Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Is this Delirium?

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 6 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • January 31, 2009
  • 00:45 AM

Background: My husband is 70 years of age and of sound mind. Ususally. He is in chronic pain due to back injuries and has trouble walking at times. He is on a narcotic and other medications. He was put on morphine around 4 months ago. His pain is diminished somewhat, but he still lives a very sedentary life because of his pain and nerve damage.


Three weeks ago, he felt chilled and went to bed in the late afternoon. About 7:00 that evening, he woke up and needed to get to the bathroom. He could not get his feet flat on the floor to begin to walk. He struggled, but could not get his footing. I had to raise my voice to get his attention, and although I tried to help him up, I was unable to do so. He would promise to rest for a minute, but 15 seconds later, he would be attempting to grab hold of something to pull himself up. I finally had to call for help. We got him up and back to bed. Ten minutes later, the same thing happened and I had to call for help again. My husband desplayed symptoms of what I now think to be delirium. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The EMTs who took him to the hospital told me he was very agitated and attempting to handle medical equipment in a manner other than what it is made for (my husband is an EMT). Once in the examination room, he was able to stand on his own and seemed perfectly normal. After extensive testing, he was admitted and diagnosed with pneumonia and released after 2 days. He had shown no signs of pneumonia before this, other than the chills. The doctors did not seem to be concerned with what I now think was delirium.

Two weeks after his release, he slept for 23 solid hours (altho he might have gotten up once to go to the bathroom) and when he awoke, the same thing happened. For seven solid hours he was unable to walk, stared into space, was alternately cold and hot, and would not respond to my questions. I could raise my voice and get his attention, but I could not keep his attention. Had I not been there, he most likely would have hurt himself as he, at one point, attempted to drink from a bottle of febreeze thinking it was water. I could list at least a dozen things he did (physically) that indicated he was not "completely there." At the end of 7 hours (it was now 5 in the morning) he said it was time to go to sleep..he got up, went to the bathroom, got into bed, and went to sleep.

While in the hospital, he had multiple blood tests, a CT scan on his stomach and head, urine test, and was given IV antibiotics for three days. He came home with a prescription for 3 days of antibiotics.

Six days now..nothing else has happened. We have tried twice to get him to his family doctor, but snow gets in the way. I have tried to research delirium, but nothing I have read seems to address this "transient" delirium that is so temporary, but recurring. (A similar incident, but not as severe, happened in November). Any insights? I thank you in advance

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6 Replies:

  • What medication is he on? Could this be a side effect?
    Felsen 510 Replies
    • January 31, 2009
    • 02:09 AM
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  • He takes morphine sulphate ER (100 mg 2x a day) as well as other medications he has been on for quite some time (Lyrica, amitrypteline, celebrex, lovastatin and cozaar). He takes morphine sulphate IR for break-through pain. He started the morphine in October. (After going off fentynol). I give him all his meds so there is little chance he "overdosed." He had had some adverse effects to Lyrica when his doctor doubled his dosage (24 hour a day confusion) but these effects were eliminated once his dosage was lowered.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • January 31, 2009
    • 03:24 AM
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  • Did you check his pulse or BP during one of his episodes?An arrythmia can cause mental symptoms.
    richard wayne2b 1232 Replies
    • January 31, 2009
    • 03:48 PM
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  • The first time, his pulse and BP were checked in ambulance. The EMTs told me they found nothing unusual. He had an EKG in the hospital and was on a heart monitor with nothing irregular noted. But, as I indicated, as soon as he got to the hospital, he was pretty much ok. To be honest, I did not think of checking during the last episode, but will do so if it happens again. Hopefully, it will not, but since an underlying condition has not been identified, I fear it might. Thanks for responses!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • February 1, 2009
    • 02:27 AM
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  • I am the original poster of this thread. I am posting now largely out of frustration. Since my husband's bouts of delirium, we went to his doctor for his post-pneumonia check-op. My husband's last episode with classic delirium symptoms (confusion, inattentiveness, disorientation, illusions, hallucinations and agitation) occurred 10 days after he had finished his antibiotics prescribed after hospitalization from pneumonia. His first episiode occurred two months before the pneumonia.When I told his doctor of the delirium episodes, the doctor's response was "This happens when we gets older." Period. Nothing else.Now, I am willing to accept that we often misplace keys, forget names, and sometimes cant remember why we came into a particular room, when we get older. But to blame a 7 hour episode (and previous episodes) of delirium on "age" seems a little negligent and far-fetched to me. My husband has had no further episodes, so I am cautiously optimistic. I know the internet is not necessarily a reliable source for medical information, but nothing I read online concerning delirium would have prepared me for the doctor's response, or lack thereof. Grrr...I feel better all ready. Thanks.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • February 18, 2009
    • 04:40 AM
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  • Yes,I agree with you that your doctor was too dismissive of your facts about his behavior,which does sound like episodic dementia.Perhaps you should take him elsewhere where they'll pay attention to you,especially since you are what is known medically as a reliable historian.
    richard wayne2b 1232 Replies
    • February 19, 2009
    • 00:35 AM
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