I have written before about the fact that I have a history that includes a fight with a bone tumor back in 1980. I recently wrote a summary of the events that led to that diagnosis, because my lawyer in the fight with Social Security thought that it would be helpful to our fight. After some reflection, I decided to post it here, as well. Hope you find reading this to be helpful in understanding me . . . .
Vernon Pope’s Bone Tumor Discovery
This is a factual summary of the events leading to the discovery of a bone tumor in my left femur in October of 1980.
The story begins on September 17th. I was active duty in the United States Army, assigned to Ft. Eustis, Virginia, training to be a helicopter mechanic. On that day, I awoke with the rest of my unit at 0500 hrs. (which was normal for all normal duty days). At the time I awoke, I was not aware of anything amiss. I sat up, spun on my bed, and placed my feet on the floor, feeling normal. The very moment I stood up, I felt a searing pain I have struggled to describe ever since. The best estimate I can give to what that pain felt like is imagining what it might have felt like to have my whole left leg doused in gasoline and set fire. I screamed so loudly that half of the men in my barracks came running to the room I shared with 5 other trainees.
Very quickly I was questioned about what was wrong, and it was decided that I needed to get to the nearest medical aid station immediately. Two of my fellow trainees created a fireman’s carry chair and hauled me to the aid station. The medics on duty checked for sprains, broken bones, charlie horses, and other usual suspects, without discovering the cause of the pain. By the time the examination was concluded, the First Sergeant of my unit was also on location. The medics gave me some non-prescription pain killers and said they didn’t know what was wrong. They sent me back to the barracks on 24 hour bed rest – and specifically instructed my First Sergeant that if I was not feeling better by noon I should be admitted to the main base hospital for further testing.
The First Sergeant took me to the hospital at 1205 hrs. that same day.
The following days were a series of tests, x-rays, and other exams. Nobody who examined me ever suggested that they felt my pain was other than real, but no evidence was found for a cause with any test the hospital at Ft. Eustis was capable of performing. On October 8th, I was put in an ambulance and transported to Bethesda Medical Center for a full-body bone scan, with and without contrast.
On October 9th I was informed that the bone scan had revealed a shadow on the left femur that had not previously been seen on x-ray. I was scheduled for a biopsy of the site of the shadow for the following morning.
The doctor who performed the surgical biopsy deserves some mention, I think. He was Col. James W. Blunt, Jr, MD. He was the Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Ft. Eustis at the time in question. He was also the Hospital Commander, and the highest ranking Orthopedic Surgeon in the United States Army.
I went into surgery at 0700 on October 10, 1980. I was back in my room after recovery by noon. At 1300 I was informed that I had a bone tumor – eosynophilic granuloma (please forgive me if I misspelled it – I am not an oncologist), and that I would be permanently disabled.
I want to call attention to a few facts of this narrative. First – that I experienced extreme pain all of the 23 days before we knew what was causing it. Second, there actually was a very real problem. Third, that the same sensitivity to changes in my body is why when I experience a migraine headache now, it isn’t something I can medicate and still go on with a normal day.
Once again, it has been proved that cancer can be bested. All it takes is a willingness to put patient care above profit. But the American Medical Association (AMA) will never accept that. Profit is their god.
My wife found the following website, and sent the link to me:
FYI: it is advertising a new product, available in the US and Canada, that looks to me like a milk substitute, based on soy protein and oils.
My personal consideration about it is the use of soy protein – I’ve read enough research to realize that soy is converted by the body into estrogen. For women, it is likely to be a primary cause of fibroids, endometriosis, and breast cancer. For men, obesity, “moobs”, and prostate/testicular cancer.
There are three hormones at play here: estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. Women need a careful balance of estrogen to progesterone; while men need to keep estrogen and testosterone in balance. Perhaps “balance” is the wrong word, because the amounts needed for optimum health are far from equal. But the point I’m trying to make here is that when you consume something that your body converts to estrogen, it absolutely WILL throw out those ratios of hormones your body produces naturally.
Something to think about.
Sorry I haven’t been writing much the last couple of weeks. My body hasn’t felt right for a while.
Besides the arthritis acting up with every change in the weather, I’ve also been coping with lack of sleep, low energy, and a few other minor things. I was happy to attribute this to the process of trying to lose weight, but then my wife found something that pointed in a different direction.
It seems that one nutrient has some sort of affect on all of those symptoms. Pantothenic Acid – which is one of the B Vitamins.
Here’s where the mystery comes in, though. Pantothenic Acid is in virtually everything. If you eat it, and it’s a whole food, it probably has this vitamin in it. So the question becomes – how does one become deficient in a vitamin that is everywhere? My best guess is that something is causing my body to not metabolize the vitamin properly. But, having no training in biology or chemistry, I have no clue what that would be.
