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I need some help/advice

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I need some advice. This is long but bare with me. If you don't feel like reading it all you can skip to tl,dr in bold.

I got a call yesterday from my ex-husbands sister. Apparently he has been in the hospital since July 1st. He had kidney failure, jaundice, hallucinations, irregular heart beat and an atrial fibrillation. They also suspect his liver has been damaged and/or he has cirrhosis of the liver but they are not sure at this time. They said only a biopsy can detect the liver damage and they do not do that procedure at the hospital he is in. They are watching his medication very closely as the normal blood thinners they would give him for the atrial fibrillation can not be used because of the suspected liver damage. They also said if they can not get the atrial fibrillation under control then there is also the possibility of a stroke.

She said even when he gets out he will need 24 hour care. His muscles are extremely week and he will also need physical therapy.

His sister said she could not locate our phone numbers which I can believe as my ex was very bad at keeping contact information were someone could find it. She said she finally found it in his wallet. At this point she can not get into his bedroom. He always locked it. He has a suspicious nature and was always worried about someone stealing something. He didn't even trust his own kids. She said she is going to try to get in today to find his paperwork so she can get him on some type of assistance as he has no insurance. He is on unemployment as he just lost his job a little over two months ago.

Their dad has been basically drinking himself to death. Even if he recovers he can never drink again. He has tried to stop several times and even went to a 28 day rehab about two years ago but he relapsed.

We also found out yesterday that my exs father has Alzheimer's. We had no idea. I don't understand why he did not tell his children that their grandfather was ill.

The advice I need is how to deal with our kids. Our son is 18 and daughter is 16.

I of course will be there for them but it is hard when I really have no say in his care. At this point I don't even know if the hospital can release any information about his recovery.

They both were very upset last night. Not only that their father is so sick but that their aunt waited 8 days to call them. His sister is suppose to visit him tonight and make sure it is okay with him that the kids can come and see him. I don't want to upset him and aggravate any medical conditions right now but at the same time I am concerned for my children.

They have every right to see him and know how he is doing. I am hoping it all goes well and I can take them to see him on Thursday. My son is off work that day and I can take time off to take them up there.

I just am not sure what to say or how to console my kids. There is no love left in me for the man but we did create two wonderful children together even if he was not much of a parent he is still their father and they love him very much.

I want to tell them everything is going to be okay but I don't know that for sure. His sister is taking care of everything right now which I am very glad about. He has another sister as well but she has been out of town on vacation during this and she will not be back for several days. Even though his son is 18 he would not be able to handle it all and I really have no say or responsibility in the matter.

We have been divorced for almost 16 years so this was not a recent divorce. The children are not close to his side of the family at all so I don't see the kids getting any support from his side of the family.

Their father did not like going to family functions so they only saw their grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins maybe once a year at Christmas time. I don't even think he took them the last two years.

I am just wondering if any of you out there have had to deal with this either as the parent of children with a sick mother/father or the child of a sick parent when your parents are divorced.

tl,dr summary: My ex husband of 16 years and father of my children (18 and 16) is in the hospital and very ill. I am looking for advice on how to support my children when I have no say or responsibility in their fathers medical issues or recovery and the kids are not close to his side of the family.

Any experiances and/or advice?
post #2 of 18
My advide is this: Be straight with the kids. They are old enough to understand the truth, even if it isn't pretty. You cannot protect them from upset, you can only be there to support and love them as best as you can.

Tell them that you don't know how to be there for them. Ask them what it is they need from you concerning this situation and do your best to give that to them. If you can't, again, be straight with them and tell them WHY you can't.

I understand that you want to protect them from hurting, but they have to process this individually. Just having you there loving them as you always have will really be all you can do, the chips will have to fall the way they fall.

I'm sorry that you have this burden to carry but it's really great that you care so much about your children. I wish you the best in getting through this tough time with them.
post #3 of 18
Sorry that you and your kids have to go throughthis.

All I can suggest is to keep everything in the open with your kids. They are old enough to understand and appreciate you treating them like adults in this situation. They don't want to be told a false "it will be ok". They want the facts.

Be their to support them and be their advocate with their father's family and the doctors so that they are kept in the loop. Above all just love them and be there for them.

Good luck!
post #4 of 18
Honesty, honesty and honesty! You need to tell them what you know and be honest when you tell then what you dont know.

2 years ago when my then 9 year old daughters father died I also didnt have any say on his medical care. He was going in for heart surgery and the dr's told him that he had a 60% chance of dying. I

told her right from the git go that he could die. I also told her that could also make it.

