Follow
Share

At first, I was alarmed when I'd hear him (he sleeps on the sofa). His 47 year old son passed last year suddenly and I felt he was grieving in his sleep, but now I'm having second thoughts and don't know what to do.


I also feel that he is depressed, but when I ask him, he vehemently denies this. He will not talk to a physician about depression.


He is practically immobile, as he is hesitant to have his replaced knee replaced again. He has congestive heart failure, has a defibrillator and must take diuretics.


Since we were married for 20+ years and are divorced, (we still see each other all the time), would his docs speak with me? I have been to several doctors' appointments with him, so they know me.


I am very concerned here.

I don't think his doctor's would talk to you. It would be violating confidentiality laws. Even if they know you.

Grief changes the brain and I wouldn't be surprised if your ex-husband was experiencing depression as a result of the death of his son but if he doesn't want to talk to his doctor about it and if he doesn't want to get up and be more active there's nothing you can do. You can't force someone to do something they don't want to do. Although his immobility will bring him down. A body isn't meant to sit still all day. This will exacerbate his medical issues.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Eyerishlass
Report

One of the early symptoms of Parkinson's Disease is active dreams. Manifested in my husband long before he was diagnosed. He would lash out, rant , rave, scream bloody murder! Still does, but we haven't shared a bed or bedroom in over 6 years, too risky for me. Now I can't even have my grandkids for a sleepover because it would scared the heck out of them and I don't want them to remember their grandfather in that way. Waking hours, he is very placid, subdued. Don't know what triggers the dreams, but it is stressful. Just put him on a new medication, a patch, that is supposed to extend the effects of his primary meds. Fingers crossed it will help with the night terrors and dreams. Best of luck to you and of course prayers!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to crzyhorseldy
Report

There is nothing to stop you reporting your concerns to your husband's doctors, and since they have met you they will take them seriously no doubt; but without your husband's permission they can't talk to you. Doesn't matter - tell them anyway.

It's not the sort of thing I'd normally go in for, but have you tried recording your husband's night-time disturbances and playing them back to him next day? It might bring home to him how big this problem is getting.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

Like said, these sound like Night Terrors and there is medication to help. I used to wake my Mom up, have her open her eyes and go back to sleep. I did this because, for me, if I wake up and don't open my eyes I can go back into the dream I was having. By having Mom open her eyes she was OK the rest of the night.

Night terrors come with Dementia. With heart failure he may not getting enough oxygen to his brain. Sleeping on the couch may not be a good thing either, unless a sofa bed.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

First, you are a very kind ex-wife. You are proof once again that not all exes have to be nasty to each other. Your ex-husband is VERY to have you in his life.

RE his issues, I agree with others that you should report to his docs or family members what you witness, but be aware that they do not have to tell you about him because you are not his PoA for healthcare. Do not be offended. The law prevents them from talking to you.

I also agree that he should be evaluated for neurological issues. My husband who has dementia talks and moves his hands and arms in his sleep, but that does not mean your ex has dementia. The doc can determine that with tests. It could be his other meds are causing this strange behaviors in his sleep, so ask the doc too.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Worriedspouse
Report

Are you listed in his medical files as one that they can contact? HIPAA is very strict in what information can and can not be released. But there is no restriction on what YOU can tell his doctors. But if you are listed on the HIPAA form they might be able to tell you more.
If you are not listed you could ask your EX if you can be.
You could call or send a note to the doctor. Many doctors have a secure patient portal that you could use for this. Explain what you have witnessed. If your ex does not say that he is depressed there might not be much the doctors can do other than looking of other indicators and talking to him.
Many people see "depression" as a weakness. Many people also do not want to "share" and talk about problems I think men in particular have a problem with opening up.
I do hope you can get through to his doctors about your concerns.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Grandma1954
Report

Vivid, strange dreams and nightmares can be a side-effect of some meds.  Aricept is an example, but that is given to slow the progression of Alzheimer's. Check side-effects of his meds list. And do tell his doctor.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to GrannieAnnie
Report

Record him in his sleep. Turn the evidence over to the doctor with him there. They need to hear the truth. Then ask if your listed as an emergency contact/ individual who can be notified of your ex's condition. If not, ask to be put on as such with your ex's permission.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to mmcmahon12000
Report
Vivian711 Mar 28, 2019
mmcmahon12000
Your advice about recording him in his sleep is spot on. I began my recording last night. Thanks to you, I will be armed with these audio recordings, as well as the Medical POA when I talk to the doctors.
Blessings!
(0)
Report
Stress, sleep deprivation, sleep-disordered breathing all can cause night terrors.

Your ex has CHF, which likely means his breathing during sleep is disordered. He may benefit from using a CPAP machine. The keyword there is *using*. Too many CPAPs are prescribed and never used.

Sleeping on a sofa is usually not ideal for anyone. Look into getting him a futon or daybed.

Your ex's son died suddenly. Such stress is inconceivable to anyone whose been fortunate to have it not happen. Your ex may not be adapting to the death of his son, and he may be experiencing complicated grief.

