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I know I'm not alone, but.....

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May 4th of 2018 I lost my dad after a battle with lung cancer complicated by COPD! 

It was a journey that had been in the making for years!  We first discovered nodules on his lungs when he required triple bypass surgery, and the nodules were found "by mistake" during the all the pre-op doings!  We were told that regardless what they were he needed bypass and it was highly unlikely that opening him up for bypass would cause it to spread.  He came through the bypass with flying colors and was back on his feet in a couple of months!  The follow up appointment with the pulmonologist kept getting pushed back by the doctors office, and eventually was dropped because a follow up x-ray showed they seemed to be shrinking, and they attributed it to either scar tissue caused by pneumonia, or a "fungus" that a lot of people in Iowa have in their lungs! 

Fast forward a couple years and he went in for routine chest xrays, for his cardiologist post op, and his PCP called him telling him the spots on his lungs had grown and were solid mass, he needed to see a pulmonogolist, so he did!  I went with my parents to both appointments that were in town, and the doctor was an amazing "grandfatherly" type doctor that spent an hour and half in the room explaining everything on the xrays, things it could be besides cancer, and did some breathing exercises, and tested his breathing stamina with the "6 minute walk test", it is exactly what it sounds like!  He also set my dad up for a PET scan to try and determine what was on his lungs.

Results from the PET scan came about a week later, and were "inconclusive" but doctor felt comfortable in giving him a "not cancer" diagnosis, because there was no "glowing" activity in either lung.  But would set him up to see a pulmonology oncologist just to get the opinion of the pulmonology board of the University of Nebraska.  I also went to this appointment, where the very nice lady doctor (who side not did not look old enough to be a doctor let alone a specialist) explained everything in further detail then the first lung specialist we saw.  We  were given the option of radiation to see if the spots shrunk, or we could leave it and call her if bothersome symptoms were to arise!

A few months later when I thought the dust had settled my husband and I went on the first real vacation we'd had in years, only to come back and find out, dad had in fact been experiencing unexplained shortness of breath, and had been scheduled for a nasal biopsy while we were away.  Those results also came back inconclusive.  We were given the same options as before, but were also told given his age and all his other medical issues radiation could make him terribly sick, and possibly fatal.  We chose to leave it alone!  The spots kept growing!  It was never officially diagnosed as lung cancer!

2016, he had what we thought were small pin strokes, and were described to us as "low flow strokes", meaning his blood pressure was dropping too much not allowing enough blood to his brain, and he would have stroke symptoms that would last anywhere from a few seconds up to 30 minutes!!  That is when everything started going down hill.  To look back on things that happened now, we all are of the consensus cancer had likely spread to small areas of his brain, thankfully not enough to take his personality, and the things that made him dad away from us!

I watched my dad die in stages over the last 5 years, it always seemed there was something else that was happening from the bypass on, actually from the stroke he had when I was just 12 years old that it should not have survived.  I was lucky to have him as long as I did.  I am now 8 months and 10 days from losing my dad, and I feel just as bad, if not worse than I did that day.  I, without the ability to stop it, replay the last day of his life over and over again, and the last 5 minutes wakes me from my sleep more often than not!  I was lucky enough to spend his last day with him, and my mom and sister, we made sure he had everything he wanted, and made sure he had Kentucky Fried Chicken, because he wanted it.  It was until the morning of the 4th that dad was incoherent, but even then there were flashes of my daddy!  I try to think of the good times, when the worst 5 minutes of my life won't stop playing over and over in my minds eye, but I just can't make it stop.

I, guess, by no desire of my own, I am the "strong" one of my mom and sister, they are both leaning on me, which I am glad I can help but I never feel like I have anyone to lean on.  I have my husband and he is amazing, but I also feel like I have laid enough at his feet.  I don't hold in my emotions by any means I cry when I feel like crying, but I feel so totally alone in how to handle my grief because I am handling everyone else!

If you've made it this far, thanks!  I guess I just needed to vent!

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I'm so sorry for your loss, my dear, and my heart reaches out to you in your pain. Since you are perceived as the "strong one" in the family, I'm sure the weight of the grief you are carrying is far heavier than you feel able to bear. It must feel as if you don't have enough room or sufficient time to take care of yourself. I can tell you, though, that the best way to take care of everyone else's grief is to take care of your own grief first. What does that mean? It means learning about what is normal in grief, so you'll feel less crazy and alone, and you'll have a better idea of what to expect and what you can do with your own reactions in the weeks and months ahead. It may mean making an appointment with a qualified grief counselor, or finding an in-person grief support group in your community. You've made a good start by coming here, where you are among kindred spirits who understand from their own experiences what you are going through and who will be here to listen without judgment.

I also invite you to read a touching article I found just this morning, as I think it will resonate with you: How You Die, When Someone You Love Dies  ♥️

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Thank you very much for your reply Marty, and the links, that last one resonates very well with me and my mood today especially!  I will check out the rest of the links.  I just need a place to go and know I'm not alone, and I think I finally found it !

Not my first rodeo with this kind of grief, I have seen an amazing therapist a few years ago, that helped me with the loss of my child, and I am trying desperately to put techniques she taught me to use, I just need everyone to give me like a day where I am not worrying about everyone else!  Sigh!  Thank you for the support

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I am sorry for the loss of your dad, I don't think anything prepares us for this, they've always been there for us and then suddenly can't be.  It's a huge burden to carry to feel like you have to be the strong one for everyone else but feel you are alone in your own grief.  I hope you can continue to turn to your husband, I doubt he minds and would want to be there for you. Regardless, you have this place now.  (((hugs)))

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