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When dear ol’ dad is dying - A I T A?

AlmostGone834's picture

A dear old friend of ours is in end stage kidney disease. He has dialysis treatments 3x/week which basically is the only thing keeping him alive. He's in his early 50s and has a son the same age as Little Idiot (SD22). No other family except for an older sister who lives across the country. He's been divorced for decades and never remarried. 

Periodically DH and I catch up with him and see how he's doing. We've been hounding him for over a year to get on a donor list for a transplant but he claims he is unable to go because he can't drive due to vision loss from uncontrolled diabetes, (he hires a private ride company to take him to dialysis). Also he would need someone to go to him to the numerous appointments required before he's eligible to be put on the list.

Last time we spoke with him, I suggested his son could perhaps take him? He said no, because his son just got a job with the highway department and didn't have the time to take off. Frustrated, I commented that that is BS and his son should make time, since you know, his life depends on it. He didn't disagree but gave a noncommittal "yes it's very difficult" answer. 

AITA? I'm sorry perhaps I overstepped my boundaries (DH thinks so) (maybe being a stepparent will do that) but to me no job is worth your parent's life and he loved his son. He was the proverbial Disney Daddy. Proud of his little clone, life revolved around this kid. He did all that he could for him and was super involved in his life. And now? Where is Junior when Daddy needs him? 


Aniki-Moderator's picture

That's frustrating, but... Is it possible your friend does not want to get on the donor list because he's ready to die?

AlmostGone834's picture

I've considered this but he's so young? I mean early 50s... and if so, why not just stop dialysis all together? It makes him terribly sick and tired all the time. His quality of life is not the best

la_dulce_vida's picture

It's hard to understand the reasons people do what they want to do, but he's an adult and can decide for himself.

I wouldn't judge the kid too harshly. The kid has probably TRIED but this guy sounds stubborn and wants to do this HIS way. And maybe he sees going for a transplant as too risky or a bad investment given that it's possible his lifestyle led him to this poor state of health - a transplant will give him a new organ to destroy if he's not managing his health well.

And if he thinks he's on his way out, he likely feels it's best if his son keeps a good job so he doesn't have to worry if the kid can take care of himself when he's gone.

My partner is a stubborn SOB and I can tell you if he was in the same poor health as your friend, he would not pursue all options and would not be a good patient. He would refuse help or helpful suggestions. He would do it his way. We have to respect that.

barbKarin's picture

I dont think its fair to judge in these situations because most of us are slaves to our jobs just to be able to eat and have a roof over our heads. And grtting time off is very difficult.

Some countries have programs that offer free rides for patients. 

I blame the system.

Tried out's picture

my kids in this situation. I don't want them to have to sacrifice the quality of their lives, use up their PTO, etc. to take care of me. I just have a horror of being dependent. If it was just a one off it would be different, maybe. 

stepmomnorth's picture

I think that your heart is in the right place, but it probably a decision that would be made between the two of them personally. I guess.. Who knows the reason he doesn't want to push for the transplant. It could be a personal reason. Without knowing... It's hard to say one way or another. 

advice.only2's picture

Some people are just in hard denial, some are too proud to ask for help.  Some think it's a private matter and refuse to get charity, others think somebody else will figure it out for them.  Whatever this mans motivation or choices, they are his.

Livingoutloud's picture

He doesn't want to be on a donor list. His reasons don't matter. It also doesn't really matter thst you feel he must get treatments or be on donor lists.

Also just because he doesnt want a transplant doesn't mean he should quit dialysis.  Quitting dialysis will lead to a very painful suffering, perhaps he's not ready for that but it doesn't mean he wants a transplant.

Him not asking his son or his son not taking days off work might just be an excuse he gives you so you leave him alone. Some wotk places refuse to give days off and fire for taking days off for any reasons but we don't really know if that's the case. He might be just telling you that 

you aren't an a,,, as you mean well but you need to back off. He isn't a child and he'll do what feels right for him. 


ESMOD's picture

The only thing further you could do is offer to be the ride he needs... It may not be at all possible for his son to take the time off without some real consequences to his career/finances.. etc. and yeah.. his dad's life but being homeless could be his reality if he doesn't go to work.. and his dad may not be able to stomach doing that to his son....

