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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