Suicide is NOT painless


I have discovered hundreds of reasons why I never went to nursing school.  I would have to say empathy is not my strong suit.  It is a definite shortcoming, and I am not sure it is curable.

So far, my mother has rejected her diagnosis.  She wants nothing to do with chemotherapy,she has stated she has no desire to live, that her time is up, what is the purpose of it all, and maybe she should just do herself in.

My brother and I have talked her into trying one cycle of chemo, and the nurse practitioner promised her she would feel better.  She agreed.  But, with my mother, what she says is not always what she means.  One story for one person, another for someone else.

I have spent two weeks working on spreadsheets of medications and timetables of treatment, which seem to change daily. I have gotten hooks, and hung the sheets next to her cabinet where she keeps all her medications.  I have written and printed them in 20 point font so that she can see them, as her eyesight is going.  2014-08-20 15.35.12

She has yet to look at anything related to her course of therapy.  I have made the directions so easy a 10 year old could follow it.  Every time I hand anything to her, she says she just can’t do it, makes a noise of disgust, and chucks the papers on the floor.

I am trying to PP (practice patience), trying to give her space and time to wrap her head around this news.  That said, I have limited time here, and I need her to get engaged in this so that I will feel comfortable leaving her alone.  I need to feel sure she will take the medications at the proper times so as not to interrupt the treatment schedule.

On Monday, she expressed a desire to end her life in front of the oncology nurse.  This has been a theme in her life since my father walked out 35 years ago.  We, her children, are so used to her threatening to “drive into a bridge abutment, stick her head in the oven, just end it all”, that none of us take it seriously.  I had planned to discuss her change in tone about suicide at her next General Practitioner appointment. Her comment on Monday saved me from having to have that awkward discussion.  The oncologist called in a prescription for an antidepressant.  She started on that today, which leads me to the bottom line of this post.

My mother is a hard core alcoholic.  She has been for 50+ years.  She drinks copious amounts of anything, mostly bourbon and wine, nightly.  The hospitalization stopped that for a week and two days.  Right before chemotherapy, she drank.  She drank 3/4 of a bottle of wine.  Pretty heavy coming off a week of iv’s, blood thinners, anemia, and partial kidney failure.

During our first chemotherapy session, I inquired about alcohol intake.  The nurse looked at me like I had two heads, there was a long pause, and then she said, yes she can drink, but VERY LIMITED.

I have been shocked by my mother, she seemed to take it to heart.  I have yet to see her have anything alcoholic.

Until last night.  I was in my little room, reading a book, when I heard a glass being filled with ice.  It was after 9 pm,unusual, unless she is drinking alcohol, she doesn’t drink anything after 9 pm.  I made a mental note to check the wine bottle this morning when I got up.

I was elated to see I was wrong, no wine was gone from the open bottle in the refrigerator.  Never happier to be wrong!

As I ran this morning it hit me..the bourbon.  I forgot to check the bourbon bottle.  Sure enough, it wasn’t facing the way I had left it when I was in that cabinet looking for something, and some was gone.

I now know what people mean when they use the term blinded by rage.  I was.  I immediately texted my sponsor with the question, should I confront her?  Of course I didn’t wait the 30 seconds it took for her reply with the answer, NO.  I asked her,  AND SHE LIED!!!

Of course she lied, she is an alcoholic.  I lied, you lied, we all lied.  It is what we do.

Now I am once again sitting on a mountain of resentment.

All of the hours behind the wheel of a car, all of  the planning, all of the  scheduling, all of the emotional and physical energy we are ALL spending to keep this woman alive, and she is drinking. SHE IS FUCKING DRINKING WHILE TAKING CHEMOTHERAPY!!!  WTF is the point?

Why have I put my life on hold, why is my brother working so hard to find her a place near him, why are we emailing, talking and texting constantly about this woman? Why is this our only topic of discussion, our sole focus of the energy of our lives right now?

I can make it impossible for her to drink for the rest of the time I am here.

I have taken away the Ambien and dispense one nightly so she won’t swallow the whole bottle.

I have added the antidepressant to her medication list with bold letters stating DO NOT DRINK WHILE ON THIS MEDICATION.

I have laid out the chemotherapy treatments on a daily calender, and spreadsheet.  I have added them to a Google calendar and linked it to both my brothers as well.

I leave on August 30th.  What happens then?

Why are we working so hard to save her, when she wants nothing to do with being saved?




