History of the Zipperleg

For those of you catching up, here’s the general outline of what’s happened so far.

From a medical standpoint, I have Myxoid Liposarcoma which originated in my right calf. I underwent surgery for that, where they took the sarcoma, a bunch of muscle, some bone and a little bit of sensory nerve for good measure. I was not given the bone as a souvenir, no matter how much I argued I had been growing it for 34 years and it should rightfully belong to me.

I was diagnosed in September 2010. It’s a funny story, really…

My wife Kristin and I were married on August 14th, 2010. One of her prerequisites of us getting married was that I got health insurance, as I’d never really had it before. Except for that one point during the dot-com bubble, but we don’t really talk about that. I got all of the forms in, as you might imagine, on the very last day of the deadline to make sure I had it before our wedding. So my coverage started August 1st. Didn’t think anything of it.

So we get married. It was quite an event, actually… 1920’s speakeasy theme hosted in a real speakeasy (not decorated like one, really an underground club) in Brooklyn. We had the Red Hot Sardines playing, Kristin surprised me with an amazing aerialist, who would later be arrested for performing on the Brooklyn Bridge (we love her) and an fantastic night was had by all.

We left for our honeymoon, for which my only request was “somewhere with no technology at all”, to a small, beautiful island off the coast of Maine. One morning, waking up in a small cottage house, my leg felt a little funny. Kind of asleep, but like it had been dipped in icy-hot or tiger balm. As I was rubbing it to try to wake it up, Kristin said, “Um… that leg is bigger than the other one.”

Of course, we figured I had just whacked it on something and hadn’t noticed, as I tend to run into things a lot. But made a note to check it out when we got home, because, hey, I have insurance now and can see a doctor!

After seeing the look on the doctor’s face, I went to get a sonogram to make sure it wasn’t some sort of clot. Doctors are paranoid about clots, I would come to learn. It wasn’t a clot. So now I needed someone to look at my leg.

I had nothing. I had no idea what came next. I didn’t know who to ask. I didn’t know where to go. As luck, and my wonderful wife would have it, while having lunch with a friend, she happened to mention my situation. Not that she was telling everyone, just happened to mention it to this particular friend. And he happened to know someone on the board at Sloan Kettering. So he called them up and got the okay to drop their name.

This is how I met Dr. Healey. With a name that sounds like he’s the funny doctor from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, the man is about 6″ 5′, comes across like a dad from a 50’s television show, and wears bow ties. He’s the sort of person who never really gets upset about anything. I made it my mission to get him to laugh. I got a chuckle from him. Once.

I had the surgery, and Dr. Healey was brilliant, and the leg was left looking a little thinner, but not like any chunks had been taken out. I have regained almost 100% mobility in the leg. When they took the cast off, my scar was an angry bright pink, still puffed out and stitched together with thick black thread. Kristin and I immediately dubbed it “Zipperleg” after the hysterical Madeline Kahn’s line in Young Frankenstein.

In the following few months, I went through radiation therapy, and my nice clean scar was replaced by a dark burn patch. Despite my begging, they wouldn’t let me bring a spider in to the radiation room, so I missed out on getting my Spidey-Sense. My body recovered from the radiation enough to be scanned again, and it turned out there were 3 spots in my lungs which they felt deserved close observation. The next scan a few months later confirmed that one was indeed getting rambunctious and had doubled in size. Conveniently, it was located right between my heart and my spinal column.

Soon after that, I had surgery to remove the two spots from my left lung. As Dr. Finley operated laproscopically, my recovery time was much less than the previous operation. However, upon my recovery, I was scanned again, and the remaining spot in my right lung, which apparently felt neglected, had begun growing as well.

At this point, we abandoned the Whack-A-Mole approach and I began chemotherapy. There have been some ups and downs, but this treatment is still currently underway.

And now you know.


Comments (One Response)

  • Jan says:

    My nickname is also Zipperleg. It also from a surgery scar on my leg from repairing a broken ankle. I was curious if tethered was another with the name and came across your website. I hope you are on the mend.
    All my best.

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All Content © Zipperleg Chronicles 2013 - Except for most of the photos, those are taken from the Internet. Sorry.
I am not a doctor, so none of my ramblings should be taken as medical fact.
Your milage may vary.