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Dealing with depression

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My 70 year old father was diagnosed several months ago with nsclc, stage 3b. Since then, he has been on chemo...no surgery.

He has been anemic during most of his time on chemo, and has had a Procrit injection twice to boost his numbers.

My question is this: How do you distinguish between depression and fatigue? I feel that his fatigue CAUSES him depression, in that he is unable to do anything that he did before. Even small tasks, or trips to the store wear him out. If any of us offer to do any yard work, or any of "his" old tasks, he is angry, and short with us. So....many of the daily chores go undone. And he is sleeping, and sleeping, and sleeping (when he's not awake being grumpy).

Meanwhile....his cancer is, at best, "stable". It has not grown during these 3 months, but no shrinking either. My dad is one of those "get in and get it done" kind of guys. I think he is hoping to treat this, and move on and get back into life. I don't see it happening that way.

We are all struggling here. My parents have no support system, spiritually or otherwise. I have my church, and friends I can go to, and, of course, my faith. They are alone in their dark hole. I am the only child here in town, and I call and visit often.

I see my mother's mood eb and flow with his, and it is so disheartening! I don't know how to "encourage" them, if this is what his life is going to be like from now on. I can tell you, it is no life......and it makes me question whether or not he should be going through all of this chemo to only draw out the suffering.

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My suggestion on the chores that are going undone because he is unable to do them and unwilling to let someone else - just help him and let him take a 'break' whenever he needs to. He'll feel more an active participant and the chore will be done.

My surgeon stressed that no matter what, I had to get out of bed every morning, get dressed and cleaned up. Didn't matter if I spent the rest of the day parked on the couch, I still had to get up and not waste away in the bedroom in my pajamas for weeks on end. Poke him with a stick every now and then, make sure he's moving. Don't baby him, I've heard men don't like that. :roll:

Good luck on the eggshell walk.

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Thank you, Snowflake. That is good advice. I guess I'll just wait for him to feel somewhat up to doing some things. I know it is a struggle for him in that he doesn't want to be useless, and it hurts his pride to have anybody doing things for him.

Right now, he has zero energy. He does get up every day, and shower and eat. But often that is as far as he gets. I am hoping that this does get better once this chemo is finished. He may start on a different chemo or Tarceva after this.

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would a change in diet help maybe? Not saying this is the answer but might help boost the blood counts. The white cells are for the immune system and the red blood cells are for the energy level. I can understand somewhat how he feels. I am not a patient but I was a caregiver. My late wife had good and bad days also. You dont want to waste away while your trying to get better, and its better to do what Ya can when ya can also. It reinforces your being per se! Gives ya a feeling of accomplishment. Maybe Ya can get hm to help with some things. Men don't like to be pampered or at least I don't.. We are used to being the provider and the backbone of the family system. When we can not do things for ourselves we lose that ability and have to turn the control over to someone else to be the family backbone and provider and that hurt our self esteem. This could be whats going on with dad right now! HE is realizing he can not be the provider for the family that he once was and it is getting him down. Does not like to lose that control aspect!!

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It's so hard to say with him. He's diabetic, so he is also going through lots of sugar highs and lows (regardless of how he eats). The chemo really messes him up in this area. He hasn't lost an incredible amount of weight. When his appetite started going, his oncologist put him on an appetite stimulant, and that's been a Godsend. He and Mom eat out quite often, as he never knows what he'll be in the mood for.

I can see the whole "man pride" issue working on him, and it's so depressing. He has always been the strong one, and the one who takes care of everything. I understand how he feels, I guess. It just feels like we've lost him, already, in many ways. It's amazing how fast life can change on you!

I'm just hoping and praying that he'll be able to get back into life at some point. Will let you know how the weekend goes.....

Thank you!

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If there are caregiver support groups in their area, can you encourage your Mom to go to one? Even if it is sitting around knitting or making holiday cards? Something for her to be able to talk with others, get out of the house, and get some support. She needs to have a life apart from caring for your Father, even if it is a couple of hours a week. Maybe she can go to a gym for "silver sneakers" exercise or yoga or swimming?

This doesn't answer what to do for him, but she also needs some care.


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