The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.

Tutu Brothers

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dystonia; It's Not The Name of a Former Soviet Republic

An annoying effect of my benign (thank heavens) schwannoma tumor is a condition known as “dystonia”—uncontrolled muscle movements and contractions—in my left arm and hand. My dystonia tends to manifest itself at inconvenient moments, like when I’m trying to open a fine microbrew, tee off, or use a computer keyboard.

As mentioned in my first blog post, the docs initially suspected that the large mass that showed up on my first CT scan following the initial melanoma diagnosis was a melanoma tumor that would knock me off rather quickly. So, whenever the dystonia fires up I try to first remind myself how fortunate I am to have a schwannoma tumor rather than a melanoma tumor and that the dystonia affects only one appendage. Plus, I’m right-handed. My guess is that most every carcinoma veteran tends to measure any subsequent physical affliction against past experiences with “The Big C” and often concludes that, comparatively speaking, maybe this new thing ain’t so bad. Perhaps this perspective we bring to nearly all other challenges in our lives is one of the many blessings of having survived cancer to date. Still, I must confess that I all too often whine a bit about the problem. It hurts. Maybe I’m just another spoiled ‘boomer that wants it all?

It’s about time for another visit with my favorite radiation oncologist and MRI to check up on how Mr. Schwannoma is behaving. I’m hoping this doesn’t set off yet another lengthy round of preexisting condition debates with my health insurance carrier, which may conveniently forget that we’ve already had this argument and they lost. If it does, perhaps I should just be thankful that I have a carrier to argue with? Not everybody at this Hotel does.

For information about dystonia, although I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested unless they have it, check out the website of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation,

Happy Holidays!

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