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Need some tips on helping husband eat

CaregiverS
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2010

Hello Eveyone,
My husband is just finishing his 4th week of radiation 5 days a week/Erbitux 1 per week treatment for throat and neck cancer. Now has significant mucus build up which keeps him up at night coughing and has interfered in swallowing. Has been drinking Carnation VHC drinks and mils shakes but wondering if the dairy is part of the problem also. Any suggestions on other foods or how to prepare them. He does not have a feeding tube. Would appreciate any information.

MarineE5
Posts: 744
Joined: Dec 2005

When I was getting my radiation and had the mucus, I cut back on my milkshakes to one a day with a banana. Got away from the dairy products for awhile.I leaned toward more soups, etc. I did have the Peg Tube also for my nutrition if my mouth was just too sore to eat anything.

It is recommended that we take in roughly 64 ozs of fluid a day to stay hydrated, hopefully the more fluid the thinner the mucus. It is a balancing act to say the least while doing the treatments. He is getting into the stage that things get a bit worse before getting better for him.

My Best to You Both and Everyone Here

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

I had similar treatment during the radiation portion (weekly Carboplaten and daily Amofostine just prior to the rads). The Amofostine injections were supposed to help with the thick mucous. Must have worked as I never had that specific problem.

During the last few weeks and following few weeks after radiation I pretty much couldn't take in any food. I also had no PEG or feeding tube. I could tolerate soft foods but barely. I primarily took in water and Ensure Plus.

My logic was that Ensure Plus was around 350 calories and by drinking a few of those each day it gave me more calories, minerals and vitamins than any other food source could.

They aren't that thick and didn't leave me with a lot of mucous after wards. I tried all flavors, but Strawberry seemed best for me.

If he wants to eat something to exercise his throat and such, you can always try soft food;
mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, cream of wheat or oatmeal, etc...

Good Luck and God Bless,
John

Landranger25's picture
Landranger25
Posts: 207
Joined: Nov 2009

Like MarineE5, soup worked for me. Oncologist suggested cream soups just barely warm. (Had a PEG) Wanted PEG gone as soon as possible so when I felt I could try it was Campbells Cream of Celery. Just barely warm in the microwave. Was a little hesitant at first but after first few spoonfuls it went really well. I was able to eat whole bowl. Figured I'd just be throwing it up in awhile but didn't happen. Within a couple of hours I felt noticeably better. Tried all different cream soups over next week or so before scrambled eggs and other mushy stuff. Also, Ginger Ale. Onco suggested using cold Vernor's to cut mucus. (Rinse and spit) It did work OK for that but when it was flat and room temp I could drink a small glass and even taste it. After weeks of nothing it was great to smell and taste something. I think the main thing is to just keep trying different things. Something will work, just have to find the thing that works. Good luck.

Mike

Scambuster's picture
Scambuster
Posts: 975
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi CG

I had the same treatment regime as your husband. I had a PEG put in about week 3 as was losing 3 kg a week.

For the mucus, I was prescribed Fluimucil (Generic name - Acetylcysteine) which worked well.

I also used a nasal spray prior to going in for Radiation (The Mask) as it helped breathing during treatment.

I couldn't take the Nestle products so I found and used Sunrider's 'Vitashake and I mixed it with Rice Milk to mix the 'shakes' as Dairy will probably make the mucus worse. It is not cheap and is bought through their distribution offices (Google them). Worked for me.

Hope this helps.

Scambuster

pk's picture
pk
Posts: 192
Joined: Aug 2009

Completed your caregiver routine the first part of Oct. My husband went thru exactly the same treatment your hubby is going thru. He relied on his feeding tube after about the 4th week of radiation and used it thru the first 2 weeks post radiation. He tried to drink water everyday to stay hydrated, but we also put plenty of water down the tube before and after each feeding. He also used the feeding tube to take medications. It was a life saver as he started to lose weight too fast. Of course weight is going to be lost, but his oncos were very diligent about watching the weight loss. He had weight to lose, but they still didn't want it falling off!!!!
My husband was also given a sleeping pill which did help him sleep thru the night without having to get up all the time to spit. It helped quite a bit.
Caregiving is tough and it is hard to watch someone suffer, BUT my husband has come out on the other side cancer free so keep optimistic and no that it will be worthwhile in the end.

Phyllis

CaregiverS
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2010

Wow, thanks so much everyone for the helpful hints and well wishes. This journey becomes so overwhelming at times and it is great to get such support. Today not the greatest day of our journey but hopefully Sat and Sun with nothing scheduled but a blood test hubby can rebound a bit. Will try some of the tips we got today. Again thanks so much!

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5608
Joined: Apr 2009

Welcome to CSN

I too did not use the feeding PEG tube and when I was in my 4th week realized I made a big mistake, but I did make it through. Most of the time my wife would have to feed me watery Grits or cream of wheat, I would not do it on my own, don’t worry if he gets a little angry about it that’s normal. If he stops eating you will need to let the doctors know, he must eat and drink something.

Take care

CaregiverS
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Everyone,
One heck of a week. Hubbie is now dealing with a sinus infection and had a slight fever. Not much sleep as it keeps both of us up at night. Constant and I mean constant mucus. Chemo dr. put him on Cipro (started Wed) hoping this kicks in soon. Has anyone else dealt with this? Any suggestions. Eating not that great either.

