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Husband with cancer taking it out on me

(81 Posts)
bobbydog24 Fri 28-Jun-19 10:22:33

My husband was diagnosed 3 years ago with secondary spinal cancer the primary being thyroid. He has had operations and radiotherapy since and after the initial shock and periodically venting his anger verbally on me he was able to live with the knowledge his illness was terminal.
Fast forward to now and after falling twice it appeared he had a pathological fracture of his upper left arm caused by the crumbling bones. He has had this sorted with a plate and rods and has to wear a sling all of the time. Also since his returned from his stay from hospital he has become incontinent. The reason for this doctors are not sure but he has to wear padded pull ups during the day and a big pad at night.
He has a member of a reliability team come in each morning to teach him how to wash himself and stay mobile. The rest of the time I do everything for him. I appreciate he has a lot to contend with but he is so offhand and bossy. Everything I do is wrong, he has me up and down for things he wants and constantly and if I am in another room he shouts me to do things he could quite easily do himself. If I object it results into a slanging match.
When lady comes to help him he's so polite and friendly, thanking them for all their support, all I get is criticism and nasty comments. He could not function without my help yet it's as if he resents me. We had a huge row last night where I came away feeling guilty and frustrated because I know nothing will change because he doesn't think he's being unreasonable. Is this going to be my existence until one of us pops their clogs. At this rate I'm hoping it's me first. I'm not depressed before anyone asks just totally sick of a husband who is an ungrateful, unfeeling man.

MawBroonsback Fri 28-Jun-19 10:31:37

Oh dear flowers
Not much I can say in the way of comfort except to say that it is not unusual to take it out on our nearest and dearest.
My dear dad, when in hospital would be really tetchy with me, then wreathed in smiles when one of his friends came into the ward.
All I can say is that he is not thinking straight. It is one thing to have your personal care seen to by the health care professionals, but much more demoralising and demeaning when it is your wife. Is there any point my telling you not take it personally?
There may be a point where you can say calmly “I know how much you are suffering and I am so worried about you too, but does it really help to bite my head off?
If it really does, then go ahead but I still love you and will always care for you.”

quizqueen Fri 28-Jun-19 10:44:45

I would tell him that you will refuse to do anything for him that he cannot do for himself from now on and go out more by yourself, even if you have to get a sitter. It takes two to have an argument so don't be that second person, remove the audience!

EllanVannin Fri 28-Jun-19 11:16:20

Allowances do have to be made when a person is sick. It's so sad but it is a time when a person is and can be very off-hand and bad-tempered. All you can do is ignore the grumpiness, let it go in one ear and out of the other as this tetchiness is part and parcel of a dreadful illness. None of us can imagine how we'd be under the same circumstances.

I nursed such a husband in the past and took no notice of the peevish remarks. Just patience and understanding is all that's needed but walk away when he speaks with forked tongue.

BTW I did " everything " too---------bar strangle him smile

jura2 Fri 28-Jun-19 11:21:35

Oh poor you, this is so hard. And yet very well known, that it is always the closest who see the hard and often 'nasty' side of the anger, fear and sadness felt by people who lose control, be it in an accident or severe illness- whilst they are funny and friendly and positive with others.

Look for the signs of you rising to the 'bait' and walk away. Tell him, quietly but firmly, when in a good moment and not the heat of an argument- that you really feel for him, that you will stand by him and help him all you can - but that you will just walk away if he shouts or is unpleasant and unkind, or lashes out in any way.

Just walk out of the room, and go and sit in the garden or another room, or go for coffee next door, etc.

