My dad has been in the hospital for two weeks and I've been here everyday except two days because my husband was really sick. I usually stay anywhere from 9 to 6 hours with him each day and I leave when visiting hours are over. I'm the only family he has here because he lives with my spouse and I. So I've been the only person he's seen that he loves and cares for. It's breaking my heart watching him decline in here and there's nothing I can do. I've felt pretty strong up until today though. I got here at 8:30am and will stay until 6pm but I started to panic and get anxious. I started feeling suffocated and like I had to get out of this room. I think coming here everyday seeing my dad in this condition is becoming too much for me but I'm all he has and I feel if I don't come sit with him everyday he will miss me or feel I abandoned him. I ended up taking 20 minutes to get some fresh air outside and call my mom who was a caretaker for her mother and late husband. I cried to her that I feel guilty if I don't stay in his room with him because what else could possibly be more important at this time....but truth is I'm emotionally drained and this anticipatory grief is taking over my life. Any advice? Is it normal to feel you have to get out of their hospital room? Am I being selfish? How can I get through this without losing my mind over all this?

I doubt your dad wants you to ruin your emotional health by sitting in his ICU room with him day and night, to the point where you're suffering panic/anxiety attacks. You're not selfish in the least. Quite the opposite. You're putting so much pressure on yourself to be there every waking moment for your dad that you're going to need hospitalization yourself soon if you don't take a break! Create a reasonable schedule now. Sit with dad for 2 hours and then have lunch. Then sit with him for an hour and take a walk. Make a phone call. Stay connected to yourself and the outside world while you spend time with him. Care for YOU at the same time. Taking a break for your own sanity and mental health should cause you no guilt! You are human and need to treat youself accordingly.

When my dad was on hospice and at end of life in his ALF room, I kept having to leave because of feeling overwhelmed with emotions. Fear, panic, name it, I was feeling it. How should a daughter feel during such a time? It was tough, so I had to care for myself or I knew I'd be a basket case in need of medical help in short order. So I gave myself permission to take breaks and to relax and even to cry it all out of my system.

Please give yourself permission to do the same. You deserve to. Wishing you courage and strength at this difficult time. Hugs
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to lealonnie1

Shellb, big (((((hugs)))))).

Is your dad on hospice? If he is there should be a social worker that you can reach out to. If not, please ask the nurse at the desk to call the chaplain or social worker on call. You need support right now.

It is not at all unusual to panic in the way that you are experiencing.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

They do not make it comfortable for family thats for sure.

Just want to say, you could be there 23 hrs and 59 min and he may pass that minute you weren't there. So if you feel you need to be there, take breaks. Go someplace close by for lunch or dinner. Call a friend to join you. You can go later and leave early. Maybe take a day off.
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Reply to JoAnn29

No one has to worry about “normal” or “not normal” when someone you love is very ill.

There is no “selfish” either.

Do what sustains you in the moment. Leave the room, look outside a hospital window to see if you can find some little something like a bird to focus on, just for a moment.

Feel the love your dad feels for you, and realize that his love asks only of you right now to stay as well as you can. Send loving thoughts to him when you’re away from his room.

Stressing yourself to the last inch of yourself won’t make Dad’s condition better or worse. You have a sweet and stressful responsibility to him, but don’t forget your responsibility to yourself.

You are living a life of loving him. Don’t worry about the moments you leave to refresh your spirit. Instead, honor those moments and let them bring peace to your heart.

Love for another is never lost, nor is it wasted.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to AnnReid

God bless you. You’re doing the best you can. Your father knows this, and treasures it, even if he can’t express it.

Now, go take a walk outside. Drink water and eat. Connect with the local hospital caregiver support group, if they have one. Or, do something for your wellbeing because it sounds like you are reaching burnout.

I did the same as you for my husband. I actually slept at the hospital with him because he had separation anxiety, and I felt guilty when I had to leave. When the pandemic hit, and I wasn’t permitted in the hospital at all, I felt a strange sensation of freedom and relief. It was also at that time that he experienced acceptance and peace with his condition.

You've probably heard it over and over, but it’s true: You need to take care of yourself to be able to be there for someone else. It’s not selfish at all.

Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to JuliaRose

Sounds like you were having a bit of a panic attack or anxiety attack. Probably stemming from lack of sleep and seeing the father you love in this condition. You may want to try to take more breaks during the day, and go outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery. I'm sure his nurses have your cell number, should any changes happen while you've stepped out. You must take care of yourself too.

When my husband would end up in the hospital(and he did quite a bit over the years)because his speech was so limited from his stroke, I felt that I had to be at the hospital as much as possible to be his mouth. I would get to the hospital around 8:00 a.m.(or earlier) and leave around 8:00 p.m. It was exhausting, but I always made sure to take breaks, and go sit in the hospital restaurant, just to get away for a bit.

We're all human and we all have our breaking points. If you don't take care of you, no on else with, so please start now. You need a good nights sleep. Perhaps tomorrow you can go to see him at 11:00 instead, and leave a little earlier. Wishing you the best.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to funkygrandma59

To answer your question, I think it's totally normal considering where you are and all you're doing for him. I think the others have given some really good answers and I don't have a lot to add.

ICU rooms are no fun. They have a smell and sound that are distinctive, and you never forget. At least I don't. The last time my Dad was in one last summer, I was hungry and he had a cornbread muffin with his lunch he didn't want, so I ate it. For some reason every time I eat cornbread now I'm back in that ICU room with my Dad. Kind of takes the enjoyment out of cornbread now.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to AudioMan

It’s extremely difficult to watch a parent decline. Please don’t feel guilty if you need a break. Your dad absolutely knows how much that you love him. He wouldn’t want you to be in a panicked state.

Is there a chapel in the hospital. I have always gone to the chapel to pray in the hospital. I would tell the nurse that I am going to the chapel and they always told me that they would send someone to get me if they needed me.

I often found peace and strength after a short visit in the chapel.

Don’t wear yourself out. Please rest when you need to.

You may want to speak with the social worker as well. Or the chaplain at the hospital.

Keep us posted. We care.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

You MUST take good care of YOU FIRST, then, if you have the time and are able, you can be there for others. Being a care giver is one of the most difficult strong, give yourself a break every single day, and know that in spite of all that we do/don't do, everyone has an expiration date. We can't change that.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Mississippi4

It is not selfish or unusual to have those feelings. I don't know if your dad is on life support, or if he speaks to you at all during your visits. However, I would speak with a social worker about your feelings. You are not gonna change your dad health sitting in ICU. You however, may make yourself emotionally ill you won't recover easily.
Taking breaks, for an hour or so, reducing your visit times is a good idea. Your dad knows you love him, he also wouldn't want you to be emotionally or physically exhausted watching him die.
Mt mom in law always said she didn't want anyone around when she took her last breath. She got her wish. 35 minutes after visiting hours was over, she passed peacefully. The doctors don't know exactly when someone will pass. All wad good such as blood pressure, breathing etc., when everyone left.

Best wishes.
Tare care of yourself you have a husband who needs you too.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to thingsarecrazy8

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