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Advice on Nausea/appetite

inittogether2
Posts: 18
Joined: Feb 2014

 

My husband Tim just finished up his fourth week of IMRT treatment at MD Anderson and its kicking his butt. He has ten more to go, Feb. 28th will be his last. He is just now starting to struggle with extreme nausea and sore throat. Seems he has the nose of a bloodhound now and can sniff out smells we can't smell, some are ok and others such as food starts the dry heaves, seems as of today he can only hold down strawberry milk. Scrambled eggs slathered in butter had been working but not today. He knows the importance of eating/drinking and we keep up with this thread full of advice. he has lost ten pounds so far, they put him on compazine for nausea, and today they prescribed a pain patch which he hasn't started yet due to the fear of more nausea on a empty stomach. Is extreme nausea a normal side effect? Sense of smell also?

I know from all the post each person is affected differently and we were prepared for the sore throat and inability to eat and possibility eating only soft foods/liquids. It seems just in the last day he just can't sneak nothing past his nose. When he does finally hold the milk down he says he feels bloated, not to mention the pain meds can cause side effects too. The fatigue is hitting also.

Like any spouse/caregiver we hurt when they hurt and I try to push him to eat/drink as often as he can, I just don't want him to dehydrate or get sucked in to a depressed state. In Our 23 years of marriage he has never been sick except the common cold or inactive. I have Boost and Ensure for him to start when he gets back from Houston tomorrow. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.....you guys are awesome!

 

Thanks,

 

Jody

hawk711's picture
hawk711
Posts: 525
Joined: Jan 2010

Jody

 The last rads are the worst.  I had same issue as well as vomiting every 4-6 hours due to to thick mucous that I swallowed, etc.  Extreme nausea seems to be a common side effect.  Mine was terrible.  Try things like muscle milk powder that uses water instead of milk.  I ate yogurt, oatmeal, drank powerade, and any juice i could get down that didn't hurt my mouth, (acid).    

I actually had 2 liters of a water solution put in daily for awhile with an IV due to fear of dehydration.  It made me feel much better.  May want to talk to you Dr about that option.  Is he on Chemo also?   If so, that adds to the nausea.  Bottom line is this is a tough one, hard to eat when you have nausea.  You may want to discuss a Feeding tube with your Dr before he loses too much weight.  It can also be a huge help in getting enough nutrition.  I had one and it was a life saver for me.

Wishing you the best.  Just hate to hear another person going through this tough treatment.  It is one of the worst cancer treatments, but it does work and keep telling your husband to push and get on the other side.  It will be worth it I'm sure

Keep strong

Steve

inittogether2
Posts: 18
Joined: Feb 2014

Thanks Steve,

no chemo thank God! Doctors and dietician have discussed the feeding tube in the beginning. His nausea is horrible, he doesn't seem to have thick mucous as of yet, mouth is clear of any blistering too. I will hit the grocery store tomorrow for jucie selections. He craves this strawberry milk so thats good and I can add protein to it. I think the ensure or boost comes in strawberry also. We fear the dehydration too. Thanks again.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8095
Joined: Sep 2009

At where he is was the point I just switched to Ensure Plus, water, a few sliced peaches in light syrup (mainly to keep the swallower working), and of course pain meds, mostly liquid, or crushed in water.

I figured for the amount of calories in any real food, that was painful to eat. I could get many more through the Ensure with much less pain... 2- 3 can, 2 - 3 times each day.

Crappy routine, but you take in calories and hydration for survival, not taste that's for sure...

Hang in there, soon it will all be a distant memory.

BTW, the Strawberry Ensure Plus was the flavor of choice for me...

Best,

John

KTeacher
Posts: 950
Joined: Jan 2011

The first time around I couldn't walk in the kitchen while anyone was cooking.  I would get so naseous at the smell of food.  'dry heaves would come on in an instant.  I ate a lot of cream of wheat and my husband makes a very good smoothie.  Food will taste horrible but you have to get in the calories and protein (my husband added protein powder to both cream of wheat and the smoothies).  Greek yogurt has more protein than regular and check the protein on the drinks, they differ.  Also need to keep hydrated.  I remember when I first went back to work, some odors would get to me and I thought I would 'toss my cookies.'  It's trial and error, what tastes good one day doesn't the next, sometimes one or two bites are ok and the rest is horrible.  Just keep trying, have to eat, it's our job.  I know it is hard for the caregiver to watch us spiral down but we do come back to a new normal.

