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Relationship Between Chemo and Hallucinations

jackie1940
Posts: 8
Joined: May 2013

Does anyone have any experience with chemo causing hallucinations or paranoia?

My Father was diagnosed with lung cancer and pneumonia in March of 2012.  He had one squamous cell tumor (between a stage 1 and 2) in his lower left lobe. He deteriorated too quickly for surgery and chemo was also ruled out.  He was constantly tired and had no appetite.  Very grumpy - he lost interest in everything that he had loved - he wouldn't listen to his favorite music or laugh and he hated being encouraged.   The only treatment option was radiation and they didn’t think he would make it through those - he underwent 20 sessions.  My mother did the most incredible job taking care of him and somehow she got him through.  In the fall 2012 he was told that the radiation had shrunk the cancer to almost nothing.  From October through to February of 2013 he was amazing.  His appetite returned and he was able to drive and enjoy his life.  

Just before his scheduled check up in March of 2013 we noticed that he was grumpy, and constantly tired.  The tests confirmed that the cancer was back and that it had spread to the liver (although no biopsy was done on the liver).   The doctor said he likely had 6 months.  Once again, my father deteriorated while waiting for treatment.  He underwent his first chemo session 2 weeks ago.  He was fine immediately after and the next day he was fantastic (his old self), but on the morning of the 4th day he was confused.  He didn't recognize my mother for a good minute or so and then he just got lethargic and was crying.  The doctor suggested he might be dehydrated and that we should push fluids.  About 4 hours later we took him to the ER, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  He spent 4 days in hospital. He was treated with Avelox and IV fluids.   They did a CT with contrast and said that the cancer had not spread to his brain.  His confusion cleared and by the time we finally got him discharged he seemed pretty good mentally but was extremely tired and rundown.  The confusion came back about 3 days ago. The Oncologist refused to go forward with chemo saying the chemo has likely shortened both the quality and quantity of his time left.   We knew there were risks with the chemo but we never imagined this could happen.  His speech is slurring, he’s very hard of hearing, a little paranoid (he has accused my mother and I of being bad to him, trying to put him in a nursing home) and he is hallucinating. He is very frightened.  They have put him back on Avelox.  We are praying that it is an infection but what if it was the chemo?  Has anyone experienced anything like this?

Thanks,

Jackie

jackie1940
Posts: 8
Joined: May 2013

Sorry, just to clarify.  We were told on April 8th that he likely had 6 months left.  Has anyone ever heard of Chemo doing this?  He will turn 73 on May 28th and he is also a type 2 diabetic.   Other than that his health was good.  He knows something is wrong.  He says his mind is going.   Would he be aware that he is hallucinating?  He also gets confused thinking he is standing when he is sitting and vice a versa.  

He doesn't want food (we get a Glucerna in him whenever possible - 3 and 1/2 yesterday and 4 full ones the day before). It is a struggle to get him to drink but when he wants to he will drink water (on average 2 of the 500ml bottles of water and 2 small glasses of milk in a day).  He has a terrible crackling in his chest, coughs up an incredible amount of phelgm but very little blood.  He very rarely throws up blood.  In the last year i would say he has thrown up at most - 2 teaspoons of blood. None in the last week.  He is urinating a great deal (he has urinated about 8 times in the last 24 hours). He is still able to do a small amount of his number 2.  

Thank you,

Jackie 

Ladylacy
Posts: 457
Joined: Apr 2012

Dehydration can cause these systems.  My mother was acting very strange, not like her at all.  Now she didn't have cancer (well there was a possibility that she had gallbladder cancer but was too weak for testing or tratment), but had heart failure.  Come to find out she was dehydrated because she wasn't drink enough water daily.  Once we got her to drink water, she did a complete turn around.  

Now my husband at 73 started radiation and chemo for laryngeal cancer.  But he didn't have any problems other than not drinking enough water while taking chemo and had to have fluids because the chemo affected his kidneys.  He never acted strange or out of it.  Now 3 years later, he is terminal because the cancer had spread a year ago and after undergoing treatment for a second primary, it came back and spread.  He elected no more chemo since it would only prolong and could possibly hasten his time.  To date he is doing fairly well at 76 and I am thankful for that.  If he had elected more chemo, after everything I have read, I feel he might be gone or in really bad shape.  He has a peg tube and relies on that as he has no taste for regular foods which he can eat but very slowly due to having a laryngectomy and now his esopagus is very narrow due to all the radiation he has had.

Wishing the best -- Sharon

jackie1940
Posts: 8
Joined: May 2013

Thank you Sharon, I'm so glad that your mother came out of it.  At this point we're hoping it is an infection, coupled with lack of sleep.  He's now on 2 different antibiotics (one for possible pneumonia, the other for a possible urinary tract infection).  He's taking fluids (hopefully enough because they haven't put him on an IV) but he won't eat anything, including the Glucernna.  We're caring for him at home with the help of palliative care nurses and doctors.  I think there's been an improvement but the doctor thinks otherwise.  He's still confused but no hallucinations in the last 24 hours.

I hope that you and your husband are able to enjoy your time together.  It's so hard to make these treatment decisions.  We're now so afraid that the chemo was a mistake. We were told of the possible complications but you always think it won’t happen to you.  

Take care,

Jackie 

Rosi's picture
Rosi
Posts: 69
Joined: Dec 2009

Jackie, No body knows how long you father has, " only God " I am so tired of the doctor acting like God. I want you to enjoy you father and make some memories, let him do whatever he wants as long as he is comfortably, he needs only love right now.

jackie1940
Posts: 8
Joined: May 2013

We keep hoping that the doctors are wrong. 

dennycee
Posts: 641
Joined: Mar 2011

I experienced hallucinations during my treatment but not the paranoia.  my first instinct was dehydration also.  Now I wonder if it might be brain mets.  There is a new MRI machine that is open on one side so that patients who can't stand tight places can tolerate the test. The steroids that accompany the chemo may be causing the paranoia now that I think of it.  please get a second opinion.  

jackie1940
Posts: 8
Joined: May 2013

 

I wish we'd gotten a second opinion in the very beginning. So many regrets.  They say that he is in the late stages of dementia.  We noticed nothing unusual about his behavior prior to the 4th day after his first chemo session.

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