As he grew worse after the surgery I sat her down and told her it didnt look good and that she might want to think about saying good bye.

Her sister that didnt live with us lives with him and his girlfriend was told hes gonna be fine and hes comming home up until the day before they took him off life support.

Let me tell you honesty is the best route. The anger and confusion she went through is worse then not knowing anything.
post #5 of 18
I'm 100% behind the honesty part. Even if they aren't close it is still good for them to know what is going on. If you lied to them or didn't tell them what was going on, they would probably take a long time to forgive you.

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
I did tell both of them what is going on last night. My daughter answered the call from her aunt and I called my son as soon as I got off the phone with her to tell him what was going on.

It is not about telling them. They have a right to know and they are definatly old enough to handle it. They also have a right to see him.

I am concerned that they will be left out of any decisions concerning their dad or left out of the loop on updates whether good or bad.

The connection to his side of the family is him and in his condition that is not possible.

Since I have no say about his care or resposibility for it, it is hard for me to get involved but at the same time I don't want my children to think I don't care about their dad.

I am going to give them the hosptial number and his room number. If they want to call him they can.

I am just waiting to hear back tonight from his sister to see if he says it is okay for them to come out and see him in the hospital.

He is very ill and will need long term care. I just hope he continues to improve and there is not extensive liver damage.
post #7 of 18
I agree with the honest discussion. Do what you can to facilitate the hospital visit and help your kids to understand what is going on with their dad.
post #8 of 18
I agree- the kids are old enough to be able to hear the real story. Just tell them that you will do what you can to help them (not the ex) and take them to see him.

But explain that their dad is very ill and you don't know what will happen (the truth) but you will help them deal with things to come.

I'm not in the same situation but it could come to that. My son's father had back surgery and probably will not go back to work. His parents (who he lives with) probably won't be around much longer - both are pretty sick. I'll be there for my son, but NOT for the ex or his parents.

We divorced due to abuse, so I have no sympathy for the ex.
post #9 of 18
Perhaps if your children are interested in being involved they could talk to their aunt? Even though you say they aren't close, I highly doubt that the aunt would deny them from helping out with their father. Unless this aunt is a cruel person spending time with your father is important (ok its not important in all cases like if you wrote him off as a father).
post #10 of 18
Maybe this will bring them closer to your ex's side of the family. Since your son is now 18 and a legal adult, unless your ex is married, that would make him next of kin, I think (along with any other adult children). He has every right to know what is going on with his father, and be involved in any decisions....if he wants to. Maybe call the aunt and at least have him put on the list of who can get info. A lot of it, at this point, may be how much your children want to be involved.

I'm so sorry you and your kids have to go through this. Hugs and prayers going out to you and your family.
post #11 of 18
When death may be imminent, nothing matters but getting things straight with the people in your life -- regardless of any old conflicts, regardless of how long it's been, regardless of how difficult family dynamics may make it. Your ex-husband may or may not realize this... but I think you should act on it, anyway.

If I were in your place, I would take both kids to the hospital, walk into the room with a smile and a little gift of some kind, and have a brief, happy visit. No heavy discussions of the past, just a chance to show that you and the kids are concerned for him and want to offer comfort in his crisis.

Whether he would be pleased to see you or not is something you really can't know until you get there -- and I think it's better to err on the side of going. Even if it doesn't mean anything to him, you'll be able to feel good about having made to the effort to do the right thing.

And if the hospital he's in doesn't have the ability to give him adequate care, why hasn't his family moved him to a better one? Maybe you can look into that while you're there...?
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by calico2222 View Post
Maybe this will bring them closer to your ex's side of the family. Since your son is now 18 and a legal adult, unless your ex is married, that would make him next of kin, I think (along with any other adult children). He has every right to know what is going on with his father, and be involved in any decisions....if he wants to. Maybe call the aunt and at least have him put on the list of who can get info. A lot of it, at this point, may be how much your children want to be involved.

I'm so sorry you and your kids have to go through this. Hugs and prayers going out to you and your family.

My ex never remarried so I think that his son is "next of kin" When I called the hospital they of course could not give me any information. I asked if his son who is 18 can get his status and they said a power of attorney needed to be set up.

I don't know if his sister already did this or not. She mentioned that she was handling his financial stuff but when I spoke with the patient representative at the hosptial she did not indicate that he had a power of attorney already set up. I think his sister was just trying to get all the paperwork set up for assistance since he has no insurance.

