Brain & Spine Metastases and Physical Therapy

This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. Sunday, we took Dad to the emergency room to try and get an answer on why he is unable to walk and use his hands. He spent nearly 5 days in the hospital, and during this time we found out that Dad has brain and spine metastases. He was discharged on Friday to a facility that specializes in physical therapy. His spirits seem to be good, mostly because he has had so much support since his hospital admission. This includes a visit from his brother who he has not seen or spoken to in 15 years. We were able to locate him, and he made the trip from Florida the following day. It proves that blood is thicker than water.

So much has happened in the past 2 months since his arrival from Florida. It’s impossible to believe that a man as good as my Dad would have to succumb to such torture.

As if the stage IV lung cancer wasn’t bad enough, we now have to accept that it has traveled to his brain and his spine, which will potentially shorten the already limited time we have left with him.

His oncologist says that he is not strong enough right now to continue with chemotherapy, and this is even harder to accept because it was actually working. After only 2 treatments, his tumors have shrunk, but now we have to worry about his brain metastases. They are planning on doing radiation, but only after he is discharged from the physical therapy facility.

I don’t even know what else to write other than I am growing more anxious by the day worrying about the unknown.


Another ER Visit, But This Time Dad Was Admitted

My last post mentioned how Dad was struggling to get up/down the stairs due to weakness in his legs. This condition has only worsened to the point where Dad was confined to the bedroom (with the exception of going to bathroom, but even this has become a struggle).

A few nights ago, Dad fell in his room. He was trying to get up and get to his walker so he could go to the bathroom on his own. His legs gave out, and he fell.

This morning was the first time Dad admitted he was scared. It broke my heart to see him so vulnerable.

Last night, Monday, December 3, 2018, Dad was admitted to the hospital. My sister and I took him in at around noon because of his severe weakness, uncontrollable pain, and he was even complaining of dizziness.

They did a scan, but still no MRI’s. I am hopeful that they will schedule MRI’s on his brain and spine because the ER doctor seems to believe that Dad’s cancer has now spread to his spine, which is something that I have been wondering for several weeks now.

Dad is confused to the extent that he thought the year was 2013. I thought this was odd because for the most part, he seems to understand things. He knows who everyone is and can still have conversations with people, but for some reason, he is confused about the year.

My sister and I left the hospital at around 8:30pm when our Uncle Jimmy arrived. He said that he would stay with Dad until they got him settled into a room.



Enough Is Enough… 11 Days Since 2nd Chemotherapy Treatment

Sometimes, the road less traveled may be your best route…

After our emergency room trip yesterday, we had to take action and get some answers for Dad. I spent the morning talking with my sister and trying to figure out what we can do to keep Dad from being stuck in the bedroom upstairs all day long. Why was he stuck upstairs all day? Because he can no longer get himself up and down the stairs, and the bedroom and our only bathroom is upstairs, so naturally it is the obvious short-term solution that will allow Dad the use of the bathroom when my husband or son are not home to help him come down (or go up). I simply cannot do it, and it is not because I don’t want to, it is because I am not physically strong enough to keep him from falling in the event that his legs buckle on him halfway down the stairs.

Needless to say, this is not an ideal situation, and it is certainly not what Dad’s impression of chemotherapy was. He knew that he would feel extremely ill, fatigued, lack an appetite and lose his hair. What he didn’t know was that he would become confined to a bedroom because his legs are too weak to hold him. He is not able to shower on his own, he cannot go outside, he cannot stand at all unless he is moving from one chair to another. And this is how he feels every single day, and then right back to chemotherapy he goes to start all over again.

He “signed up” for chemotherapy because he thought that it was going to help with his cancer symptoms, not to make them worse.

A desperate call to his doctor…

I called his oncologist this morning, and thankfully, she returned the call this afternoon.

She discussed Dad’s treatment plan, and asked him how he was feeling. He explained to her that he is absolutely miserable, and that this is not how he wants to spend this time with his family. He wants to leave the house, go places, see people, maybe even go on a short trip, but none of that has been possible since his chemotherapy began. Frankly, he feels worse as the days go on.

She told Dad that she would reduce the chemotherapy drugs to a lower dose, and that he will skip one week (he was scheduled for chemo Thursday, December 6th, 2018) to see if his condition improves. Skipping next week is how she is able to gauge whether his condition is deteriorating due to the chemotherapy or due to the cancer itself. For this time only, he will go 4 weeks rather than 3 weeks between treatments. She did explain that reducing the amount of chemotherapy he receives will also reduce its effectiveness, but Dad agreed that it is what he wants to do.

She is also going to schedule scans to see if the chemotherapy is even doing it’s job. Dad told her that if it is not working, he no longer wants to do it, and to “let the cards fall as they may” (his words not mine).

Quality Over Quantity is Dad’s Wish

When you get to this stage with a loved one, at least for me, it is easier to accept what is happening when you have answers and know a little about why it’s happening and if there is anything that can be done to make him feel better. After all, his chemotherapy treatments are for palliative reasons only, as his cancer cannot be cured at this stage. For this reason, Dad’s conversation with his doctor has made everyone feel a little bit better, including Dad, because at least we are making an attempt at giving him some of the quality of life that he has made clear is the most important thing for him. All he wants is to enjoy his family and not feel like he is already dying.

We will now anxiously await an appointment for him to get the scans done, and in the meantime,  hopefully get Dad out of the house. I am praying that him having an extra week without chemo will give us a chance to do something with him that he will enjoy and feel half-way decent.