Suicide and Huntington’s Disease

My dad attempted suicide today.

Sitting in the ER looking down at his frail body… his long eye lashes plastered up on his eye lips, snoring like he’s having the best sleep in 10 years, I am contemplating how he’ll feel when he wakes up. Will he be angry with our success at saving his life? Will he attempt to rip his IVs from his arms and flee? Have we taken away his right to somehow stop his suffering? Will we have to re-live that painful year (8 years ago) when we had to slowly medicinally “balance” my father through large doses of Hadol and Depicote at a 24/7 lock down nursing facility?

5 days ago my mom called me and said that my father was blaming her for poisoning him with her insulin. She explained that she has insulin shipped to their home for her diabetes. This week she had received a double order by mistake. My dad started blaming her for poisoning him and said that he wanted to be admitted into a nursing home. She asked me to come over and talk some sense into him.

Knowing how to talk to the “irrational” version that my father had become, I knew that I had to be creative. I pulled up a chair to kitchen table. I could see that his chorea had come back with full force as it often did when he was really stressed out. His hand tapping nervously against his leg, his eyes filling with tears of frustration. I looked at him and said “I don’t care how long it takes you to get the words out dad. I am here to listen.” He looked at me and said, “You promise you will remember.” He knows that I am struggling with my own memory issues. I grabbed a pad of paper from the kitchen and showed him that I would write it all down. He slowly and painfully explained his long list of woes…ranging from how he felt weak and could barely bathe himself to the fact that he was worried that mom could no longer take care of him. She had her own bought of health issues and he said that he couldn’t trust her to even order his medications for him. I asked him about his feelings towards her poisoning him. He said that he felt that way because he was having all of these new troubles …large difficulty with communication, weakness, trouble sleeping. I brought out my phone and googled “is insulin poisonous?” I showed him several articles how insulin is broken down in stomach acid and this is why people with Diabetes have to take injections for it to be effective. I told him that it wasn’t possible that he was poisoned and more importantly, mom would never do that in the first place. He explained that he was worried that my sister and brother in-law were going to kill him with a new gun that they just bought.

I suggested that he work with his doctor and mom to see if he could take a tweak in his medication. He agreed and made an appointment last Tuesday. We also discussed working with an occupational therapist. He looked at me and said “ I don’t think any of this is going to work. I am going to die this year.” I explained the new advancements in medical treatment trial studies. I said “Dad if you die this year, you could miss out on some very exciting treatments coming. Please hang in there!”

He agreed to work with mom and his doctors. That was 5 days ago.

Today he wrote a letter. It said “I don’t want to live anymore. Huntington’s Sucks.” He swallowed a full bottle of Resperidone, a full bottle of Divalproex, and a full bottle of Clonazepam.

I see a lot of my dad in myself. I love my life. Every single moment. I know that my father had this same love of life at one time. He prided himself on his ability to provide for his wife and daughters. He was our rock and our strength. What Huntington’s has done to my dad has robbed him of this love and desire. It has robbed him of his manhood, his human need to communicate, his freedom.

My mom and I talked today about how people would perceive my father after this incident.  I think that most would feel sorry for him.  My mom struggles with a huge sense of guilt and failure.  She explained no matter how many times people tell her “there’s a large risk of suicide attempts for people with HD,” it doesn’t matter.  She feels guilty.  She feels heartbroken.

Now he lays in a hospital bed and sleeps. What’s to come? I don’t know. Our story will continue and for now all I can do is open my heart to your words of advice.

Love,

Mackenzie

*Share with me privately through mackenz76@aol.com or comment through this blog.

Love,

Mackenzie

15 thoughts on “Suicide and Huntington’s Disease

  1. Your story is so sad and touching. maybe people will feel sorry for you dad after this and maybe they won’t. But all that matters is how you, your mom and family look at him. Be as supporting as you can and reach out for help. I am thinking of you and your family.

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  2. I’m so sorry for what you are going through Mackenzie. Sending my prayers to you, Jesse, your beautiful mom, and of course your sweet dad during this tough time.

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  3. Mackenzie, I am heartbroken while reading this. I am so sorry your family is living this hellish nightmare! Praying your family can gain strength through each other. Please know that I’m down the street if you ever want to talk, escape or just need a friend. All my prayers going out to you, your mom, Jesse and especially your dad. (((Hugs)))

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  4. life is so cruel and ironic, while all you can focus on is fighting this incredibly difficult battle as a family, you are inspiring more people than you will ever know to keep going, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. prayers with all battling HD

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  5. Beautifully written…my husband’s father and his youngest brother both have Huntington’s.
    He has always told me…we will not see him suffer, he will end his life before he can’t cope. He is symptom free and has not been tested. Time will tell…much love to you!

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  6. I met you this year at Dallas and your blog posts affirms my admiration and awe of you and the spirit you shine. The description of your conversation with your dad 5 days ago fully shows the importance of giving someone HD time to speak. I really hope this second chance brings a new hope to your dad and your family.

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  7. Your words and story are beautiful and heart wrenching. You did a wonderful thing for your dad, taking the time to really hear him. He needed that.

    I just lost my husband to HD 2 months ago. I struggle every day with his decision to forgo further hospital care and enroll in hospice. Eventually, his next pneumonia led to his death. I struggle with with-holding treatment, but those were his wishes. Did he come to that decision because he saw his care getting harder on me or because his weakness was so much harder on him. I will not ever know.

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  8. My prayers are with you and your family. May God grant you the comfort and peace you each need to deal with Huntington’s disease.

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  9. I am so sorry for you and your family. My mom is 65 and has Huntingtons, so I truly understand what you are talking about. Prayers for you and your dad

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  10. Mackenzie I am so sorry to here about your sweet father. His life is so difficult and he feels out of control. my prayers are with all of you as always. Hugs. Karen

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  11. Hi Mackenzie, I feel for you and your Mum, I remember my sister thinking I was going to kill her, and yet at the time I and my husband were travelling 400 miles every six weeks to see her, I am sure she knew we loved her deep down, and she is now at peace. Xxx

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  12. Mackenzie, so sorry to hear about your dad. I can only imagine how tough it is for you, your family and your dad to be battling HD. 😢. As you know, I do know what it’s like to lose loved ones to suicide… From my perspective, I am glad you saved your dad and that you will have more time with him. I know it’s super tough, and I also know that having him here with HD is better than not having him here at all. I can’t know, but can guess how hopeless he was feeling… I hope he recuperates enough to see and remember that he is loved and wanted, despite the frustration and injustice of HD. Love you, love your dad and the whole family! Xoxo.

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  13. Thinking of you and your dad. Huntington’s is tough on everyone. I think it takes someone special like you to really listen to your dad. I think your dad is probably disappointed in the way his life is ending with that big list if can mots maybe focus more on what he has left.

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