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Alcoholic mother with terminal liver cancer

(12 Posts)
requiemforadram Fri 06-Jun-14 14:58:01

My mum has been an alcoholic for decades, and our relationship has often been strained because of this, and the lies surrounding it, and the accompanying depression, and and and and and. By strained I mean I was a fucking appalling teenager, and I'm still pretty angry now in my 30s. No big life events have made her take stock and want to change and now, when asked, she says she doesn't want to change.

She has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer (weeks til her health deteriorates, months until she dies) and has been in hospital for the last two weeks or so having tests done. She was discharged on Wednesday, still in decent health, and she is already drinking heavily again, secretively as usual. My brother is staying with my parents right now, he has cleaned the house up, he is trying to be supportive but my mum is horrible when she's been drinking and it also feels like such a waste of time trying to help when she seems bent on destroying herself.

So that concludes the bitter rant portion of my post. The practical part is: is there ANYTHING that anyone can do to help someone in this position? Or do we just have to stand by and let it happen? My dad is elderly and quite fragile mentally, so he is going to be affected by the situation even if my brother gives up and goes home to preserve his own mental health. Presumably doctors and social services can't actually stop someone from drinking either. I am just at a loss. I thought maybe, naively, that the one thing that might make the awful burden of living lighter on her shoulders was being told she was going to die, but it hasn't even made a dent.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 15:05:47

So sorry you're the victim of alcoholism. When someone is dependent on alcohol they love it more than anything including their own life. Do you remember sad old George Best? Brand new liver I think he had at the end. All kinds of dire warnings to leave the booze alone. Nothing made a blind bit of difference.

I think, in these situations, you look after the living. Your Dad, your brother and above all yourself. See if you can make peace with your Mum and say your good-byes, however awful she's been to you down the years. It won't make any difference to her but it might help you after she's gone.

Fudgeface123 Fri 06-Jun-14 15:14:58

She's probably thinking she's going to die so what's the point in stopping drinking, it's not like she's going to get better? My aunt died from liver failure, she got admitted to hospital weighing 5 stone and bright yellow. After treatment she was told if she had another drink, she'd probably die. She went on a vodka binge the day she was released from hospital, was found dead by her sister the next day. Some people just can't be helped

Fudgeface123 Fri 06-Jun-14 15:17:49

*and when I say binge, she drank almost 3 1 litre bottles of vodka. Would probably have killed a healthy person, never mind one with liver failure

Nomama Fri 06-Jun-14 17:51:45

No. You can do sweet FA to help someone in your mum's position.

Effectively your mum is dead. You and your brother need to focus on your dad - and yourselves.

You have a couple of choices and they depend on how you feel you will be able to live with yourself once you have buried her.

You can continue to try and help, clean, cook etc. Knowing that she will not say thank you, change, suddenly love you and be a perfect mother. But you may feel much better if you know you did all a good daughter should do and you never gave up on her.

You can tell her exactly how you feel about her behaviour, give it to her with both barrels, knowing she won't take it in and she won't change. You may find it cathartic and feel less angry, less of a doormat.

I chose the first option as it was less stressful for all others concerned. I may have chosen the second if left to my own devices. In retrospect I am happy I did as I did.

Good luck and big cyber hug.

DustBunnyFarmer Fri 06-Jun-14 19:54:04

I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this. As others have said, focus on yourself, your Dad and your brother.

Bentojo Fri 06-Jun-14 20:35:56

Sadly, the previous posters are right. There is nothing you can do.

I am an alcoholic. Nothing stopped me drinking apart from being told I have cirrhosis of the liver. Then I made the decision not to drink again. No amount of reasoning, pleading or emotional blackmail from friends and family in the weeks before I was diagnosed made one bit of difference. I was a yellow, stick thin, shaking mess and I STILL drank.

I am so sorry about your DM. Focus on your Dad and brother and take care of yourself.

pingufan Fri 06-Jun-14 21:31:37

Sadly my mother is the same. She has drunk for decades I had a pretty shit childhood as her moods were unpredictable veering from sickly loving which used to turn my stomach of violent anger. We all tried over the years to get her to listen but she would never stop for all the cajoling, tears, pleading, promises of help from us all, she would never even accept she was an alcoholic.

3 years ago she had multiple organ failure but recovered, dried out but only lasted 6 months before she was at it again, in secret from me as I live 30 miles away and didn't visit all that often. My father enabled it for a peaceful life as she would rant, rave and smash things if he didn't buy it for her.

I guessed though as she began to sound drunk on the phone. She was warned that it would kill her but she still wouldn't listen and lo and behold she began turning yellow, she became more and more ill and she went into hospital again. Ill never forget the sight of her when I walked in to her room.

She was yellow, black around the eyes, like something from another planet, skin peeling off, bleeding from the eyes, nose etc. Stick thin with a hugely swollen stomach. Revolting. She still couldn't see that it was a problem.
I insisted to a social worker that she didn't come home as they were keen to discharge her as soon as medically fit as despite being so ill she was a complete bitch to all the nursing staff. The social worker wouldn't put her in care as my father was willing to have her home.

That day I washed my hands of her - she was utterly vile to me too and I decided that no, I didn't need that in my life for myself, husband and kids. I just had enough. I've been NC since. She is home, still limping along on a broken liver with huge ascites in her stomach and my father does everything. She never asks after me or my family so she has lost her grandkids but she doesn't care.

I sometimes wonder whether I should make my peace but then I think why should I? I ran around after her endlessly when she was ill before and she wouldn't stay dry for her family still. She has no respect for herself or anyone in the family, treats my dad like dirt so no, I'm happier with NC.

I only have to think back to my teens where I was scared to come home from school as I didn't know what mood she would be in to remind myself I've done the right thing

arsenaltilidie Fri 06-Jun-14 22:39:03

Let bygones be bygones and enjoy the precious little time you have left.

Being angry with her won't help anyone and you'll likely regret it in the future. On the other hand accepting her MAJOR faults will be better for you and her because there is nothing you can do.

starlight1234 Fri 06-Jun-14 22:48:37

Someone gave me some great advise once about someone dying.

Make sure you have no regrets after they have gone.

Nothing you will do will stop her dying how you deal with it is a choice you have to make but you can only do your best under very difficult circumstances

heyday Fri 06-Jun-14 22:55:08

You have had some very wise posts on here. My own father was exactly the same as your mother and died from alcohol abuse. Nothing in heaven or earth would have stopped him drinking. For whatever reasons, your mum has made this choice not to get enough support to get her off the booze. She is an addict and it's probably the booze that gets her through every crazy day.
Just do what you can practically without it overly affecting your own health. Keep an eye out for her but you must be aware that she is not going to change now. As Frank Sinatra once sang, ' I did it my way' and that is exactly what she can say now too. It's sad but there is nothing you can do to change her or this situation.

TheMightyMing Fri 06-Jun-14 23:01:51

My mum died 3 years ago of multiple organ failure brought on by lifelong alcoholism.

These best times in my life was when she wasn't in it.

Look after your own family, your dad as far as you can and yourself most of all.

There is nothing else you can do, so don't waste time and effort on your mum- she doesn't deserve it.

And have a hug- I hope it is a swift end for your sake. Sounds awful but there it is xxx

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