Still, we got some supplements and I’ve started taking them. It’s too soon to know how much relief this will eventually give me, but it has already helped some.
A couple of days ago I wrote a blog about my frustration at my primary care doc at the VA trying to push me onto statin drugs for my cholesterol. In her comment on the blog, my good friend Anita pointed at the Mark’s Daily Apple website ( marksdailyapple.com ) and said it is her Paleo Diet guru. I’m also on the Paleo Diet, but hadn’t seen this site, so I went to take a look.
My chief frustration with the site (at least at first glance) is that it is typical of sites that specialize in fitness – they don’t have anything to say that doesn’t include a fair amount of healthy exercise. If I want to use his program, I need to be able to follow the program. But, after a bone tumor in my left femur in 1980, the femur can’t handle that sort of activity. The permanent limitations I was given back then included: No walking over 1 mile per day TOTAL, No jumping of any kind (like parachute jumps), No pushing pulling or lifting over 30 pounds.
Every time I have ever exceeded those limits, there has been a price to pay. Stress fractures around the site where the bone tumor was have ensured that a week on crutches each time was the minimum price I’ve paid. I actually have a pair of aluminum ones in a closet that I’ve used for years.
But – I had an idea today. My doc asked me on that last visit if I’d thought about getting a hip replacement. I half laughed and said I might get it someday, but when I do we’d have to replace the whole femur because of the bone tumor that caused all this trouble.
It may be time to do that.
Why? Because I’m actually only 53 years along. If I do get a hip/femur replacement, I would have to do physical therapy, and then I’d be free – FREE – to start exercising in earnest again. Keep in mind – before the tumor I was a candidate for the US Army’s Special Forces training. A hip replacement before this summer could mean that I’m able to start training for a half-marathon by the time I’m 55. I can almost get excited just thinking about it. If I also get the migraine headaches under control, I might even be able to go back to work, part-time at least.
It is something tempting to think about. Especially since I just had a short phone call with the Veteran’s Choice program, and they are setting me up with an appointment for a primary care doctor HERE IN TOWN.
My lawyer called back this morning, and we talked over my concern and the response I wrote up to the doctor. She approved everything I wrote, with the caveat that this may still initially cause trouble with Social Security over not complying with “doctor’s orders”. Still, she feels that because it’s a matter of spiritual/religious faith, ultimately we’ll prevail.
It’s currently 56F degrees here, looking for a high in the low 70’s – so I shut off the heater and opened up the windows. It’s SO NICE to have that option now!
I’ve been sitting on this for over a week, waiting for a chance to talk to the lawyer who’s handling my claim for Social Security disability. Unfortunately, she’s having health issues herself, and hasn’t returned my call yet.
Anyhow, through the last 5 years the doctor at the VA clinic has been “concerned” about my cholesterol levels and has wanted to put me on drugs to lower them. This year, he didn’t even have a lab on-site to get the results from, but he went full-court press on pushing the statins just based on LAST YEAR’s results.
I swear, being an MD is nothing but legalized drug pushing anymore.
Anyhow, I told him I wanted to see what the results of the NEW blood work were before making any decision, and they could contact me with those results by email.
I got the email the next day. My results were that the total cholesterol went up over 40 points. Here is an excerpt of what he said:
“LDL (bad cholesterol) has gone up from 240 mg/dL to 280 mg/dL Patient has been very resistant to taking statin drugs. Complications of untreated high cholesterol including heart attack. I would advise him taking ATORVASTATIN … in order to get his LDL down. Possible side effects include muscle weakness, muscle pain.”
First – ATORVASTATIN is generic Lipitor. Notice that the only side effects he mentions are muscle weakness and muscle pain – nothing about LIVER DAMAGE, which all the literature on the health websites claim is the #1 side effect.
Anyhow, I still haven’t talked to my lawyer, but I also haven’t been sleeping well for the last week, mostly because I’ve been stewing over this. I still want to talk to my lawyer, but I think I have figured out what to say to the doctor. It would go something like this:
Dear Doctor: Please notice in my records that I am a Scientologist. This affects much more than just my attitudes towards drugs that have psychiatric actions. It is WHY I have an Advanced Directive AND a Living Will, both of which stipulate a DNR order. It is my religious and spiritual belief that the end of this life is only an opportunity to begin the next one. I am happy to discuss health care options that affect the quality of life while I have it, but I have no interest in extending it. If I have a heart attack, it will be the end of my life, and I’m comfortable with that. I will not take anti-cholesterol drugs now or ever, and you will not ever bring it up again.
Well, I think that’s what I’d say.
HOWEVER – lest you think this is entirely humorous, at least one MD in the USA has already done exactly that.