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Aortic aneurysm, oesophageal cancer? Advice please

(6 Posts)
Jux Tue 21-Jul-09 11:26:11

OK, my mum lives with us, she's 84, had some severe heart attacks some 25 years ago, high blood pressure, diabetes (not v serious) etc etc. She's been losing weight for some time and I have been worried about her eating so little for a while. Last week she told me she had trouble swallowing and often threw up when she ate. She made an appt to see our doctor as a result and saw him yesterday. He has referred her to two clinics for investigations confirming (or not) the above. He says he can feel the aneurysm.

How quickly do you think these clinics will respond? How quickly do you think she should be seen?

I am asking, because she's quite well off and my brother suggested she go private and get seen faster, but I don't know whether she actually would be seen more quickly, as I thought -particularly with cancer - that they had sped up the process of diagnosis.

Also, I think an aneurysm can pop at any time and there's not much you can do about it, a bit like a brain haemorrhage. Is that right?

Lastly (I think), she has not been able to eat for a couple of weeks. I spoke to the doc on the phone last week and he suggested a 'smoothie' of banana, full fat ice cream and full fat milk. She has this every day and keeps it down. She also drinks a decent amount of tonic water and diluted fruit juice. Last night dh made her a chicken consomme which she had two bowls of (welcome relief from banana which she doesn't like) but then she threw up; she thinks she had too much and should have stuck with one bowl as her tummy obviously isn't used to much other than banana mush. Anyway, we are wracking our brains for other things she can have and mostly something which could replace the banana mush as she is really fed up with it. I know bananas are fantastic as they provide pretty much all the vits and mins you need. Can anyone think of anything else which would keep her well nourished as easily as the banana mush?

Sorry it's longer than I expected, and thank you for reading so far. Thank you particularly for thoughts, advice and sharing knowledge.

CMOTdibbler Tue 21-Jul-09 11:45:55

She should be seen within 2 weeks, so probably not worth going private. If she has an aneurysm, then it can be operated on to stop it going.

Rather than drinking diluted juice etc, she should get some sip feeds like Ensure (list here ) as they will really boost her calorie and nutrient intake quite easily. They made a lot of difference to my GMIL who needed building up.

Little and often is really the way - a couple of biscuits with every drink, an early lunch of soup (cheesy soup or ones laced with cream for preference), then afternoon tea, then dinner, then supper with fortified drinks in between works better than trying to have a large meal 3 times a day

You can make smoothies from any fruit - peach is nice as are strawberries or chocolate. Add cream - think of the things you would least eat on a diet, and all those will be good

Jux Tue 21-Jul-09 12:02:39

Thank you!

I will ask at the chemist for some of those sip feeds.

Mum is not having meals; she used to do her own breakfast and lunch and come to us for supper (she has a granny flat in our house) but she hasn't done any of that for a week or more. The only thing she is having is that banana mush - she makes enough for two cupfuls in the morning and spends the day sipping slowly away at them, along with one glass of diluted fruit juice and one glass of tonic water. All of this will take all day. Yesterday she had the chicken soup as well.

I got her some Complan last week but she hasn't tried it. I'll go to the chemist now for Ensure.

Thank you so much. I have been feeling so stupid and helpless.

CMOTdibbler Tue 21-Jul-09 12:59:19

She really needs to make an effort with eating - sounds like she really isn't taking enough in. I know it can be really hard for older people to get up an appetite when it is hard going, but it is important.

You might have to be a bit firm with her, and say that it is important that she has 3 Ensures a day (can't remember how many is advised, but GMIL has 3), plus meals (wheatabix with hot milk and sugar for breakfast, soup for lunch and tea - you could make a load and freeze in portions then put them in her fridge each morning).

And drinking more fluids really makes a difference - is she having tea/coffee on top of what you listed ? She might be getting dehydrated. GMIL quite likes fruit shoots, and that helps to keep track of drinking enough - she lives on her own (97), but can forget to have meals and drinks if unprompted by seeing it waiting for her iyswim

Jux Tue 21-Jul-09 13:30:57

I got 4 - one's in a can and is chicken, the others are in plastic wobbly things. I've got her coffee, lemon&lime and neutral. The chemist said they're very rich so sipping a straw through crushed ice is a good way to take them, but not to dilute them.

I don't thinks she's dehydrated atm, she's an ex-radiographer and knows about those sort of pitfalls and will make the effort to avoid them. The trouble is that having meals is beyond her atm as anything too solid makes her throw up. The doc thinks the aneurysm is blocking her pipe so she can't get stuff down unless it's v liquid. We are trying to persuade her to try whatever we have but liquidised, but she's a bit against it atm. I will have a more serious chat with her after I've picked up dd, when I take up the Ensure.

?Got to go

Jux Tue 21-Jul-09 20:42:17

OK, so now I hope we've got her diet sorted a bit better - thank you CMOTdibbler.

Can anyone tell me anything about aortic aneurysms?

Or oesophageal cancer?

I'd be very grateful.

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