Two Steps Forward
On Tuesday, April 6th 2021, I re-started chemotherapy with the drug Capecitabine. It is four pills in the morning and four later in the day. This drug is not as aggressive as the Oxaliplatin I was on. However, it will not destroy my blood marrow. Like everything else with cancer treatment, each new event is an adventure and what is around the corner is unknown.
Since I take Capecitabine orally, I don’t need the port-a-cath to hook me up to an infusion pump anymore. My Oncologist wishes to keep it in for a while just in case it is needed; it is a whole lot easier and less invasive to hook up an intravenous line to the port-a-cath than poking around for a vein in my arm.
The side-effects from Capecitabine are pretty much the same as with Oxaliplatin: numbness in my hands and feet, extreme sensitivity to cold, some indigestion, and acute diarrhea. We just have to wait and see how I react. I must mention here that having the chemo holiday since February 23rd allowed me to eat ice cream. I polished off three tubs in the last week.
In spite of the bone marrow problem with Oxaliplatin, it was successful in the sense that my cancer is no worse or is it no better. Overall that is good news.
- The cancer spots in my liver are the same. Some are bigger and some are smaller
- There are no new locations inside my liver.
- It has not spread from my liver and a handful of lymph nodes to any other organs or tissues throughout my body.
Capecitabine is not as potent a drug but my Oncologist is confident it is a good maintenance chemo for my cancer. At our last face-to-face appointment, he mentioned how my good health, cancer aside, and fitness for a young man has a lot to do with how well I am tolerating treatment. I chuckled when he called me a young man at age 67 but I guess many of his patients are in the seniors cohort.
So I view all this as two steps forward.
Yesterday, I had blood work at 7:10 am and when I got home from the collection, I decided to move my new motorcycle. It was in a position where it interfered with getting our car in and out of our parking spot. Even with my weight and muscle loss, moving the bike around manually is no big deal. However, while making the move I didn’t notice I had knocked the kick stand up. Thinking it was down, I only discovered too late to avert a fall and down I went. This is called “dropping” the bike. There is a standing joke that goes along the lines of, “there are two kinds motorcycle riders, those who have dropped their bikes and those who lie about it.”
The bike going down was no big deal as I was able to jump clear. But now I have my brand-new bike lying on its side in the garage and the security system has all the lights flashing, To get a bike back up, there is a technique where you tuck the handle bars hard left and as you do so you get a mechanical advantage. Almost anyone can get a bike up using this method. In hindsight I don’t know what I was thinking but I just grabbed the seat back and handle bars and started to muscle it back into position. When about halfway up I heard and felt my a pop in my lower back, instant pain, and had to put the bike back down immediately. I was clearly injured and had no idea how badly.
I called my son Chris who lives pretty close and said “I need help” and gave him a brief description. He said he’d be there in ten minutes and I learned later he though I meant I was under the bike.
Chris got the bike up and drove Janet and me to Emergency at the Infirmary on Robbie Street. We got there about 8:30 am. On the drive down I took my first dose of chemo pills. Although patients are allowed to have one guest on the floors, no guests are permitted in Emergency so Janet had to head home.
I was seen by a Doc at 9:30 and had an x-ray at 9:30. My attempt to lift the motorcycle resulted in a compression fracture of my L1 vertebrae. Other than pain management, there is no treatment. Compression fractures of vertebrae are common as people my age. I’ll be a little shorter for the rest of my life.
My son Drew came and got me and I was home by about 10:00. Kudos to the care givers at Emergency. I though that was pretty quick turnaround.
To my surprise, the Doc noticed that I have an old compression fracture of the T10 vertebrae. I have no idea when that happened but I had a bicycle accident about three years ago where I flipped over the bars and landed on my back. That is the only major trauma I can think of and in that event, I went to Emergency because my shoulder was bothering me. I had a sore back but that came as no surprise.
In the image to the right you can see the vertebrae are divided into thoracic and lumbar regions. The thoracic attach to the ribs; the lumbar do not. The damaged L1 is the first one and as I write a day later, it is not bothering me although the muscles around my hips are quite sore. I’m not sure of the connection but I spent most of yesterday in bed. It could be muscle ache from that.
I am wearing and abdominal binder. It wraps around my abdomen and uses a Velcro fastener to stay tight. It holds my incision hernia inside. It is quite wide so it provides some support for my hips which takes the edge off. Plus, other than cancer related drugs, I don’t do much else. The Tylenol 3 are making a difference with pain management.
I’ll be slowed down for a few days but this is not a catastrophe, just one step back.
As always, thanks for following my story. As a Support Pillar, you motivate me to stay positive and attempt to be the best version of myself. I am blessed to have such loving family and friends in my corner while God continues to hold my hand.
Peace, Love and Laughter