The Center for Complicated Grief defines complicated grief:
"Complicated grief is a persistent form of intense grief in which maladaptive thoughts and dysfunctional behaviors are present along with continued yearning, longing and sadness and/or preoccupation with thoughts and memories of the person who died. Grief continues to dominate life and the future seems bleak and empty. Irrational thoughts that the deceased person might reappear are common and the bereaved person feels lost and alone."

There is complicated grief counseling specifically for the elderly. It's usually weekly sessions for 3-4 months. In my opinion, a regular physician does not have the tools to help your ex with complicated grief.

If your ex is a religious or spiritual man, perhaps having a pastor (or someone whom he respects) visit him at home in order to discuss counseling will help him take the first step toward seeking help for himself. Your ex must want help and participate in order for anything to be effective.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
Report

Maybe yes and maybe no, knowing you and the situation even if they can't divulge any information to you they can listen to you "talk to them" and you have some reasonable concerns they should know about. I might suggest starting with a different objective though with your ex before pushing him too much on the depression (he would be odd if he weren't somewhat depressed). Does he have a POA/DPOA? It occurs to me that might have been his son and it sounds like it could be important to appoint another one if he hasn't already. No idea if you want to take this on but once someone has that designation his doctors can speak openly with that person or people. The other option is him giving his consent to each doctor to speak with you about any of his medical stuff but having something in writing with a designee is going to be helpful in the future even if he verbally gives consent. Then the treatment stuff can be addressed more openly since if he is giving someone that legal authority he is asking them to be a part of his medical and financial life (can be just medical but again down the road...)

Then on the subject of his mental health, as it's been mentioned there are many things that can be affecting this, he has several possibilities going on but asking an adult especially of a certain age who hasn't openly dealt with depression in their lives, if they are "depressed" is likely to get just the response you got. Although it's better now admitting depression has long been considered a sign of weakness not a medical condition that can and should be treated. Grieving and depression get all tangled up in societal pressures especially for a male of his generation so it's not going to be easy to accept. Perhaps approaching it from the angle of grief will help, don't refer to being depressed refer to grieving, no parent should outlive their child and when you combine that with the inability to channel that grief into something physical, especially if he was a physically active person, makes it all that much harder. People really do "die of a broken heart" even if it's in pieces and not all at once. Does he have other children, grandchildren to focus on? The way we approach our LO's with these things really can make such a difference as well as being the hardest part to figure out because it's so individual to person and moment. You and I can easily say why did he go through the knee replacement if he isn't going to use the knee! But that doesn't mean he's ready to hear it that way. Even more importantly and again this involves doctors, using that knee is what's going to help prevent needing it replaced again, use it or loose it applies to many things as we age and that includes replacement parts. Of course not getting exercise, not being active only makes his CHF worse too and it all becomes a vicious cycle so you are so right to be concerned and want to find a way to interrupt the downward cycle it sounds like he's in just try being gentle, subtle even about it if you can first. I feel for both of you and he is VERY lucky to have you still involved in his life and caring for him.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Lymie61
Report
Vivian711 Mar 19, 2019
Lymie61, it seems that you know very well how my ex thinks and feels. (I hate to call him that). Yes, depression is a bad word to him, even though I suffer with it. On the other hand, he has seen what marvelous things can be done about it and he's seen me heal beautifully. However, it's me and not him.
I also feel that it all has stemmed from the loss of his son. There are no grandchildren and all that's left is his sister, who's a bit daft and his alcoholic daughter, who is better left out of the situation.
If you've read, I recently learned that both our Medial Powers of Attorney are still in force. Will this help me?
(0)
Report
There is Not much you can do as a Divorcee But perhaps Talk to Someone for Advice, Not even sure his doctor, But A DOCTOR...Eventually you can put a Complaint in to Protective Adult Services if Need be...
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Parise
Report

Since this is your ex husband, you're in a bit of a quandary to report it to his physician. But since there is no resolution in sight as of yet, you may want to have a talk with his physician or your town's social worker.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report