Hugs- this is very hard. And well done you. x

paddyann Fri 28-Jun-19 11:26:33

I remember this well from when my mother was ill.her nurses in hospital told me what a wonderful woman she was ,so kind hearted etc etc .It was only when a nurse walked in on mum berating me for bringing her a "cold" lunch instead of a hot one she saw what I had been warning her about .It was only me who got it in the neck though she continued to be an angel to everyone else .I supplied all her food in hospital as she refused to eat their food.I was working full time and had a teenager and a small child so the "cold" lunch was because I had run out of time and asandwich and some salad was quick and easy

Joyfulnanna Fri 28-Jun-19 11:26:57

I echo Jura2's comments. This is going to be how it is for you. He's lucky you're still doing all the things you do but you need some respite from it. Tell him he needs to go into care while you get your strength back.

crazyH Fri 28-Jun-19 11:30:13

bobbydog flowers

aggie Fri 28-Jun-19 11:33:55

Been there .... It is not your dear husband it is the awful disease .
Having said that it is hard , OH was afraid of being on his own and was stuck in a chair , I had to keep talking so he knew I hadn't left ( mind you I could have walked in a heart beat )
It is frustrating , you are the only one he can yell at and be demanding with because he bottles it all up for "strangers" , he is , as you say , taking it out on you .
We had carers so I could get out and breath , sadly it does come to an end
Take every opportunity to get out by yourself or a friend

bobbydog24 Fri 28-Jun-19 11:56:00

Thank you or your support ladies, it's good to know others know how I feel. When he is in a reasonable mood I tell him how much it upsets me the offhand way he treats me but he says I'm too touchy and he isn't offhand at all. My daughter has witnessed it and gave him a talking too but he says she's as bad. His logic is the person who objects to a comment is the instigator of an argument. In other words if I comment on his attitude I'm starting a row. I always remember years ago a friend going through the same with her husband saying if the cancer doesn't kill him I will. I thought that was awful at the time but I can understand her remark now.

glammanana Fri 28-Jun-19 12:02:41

It is such a terrible illness and your OH is probably frightened as to when he will circum to it,but that doesn't give him the right to be the way he is I think he is using you as a whipping board and knows no other way of venting his anger on the chips he has been dealt poor man.
Certainly speak to him when he is calm and tell him you will go out with a friend/relative if he persists (as long as you feel he can cope on his own) and recharge your batteries.
Can you arrange for respite care for a week or so and get away for a short holiday of somekind ?

Bordersgirl57 Fri 28-Jun-19 12:04:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bobbydog24 Fri 28-Jun-19 22:14:41

Thanks again for your input. Even in a quiet moment he won't admit he has an attitude that he saves just for me. We have been married for nearly 52 years and I don't want to
remember him as this narky old man that made my life miserable.

tanith Fri 28-Jun-19 23:05:53

I would also urge you to contact Marie Curie, I don’t know how I would of coped without them when my DH was in his last few months last year they were all angels and so supportive of both of us. It’s not easy I know.

Luckygirl Fri 28-Jun-19 23:11:41

You are allowed to run out of patience and you are allowed not to be a saint. I know so well how this feels.

Everyone tells carers they must look after themselves too - and it can go unheeded, as it seems such a trite mantra. But it isn't. It is fundamental to your role. You are still you and not just his carer, and you must trigger self-preservation strategies. It is the only way forward.

If he is being difficult, just say you cannot deal with this - and say you are going to have to leave the room. I know it sounds harsh, but it feels worse to engage in an argument. He is frightened and feels demeaned by what is happening to him and what you are having to do for him; so he takes it out on you. It is easy to understand how and why this is happening, but less easy to handle it.

I really do think that when he behaves in this way, you must distance yourself. Having a terminal illness is always the trump card (I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is true) and a huge guilt-generator. Guilt and caring go together.

It may be that this final phase of his life will be tainted by unacceptable behaviour and a distance that neither of you would have chosen. But that may be just how it has to be.

I really do know exactly where you are coming from, and accepting this phase with all its imperfections and disappointments is the only way to go. It is what it is; it is not what you would have chosen; and truly you can only do your very best - we none of us can do anything else.

I am sending sympathetic thoughts your way. flowers

jaylucy Sat 29-Jun-19 09:39:03

I always think that if they can't be nasty to those they love, who can they be? I don't know if it's because they know that you are the one that will always be there to support them or reckon you will put up with it because you love them.
As has been suggested, please get in touch with Marie Curie or Macmillan - if nothing else, you will be given a willing ear and support through this time. Whenever you can get a break, take a few minutes on your own even if it's just time to read the paper, watch a favourite tv programme, sit in the garden with a coffee or go for a walk.
Just remember, you are not alone there is always support and kindness available.

