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Absent husband. Sick father-in-law

(31 Posts)
FunderAnna Thu 09-Nov-17 19:53:42

My retired husband has filled his life with activities. He's also the only person who visits his elderly father on a regular basis. (My brother in law lives in a European city, and although flights to see his father are frequent, fast and cheap, he doesn't visit more than twice a year.)

When my husband goes away, I will sometimes fill in for him - because otherwise my father-in-law is unvisited. However, my father-in-law's increasing frailty and my husband's increasing busyness(not being thereness is causing problems.

My father in law is 96 lives in a care home and has severe dementia. He's recently been admitted to hospital twice - once after a fall where he broke two ribs and then a couple of weeks later with breathlessness and chest pain.

Yesterday my husband was in London, prior to flying abroad to pursue one of his interests for the next couple of days. He'd been there the day befoe as well, and on that day I'd visited my father in law in the care home.

Anyway yesterday my father got a phonecall from the care home to say his Dad had been admitted to hospital after the GP had visited the carehome and found that my father-in-law had breathlessness and low oxygen levels . My husband decided to carry on with the trip.

As the person who was nearest the hospital where my father in law is I spent a frustrating hour or so trying to locate which ward he was in and to find out more information about how he was. The hospital people wouldn't tell me much at all (My husband also did some phoning and we conferred.)

Today I had to work later hours than usual and told my husband not to ring me - barring emergencies - until 7.30 UK time. I'd had slept uneasily because of the worry about my father in law, but got an update from my husband with news that they suspect pneumonia. This can be quite serious with the very elderly.

But neither my husband nor my brother in law are coming back from the two European countries where they are now. My plan was to visit my father in law tomorrow which is my day off. My father in law is less confused in the mornings, so I am more likely to be able to get a sense of how he is - and more likely to get information from medical staff than is possible in the evening. (They won't tell me anything over the phone

Just before 7pm tonight I got home from work feeling tired and hungry. Within five minutes my husband had rang. He started burbling away about the city where he is, and how he was going to find something to eat and how I could go and see his Dad tomorrow, but get the car looked at in the garage first tomorrow morning.

And suddenly I felt absolutely furious. I told him I'd not eaten and he'd promised not to ring me till later so I had a chance to recharge.

I've now sent him an email to ring me tomorrow morning instead.

I really want a quiet evening. I think I deserve one.

How would you feel in this particular situation?

PollytheDolly Thu 09-Nov-17 19:57:50

I’d have told him to think really hard about how life is for you right now and fuck off until he can stop being a self absorbed twat.

fiftyval Thu 09-Nov-17 20:01:58

Unless your dh has taken on a similar level of commitment to your elderly parents then he is being totally unreasonable and I would be refusing to do any visits especially as you work and he is swanning off enjoying himself- unbelievably selfish and I suspect sexist too.

NerNerNerNerBATMAN Thu 09-Nov-17 20:05:43

He is massively taking you for granted. He appears to be completely oblivious to how his actions are impacting the family.

I think a sit down discussion when he's home a good old fashioned row is required

RunRabbitRunRabbit Thu 09-Nov-17 20:07:20

Why can't your DH come home?

babybabamama Thu 09-Nov-17 20:07:34

Art tou Asian by any chance?

DancesWithOtters Thu 09-Nov-17 20:10:29

You sound lovely OP.

Does FIL know who you are? Does he still recognise people?

It's really not fair that this is all being put on you. Women carrying the mental load again.

Handsfull13 Thu 09-Nov-17 22:56:03

I'm sorry about your father in law 💐
I would tell your husband to enjoy his trip and it should be the last one he takes for a little while. He should be at home helping and he can go back to fucking off when he likes when he isn't needed.

Inertia Thu 09-Nov-17 23:10:21

That's not on.

It needs to be your husband's responsibility to manage the care of his own father, especially if you're at work. Sounds like he's finding excuses to be 'busy' so that he can pass on his responsibilities to you.

And if he's retired- why the hell is it your job to take the car to the garage?

Fishface77 Thu 09-Nov-17 23:12:10

You know your right and your husbands a dick head?

ReanimatedSGB Thu 09-Nov-17 23:14:00

YANBU, your husband is dumping all the carework onto you. There's not a lot you can do about BIL, though he sounds equally selfish, but you can say to your H that he needs to take on his share of looking after his father, who is probably not going to be around for much longer. Your H can stop pissing off abroad until his father does die - he'll have time enough to have fun then. And it's time you got to have some fun.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Fri 10-Nov-17 00:08:49

I would like to think I'd not be married to such a self-absorbed tit any more were I you, but obviously life's not as simple as that.

