Dad has SCLC and finished chemo - can't walk
Hi - My husband and I need some advice. His father was diagnosed with extensive stage SCLC in May. He went through 10 doses of radiation to the brain for a brain mets and 4 rounds of chemo. He never recovered from the 3rd and 4th chemo rounds so they stopped treatment. We have taken him to the ER 9 times since the 3rd treatment because he kept falling down. They always said it was dehydration, gave him fluids and sent him home. A few days later he falls again and he is drinking a ton. About a week ago he fell 3 times in one night and we took him to the ER and told them to admit him and figure out what is going on (this ER dr said it wasn't dehydration). The chemo dr says that it's not the brain tumor because it is 1/3 the size it was when he was diagnosed and had no trouble walking. So they kept him for 4 days and told us they would figure out what was going on. Never found anything and sent him home again. Right when he got home he fell and hurt his wrist (bone bruise). He fell 2 more times that night. We took him back to the ER yesterday and they told us we need to deal with it or put him in a home. He had 5 tumors when diagnosed and all of them are significantly reduced. He has his wits; he just can't walk well. He leans to one side a lot and we tell him to straighten up. He has no idea he is leaning. My husband thinks his core muscles are just shot because he isn't doing anything but sitting around or sleeping. We asked the hospital (VA) to put him in rehab for a few weeks and they won't. He won't accept going into a home right now because the only thing that seems to be wrong is his strength. We are doing what we can to try to strengthen his muscles but I don't think it is working.
Has anyone else had this problem after treatment : where you just can't walk and lose your balance a lot. I don't know if it could be some long term effect from chemo or radiation (he's been out of chemo for 5 weeks now and he is only getting worse). The strange thing is that some days he seems perfectly fine. He'll have one good day and then a bunch of bad ones.
If anyone has any advice or has experienced this, please let me know.
We are trying to get his chemo dr's to admit him into a rehab facility but it's the VA hospital and they aren't helping much.
Hi khawk, I am very sorry about your father in law's cancer and falling problems. I read you message and was confused as to why his medical team wrote off the brain tumors so easily and the say that the VA Hospital is involved. I may be speaking out of turn and do wish it was not so, but the VA system really need its head checked, so to speak.
I have had brain cancer, so I do know a little about brain damage due to cancer. Even if his mets have shrunken, the damage created is still there and is probably irreversible. My guess is that his cancer is on the opposite side from his weak leg. Is that correct? Or did he have whole brain radiation? He could be experiencing mild seizures also. I have seizures where I do not loss consciousness but am unable to speak. My mother had brain cancer that affected her vision. If she covered either eye, she could see perfectly but if she tried to see out of both eyes at the same time, she could not see anything to her left. The brain is a very strange organ.
My advice is to seek help outside of the VA system and/or get a second opinion. There my be nothing anyone can do about his falling. But getting an answer might help him decide what to do next and to minimize the falls. Obviously, the danger is that he will hurt himself some time. He might be able to steady himself by using a cane to walk.
That is just my humble opinion and does not constitute in any way a medical opinion. Good luck. I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers.
I'm so sorry to hear about your Father. It's so hard when the wits is so good, but the body failing. Maybe see about a ear specialist too. Sometimes as people get older, they lose their balance and walk sidways. My husbands Grandfather has dreadful problems and is always falling, Now he shuffles his feet, so he doesn't have to lift the feet.
It sounds like it is cause of the treatment or Brain, but it could also be the middle ear. See if he stops leaning over or bending (putting his head lower than his chest or waiste level)- if this helps. So no bending to get shoes or do shoes up, no picking up anything if droped. No bending over to pull pants up etc. See if this will improve the balance thing a little.
Thinking of you- Inica
Jim and Inica - Thank you for responding!
We go to the onc Monday and I'm going to ask about it being some sort of seizure. Last night he was walking fine. Then while watching TV my husband noticed his head leaning to the side and he was drooling. After that when he got up to go to bed, he could barely walk. He fell again at 11:30 last night while trying to use the urinal next to the bed. No injuries this time. This morning he's fine...walking around like nothing happened and doesn't remember falling. Very strange!