You both need to look up REM Sleep Disturbance. A friend has similar symptoms, and he does better taking magnesium. Apparently sleep provides a sort of paralysis that keeps most of us from acting out our dreams. Some people lose that level of sleep, and a magnesium deficiency may be related. Treatment beyond magnesium may be necessary, but starting simply has helped my friend. He became violent, and punched the wall or the bed because his dreams were so threatening. Your ex may have a primal sense of threat based on his son's death, and that's understandable. Talk to the docyor about this. If your ex sleeps at your house, you are involved.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Dimple7
Report
Lymie61 Mar 18, 2019
Magnesium oil (it's not actually oil I don't think) is ablsolulty worth a try, it helps Restless Legs and Charlie Horses too and is easy to try. Make sure you get a quality brand and you just spray a little on the inside of your leg (or arm I think) and rub it in before bed. It does help with sleep and if it stings a little at first don't worry that wont always happen. They say it happens to some people who's bodies are depleted and when they get back into balance or a good level it doesn't sting any more....not sure how that works or if it's true but I can say the sting goes away after a few uses and it doesn't last by the way after applying it either. This is a better way or form for absorbing what you need over taking supplements orally. You can also take Epsom salt baths to get magnesium.
(2)
Report
I thank each of you kind and informative souls for your replies. I've recently found out from our attorney that both our Medical Powers of Attorney (from NC) are still in force.
Does this change my appropriateness in speaking with his physicians?
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Vivian711
Report
LucyNbama Mar 20, 2019
I work as a Registered Sleep Technologist in a sleep disorders center and by what you are describing, it sounds like RBD (REM sleep Behavior Disorder). You stated that he has CHF, there could also be other sleep disorders present. Central sleep apnea could be present due to the CHF. It sounds like he may need to see a sleep specialist. I have watched many patients who have Cheyne-Stokes respiration, which is a type of central sleep apnea, struggle just to sleep. They feel like they are smothering and a lot that I study, have been sleeping in their recliners for years. It is a miserable sleep. RBD also can lead to Parkinson's later or some type of dementia. Not giving medical advice but if it were my husband, I would get all his doctor's to communicate with each other. Only a sleep study can really determine RBD vs Night terrors, as others have suggested. RBD happens in REM where you are supposed to be in almost a paralyzed state. Night terrors occur in slow wave sleep, sometimes called Delta, or stage 3 sleep. During this stage of sleep, it is almost an unconscious state, it's kinda like your brain turns off in slow wave sleep and your muscles turn off in REM. You are a good ex-wife to take this upon yourself. Good luck! 🤗
(1)
Report
Thanks to everyone who replied on this Forum, I have collected the courage to secure an appointment with my ex's cardiologist with my concerns, armed with the medical POA with MY name on it. I also have a cardio. in this practice and I mentioned that my ex's doc knows who I am.
Wish I had known the power of a medical POA two years ago, when he was in intensive care and his alcoholic daughter would not put my name on 'the list' of allowable visitors. She lives in another state, always has to fly here, for obvious reasons and she doesn't like me.
I'm rather confused that since his son passed away, he appointed his daughter as 'emergency contact', but I remain with medical POA. What's the difference?
Thank you all for all your encouragement and advice. I'm glad I found this Forum.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Vivian711
Report

He sleeps on your couch. You have POA. His daughter does not, are you sure? He may have changed it.

I am sorry for his loss and your divorce. 2nd time for him I take it.

How long ago did he have the knee replaced the first time? How old was he.

You have been to doctor appontments after you divorced.

Do not force him to talk about being depressed. You know the answer. It is always a hard thing to lose a child or loved one, no matter what the age. Perhaps next time he has an appointment ask doctor about mood mellowing pills (antidepressants) even on a temporary basis.

Ask doctor if that is a possibility with his heart condition. Try getting him out a bit for some other type of activity if possible. Rent some fun movies. Libraries usually rent movies really cheap. They have a good selection too. I do this a lot. It's fun.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to MAYDAY
Report
Vivian711 Mar 27, 2019
Thank you MAYDAY. No, his daughter does not have the med. POA. My ex has mine and I have his, from the '90's when we lived at the Outer Banks. His son was the emergency contact, but had no POA. He's never changed the POA. I'm new to this, so I hope I don't appear naive.
He thinks he knows more than the docs, most of the time and likes to stay 'aware' during surgery, so he can watch. (!) This caregiving ain't for sissies. This is going to get worse.
(0)
Report
See 1 more reply
As a child, even a grown adult child, I needed/wanted to be included as to the updates of dad's condition when he spent a few months with my other sibling. Thought he would have better care for chemo up there.

I wouldn't get answers of anything. Did dad's blood turn dayglow green today?
Just anything. Let me know how he is. For instance, Dad is fine, he is sleep now, the chemo kicked him on his ass today, but tomorrow will be different. I never go updates, drove me crazy.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to MAYDAY
Report

Yep. You Forum Buddies were right. It's getting worse with my ex. He asks me all these off-the-wall questions several times in a few minutes. He called me yesterday and asked if I had fun going swimming (?) I haven't been swimming in years. The computer guy came over and he couldn't remember one of his old passwords and denied he'd changed it (he did). Finally, after I told him I would not be going with my brother on Saturday, he called later on that day and asked if we had a good trip (?)
When I gently confront him about these questions, he makes up stories like he was asleep and dreaming. Oh, he didn't mean that or that I must have imagined something. He claimed that an anti fungal prescription he was taking caused him to hallucinate. I called the pharmacist and he said no way.
From the time I get to his house until the time I leave, I'm waiting on him hand and foot. He's nice about it, but so demanding. I have to go to my place to get some rest. Then he bitches.
OK. It's just going to get worse for him. I know it's Sunday, but I'm calling our cardiologist (who knows a little) and give him the whole story. He can tell me or my ex how to proceed. Period.
Thanks, everyone for your support. I'd have lost it long before now had I not had the blessing of reading your replies.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Vivian711
Report

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter