Sharp Blue: Cord compression


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My dad was readmitted to hospital yesterday. For a few days, he’d been suffering from shakiness and weakness in his arms, especially after he’d woken up. He’d also had loss of control of his legs for about a week and vomiting several times a day. Yesterday, we found some large new lumps on his back that had come up over the course of several days - much too fast to be tumours. He also had difficulting urinating. We called in our GP, who thought that the lumps in his back were displaced vertebrae and that perhaps he had a bladder infection and should have a catheter fitted.

After the difficulties getting in a catheter last time, my mum pushed for an elective admission to the Oncology Unit. Shortly after he arrived there, they sent him for an MRI scan of his spine, which found that some cancerous patches there were pushing against nerves. This presumably is disrupting nerve transmission and leading to most or all of the other symptoms. They started him on a higher dose of dexamethasone yesterday, which should reduce the swelling. Today he’s going to start on a new round of radiotherapy, which might restore some or all of his limb function. He’ll be in hospital for a while, but we aren’t yet sure how long.

His calcium level is okay now though - it’s fallen to 2.58, which is well within the “normal” range.

Strength to you and your family, Rich. I hope your dad's feeling more well again soon.

Thanks Meri.

He had his radiotherapy this morning. They've decided to give him a single very high dose rather than a serious of smaller ones because that would be too traumatic. They irradiated two spots on his spine. There's another area that's also showing new growth but that's already received the maximum allowed treatment. As usual, the gamma rays made him very sick.

This afternoon, he was much brighter. He's already got back partial function in his "bad" hand, although whether that's the radiation (unlikely) or the steroid (more likely) isn't easy to say. It'll be a few more days before we know how effective it's been. They're not sure it'll restore any function to his legs though, or how long any improvement will last. (The time for a tumour to double in size with thalidomide treatment is between two and five months, so it might last for a reasonable time.)

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