16 thoughts on “Suicide is NOT painless

  1. What happens then?

    Sweetie, you have done everything you can. What happens then is out of your hands. What she does has absolutely nothing to do with you and you cannot control it.
    You have done a yoemans work here, and your brother helping is great, but this is your mom’s life and she is an alcoholic. And alcoholics make bad choices a LOT, right? This seems like a very bad choice, we can all assume it is, but it is HER choice, and that’s the fact.

    I can give a suggestion…probably already given by your sponsor, but here goes:

    I would sit her down (obviously when she is completely sober) and, once again explain the protocol, remind her of the lists and then look her in the eyes and tell her you love her and hope she follows directions because you don’t want her to die.

    And that’s about it. That’s all you or anyone can do.
    And then you can start writing and sharing in meetings and I am sure there are others who have been in your shoes who will step forward and hold your hand. Write out your fears and resentments and share them with your sponsor. Make sure you make any amends you need to make with your mother as soon as possible.

    Then let go. trust god. let go.

  2. This is such hard stuff you’re both dealing with here. I think Mishedup’s advice is amazing, so I can’t add much, except that it sounds like you’ve done an amazing amount of work, and now letting go is a different kind of work. Sending you a big hug. xo

  3. I can only offer this…. I have family in similar situations…. you have an awareness that she doesn’t see (yet). She is lucky to have you and your brother who care so much. Just know that your love does matter a lot.

    • Sometimes it feels absolutely fruitless. Then I wake up to a day like today, where she is starting to get sick from the side effects, and I wonder how I could possibly have gotten mad. Up and down.

  4. I love what mishedup said. Wonderful advice. I went through a very similar situation with my mom when she was dying of pancreatic cancer. All I can say is despite your feelings of frustration, just love her. We can’t control or change someone, but we can love them with all we have. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Mished is absolutely right. And sorry if I’ve missed this in your previous posts, but do you attend al-anon? I think you’re going to need a support group around this issue, because it’s so hard.

    • I attend AA meetings regularly. As I too am an alcoholic. A support group might work, but I really don’t have the time right at the moment. I will look on line, hopefully they are as wonderful as all the sober bloggers 🙂

  6. Well, I would have said the same thing your sponsor said. And of course M is bang on with her advice. it’s your mother’s journey, pure and simple. if she wants to end it, or go down that path, it’s hers to do so. Is it heartbreaking? Damn straight it is. But you’ve done all that you can. You have. You can’t stand watch on guard over her. She is an alcoholic. She will find a way to do what she wants when she wants. We all did. We are unlovely in our cups as the BB says and even sober with untreated alcoholism we are unlovely as well.

    You love your mother of course and you are doing what you think is best for her. But as an active alcoholic, she is going to do whatever she wants. Believe me, I was very resistent to anything and everyone who tried to help me. We’re immovable objects that way. i am not saying there is no hope, but as you know, the desire to change has to come from within.

    What M said about putting down the resetments and fears and making amends to your mother makes a lot of sense. I think if she decides she’s had enough of this place, at least you will have made your peace with her…and yourself surrounding this.

    Prayers and hugs, my friend.

  7. Oh girl this is SO hard! I know because my mother lived with us her last 10 years. Most of it was okay but the last 4 were horrible. She refused to do anything the doctor’s told her to do, expected me to baby her and nurse and minister to her (I am a TERRIBLE nurse – I have no patience for weakness which is my own character flaw). She was a narcissist that used her decline as a reason to, once again, make everything about her. It wore my ass out. She didn’t drink but she was a diabetic, had heart disease, high blood pressure and was a smoker. She refused to quick eating sugar and simple carbs AND she would not stop smoking. It was so hard.

    Follow MishedUp’s advice and then get on with your life. You deserve some happiness and freedom. You get to have some peace too.


  8. What a tough and emotionally demanding situation for you – I cannot imagine how difficult this must be. I have no advice to offer, but I feel I have followed a lot of the ups and downs with your relationship with your mom just by reading your blog and simply wanted to offer some love and support. Hugs. xx

  9. hey SL, I am 1 week sober today and have been binge reading sober blogs all week and my god, yours reads like a novel! I was a nervous wreck reading about your first visit to your mom’s and now this?!! holy $#!t. I am on pins and needles waiting for the next chapter – I am pulling for the protagonist to come through enlightened or transformed or stronger in some small way although I certainly don’t mind several more chapters of suspense and drama if that what it takes to get there… it only makes your story all the more compelling!

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