usually ends in tears no matter how I try to reassure her that we will take care of him. She has always had the utmost control over her life and this has been very hard for her to have to depend on others for her well being. A couple of weeks ago she tried to get my Dad to start getting rid of books, his collections and other things so that I would not have to deal with it when she is gone. My father ended up in tears. I keep talking to her and tell her that none of that stuff matters. I really want whatever time she has left to be as stress free as possible but she is making it difficult and she and my Dad are arguing more often than not. Now he is upset, she is upset and this is not how things should be! I know that I really have no control over emotions but would love to be able to put her mind at rest about these issues. She has always been a very strong woman and to see her this way is so heartbreaking.
Any advice???

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Thank you, reddoglives, for showing me there is a positive side to Mom's suffering. I had not thought of it that way before.
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Read a story once, no idea who wrote it...but the gist of it was a doctor was talking to an aging patient that was facing end of life...they were in the doctors examining room but could hear the doctors dog scratching to get in...the doctor told the patient that the dog had never been in that room but he knew his master was there and was eager to get inside...he explained to him that is what Heaven is like...we know our master is there and even though we've never seen the other side, He has, and he's waiting to let us in...If your parents have a strong faith based on what the bible teaches they should be able to have every confidence that all of God's good promises are waiting for them. I see the aches and pains of aging as a reminder to make sure I'm ready to meet Him on the other side. If I felt as good now as I did at 20, I don't know that I would be...they have meds that can keep her comfortable when it gets to that point...another reason to be thankful that we live in this modern age of medicine. I care for my 91 year old MIL and much of her depression is because she does not have, nor is she interested in having a relationship with her maker...she's miserable with what is happening to her now and doesn't have any hope it will be better when the end comes.
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What is your father's imput on this situation?
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I knew of a mom whose child had a bad brain injury and survived, but remained very disabled. Somehow in spite of it she always signed her posts "God is good, all the time!" No easy answers to suffering on earth, except that in the Christian faith, God took it upon Himself to suffer too. I look to that mom as an example, and also how the Graham family are handling things as Billy ages and ails but has stayed strong since his wife passed away too. You are all on the right track though, knowing it is hard but being there and doing anything possible to give ease and comfort where you can. Heartfelt prayers for all of you...
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Depression is a hard one at times but for anxiety taking a medication for a time period is very helpful why suffer. I hope everything will work out actually I know it will!
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Oh yes - it IS terrible no matter what. Just hoping I can make it a bit less so that her remaining time is, at least, less stressful.
Another thing is that she has been, for her whole life, devoted to God. Both she and my Dad have had their faith shaken by this whole ordeal. They can't believe that this God that they have spent their lives worshiping would have given her a disease that will strip her of all dignity and give her unbearable pain.
They do have a minister that comes to the house at least once a week and that, I think, has been a help. End of life issues are HARD!
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I want to say this very gently: do you think it might help you, too, to bear in mind that this terrible ordeal is going to be a terrible ordeal, no matter what you do? I mean, for example, that your mother's fear is something you can only support her through, you can't make it go away. I am truly sorry for all that you and your parents are suffering.
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Thank you all for your thoughtfulness. Mom is on anti anxiety meds (not exactly sure which ones) and that is helping. At the end of a long frustrating day I think everything just builds up and she starts having dark thoughts. And of course the knowledge that she is dying and the fear of that are ever present in her mind. We just try to keep those thoughts in the background as much as possible.
I did ask this under DEPRESSION because it really is about that. The "stuff" is a side effect.
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Ask hospice about giving her sertralene, this has helped my mom with anxiety.
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No advice, just hugs and hugs for being such a thoughtful and loving child. So sorry that you are going through this.
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And, duh - your question was on DEPRESSION, not stuff!! But yeah, that's part of the picture and part of why she did that. Narcotic pain meds are depressants too. Adding an SSRI might help if her doctor agrees; but besides medication, finding any kind of activity or pleasure she can still have, maybe getting a light box these winter months, making sure the diet is as good as possible with the right vitamins, especially enough vitamin D...and including a fair amount of chocolate if she likes it might all help a little.
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What a heartache. She did realize that was a mistake to try to have Dad get rid of stuff and have to face his mortality in ways that he is not ready for, and you are obviously doing your best to assure her that you can handle things too and don't consider it a huge burden. You could quietly tell just Mom you found military history museums or other places that would be happy to have Dad's collections and it won't be a problem - and there probably are places you can talk to in advance. My hubby wants to do that eventually with his stuff. And if the house were a huge burden after your parents are gone, you can get an estate sale company involved and they do a lot of the work and earn themselves and you a little money for it all.

My son told us after 2 of our 3 cats died this year, that the one we have left should be our "last" cat so we don't have to take care of another one, and we are 56 and 65!! I did not take kindly to the idea that we are expected to close the door on part of our life just to make it easy on him, or us!! And still, I get the idea - a little downsizing now and avoidance of hoarding could make things lots easier later on. I guess it just has to be done sensitively and in good time.

Hugs, and best wishes for any chance at all to have a few more good times and good memories. My only other thought would be an implantable intrathecal pump that can deliver pain medication more locally with a lot less sedation for a better quality of life for Mom, you might research that (Medtronics) and ask her doctors if it would be a possibility.
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Thank you so much. Hospice is involved. She is on Vicodin and Oxy. She is still a bit ambulatory but I know Morphine is the next step when she is ready.
I have had the discussion about leaving his stuff alone and she has agreed but still SO worried about HIM and what will happen to him when she is gone. She has ALWAYS believed that he would die first and is so upset that it is now he taking care of her. She has accepted her lot right now but just wants to make sure everything is in order.
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Yes. Call Hospice. They will make her comfortable and she will relax. I went through spinal cancer with my FIL. She will need morphine and anxiolytics. She has to be told quite firmly to leave his stuff alone, to simply enjoy his company, and she can't do this without meds. Once my FIL was bedridden, he passed within 3 months, but he was relaxed and in acceptance. Your mom has not quite reached the acceptance part.
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