Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"God Bless the Evidence Based Medicine!"

   Hi  everybody,
   for eight months I was out of touch, I could not walk or sit -- any movement that relied on a functioning spine was impossible. I could not type on a keyboard -- at times I was too weak to hold up a phone. Since a couple of weeks I'm again capable to walk and type. So -- read a short summary of the events until today:
   It was around Halloween 2014 when I accepted the offer to have a supposedly misaligned vertebrae chiropractically  aligned. That was a terrible mistake, and I should have known better! Years ago I had researched chiropractics, and learned that there are good reasons to be extra careful when you manipulate the alignment of your bones, particularly the vertebrae.
   After the treatment I realized something was seriously wrong -- I could not stand on my legs anymore, and for all practical purposes, was paralyzed with a permanent killer back pain, which several doctors and therapists tried to treat with increasing amounts of painkillers, to no avail! I could not stand, could not sit -- the computer was out of reach, and I was out of communication.
None of the painkillers did work, several visits to the UCLA emergency were inconclusive.
   This winter was the coldest winter since temperatures are being recorded, and our house was - like most Californian houses - not equipped to deal with 3 weeks of winter. I had lost over 20 pounds in a couple of weeks, and was ready to shed those last pounds too -- I had not slept for weeks, and had not left the bed for months. On all four I was able to crawl as far as the bathroom. I fell several times while under the influence of vicodin, or similar painkillers, and can testify to the fact that bathrooms are the most dangerous rooms in the house. The ability to do damage to my body was only limited by my inability to move.  I experienced types of pain I had not been familiar with. Nothing helped, a young black nurse came every couple of days to wash me, and cover me with hot, wet washing rugs to help me deal with the pain. It was bad -- not only did I feel I was dying -- I was actually looking forward to death to escape this excruciating and unexplainable pain. 
   Then came the day when I decided to pull the plug on all the experimenting! From now on I would stop all medication, only drink water, and protein drinks.
   Which I did!
   After three or four days the withdrawal from the diverse painkillers came to an end. I had reached a drug free baseline and now started cannabis oil for the pain. I will have to admit that I was paranoid enough to start it off with a vaporizer, and the lowest dose conceivable. I wanted to be able to stop instantly, in case the cannabis oil would not have the desired effect. But it did -- it's always  a miracle, when you take a painkiller and it really works...
   The cannabis oil makes a big difference -- at times it unmistakably removes horrid pains within minutes, but then again -- sometimes not so fast.  And: easing pain cannot be confused with healing cancer. Having grown up in a Christian environment, I was taught to believe that after enough suffering comes the miraculously deserved cure. One night, when I was bracing myself  for the oncoming pain, I realized that "heroically suffering" was probably not helpful -- in fact it will rather exhaust you at a time, when you need all the energy you can muster. So now I feel empowered to take any painkiller, as long as I not let it control me.
   Nevertheless, about every third day, when Robin would look at me in the morning, or lets say, what was left of me, she would freak out, because I was seriously wasting away. I had lost more than 20 pounds.  Robin decided something needed to be done -- instantly!
   She called Dr. Lieber, my oncologist, and told him that I had not been out of bed for months, and was in permanent pain. He called for an immediate appointment. An X ray revealed that the eights vertebrae had been completely eaten up by a tumor. That finally explained my state of health -- or lack thereof. I was instantly anesthetized, and after 4 or 5 hours in surgery, they had deflated one of my lungs, had removed the tumor, and replaced the vertebrae with a metal-cage, to connect the seventh and ninth vertebrae. Now my body needed to accept this construction and I would have to heal! -- A strange proposition, when you think that my immune system is currently deliberately being bombarded with chemo!
   Still -- "God Bless the Evidence Based Medicine!"
I didn't do too well with the chemo, and Dr. Lieber stopped the treatment twice, because I was not in shape to deal with the collateral damage.   
    Then, about four weeks after surgery, one morning, I noticed that I could stand up without supporting myself with my hands. A great moment, because after lying in bed for six month, I was not so sure if I would ever be able to stand, walk, or even dance. When lately I went to the clinic -- now walking on my feet, the first time without a wheelchair or walker -- I was received at the chemo department with the equivalent of a standing applause.
   Nevertheless, Dr. Lieber, after looking at my vitals and looking at me, decided that more chemo would not be helpful, and asked if I was interested to start an immunotherapy -- something he had already suggested some time ago, but at the time there were only studies available to participate in. I have not much of an idea how this might work, but now I have another field of research. As long as my back, and my computer will hold up.
Bye for now,
love and greetings,
das Brummbaer


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