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 3008
Joined: May 2012

Jody,

I had bionic nose for a while, most foods smelled terrible.  I always managed one of the popular protein drinks and lots of water every day.

As for the nausea, he need to be proactive and take the meds early (before the nausea).  If the meds make him sick ask for another kind, there are a number of anti-nausea drugs.  Don’t forget some of the anti-nausea meds make you constipated.

Keep fighting, take pleasure in the little victories, he is almost finished.

Matt

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3781
Joined: Mar 2012

Bloodhound.....lots of us did!  I could have worked search and rescue better than my German Shepherd during radiation Smile

There are other nausea meds besides Compazine, too.  I was on a regular schedule of three, to be taken anytime nausea was a problem....nagging "sick" is horrible trying to over come during a day.  I took Zophran, Compazine, and Lorazipam....and was told anytime I was feeling sick to get on my little 2 hour schedule....The big gun is Emend, and I took that during chemo and for three days after.  Tell the Drs. that Compazine isn't hitting it.

I drank 1/2 gallon of milk a day.....if he's getting down strawberry milk, then GREAT!  I also used Boost VHC (Very High Calorie)...it only comes in Vanilla, but packs 540 calories in one little carton compared to 360 calories in regular Boost.  He might still need a PEG tube, it's not unusual to start without one, then have to get one later.....but that won't help nausea.....when you're sick you're sick, no matter which way the food goes into your stomach. 

Stress can be part of the nausea, too.....even when we don't FEEL like we're stressed, who knows what the sub-concious is doing...the Lorazipam helps with that.....

He's just about to hit the single digits....the countdown can begin!! 

p

inittogether2
Posts: 18
Joined: Feb 2014

 

Tim made it home today and just being home he feels better lol. "P" i think youre correct with the sub-concious worry.

he managed cream of chicken w/chicken broth stirred in for lunch, at least a cup and kept it down.

He mentioned a PEG tube today, next week in Houston I think we will discuss with doctor, and also see if the nausea gets any better, if not maybe he does need a different med.

Thank God no chemo.

We have ensure strawberry today and hopefully it goes down well, and he is still afraid to try the pain patch, but tonight its going on!! He also has the hydrcodone pills which he can still manage to swallow for now.

 

Thanks so much for all the advice, we have learned so much from you guys!

Happy Valentines Day!

debbiejeanne's picture
debbiejeanne
Posts: 2506
Joined: Jan 2010

jpdy, glad tim got to come home today and that he was able to keep the soup down.  praying he is on his way to being better with the nausea.  keep us posted and good luck.

God bless you both,

dj

KB56's picture
KB56
Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2013

Jody, I was sick almost every day of radiation treatment.  I had a nausea patch and took Zofran as well but I had a horrible gag reflex. My radiation oncologist said that was the hardest kind of nausea to treat as most of the medicines block the sensors to the brain and my nausea didn't respond to it.   i only usedmy pain patch for a few days as it seemed to make my nausea worse.  I did the liquid Vicodin through my tube to help manage the pain.   I never could control the nausea throughout treatment.  

The feeding tube definitely helped me but I still lost 30 pounds and didn't have it to spare.    My wife is a nurse and she was always pushing me to eat and drink so don't feel guilty doing it.  The tube helped me get plenty if fluids, medicine, food, etc.  I never had an appetite for a few months and even when I got my tube out I only ate because I knew I needed to eat, not because I was hungry.  Now I get hungry and enjoy food again, actually love it:). During treatment I was always thirsty so your husband is probably drinking water but it might not be as much as you think, or need, so continue to gently judge him to eat and drink, as well as get rest.    

Don't forget yourself either because in some ways this is tougher on the caregiver than the patient.  We can/ will be cranky at times, we really feel like crap and it doesn't get better until weeks/months after we're all finished.    Behind most everyone on this site is a caregiver who was there every step of the way and was absolutely critical to recovery.  

 

God bless you and all the other caregivers who was with us every step of the way.

Keith

inittogether2
Posts: 18
Joined: Feb 2014

 

Great Big Thanks to YOU ALL!!!

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