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5608
Joined: Apr 2009

I too had a lot of infections right out of treatment and was giving the same thing Cipro, it works great but takes a day or two.

Is he on a Sinus Rinse, if not get him on one, it’s something that can help wash out some of the mucus, ask your doctor. I use NeilMed Sinus Rinse but there are a lot of others just as good on the market.

DennisO
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi,

I had a modified radical of my left neck for oral cancer in 1994 (tongue). In 1996 a radical to my right neck for cancer of in my lymph nodes followed by 8 weeks of chemo and radiation therapy. From my experience, I have found the Ensure drinks were very good. They are easy to swallow and very nutritious. They are cheaper to buy on line. I have had to use them a few times since the surgeries. You are correct about the dairy products being a problem. To try to reduce the mucus I would replace his dairy with Ensure. Ensure will give him the nutrition he needs to get through this tuff time you both are having. You may want to have a few Insures to keep your strength up too. I want to warn you that your husband may get worse before he completes his radiation treatment. I hope this has helped you. My best....

CaregiverS
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2010

Thanks everyone again for your tips. I bought the sinus rinse today and will have him give a a whirl. Have swtiched up some from the Carnnation VHC to the Ensure and it is helping a bit. It is very hard to watch someone go through so much. He is down to 1 chemo and 12 radiations so I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are hoping spring comes very soon.
Thanks again.

fishing_again
Posts: 7
Joined: Jan 2010

I survived on Nutren 2.0 formula made by nestle , I drank 6- cans
( 3000 calories ) a day for a year and now try to drink 4- cans a day just to maintain weight . I also blend prune juice, banna, mixed fruit ,citrogained powder , real alovera plant , penut butter and whatever else my wife puts in front of the blender .It has helped me get a balence of things I just cant eat any other way.
My wife and girls have to tell me to eat every day as I have no appitiet ,
Omlets with slipery mushrooms and cheese work alot..
Be well my friend
Monty

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

hi, sorry that you and hubby have to endure this ordeal. i had a PEG tube during treatment, and i got to the point where i could neither eat or drink anything for three months. i am still having problems eating, and i still have a PEG tube, but i am down to 88lbs.

i recently bought a food emulsifier, and have been able to puree apples, carrots etc.., and make creamy soups, and other items that i can actually drink. i find that since my radiation sweet foods go down better, and i can actually almost taste them and sweet fruits feel better in my mouth. which is strange because i hated sweets before and always ate savory foods.

the emulsifier is a heavy duty motor, and i think it would chop up bricks if you put them in there. it really works well. you can even make ice cream in it. i really like the pureed fruit and veg, and i can get the fibre that i need this way. the one i have is a healthmaster.

good luck.

oh, also Boost makes a non-milky nutrition drink. i think it's called Boost Breeze. i am going to order some on line, thru walgreens. my nutrition guys hooked me up with a few as samples, it did not burn my mouth too badly.

Scambuster's picture
Scambuster
Posts: 975
Joined: Nov 2009

HI Sweetblood. You might want to do a search on this site for earlier Posts or do your own research on using 'Glutamine' (or L-Glutamine) to help your mouth heal. I used it and still do. It is an essential food and helps the Mucosa recover (thats the tissue inside yr mouth and all yr intestines)

Regds
Scambuster

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

hey, thanks. off to research glutamine.

Kent Cass's picture
Kent Cass
Posts: 1746
Joined: Nov 2009

Caregiver, and all: perhaps this is another call for all, prior to treatment, to be advised that feeding tubes must be at least discussed with the Drs. beforehand, and every head and neck should confront their Drs. with the matter, if the Drs. fail to mention it. I was not given an option, and used my PEG for all nutrition from the end of week #1- week #8. And, yes, sweetblood, I still lost 17% of my initial body weight with 4.0 formula, but I was still getting nutrition into me every day.

As for infection- that's why I spent the first four days of week #6 in the hospital, with my fever spiking over 101, and having cancelled all rads in week #5. Not sure what they gave me via the IV and Port, but it was a drip that began my recovery after the first 1 1/2 days in the hospital. And, the last Chemo having happened in week #4, my recovery continued after I got out of the hospital, and during which I was still going thru the full head and neck rads. And, getting all my nutrition thru the PEG with 4.0.

And, yes, sweetblood, I've had my PEG over a year, now, and the earliest I will allow it's removal is after my next Pet Scan in early-April. PEGs are not so bad, once one gets used to it, and can remember when they were so very necessary.

kcass

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

Personally I'm glad that my doctors didn't feel the need for me to have a PEG put into me. Their call was totally right on for me and my treatment.

I feel like mentioned here so many times before, everyone is diffrent and have different circumstances. If my doctors would have decided the best course for me was to have a PEG installed, I would have had the procedure.

I feel my doctors were completely upfront with me, and very thorough (yes they did discuss the PEG). But like I said, in my paritcular treatment plan and health siuation they felt it wasn't necessary. If I were very thin already, or had other uderlying health issues, I'm sure that may have led to a different diagnosis.

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