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trembling and difficult to wake


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My father in law was sent home with hospice less than a week ago. He has stage 4 adenocarcinoma and has been given medicine for pain (his neck and shoulders are fractured from metastasis). Recently his voice has become weak and his hands shake uncontrollably several times a day. 

For the first time last night he slept straight through the night and didn't call for help. I have been giving him his lorazepam to help him get a normal(ish) sleep schedule. While in the hospital he began to sleep all day and be up all night. We have almost corrected that.

But this morning he was difficult to wake. When we were able to bring him to consciousness he was very shaky. His entire arms and hands were trembling. He has a hard time gripping and drinking out of heavier glasses/cups. Last night he told my husband that he was scared, but would not say why. He is even shaking in his sleep and sometimes it looks like his head jerks. He also complained of pain in his neck (from the fracture), and the morphine doesn't seem to be helping as much, even when the nurses instructed him to take more of it.

Has anyone experienced this, or know what it might be? What is the best way we can help?



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I'm sorry to hear about the problems your father-in-law is having.  I'd be scared, too, if I had these issues! Have you talked to your hospice nurse about this?  Also, does your f-i-l have a pastor or other religious/spiritual advisor you could bring in? If not, but he's open to it, you could see if the hospice has a chaplain. Sometimes spiritual comfort can be helpful at a time like this. Although my mom hadn't been to church in years, a pastor she knew from the church she had gone to  came to her when she was in hospice and it seemed to me it was helpful to her.

You are in my thoughts.

Bridget O

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From my reading about end-stage disease, I suspect your father-in-law has a combination of factors causing his symptoms.  Your best form of help would be to report all these symptoms to the hospice nurse and follow the hospice staff's medical guidance.  They are very experienced in these situations.

I second Bridget's spiritual advisor suggestion. Again, most are experienced with this stage of life and can provide great comfort to your father-in-law and your family.

Stay the course.


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Hi, bly,

We're thinking of you and your family. If you'd like to talk to an oncology social worker, you can call the Lung Cancer Helpline (844-360-5864) Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern time). We are here for you!

With gratitude,

Digital Community Manager
LUNGevity Foundation

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