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prostate cancer and constant sleeping

lindachampagne60's picture
Posts: 16
Joined: Sep 2011

Im back. Its getting harder every day to watch my husband suffer, and omg, all he does is sleep. He gets up to try to pee, and he goes right back to sleep, for hours, all day. not eating very much. PLEASE, will someone who has been through this and has lost a relative from this disease please tell me where he is in this diseasem stage, what to look for, how long. ANYTHING you can tell me without evading the obvious. I need to know. he is on methadone and oxycodone and keeps increasing it. i called his doctor at the Veterans and they havent called back after twice trying.. I need details, from someone who lived with and lost her husband or dad to prostate cancer. THANKYOU Linda

Kongo's picture
Posts: 1167
Joined: Mar 2010


I am so sorry you are having to deal with this problem as well as an unresponsive VA. Your VA hospital should have an Ombudsman for patient care. I recommend that you call them first thing in the morning and tell them the details of your situation. If that doesn't work, you should call the commanding officer at your VA hospital.

Your VA hospital should also be able to administer in home hospice services and you ought to get in touch with them to see what they may be able to do to make things easier on both you and your husband.

I do hope that you find some help in this difficult period.



Posts: 48
Joined: May 2011

Linda my prayers are with you. I am afraid I have never been in you situation but it appears you need to keep trying to hammer at VA to get you help..

Old-timer's picture
Posts: 178
Joined: Apr 2011

You shouldn't have to go through this alone. There must be someone who would be glad to be there with you. Have you let folks close to you and your husband know what is happening? I agree with other responders that you need to insist on getting a response from the VA hospital. You also need support from relatives and friends.

Be as brave as possible and do the best you can. Hope this is helpful.

VascodaGama's picture
Posts: 2544
Joined: Nov 2010

Sincerely, I am sorrier for you than for your husband.
Isn’t there a friend or any other veteran or colleague of him with whom you could talk to?
Someone that could try to talk with your husband or call the VA hospital for you?
I do not think that his long sleeping behaviour has something to do with an advanced status for death. The medication could accelerate to such status.

I join the others in send you my sympathy in these difficult times.

Posts: 23
Joined: Nov 2011

Hi Linda
I am sorry to hear of your husbands advanced stages of prostate cancer. If you continue to have problems hearing back from the VA, I suggest to reach out to some of the Veteran Groups (American Legion, VFW, etc) as they should have folks that can help you contact the right person so you get a response. The good thing about us veterans is we always help each other out, and I know they will be glad to help you in some manner.

Another option is to call you congressman or senator. I had problems with the VA in the past (GI Bill), and my congress man got that fixed quickly.

Take care

Posts: 694
Joined: Apr 2010

While many gave good advice on your other thread http://csn.cancer.org/node/225820, maybe the info from the ACS (American Cancer Society) website and the section “When Death is Near” will provide some answers to your questions.



