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Aspiration pneumonia - Need feedback


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Hi all -

Well, I have good news and bad news to report. The bad news is that Daddy had his first round of chemo two weeks ago Friday. He felt fine Friday and Saturday and then woke up Sunday feeling crummy. He made it through the day without throwing up and slept a lot. Monday he felt better and we thought he had made it through the worst of the chemo. Then Tuesday morning came and he was in terrible pain. His fever reached 101.9 and after Tylenol it went down. I posted about this before and received some good feedback from you all. Turns out we should have carried him to the dr. that day.

That night we went to bed and at 4am Mom woke me up saying Daddy wasn't responding to her. I ran into their bedroom and he was breathing but would not wake up. We slapped his face and screamed his name, but nothing. We called 911 and got dressed. I went back into the room to try and wake him and he stopped breathing. It was awful. I had to do CPR until the paramedics came. He was intubated and in the ER for 12 hours waiting for a room in ICU. It was by far the worst day of my life. The Dr. in ER told me the chances were higher than 50% that Dad would not survive this. He asked me if I was prepared for my Dad to die and I told him absolutely not. How could anyone ever be prepared for that? I couldn't believe all this was happening after just one chemo. They did xrays and told us that Dad had a lot of pneumonia in his right lung. His oxygen level was down to 38 when he arrived in the ER.

The good news is this: Dad is doing well. He made it through all of that and got off the ventilator very quickly and was completely breathing on his own within 24 hours of the incident. They gave him powerful antibiotics and he was able to come home from the hospital a week ago today. This past Tuesday, he had xrays that confirmed the pneumonia is gone! So, he beat the odds and made it through this time.

Now, here is what the Dr. said happened. Dad took too many xanax. He would take them every time he takes pain medicine and over time it was just too much for his system. Plus, he is taking thalidomide with his chemo and that is also a sedative. All of that with additional relaxers -like nausea meds, was too much. So, because he was so "relaxed" he lost his ability to gag and with his acid reflux the contents of his stomach came up and instead of gagging on it, they went down into his lungs and caused him to get aspiration pneumonia. He was sleeping on his right side that night, so it makes sense that his right lung had the pneumonia.

Dad took a week off of chemo and then had another treatment yesterday. He has been OK, but has started to feel crummy tonight. We are all scared that the pneumonia will come back, but I do feel better about him not taking the xanax. He used to hallucinate a lot and I am convinced that was from the xanax. Since being off of that he doesn't halluciante anymore. The first few nights we were home from the hospital we were all scared to go to sleep. It's really been a stressful time, but I certainly don't have to tell all of you that - you know how it is.

What do you all know about aspiration pneumonia and lung cancer? I have tried to read some on the internet, but haven't been able to find too much that talks about lung cancer also. I have read that it happens a lot in babies and older patients, but my Dad is just 59. I really hope it was the xanax that caused the pneumonia and the whole episode. I just don't want it to happen again. I really hope the chemo did not play a role in the incident other than to put him in a weakened stated. Have any of you heard of xanax doing this? Or similar stories?

I'm sorry for writing such a long post, but I want you all to know what is going on. If any of you or your loved ones are taking xanax, please encourage them to take as little as possible. I wouldn't wish what we went through two weeks ago on my worst enemy! It was horrible. But I am thankful that he made it through. I hope this means he is a fighter!

Thanks for being here,


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Aspiration pneumonia means that he breathed the contents of his stomache into lungs, ie:aspiration. the material from his lungs caused an infection in his lungs ie: pneumonia. The antibiotics they gave him killed the infection and therefore should not return. The xanax did not really cause the pnuemonia it was the vomit.

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I do know a woman who just this winter was on a vent for a Xanax overdose. She does not have lung cancer but has MS. It happened very quickly...she was fine and a few hours later she was being intubated by EMS. So as not to scare anyone...SHE WAS NOT TAKING HER MEDICATION AS PERSCRIBED!

The good news is that after a few days on a breathing machine she recovered quickly and fully.

I hope your Dad continues to improve...


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