OK so here goes nothing…
My dad is currently being seen by a myriad of specialists. He has a pulmonologist, neurologist, ENT, geriatrician, and as of yesterday, a G.I. doctor. He’s a multiple stroke victim who has COPD and is still smoking. He’s got major issues with his appetite and hunger but he is still eating, although not as regularly as we’d like. He was just seen by a nutritionist/dietitian. This man is 5'11" and over the past year went from 160 pounds to 117 pounds.
We cannot seem to target exactly where the weight-loss is coming from. He has been given just about every single blood test there is and he has been scoped by the ENT and had a brain scan for the neurologist. Everything comes back clear. He also has a small amount of fluid in the pleura around his lung that was just drained, sent out and came back and it was negative of any suspicious or cancerous cells.
The other thing that we are concerned about. Very concerned about! Is that it could be colon cancer. His dad had colon cancer at age 73 and he is age 71. The thing is that the doctor was very upset that he is just now seeing him, that we waited this long before going to a GI specialist. We were going to so many specialists that this is the very first time we were ever even referred to them or thought about going to a GI Doctor. I think we just felt like we were covering every base we could and apparently we weren’t.
The scary part about all of this is that if we don’t find anything after the colonoscopy or endoscopy where does that leave us? He still wants to know why he’s not gaining weight. Does anyone have any other suggestions or doctors in mind? We are completely baffled as to why he is losing so much weight and so quickly. The more weight he loses, the harder it makes for him to get up and do anything. And so it’s a catch 22 for sure!
My dad is 71. Although his pulmonologist says he’s a 71 year old in the body of a 91 year old. So that’s what scares me. I’m not sure what to do. Ultimately, it’s my dad’s call. But he’s acting like he wants me to make the decision for him. I told him to please not make me do that. He told me I’m the “smarts of the operation” and so he needs help deciding what to do. Of course I’ll help him make the most educated decision, but ultimately I feel it’s up to him.
The thing is, he seems to want to go through with it. However, after talking with my best friend who is a nurse that cares for geriatrics she is very concerned that this will be extremely difficult on him. I had no idea how hard the prep was until I talked with her. When she described it to me I was shocked. I had no idea it liquifies everything. He can’t get up and run to a bathroom like a normal person. We now know we’ll have to at least get a bedside commode, diapers and wipes. His G.I. doctor never described the prep to us as much at all. He basically said, you drink a bunch of stuff at 10 and then again at 2 am. It will clean you out and then you’ll come in for the procedure. I asked for other alternatives like admitting him to a hospital the night before prep and he said they don’t do that because insurance won’t cover it. So I asked him how we’re supposed to handle this and they said, “Do the best you can.”
I’m terrified of how that night is going to go and wondering if we’ll end up having to call an ambulance if my dad were to pass out from exhaustion or something. And then it will be all for nothing. I know this is more like a rant, but if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. He doesn’t sound sure of what he would do if they found cancer. I don’t think he even knows.
I at least want them to do the endoscopy. A lot of the issue with hunger is that he gets nauseous and says his stomach hurts. An endoscopy wouldn’t involve any prep. But I understand they want to do the colonoscopy because there is a family history with his dad dying of colon cancer around the same age.
One of the things about all this that frustrates us is that this may all be unrelated to any type of cancer. He has been homebound for quite a long time. While he can get up with some assistance, he isn’t doing enough moving around even with in home PT/OT to keep muscle mass. All of his specialists say there has to be more to it than just his mobility and trouble with appetite. But then his geriatrics doctor comes in and says it could be just that, combined with his COPD and the fact that he still smokes.
If anyone has any ideas on how to get his weight up quickly please let me know. I am thinking at this point it is not fully reversible but that we could at least have him a while longer. He says there are things he wants to do. Get back to drumming, go fishing on the beach, etc. He may never be able to do these things with his lack of strength in his arms. We will try to accomplish whatever goals he wants to accomplish and make as many memories with him as possible. It doesn’t sit well with me that he is likely going to pass away from “unexplained weight loss.”