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Thread: Fathers, husbands, brothers

  1. #1

    Fathers, husbands, brothers

    Wise and Bob made these observations re how men express their feelings toward their family members' conditions.

    "I worry about fathers. Very often, they cannot express their grief. They cannot cry or tell their son/daughter or wife about their feelings. Many fathers become seriously depressed because they have no outlet for their feelings. The emotions often redirect themselves in the form of anger and avoidance.

    Wise."

    **********
    From BigBob:

    "What you say is true, for most fathers. In this thread, so far, the only other post by a male was Chris. I don't know why this is, could it be that men don't do well at expressing feelings, and therefor people don't even pay attention to or embrace a father in pain."

    ******

    I've often noted that although we have had men posting in Caregivers, the forum has been driven mainly by women. I do wish it was a bit more evensided, but am wondering if it truly is more difficult for men to express their anger and grief, and even admittance to their family members' disabilities.

    My husband, who is Matt's stepdad, had been involved in Matt's life since his very early teens, and had developed a close relationship with him, being part friend, 'big brother', and step-dad. When Matt was injured, it was me who crumbled emotionally; husband was there for me, making arrangements to travel, and folding me in his arms to support me. While I was dealing with the day to day horrors of acute care, my husband was the one on line, researching spinal cord injury, learning about rehabilitation, spinal anatomy, and what it was all going to mean to our lives.

    It wasn't that he wasn't in as much pain as I; his outlet for that pain was just different. I've seen him cry; I've heard him offer 'his left nut' if that would make Matt walk; I've seen his anger and frustration at seemingly small problems, and the knowledge he has suffered as much 'caregiver burnout' as I have. He would manifest that by working out with the punching bag, or by trying to 'fix' it. It's only recently in the past year or two, that his expressions of grief and anger have been able to come to the front of our conversations.

    I've also seen fathers in rehab who are in such denial that they actually can't cope with even seeing their child; they never came to visit, wouldn't partake in the education sessions, and wanted nothing to do with those of us who had been through rehab and had been home for a while. I even saw one divorced father who sent his son to live with the mother, after the son had been living with him for 6 years. He couldn't face the pain.

    I wonder how much the rehab centers are addressing fathers'/husband's needs as different from moms/wives' needs. I wonder how we can reach out more to the men, let them know it's okay to cry; okay to be angry; okay to feel helpless; okay to acknowledge that this isn't something they can 'fix', like a leaky roof or squeaky floorboard. I wonder how we can embrace the men, and help them open a bit more, and find their own peace.

    _____________
    Tough times don't last - tough people do.

  2. #2
    I think the old family setup where the father worked and the mother took care of the children is why we are addressing this topic. People still give advice and support according to that old family system. Today even in intact families, sometimes both parents work and share duties in the house and both provide the needed care for children.

  3. #3
    Bob, what you say is true, that there has been a 'shift' in men's and women's 'roles' in society as well as in the family. But I think that underneath all that sharing duties, and both people working to support the household, that at the core, men are men and women are women. Not a disparaging comment at all - I just mean that at the very core of our genetic makeup, men are the 'hunters' and women are the 'gatherers'. In the modern world, when something goes wrong, men want to fix it or 'hunt' it, to make it better. Women are more likely to 'gather', both emotionally and in day to day physical things.

    Of course there is a crossover - women are assuming more 'male' roles as they enter the workplace, and have to fight - i.e.'hunt' - for job position, etc. Men are discovering a nurturing side to themselves, as they assume more duties normally associated with women, i.e. sharing home chores and child rearing.

    But I believe all those 'cave-people' subtlies are still there in our psyches, and that's wonderful - it is as it should be. No woman, no matter how 'liberated' would say she didn't like the feel of her man's strong arms around her, and the feeling of being protected. No man, even the greatest 'house-husband', would say he didn't appreciate his woman doing something special just for him.


    You are right, tho, in that society - the social workers, docs, etc., that we work with are far more likely to want dad's input in terms of mechanical management issues, and mom's input in day to day matters. Each is a part of the whole; professionals need to see both sides of each family member, and address them as a unit.