"Possible changes in body function
• Profound weakness -- usually the patient cannot get out of bed and has trouble moving around in bed
• Needs help with nearly everything he or she does. May be unable to change positions in bed without help
• Less and less interest in food, often with very little food and fluid intake for days
• Trouble swallowing pills and medicines
• More drowsiness -- the patient may doze or sleep much of the time if pain is relieved. May be restless and pick or pull at bed linens. May be hard to rouse or wake. Anxiety, fear, restlessness, and loneliness may worsen at night
• Cannot concentrate, has short attention span
• Confused about time, place, or people
• Limited ability to cooperate with caregivers
• Involuntary movement of any muscle, jerking of hands, arms, legs, or face
What caregivers can do
• Help the patient turn and change positions every hour or 2.
• Avoid sudden noises or movements to lessen the startle reflex.
• Speak in a calm, quiet voice to reduce the chances of startling the patient.
• If the patient has trouble swallowing pain medicines, ask the doctor or hospice nurse about getting liquid pain medicines or a pain patch.
• If the patient is having trouble swallowing, do not give them solid foods. Try ice chips or sips of liquid.
• Do not push fluids. Near the end of life, some dehydration is normal. It is also more comfortable for the patient.
• Apply cool, moist wash cloths to head, face, and body for comfort.
Possible changes in consciousness
• More sleeping during the day
• Hard to wake or rouse from sleep
• Confusion about time, place, or people
• Restless, may pick or pull at bed linen
• May talk about things unrelated to the events or people present
• May have more anxiety, restlessness, fear, and loneliness at night
• After a period of sleepiness and confusion, may have a short time when he or she is mentally clear before going back into semi-consciousness
What caregivers can do
• Plan on being with the patient when he or she is most alert or during the night when your presence may be comforting.
• When talking with the patient, remind her or him who you are and what day and time it is.
• Continue pain medicines up to the end of life.
• If the patient is very restless, try to find out if they are having pain. If they are, give breakthrough pain medicines as prescribed, or check with the doctor or hospice nurse if needed (see the section on pain in “Physical symptoms in the last 2 to 3 months of life”).
• When talking with a confused person, use calm, confident, gentle tones to reduce chances of startling or frightening the patient.
• Gentle touching, caressing, holding, and rocking are usually helpful and comforting.
Possible changes in metabolism
• Less interest in food -- the patient has less need for food and drink
• Mouth may dry out (see the next section on changes in secretions)
• May no longer need some of his or her medicines, such as vitamins, replacement hormones, blood pressure medicines, and diuretics (unless they help make the patient more comfortable)
What caregivers can do
• Put lubricant or petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) on the lips to prevent drying.
• Ice chips from a spoon, or sips of water or juice from a straw may be enough for the patient.
• Check with the doctor to see which medicines may be stopped. Medicines for pain, nausea, fever, seizures, or anxiety should be continued to keep the patient comfortable.
Possible changes in secretions
• Mucus in the mouth may collect in the back of the throat (This may cause a very distressing rattling sound when the patient breathes, but doesn't usually cause discomfort to the patient.)
• Secretions may thicken due to less fluid intake and build up because the patient cannot cough
What caregivers can do
• If the mouth secretions increase, keep them loose by adding humidity to the room with a cool mist humidifier.
• If the patient can swallow, give ice chips or sips of liquid through a straw. This may help thin secretions.
• Change the patient's position -- turning them onto the side may help secretions drain from the mouth. Continue to clean the teeth with a soft toothbrush or foam mouth swabs.
• Certain medicines may help. Ask your doctor or hospice nurse about them.
Possible changes in circulation and temperature
• Arms and legs may feel cool to the touch as circulation slows down
• Skin on arms, legs, hands, and feet may darken in color and look mottled (blotchy dark spots)
• Other areas of the body may become either darker or paler
• Skin may feel cold and either dry or damp
• Heart rate may become fast, faint, or irregular
• Blood pressure may get lower and become hard to hear
What caregivers can do
• Keep the patient warm with blankets or light bed coverings.
• Do not use electric blankets, heating pads, etc.
Possible changes in senses and perception
• Vision may become blurry or dim
• Hearing may decrease, but most patients are able to hear you even after they can no longer speak
What caregivers can do
• Leave indirect lights on as vision decreases.
• Always assume the patient can hear you.
• Continue to speak with and touch the patient to reassure them of your presence. Your words of affection and support are likely to be understood and appreciated.
Possible changes in breathing
• Breathing may speed up and slow down due to less blood circulation and build up of waste products in the body
• Mucus in the back of the throat may cause rattling or gurgling with each breath
• The patient may not breathe for periods of up 10 to 30 seconds
What caregivers can do
• Put the patient on their back, or slightly to one side.
• Raising the patient's head may give some relief.
• Use pillows to prop the patient's head and chest at an angle or raise the head of a hospital bed.
• Any position that seems to make breathing easier is OK, including sitting up with good support. A small person may be more comfortable in your arms.
Possible changes in elimination
• Urine may become darker and decrease in amount
• When death is near, the patient may lose control of urine and stool
What caregivers can do
• Pad the bed beneath the patient with layers of disposable waterproof pads.
• If the patient has a catheter, the nurse will teach you to care for it.
Signs that death has occurred
• Breathing stops
• Blood pressure cannot be heard
• Pulse stops
• Eyes stop moving and may stay open
• Pupils of the eyes stay large, even in bright light
• Control of bowels or bladder is lost as the muscles relax
What caregivers can do
After death it is all right if you sit with your loved one for a while. There is no rush to get anything done right away. Many families find this is an important time to pray or talk together and reaffirm their love for each other, as well as for the person who has passed away.
If the patient dies at home, caregivers are responsible for calling the appropriate people. Regulations or laws about who must be notified and how the body should be moved differ from one community to another. Your doctor or nurse can get this information for you. If you have a hospice or home care agency involved, call them. If you have completed funeral arrangements, calling the funeral director and doctor are usually all that you have to do.
An important note: If you call 911 or Emergency Medical Services (EMS), even after an expected death at home, the law often requires that EMS try to revive the patient or take them to a hospital. This can complicate the situation and delay funeral plans. Be sure that family and friends are ready and know exactly whom to call, so that they don't dial 911 in confusion or panic."

"Through the information shared here, we [ACS] have tried to prepare you for some of the problems and concerns you may face. We've also tried to make a few suggestions for coping with some of the stresses that may come with caring for a person near the end of life. If you or your family needs more information, you can call us anytime day or night at 1-800-227-2345. We have cancer information specialists who can help you with your questions and help you find the resources you need."

Last Medical Review: 05/02/2011
Last Revised: 05/02/2011

2ndBase's picture
Posts: 220
Joined: Mar 2004

He needs to get involved with hospice. I have been for more than a year and am still working at a local university with a lot of pain and the use of a wheelchair. He needs a hospice oncologist to get him on the proper meds to help the pain and the problems that the medicine can bring on. He can not get a cure but he needs comfort and help. Believe me I could sleep 20 hours a day and still feel tired but I know if my hair was on fire someone would wake me up. With better meds, if he choses that, then he may find a little more energy, but I have not found anything that makes me feel very alert. Your husband and I may be in about the same place of the disease process.You probably would get better help from hospice than VA. I have a goal of Jan. 1 and if I make it,which is looking good today, as I feel better this morning. I think it is possible for me to survive another year and as long as there is some quality of life keeping it worthwhile. You have a very tough job and I lost my previous wife to breast cancer 12 years ago so I know of what I speak.

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2011

Sorry to hear, look here is the thing, I am patient had surgery and slept a lot for a whole year, i must take morphine and oxycodons still. His body needs to heal. Thank God he has you as I was and am all alone. I will say also smoking pot is indispensable to me and may be worth trying for both of you.

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