Adventures in walking for a cancer patient with neuropathy.
Janet Freeman-Daily is a writer, speaker, science geek and epatient with metastatic lung cancer. She uses her systems engineering background to translate the experience and science of lung cancer treatment and research into language other patients can understand. She comoderates the Lung Cancer Social Media (#LSCM) Chat on Twitter and blogs at www.grayconnections.wordpress.com.
Yesterday morning I repeated the pavement diving stunt I pulled in Chicago last May that broke my left shoulder: I caught my toe, staggered a few steps, and played Superman on the hard deck. My official "klutz" merit badge is due to arrive any day now.
This time I had the foresight to fall just as I entered the University of Colorado Cancer Center for my monthly labs. The staffers at the information desk rated it a five out of ten for style, and a flurry of doctors and nurses descended immediately. The nurse who drew my labs insisted on walking me to the emergency room for a quick x-ray, which showed I had not reinjured my left shoulder (whew!). I was discharged from the ER just in time to drive to the airport for my flight home. I still have full range of motion in both arms, but movement is a bit less comfortable. Since I still can't take anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs due to blood thinners, I might choose to get that second cortisone shot I've been avoiding, unless icing can adequately soothe my angry tendons (good name for a rock band, isn't it?).
My legs have seemed weaker recently. I've been traveling a lot lately, and therefore walking and climbing stairs more than usual, which might be at least partly responsible. Also, my feet are getting more vocal in recent months about their objections to past chemotherapy. A paper published in January found that peripheral neuropathy greatly increases the risk of falls among cancer survivors
. To which I reply, "ya think?"
This is my third fall in nine months, which set off alarms for my docs at my check-in today. They say three falls in a year counts as a "trend." I've been referred to physical therapy for an evaluation of leg muscle strength, range of motion, and other possible mechanical reasons for my falls. If this doesn't reveal anything useful, my next stop is a neurologist. I had another clear brain MRI in January, so brain mets are unlikely.
A potential neurological issue seems relatively trivial compared to my metastatic cancer, but it does mean more medical appointments when I'd rather be writing. When will I learn to be a boring vanilla cancer patient?