    _____________
    Tough times don't last - tough people do.

  4. #4
    I would have liked to see a little more response to this topic. Maybe that in itself means there should be more understanding of the needs of a father who is a caregiver. I went this alone as I am a single parent.
    bob

  5. #5
    Hi, Bob,

    Maybe you can be the icebreaker here. Can you tell us what you felt your needs were as a single dad caregiver? Or how you handled all the overwhelming emotions as your son's condition unfolded? Do you feel you're dealing with it better now than at first? How do you as a guy, deal with 'caregiver burnout'?

    Hell, even if this topic is just you and I, I'm interested and curious - and I care.

    Jackie

    _____________
    Tough times don't last - tough people do.

  6. #6
    Jackie you are very sweet and I appreciate knowing that you care. In a way its good that the topics on boob size and penis size and how the hair is arranged around them are getting hits, rather than this topic. It means that for the most part these people are able to forget about their problems at least for a while. As for myself, it is almost six years post(son's sci). By now I have learned how to deal with the issues that come up. I thought this might be a good topic for someone early on. I would definitely be interested in sharing my experiences. BTW HAPPY THANKSGIVING. I'm going to try your "Bourbon/Maple/Pecan sweet potatoes"' sounds delicious

  7. #7
    Since I've taken so much from this site, I thought i would give back a little. I'll apologize upfront if this gets too long and for spelling.

    I am a married(21 years)father of 2 boys. We are a very close family and always include the kids in our plans. Whether it is a game of golf or a weekend away at someone's cabin, the kids are included. I was raised by a very good mom who taught me that "if you have enough time to have kid's, you should have enough time to look after them".

    My oldest son was injured Jan.1, 2002. T4 Complete ASIA A. I received the news my son was in a snowmobile accident while I was at work. At the time I was preparing an eulogy for my brother who died Dec.27, 2001. Only 4 months earlier I had lost my best friend Rocky(my dog, 5 yrs old) to cancer. So as you can see our family already had a plateful.

    I left work and went to the local hospital to meet up with my family and it was decided to transport my son to Winnipeg. Upon our arrival, we met the neurosurgeon who gave us the news that it was very serious and our son should be fine but, because his cord was SEVERED he will never walk again. "He will NEVER walk again" Man, those 5 words. All the memories of him first walking, running, skating riding bike all of them played on and on in my mind. Cry? Like a baby. Not only for our son but for the friend who ran into him. Pray to God? (and I am not an overly religious man) Like never before. I understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people but this was getting to be a bit much.

    My son spent the next 7 days in intensive care and during this time we we're introduced to a different neurosurgeon, Dr.M Johnson, who had a different attitude than the first doc we met. When we asked what our son's chances are, he said, " Listen, I don't know what the future holds as far as walking, so let's just worry about repairing his broken spine." He then went on to explain the operation, the risks and potential outcome. He had a calming effect on my wife and I that was kind of eerie. Was this Doctor the answer to our prayers? Why all of a sudden change doctors? Seems like anything positive that happened was an act of GOD. Silly? time will tell.

    For some reason, just before my son was to undergoe surgery, I saw Dr. J and said to him" If you treat my son like he was your own, we will have nothing to worry about". Five hours later, after surgery, he approached us that he was very pleased with how things went. My wife asked him what condition his cord was in and he told us it was intact, not severed but contused and had a few nicks on the dura. This can't be true? We we're told his cord was severed. Not so, he says. This is the first time I can remember being angry. Why would the first doctor tell us his cord was severed when it wasn't?(or was it?) You know maybe God didn't heal my son but, he never took him away from me either. For this, I'm thankful and this is how we looked at this whole thing. Thankful for what we have.

    I spent the first 31 days at his bedside and only saw my other son when he came to visit or had a basketball game in the city. He was far beyond his 14 years. The step down unit staff were the absolute tops. I can't praise them enough. They certainly looked after my son like he was their own. What more could you ask? The care at the spinal rehab unit was something else and I won't go into details here.

    When I finally felt okay with leaving to go home for a night or two, I started, like most I guess, on the internet. Found all the same things that others find. Then found CareCure. I have armed myself with so much info from this site. I have taken hundreds of pages in print to rehab and asked "why isn't my son on a standing table or why aren't you using treadmill/ pool therapy on my son?" "Didn't you promise me you were going to treat him like your own?" Believe me, I don't think they were generally happy to see me in the gym. But I knew enough of my son's program and weightlifting that they didn't need to set him up. I was like free help. I certainly didn't mind.