Has your DH always been so selfish? Being a bit charitable, could he be shielding himself from the distress of seeing his DF in such a poor state? Grasping at straws though because even if that's the case there's no excuse for slopey-shouldering it off on you.

araiwa Fri 10-Nov-17 04:19:07

Did noone read op?

Dh is the only person who visits his father on a regular basis. Is it really asking too much for his wife to step in for a couple of days?

Dealing with dementia is awful- he needs a break too and im sure he appreciates someone helping him out.

Also timezones may explain why he called at 7 instead of 730 but even so, how petty can you get to complain about it

FunderAnna Fri 10-Nov-17 05:07:13

I think the sense of being trapped in the situation started on Wednesday.

I'd told my husband that on Wednesday I wouldn't be in a place where I wasn't easily contactable. I got home to find there'd been three calls to the landline - though no message left - and then an email from my husband saying the care home had rang him and my father in law had been taken to hospital. I emailed back saying I'd try to find out more and would send him a message once I'd got more information.

So I spent about an hour trying to find out where in the hospital he was. This involved being given incorrect information, ringing numbers that weren't answered and being cut off. Once I did find his whereabouts and the ward phone number the staff refused to give me any information, though I did get a doctor who hadn't seen my father in law, but who explained why they didn't give any information. Deciding what to do was all very complicated as by this time it was late and my father in law's confusion is worst in the evening. I put it all down in an email as this situation wasn't straightfoward. My husband then rang and started going on about the meal he was having with my stepdaughter and also talking about his Dad. I asked if he'd read the email and I said no. I told him to read it and then he called me back.

So the situation took up quite a lot of Wednesday evening. That was also the point at which he decided ta) to continue with his trip and fly abroad and b) not to summon his brother.

It was a tricky one because i knew if he cancelled his trip he'd be resentful. He has been busy over the last month or so moving his father from sheltered accommodation to a care home and generally dealing with his Dad's affairs - as well as seeing to two previous hospital admissions.

His brother has some health problems of his own and a partner who is not well. However he consistently prioritises voluntary work for charities and the church - he too is retired - over looking after his Dad.

I went to work today knowing there was a possibility that I'd get a call from my husband if there'd been a crisis with his father. The hospital would call the next of kin and then he'd call me. I'd not only told my husband my working hours, they were also written in an email along with the landline number. (I work in a variety of locations at a variety of times.)

By lunchtime I got a message that the diagnosis was pneumonia, so spent a bit of my break time finding out about pneumonia in the elderly.

We had agreed that I would find it easier to exchange news once I'd had a chance to eat and refuel after the working day.

It was trying to be rung just a few minutes before I'd got into to the house, when I'd not even had a cup of tea. Obviously if a new crisis had arisen - ie. a sudden rapid deterioration - then it would have been important to have that information.

What I ended up doing after a very short conversation iin which it appeared there was no crisis s saying I needed to eat. Most of us function better when we have refuelled.

But I then realised I felt really distressed. I didn't particularly want to quarrel with my husband over the phone so I sent him an email saying I needed a quiet evening and suggested he phone tomorrow morning.

My husband sent a message back apologising - he said he'd 'forgotten' about the time difference, because he was tired and 'feeling quite low', and had slept badly the previous night. So he was going to bed though it was only 8.30.

Rosa Fri 10-Nov-17 05:11:52

Visiting Dementia patients is horrible as you see someone you love getting worse, they don't get better , you put more effrot into trying to find small triggers to help their memory and it gets harder and harder. Any break away if cared for at home or in a care home is a welcome break. For the sake of 30 mins I would just have said - am hungry had a long day call me later .

FritzDonovan Fri 10-Nov-17 05:15:37

Don't feel bad that hes 'feeling quite low' when you're the one doing all the running around. He (dh) sounded fine right up until the point you rightly pointed out that he's leaving you with the responsibility for his sick df. In your OP it sounds as if dh goes away quite frequently. If this is the case, I think he has been rather selfish not to come back.

Mummyoflittledragon Fri 10-Nov-17 05:20:36

I’d be incredibly annoyed. He’s treating you like a servant. And you’re letting him. He’s in a European country I imagine. Mobile call charges now cost the same as in the U.K. He should have found out where your Fil is for starters. I’m sure he could have take an hour out of his holiday. Start pushing everything back to him.

You also sound like an over thinker. I’m the same. I’d have gone straight to google as well.