I am still having a hard time believing it took her 8 days to get in touch with us but then again if I had to get a hold of her or his other sister I would not even know where to start.

I don't know one sisters last name. She remarried and for the life of me I can't remember his other sisters name. My only way would have been to drive to his fathers house.

I did not hear from his sister last night. I tried calling several times but could not get a hold of her.

I am planning on taking the kids to see him this afternoon. Hopefully I can get something set up with the staff that at least lets his son get the information on his condition and any status reports.

I am concerned as when my exs Aunt was put in a nursing home his sisters practically sold her house from under her and had an estate sale of all her possesions (except of course the stuff they just down right took for themselves).

I know my ex was very upset about it and wanted no part of what they were doing. He did not want his children involved in it either. He was addiment about making sure if anything did happen to him that his sisters would not come in his home and sell everything off or down right steal things of his.

Both the kids know this and worried that Marsha may be up to something. My son can be assertive so if he thinks she is doing the same thing they did to his great aunt I am sure he will speak up and stop it.
post #13 of 18
IA with honesty and support. This will be one of life's unfortunate lessons.
post #14 of 18
You should definetly tell your children the truth. Even if they were 10 years old. It's important for your children to know that you are going to be honest with them and not sugar coat what is really going to happen. Luckily your children are old enough to understand what you tell them and therapy is a great help. I stongly advise any person to seek therapy when they loose a loved one.

Your children have a lot of say in what happens with their father. In fact, they should be given the overall say because they are the closest family member. Which means they must know everything that is happening. It's good to prepare for the worst. I'm sorry if I sound morbid, but life is not kind or fair. Also, you're children have every right to go in and see their father or ask for imformation on how he is doing. The only way they wouldn't have that right would be if their own father told the hospital not to relase any information to his children.

My father was in the hospital dying when I was 13 and my mom was his ex wife. We went to the hospital and because I was his daughter and my mother was his ex-wife they let both of us go up to see him and when desions had to be made my mother was not involved but my stepmom and us three kids made all of the decisions.

It's hard to loose a parent, even if you aren't close or don't see eachother often. Sometimes even now almost 10 years later I think about only having a mother left. The hospital has a lot to offer if you just ask. Counseling of any sort will help you children. Honestly, if they were my children I wouldn't give them a choice. It's not the same talking to parents/friends/family, you need a professional who is not emotionally involved.

Good luck with everything and I'm sorry for what you and your kids are going through. It's never easy.

Please feel free to PM me.
post #15 of 18
How did the visit go? Was he happy to see them? I hope that you kids can be involved in the decision making process for his care.
post #16 of 18
Also hoping things went well...
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
It went okay yesterday. He was awake and sitting in bed but you could tell he was not in the best shape.

We talked for awhile and then his nurse came in to give him some meds. I asked her about getting my son on the patient information list and she said as long as it was okay with his father then it was fine and he of course agreed.

She is going to put in his medical notes that his son is allowed to get information about his condition and status.

He ended up in the hospital because he was having an hallucination that someone was stealing his car.

He said he saw someone breaking into his car. He went out and tried to stop them but they were in his car with the door locked but they did not have the keys. He was screaming and yelling and the neighbor called the police.

The police came and he continued to insist there were people in his car trying to steal it.

There was nobody in his car. The police ended up contacting his sister and then she got him to the hospital.

I guess the first week he was sedated because the hallucinations continued and he kept trying to rip out his IV and leave.

He seemed with it enough until he said that my mother was over at his house burning some CDs and DVDs for him. I told him that my mom had burned him DVDs before but not at his house. He said again she was burning some CDs and DVDs for some of his friends and it got so late she spent the night on the couch.

My mother has not been in his house for 16 years. I don't know if he is remembering a Christmas 15 years ago when my mother stayed over Christmas eve and did in fact sleep on the couch or if it was a new hallucination that he was recalling.

We did not stay too long as he looked to be getting tired. His sister is going to try to get him in a rehab center after he is discharged from the hospital which he said might be in a day or two but I don't think that is going to be the case. I think he is going to be there another week or two.

It was one of those scary things and I am glad he is doing better and the kids feel better now that they got to see him.
post #18 of 18
I am glad that the kids were able to see him and that your son was able to be put on that list.

I really hope that he continues to improve, but it sounds like he really has a way to go.

I will send him healing vibes for your children's sake!
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