    The thing that made me the most angry was whenever I was not around, the physiotherapists would take the opportunity to fill my son's head with everything negative about SCI. No hope so just get on with it. Bone density? No need for you to worry about that.

    I understand the need for checklist rehab 'cuz for the time being, this is his life. All we wanted was what other parts of the world were doing for their children.

    My son was finally discharged May 21st, day after my b'day. Since then he has completed high school, we have been to France twice and his postive outlook makes life good. We still go fishing (had to buy a bigger boat) and his buddies still haul his but out for a movie or a game of Texas hold'em. He continues to workout daily. He has not had any major health issues since his discharge and actually has been healthier. I'm as proud of him now as I was when I watched him score his first goal or came home with his first "A". I cannot wait until the day when I get him back on the golf course and teach him some more lessons.
    All in all, life is pretty good. It's much better that the alternative.

    Lway

    GO BRUINS

  8. #8
    Iway, thanks for the story.

    Best of luck to your son and his/your recovery.

    That first doc sounds a liitle ignorant and arrogant - bad combination, but all too common especially, I've found, in sci. Its usually due to old school thinking. And CC definitely isn't old school.

  9. #9
    The best way to describe my feelings when my son came home from the hospital was mixed. I was so happy he was home and able to do his own things in the privacy and comfort of his own home. And, at the same time I was overwhelmed. I did not know if I could provide him with the care that he needed. I didn't know if I would know how to take care of his needs. I felt that after his month in Children's Hospital was over, they had released him and expected that I be like a trained professional. I was scared and felt alone. I was a single parent and in addition there was the responsible for paying the bills. First we went to his High School to discuss his return to class. I found I needed to build a ramp if the bus was to pick him up. I built it myself and told my son I would rent a chainsaw so we could tear it down when he could walk again. 6 years later it is still up. This brings me to another important issue with recovery. In the beginning there was that period when you wait to see what return of function he would have. It was like a roller coaster ride. As, a parent you don't want to give up hope and you want your son to have every possible treatment available. But, then comes the time when you must let go a little and let him go on with his life. I can see where some parents can make their children feel that they are not whole because of their inability to accept their child's condition.
    I remember about 2 weeks after he had come home we went to the movies. When we went to be seated the usher had the lights turned on and made an announcement that people should please move over because their is a handicapped person coming thru. I still don't remember what picture we saw. That night my son said he would never go to the movies again.
    In school there was not one handicap bathroom. I had called the school and they acted like I was not being reasonable asking them to update their facility. In away that was a wakeup call. After that I became an advocate.(SEE MY POSTS ON WHEELCHAIR SPORTS) I found out that there is a lot of help and support out there, but it doesn't find you-You have to find it and sometimes you might feel like you are in an endless loop, but you have to go on. When I make a call I found this very helpful-Most organizations will send you somewhere else with not even understanding what you need. I approach them this way." I know you may not be the right place for my needs, but being you are knowledgeable and involved in this field can I take just one minute of your time to explain my situation so you can direct me to the right person. It works like a gem.
    The single most important thing was for my son and myself to be with other people in the same situation. We had gone to an Abilities Expo. My son was almost at the age of being licensed to drive a car. We looked at hand controls. He was so excited. We were able to talk openly about cathing and etc. It was a relief to see the attendants manning the booths having a matter of fact attitude about that subject. Another very helpful activity was wheelchair sports. Being the best parent one could not expect to be able to share on the level of a peer in the same circumstance. This is a very important point. As a parent we must realize our limits. We cannot kiss this boo boo and make it go away. By being in the sports program my son has gotten valuable information that would be impossible for me to give to him. He also now attends movies frequently. He races, plays wheelchair basketball, drives a car, flies all over the country for sports meets, he dates, attends college, loves to mono-ski. To be continued.......
    bob

  10. #10
    Iway I don't know that the therapists were doing a disservice. If I remember correctly in the beginning there was no alternative, but that of walking. Thank god they prepared my son with some acceptance. Please understand one of my main reasons for coming to carecure is to see what's doing on the cure front. It was nice to hear your story and see that fathers have been involved.
    bob

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