Auntieflo Sat 29-Jun-19 09:40:30

Thoughtful post, beautifully written Luckygirl.
Bobbydog, flowers

JacquiG Sat 29-Jun-19 09:45:10

On behalf of all cancer patients I cringe and apologise. You can't care for him unless you are as well as you can be. and that includes your head.

Sounds like a typical man (he's lost control of his life) and you need to retrain him, however ill he is. There is no excuse for this sort of behaviour. Strongly suggest you make time for yourself, every day, where you do not respond to calls, and you relax. (Unless of an emergency nature, obviously)

Do you think a timetable might be in order so you know what you are doing and when? So does he.

The problem with being in bed is the total boredom. Does he have enough to do? Is there a TV to watch? Are there books? Does he have a tablet so he can contact the outside world? Do you have an internet connection? There is a load of entertainment out there, including short videos and articles suitable for those with small concentration times. If he's able to watch longer programmes and films, there's Netflix and Amazon Prime.

You might contact your local hospice to ask for advice. Might he be in intractable pain and not want to admit it? They are well experienced in handling emotional angst and dealing with pain. Also looking after carers - they know the importance

Good luck.

keffie Sat 29-Jun-19 09:47:40

I had similar with various issues when my husband was alive. A dear friend whose a nurse (my husband was never like this) helped me.

She said to me my husband was afraid, worried, scared for the future, worried about me and so on.

I stopped to think. I said to my husband " I want you to listen to me and not interupt" I said " I am sorry if you think havent acknowledged your feelings. I am running around trying to make things as best as I can for you and haven't had time to think. However although I don't like the way you talk to me and I would like it to stop, I want to acknowledge that I know your fearful, worried, angry and scared for you and I" My husband simply said "Thank you" and that was ot. He was the same usual loving man again with this grumbles though. Ha! Typical David

For me once I had to say it was enough. You may have to say it a few times depending on how long this goes on for and various stages. Let him know you love him too.

It worked for me. I hope it does for you. We all need our feelings acknowledged and we often dont know how to do it. I hope this helps you

JanaNana Sat 29-Jun-19 09:47:49

I feel very sorry for both of you. He is probably very angry and upset by his condition, frustrated by his limitations and you are the one to bear the brunt of all all this. It can't be easy for you at all but not for him either. Can you try and have a bit of time to yourself to switch off doing something you enjoy for a little while, and let some of the remarks wash over you. Sorry I can't be more helpful but you have all my sympathy.

hulahoop Sat 29-Jun-19 09:49:00

A lovely post luckygirl can't add anything so sending 💐Bobbydog and to all you carers out there

Theoddbird Sat 29-Jun-19 09:53:11

Your words...He cannot function without me... This is the problem. He resents this and it has now become a resentment of you. Sending hugs x

Lock Sat 29-Jun-19 09:57:58

Hi. I am so sorry you are going through this.
Talk to the carers about this, and your GP. A support group, like Marie Curie might also help. They should know how he is treating you in private and they should know how this is affecting you.
His type of behaviour is not uncommon at all, but that doesn't make it right.

I have some personal experience like yours. A family member was an absolute b***h to her relatives, sweet as pie to everyone else. It means that, even when there is pain, there is enough mental control and awareness of who they have to be nice to and who they can bully.

For your own wellbeing, please seek help.

If nothing else, ask your GP about his mental status. Pain, medication, disease and depression can all cause and exacerbate personality and behaviour changes.

However, for my tuppence worth, I think he is bullying you on top of all his other problems. You need help to help yourself because you are the only person in this dynamic that can change. He's never going to admit that his behaviour is unreasonable, so only you can change your response to that. Please, please get independent help, before your own health breaks.

inishowen Sat 29-Jun-19 10:01:45

I will just send my love and support because I have no personal experience of caring for a sick husband. My mum nursed my dad through cancer and as far as I know he didn't become nasty to her. Just remember to call on gransnet when you need to vent. We are all here to help x

GreenGran78 Sat 29-Jun-19 10:20:35

A friend who was in a similar situation recorded one of his ‘episodes’ then played it back to him. Listening to the way he had spoken to her, as though listening to someone else, really shocked him. He improved a lot afterwards.