by Seneca on Thu May 06, 2010 11:25 AM
My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early April. He had a stent placed in his bile duct to adddress jaundice and got an infection from that procedure. As a result, he spent almost three weeks in the hospital fighting the infection. He was finally released to a subacute rehabilitation center but was labeled as non-compliant while in the hospital. He didn't want to do the breathing exercise (blow through tube) that would help prevent pneumonia (which thankfully he never got) and he was supposed to walk three times a day and barely did it once a day. He just wanted to spend all day in bed. Said he was always too tired.
He had massive swelling in his feet, legs, arms, hands, and stomach making the situation worse and him very uncomfortable. He barely ate (and eating has always been one of his favorite things.)
We could not get him into any decent rehab center and he ended up in what was really a nursing home with mostly mentally challenged older patients suffering from some form of dementia. The place was incredibly depressing and rundown.
We finally got him into a state of the art rehab center two days ago and he is now eating a little better but still very reluctant to do his physical therapy.
The surgeon won't operate on him until he is back to his prior full strength and able to walk without a walker and climb a flight of stairs. Now my father was rather sedentary before his diagnosis but how can I help him try harder to do his physical therapy 2-3 times a day? They think his tumor is small right now but growing with each passing day and I fell like we are in a rush to get him back on his feet so he can have the Whipple procedure.
I know he is not making up that he is tired all the time. But I also see that when he really wants to, he can get up and walk (e.g. to the bathroom or to get out of a wheelchair to get back into bed).
Has anyone ever experienced this with a loved one and have medications helped to give people more energy to get them back in shape? I am sure he is depressed and frightened but I don't want to see him miss his chance at a possibly life-saving operation because he can't get back on his feet. The doctors all seem to think he has it in him to recover and its up to him now to fight his way back.
by Roselvr on Thu May 06, 2010 11:47 AM
~Hugs.. my dad was the same way. I was the only one that could get my dad to even sit up; we also walked. If I missed a day, he stayed in bed.
I can't stress how important it is to get him up, out of bed and at least sitting in a chair instead of the bed. At one point, my dad had fluid in his lungs; Dr told me he would not take the fluid out again.
Can you get a card writing capaigne going? Have everyone send him cards, then bring some ribbon to his room, thumb tack the ribbon on the wall & hang the cards. Print out pictures of his loved ones so he can remember who loves him.
Does anyone visit him on a regular basis?
by cep123 on Thu May 06, 2010 12:02 PM
Is there a social worker or psychologist on staff that could talk to your dad and maybe make a recommendation for an anti-depressant? He could be depressed due to all the time in the hospital and the diagnosis...medication could take the edge off enough to help him find some motivation...some older adults are unwilling to do this but it can be such a big help...
by Joan_l_3 on Thu May 06, 2010 01:36 PM
There are some meds that the docs can prescribe for your father to help motivate him to get out of bed, give him more energy and also perk up his appetite.
If your state of residence allows medical marijuana, ask the docs to prescribe some for him. It works wonders for the appetite and also helps for depression in many cases. He shouldn't smoke it; it's much more effective in food. If your state doesn't recognize mj, there is Marinol, a legal form of mj in pill form which is not as effective but better than nothing.
For fatigue and low energy, there is Provigil. The docs can prescribe this as well; he shouldn't take it after 3:00 PM so he won't be kept awake at night.
Many pc patients fight depression and anti-depressants are effective for most. Most take at least a few weeks to work.
Some pc patients who can't eat regular food will drink smoothies made from Carnation Instant Breakfast and enhanced with fruit, protein powder, no-added sugar ice cream or other supplements. Ensure or Boost is acceptable to some patients.
Lastly, does he have a minister who perhaps could speak with him about the importance of getting stronger so he will be able to have the life-saving Whipple surgery. The minister could point out that the Lord is giving him this chance to save his life, that He considers him important and that He must have some further work for him to do in this life. Does he really want to say 'No' to the Lord?
by Seneca on Fri May 07, 2010 05:16 PM
Thanks to everyone who has replied.
He is so hard to figure out. The report from my Mom this morning was that the nurses said he refused to do his morning therapy at first and refused to take his meds even. He finally agreed to do a little therapy later and he did eat but no one understands why he would refuse his meds. When I called at noon today, I heard him humming in the background which he has only ever done when he is in a good mood?!??!?!?! He is an enigma for sure! He then got mad at my Mom when she gave me the report on how he behaved this morning. So I don't know if this is an issue of control, mood swings, or who knows what.
To answer some of your questions and comments:
His willingness to get up and out of bed changes from minute to minute. Yesterday he actually went for a ride in the car with my Mom to look at the ocean (he is located near the Jersey shore now). Sometimes though, he decides all he is willing to do is stay in bed, or if he is up, he only wants to have someone wheel him back to bed so he can sleep.
The card writing campaign is a good one. People have sent him cards and his friends do visit from time to time but it is my Mom who spends most everyday with him for most of the day. Its an hour drive now but we thought it was more important that he be in a better rehab place so its tougher on my Mom but hopefully a better environment for my Dad. I work as does my brother so we only see him about twice a week.
He has pix of his grandkids hanging by his bed.
Joan, thanks for the advice on the meds. I will have to look into the medical mj and I or my Mom will ask about the Provigil. In fact, I think a family friend who is a geriatric nurse had mentioned that as a possible solution for his low energy.
He is now eating regular food, though not full meals but honestly I am just glad he is eating anything at all. In the hospital he refused most of the time and slowly built up to having just ice cream and Glucerna (diabetic) but now he will eat small portions of meals. The reality is, he was always an overeater so on some level I am glad he is not back to his old ways. What I find most disconcerting is he doesn't drink much, not even water, which is very bad for diabetics, and he doens't understand that what he eats is directly impacting his energy levels so sometimes he eats things that will result in a burst of energy followed by the classic sudden drop. But you can't teach this old dog new tricks. We have tried to explain how foods affect his sugar levels and energy for years now to no avail.
He has also spoken with the head of our house of worship. My father is not a particularly religious man so I don't know how powerful that angle would be to him. He would likely say "the Lord is not in control here, I am!".
When you track a discussion, you will get notified by e-mail if anyone else posts a new message on this discussion. Are you sure you want to track this discussion?
If you stop tracking this discussion, you will no longer get notified by e-mail if anyone else posts a new message on this discussion. Are you sure you want to stop tracking this discussion?
Did you or your loved one seek a second opinion before starting cancer treatment?
No, but we got a second opinion after we started treatment
We care about your feedback. Let us know how we can improve your CancerCompass experience.