Jenijena Fri 10-Nov-17 05:27:20

I have sympathy for both of you; does your FIL have any language/comprehension left? My GMIL survived at that stage for the best part of eight years, and there were frequent ‘is this it?’ hospital visits. As an only child, she was the only visitor, and she did delay/curtail holidays to deal with this but it made her a nervous wreck over time. That said, pneumonia and 96 would make me think that it was time for both of his sons to come home, it’s not called the old person’s friend for no reason.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to visit him a little when your husband is away (presumably he’s not awake every week), but it is unreasonable for your husband to expect so much more of you. There should be no car/hide admin if you’re working and he’s retired, surely? And I can see why you snapped if he rang when he did, but equally I can imagine him not clicking the local time. How long have you been married?

stopfuckingshoutingatme Fri 10-Nov-17 06:38:18

I don't know here sad

Your husband screwed up he clearly wanted and needed a break and now it's gone tits up and you are having to carry the load which isn't fair either

I think you will get more sense talking properly to your DH than a bunch of strangers on here to be honest

FunderAnna Fri 10-Nov-17 07:46:43

I think when my husband returns I shall suggest that he doesn't take trips abroad or make overnight stays between now and Xmas.

It seems increasingly unlikely that my father in law's life will last much longer.

It certainly isn't difficult to visit my father in law in his care home which is nearby.

However communication with the hospital - when he is admitted there -is difficult. It's a very large city hospital and they keep moving him from ward to ward. Getting even the most minimal information over the phone - which ward is he in - is almost impossible, and finding out about his condition is completely impossible for me. (Also when one does see my father in law there, the environment increases his confusion so nothing he says about what's going on is likely to be very accurate.) My husband who has Power of Attorney can find out more, but even when he goes to visit locating someone who know what is being planned is frequently very very hard.

I can understand that my husband does want/has wanted to keep other bits of his life going at present, because - as others have said - when dementia becomes severe (and physical decline has also set in - it really as if the personality of the ill person has gone. And some people do hang on for a very very long time, which makes it hard for the closest relative . Do they put their own life on hold?

But it's hard. The tone of his message last night - despite the apology - was one of a person who felt sorry for himself.

I don't think we can really have a very meaningful conversation till he returns - or maybe not even for a day or so after he returns - when things will have calmed down a bit.

He's very 'operational' - hence faffing about about the car on the phone last night. Less good at talking about the emotional impact of all this.

AshGirl Fri 10-Nov-17 07:51:16

What a difficult situation flowers

I do think it is unfair for you to be asked to take on this emotional labour on top of your full time job. Your FIL sounds very ill and your DH should really have cancelled his trip to ensure that his dad’s care is managed properly. Your DH does deserve a break as well, but it seems to me that his dad’s needs have to take priority at this time.

Crumbs1 Fri 10-Nov-17 08:05:05

You are choosing to visit though. He is in a Care home so doesn’t technically need daily visits. Plenty of elderly people in hospitals without daily visitors. It is you creating the need and setting yourself the task of ‘ caring’. I have a frail, blind 92 year old mother who lives alone without carers. We visit a lot but not necessarily daily.

If I’m honest, it sounds like you are jealous of your husband’s full and interesting retirement activities. It sounds like the suggestion he doesn’t go away is about your needs not your father in laws. Yes, he might die soon but then old people with pneumonia do. Life can’t necessa stop for that.
Do you retire soon and have you activities lined up? Can’t you go abroad with him sometimes?

He sounds like his worked quite hard over his father sorting care homes and getting him moved. Up to him whether he priories his father. We don’t know what relationship was like or how hard it is for him to face his father’s mortality.

bastardkitty Fri 10-Nov-17 08:08:39

Oh dear Crumbs1 - that's not very nice is it?

Laiste Fri 10-Nov-17 09:02:26

That's really unpleasant crumbs. It sounds as if the OP is doing her best to facilitate her DHs time off.

If I’m honest, it sounds like you are jealous of your husband’s full and interesting retirement activities. It sounds like the suggestion he doesn’t go away is about your needs not your father in laws. ... He sounds like his worked quite hard over his father sorting care homes and getting him moved. Up to him whether he priories his father.

It is up to the DH weather he priorotises his father, but he's delegating the caring of his DF to his wife, leaving her to do the prioritising. Now his father has taken a turn for the worse I would say it's very likely that the old man wont survive the pneumonia, and while ''Life can’t necessarily stop'' as you say, for that it's not on to carry on with your jollies and leave your spouse to deal with it all.

Crumbs1 Fri 10-Nov-17 09:09:24

Unpleasant? No, it’s pointing out it’s her choice. She doesn’t need to do any of it: she is choosing to ( which is kind and compassionate) but which also seems to be causing resentment.
The answer is probably to step back a little and do some things for herself instead of moaning about her lot.

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