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Eating and Drinking w/paralyzed vocal chord


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Good morning,

So my father has stage IV nsclc and he has a tumor pressing on a nerve that has caused one vocal chord to paralyze. It makes drinking liquids really challenging. He easily chokes, and cannot speak. In the last two weeks, I'd say he has lost around 10 pounds. My dad is 6 foot 4 and he's down to around 100 pounds. He told me the other day all he had eaten was ice chips and apple sauce. I'm scared for him. I offer to make him smoothies and any food of his choice, I tell him I will pick up whatever he wants. He told me nothing sounds good and when it does, by the time he tries to eat, it makes him nauseated. He takes nausea medication and he understands he has to eat, but he isn't. The other day I walked into his house while he was asleep and I thought he had passed. I'm just so worried all the time that I can't sleep. What can I do to help him? He's so weak and not being able to drink liquids really takes a toll on his energy. I know he feels nauseous, but I want to shake him and tell him if he doesn't eat he won't be here anymore. I know he knows that but I'm scared and I know he is too. Any words of wisdom?

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There are a couple of issues to consider here.  Does he want to take any and all necessary measures to stay alive?  If so, his doctor would likely recommend nutrients via IV or NG tube.  Is he receiving any kind of home health care right now?  If so, the service should be corresponding with your dad's medical team.  Is he receiving any kind of palliative (not hospice) care?  

If your dad doesn't want to take those means, then there isn't much you can do for him except be by his side and tell him how much you love him.  There is no part of this that doesn't suck and I'm sorry.  

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I had a similar problem after my second surgery.  I suffered a pulmonary embolism after a surgery to repair a fistula in my trachea and had to be placed in an induced coma.  Unfortunately, because of the length of intubation time, my epiglottis -- the flap of skin that directs food and liquid to the stomach rather than the lung -- got lazy and stopped working.  Of course, I suffered aspirational pneumonia.  Food and liquid went into my lung and not stomach.

My problem took about a month to resolve and during this time, I was fed by a feeding tube.  I did indeed lose a lot of weight.  But, I didn't have a tumor causing the problem.

You might ask if stereotactic radiation, explained here, is available on a palliative care basis to reduce the effect of tumor pressure.

Stay the course.


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