Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Foot Drop

Im not sure everyone knows this story about how I developed foot neuropathy so I thought I would write it out for those who dont know. Back in the fall of 2008, I went through several rounds of cranial/spinal radiation. The leukemia had spread into my spinal fluid, and the radiation was needed to clear it out to prepare for my bone marrow transplant with my dad. As a result of these treatments, I was hospitalized with a remarkably bad Mucositis. I could not eat food or take any of my pills. My pain was a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.......and so I began approximately a two month stay at the 8th floor of the University of Washington. I would have to stay that this was probably the worst timeframe of my life. I had a central line put in my chest, I experienced constant nausea and vomiting, I averaged about 2 hours of sleep each night and I also lost about 25-35 pounds. Week after week I became more and more hopeless..........this was also a time that I found out one of my best friends also was diagnosed with leukemia. One of the worst things that happened was that I developed what is called Foot Drop.

Foot drop is essentially something that happens with some chemotherapies, but also can develop from physical damage to the peroneal nerve. During this time with the mucositis, I was on a morphine drip to control the pain. I was also instructed to sleep with my head elevated to avoid additional issues with the mucositis. The combination of these two things ended up causing the condition of foot drop. I fell asleep one night.....turned on my side and maybe 3-4 hours later I woke up, but could not lift my left foot upward. It was numbish, and I also felt down the left side of my left leg a numbness. I tried to walk to the bathroom, but my foot would only drag. Either the chemotherapy or several lumbar punctures could have damaged the nerve or it could have been from physical damage to the nerve. I believe it was the latter. When I had fallen asleep on the morphine drip, my right knee was firmly placed on the nerve for several hours. Because of the morphine, I could not feel the pain and so I believe this is what caused it. They started me on physical therapy while the nerve would supposedly heal slowly over time. The ability to lift my foot did slowly improve over time, but it never has recovered fully.

As a result of this I lost one of my lifelong passions. I can no longer play soccer because my agility, speed, and coordination are completely gone. This has been very difficult for me, and even watching soccer games can be difficult. My disease has also cost me close to two years now of one of my other passions (working at Childrens in the garden). For close to ten years I had the amazing experience of working with so many wonderful people and being able to be a part of such a great organization. I truly hope I can get back to being there again.

The best thing Foot Drop did for me when it took these things away from me, was that it gave me the opportunity to find a new passion. I am now heavily addicted, and devoted to golfing....its probably the only sport/activity other than darts, pool, bowling that I can do now.......and it is amazing how much fun I have golfing! The best part of being able to play a lot of golf is that you naturally get better. Once you are diagnosed with cancer, you also learn to appreciate the little things much much more. Just being able to fill the competitive void with the challenge of golf opened up so many joys in my life. I used to care about my score back in the days when I only played 1-3 times a year for about 20 years. Over the last two years I would say my handicap has gone from about 30 to close to 14. I would say the main reason for this besides playing more ofen, is that I stopped caring about my score and just appreciated being outside enjoying each moment. I look forward to many more great golf outings with friends and family.

I hope someday that the nerve will somehow heal, or maybe there will be some sort of surgery to repair the nerve, but for now I will just appreciate what I have and keep all of the fond memories of what I used to have.


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