If your friend truly wanted to pursue this.... he would make it happen.  It might be that he gathers a network of friends and family to do the transport.  It might be that he gets a church or charity to step in.. or a public transit service.. (we live in a fairly rural area.. and there is a transit that would be able to provide rides like this.. through a county cooperative initiative).

Now.. he may well be depressed by his diagnosis.. prognosis.. and be incapable of doing anything for himself like that.

Again.. if he did want to pursue it.. would you be willing to orgainize all of it for him.. do the research.. make the calls.. make sure it happens?  perhaps neither he nor his son are savvy enough to figure it out.. maybe they don't see options. maybe your friend has not been honest with his son.. doesn't want to be a burden. 

unfortunately.. these are not black/white issues.. and acting like his son is cold and callous is probably not helpful to him right now.. even if it may be the case. your friend needs comfort now.. not reasons to feel worse.

So.. I guess bottom line is you could ask if YOU could help him organize the transportation he needs.. if you can't do that? You have to let him make his own decisions on how he moves forward... or not.

Livingoutloud's picture

Yes to all this. I have a single friend who has no family and I drive her to procedures when she's not able to or need someone. That's all we could really do. Offer help. Bu if people don't want help or refuse treatment, we can't force it 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Someone with uncontrolled diabetes, vision loss, and dialysis 3x a week needs more than just someone to drive them back and forth to appointments. Your friend needs nursing care, whether that be at home or in a nursing facility. His son would have to quit his job to be his dad's full-time caretaker, and that's not feasible for most people, especially when you don't know how long you'll need to be doing it for.

Additionally, the uncontrolled diabetes is likely also what is killing his kidneys. He may not be eligible for a kidney transplant. If his diabetes is uncontrolled due to his lifestyle choices, he wouldn't be eligible until he made changes. If his diabetes is uncontrolled because this is the natural progression for him of this disease, this may be a terminal illness that a new kidney won't fix (also makes him ineligible).

Lastly, being a Disney Dad who loves their kid doesn't make them a good dad. It also doesn't mean that how he behaved behind closed doors was reflected in that outward appearance. His son may have very legitimate reasons for not wanting to help his dad (and that could also be expanded to his dad not taking care of himself and his son thinking it's a futile effort to try and help if his dad just wants to wither away). There are dynamics at play that you likely don't have the full background on, and sh*tting on a dying man's son is probably not bringing him any comfort. Nor does it fix the situation.

So, yeah. A-hole move to say something. If you think saying it links back to being jaded from steplife, I highly recommend disengaging further and talking this through in therapy. And I recommend apologizing to the friend and offering to help him in some way that you feel he is being neglected.

CLove's picture

But I think your intentions are a little off the mark. What I mean is that I think you are projecting step experiences on to your friend.

Maybe reserve some judgement until you have more info.

Thumper's picture

Yep, you are. LOL

Your heart was in the right place---I believe.

My gut tells me, he knows his condition is poor, he also knows that his adult son MUST keep his job or son's life will fall apart for months and years to come. 

You can offer to bring meals, OR cook meals ahead for freezer/microwave use?, Grocery shop? clean his house, run him to appointments 1 or 2x a week. Mow his grass? Stuff like that

I would avoid future conversations about his family matters moving forward. Other than niceties.

Sorry about your friend.  I know his illness hurts you. You do what you CAN do,  to help him on HIS terms, not your terms. 









ESMOD's picture

I know of two people recently who ended up passing from consequences of ignoring diabetes issues.. one was only 45.  There were addiction/alcohol issues with both of them.. and if that could be at all a factor.. this man just may not be able to "fix" himself.. 

Crr18's picture

My husband had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He did treatments for 3 months. He was in excruciating pain. He knew it was terminal.  He decided to quit treatments.  I was lucky enough that we both worked at the same company for years and they felt at least some sympathy for us. I had to stop work for almost an entire month because he didn't want me to leave his side and I was too tired to do any work. But most places will not allow this. So your friend probably doesn't want his son to lose his job.  I can see why you say family comes before work but weather the son quits to take care of him or not with all of his health conditions it seems the outcome will be the same and then the son will have issues since if he doesn't have a job.