Friday, April 6, 2012

Living & Coping With Neuropathy... There Is No Coping

I've only admitted this to a handful of people because I was initially horrified and scared by what was happening to me. As it turns out, I have full blown Neuropathy, which involves burning/freezing feet and hands, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It started slowly so that I didn't notice it much at first. When it began to escalate, I knew something was wrong. Bad. Wrong. As time when by, I went for my 6 month checkup after submitting to the regular blood test beforehand. Upon my visit, my doctor walked in and proclaimed that all my blood work and numbers looked great and to keep up whatever I was doing. Just as he was about to turn and move on to the next patient, I said, "Wait. I have a question!".

I explained the symptoms I'd been having with the burning/freezing hands and feet. He suddenly frowned and said he didn't like what he was hearing. Yeah. I don't like feeling it either. So, he ordered another more complicated round of blood work and said that he'd see me again the next week. Normally, Neuropathy is caused by Diabetes or high amounts of sugar in the blood. I don't have either.

So, fast forward to my next appointment. By this point the Neuropathy had gotten considerably worse, now involving random excruciating sharp shooting pain throughout my hands and feet. To say I was even more scared is an understatement. I was terrified. I was contemplating trying to live the rest of my life with this pain and the other symptoms and I wasn't sure I could handle it all. Frankly, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to handle it. Absolutely nothing helps to ease any of the symptoms. Not Advil, Tylenol or any form of pain killers. Nothing. Nada.

Once the doctor comes in to discuss my additional blood test results, he admits that he cannot find any medical or physical reason why I should have these symptoms. Really? Are you kidding me? Then he waltzes out the door and on to his next patient. Honestly, this was the week I went into such a bad depression and contemplated ending my life. As  much as I normally complain about the daily comings and goings of my life, I just didn't want to tell anyone aside from Mr. Snoots what was going on, although I did tell a few choice people that I trusted. Of course, no one can understand what it feels like unless they have it too. So, I was mostly met with the "Gee, I'm so sorry". Didn't help much since I really don't like others feeling sorry for me.

Alright, here is the real clincher folks. I finally put on my big girl panties and decided to do the research myself, in hopes of finding something, anything that could be done in the way of relief. I'm a desperate woman on a mission, which means there is no better researcher than I, at this juncture.

I think I went through the first several pages of a Google search until I came across something that tweaked my interest. Going to the source of the problem to treat the problem rather than take a pharmaceutical as a band-aid and only treat the symptoms? Wow. What a novel idea.  Maybe this should be catching on here in America some time soon. Or perhaps not.

What I soon discovered was that Neuropathy is a common side effect of the two medications I take on a regular basis. Tarka (for high blood pressure) and Gabapentin (for migraine headaches) both list Neuropathy as one of their major side effects. Um. WHAT? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Why would my doctor not know this? Why would he not alert me to this side effect? Does he honestly think I sit down and read 3 long pages of side effects before taking the meds that are supposedly saving me from certain death? I think that would be a tad naive for any medical doctor. It was especially naive of me to trust my doctor, assuming he tells me the truth about everything. He. Does. Not.

Every time I'm forced to wait to see the doctor in his waiting area, I see what's going on. I see the trail of young, vibrant pharmaceutical salespeople pulling their little rolling bags full of drugs in and out of said office. I know he often tries to push new drugs on both Mr. Snooty and myself but I always considered it to be just normal in the scheme of things concerning having to see the doc every six months. NOT. SO. The more research I do on the Food & Drug Administration, the less I trust the bastardos. (Italiano for the word bastards), which is really nothing new. I've been suspicious of them and their complicity with the big pharmaceutical companies for many years. My suspicions have now been confirmed and thus, validated. The government (our very own government) is supposed to be protecting us when in reality, they are not and haven't been for decades and it all has to do with politics, money, war, unions, and power... Not your health or mine. There are so many people  in this country today, they don't really give a rat's patootie if some of us live or die. On the whole, they just don't have the time, the palm greasing or the inclination to care. They have more people to *do* and more money to be made off those people. US. Too bad for you, as you're a mere statistic in their duplicitous actions and opinions.

The saddest part of all  is that I am a loyal patriot of America. I was born and raised here, taught to believe in my country and its leaders, who are now failing me, my family, and most everyone I know. It's a debacle I was  never prepared for and will  never be prepared for, because it simply is not right.

So now, I'm getting really worked up over this again and I'll stop my rant for today. The pain is reminding me how much my government cares about me. I'm beginning to feel the same disdain for them as they obviously feel for us. Stay tuned for *the rest of the story* tomorrow. I plan to blow your minds and you won't be able to do a thing about it unless you bury your little heads in the sand and choose to not read about this travesty any further.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story next week...


Anonymous said...

My sister sent me your blog because I too have nerve pain in my feet. I have had this for at least nine years.I believe my pain was caused by medication I was given for a panic disorder. I got to a point where I too could not deal with it any longer. My Dr. gave me gabapentin for the pain of neuropathy.It worked for about two weeks but then he had to increase the dosage. I still experienced nights with unbearable pain . This went on for seven months until I kept hearing nasty things about this drug so I did some homework and went to a very good Health food store that sells alternative therapy and explained my problem. I was told that a supplement called Active Lipolic Acid has had quite a few studies and appears to be helpful with neuropathy so my Dr said I could ween myself off of the gabapentin.I'm going to give it a try. I have two more days to go before I can start the new therapy. The pain has gotten a lot less since I have gotten down in the dosage. I will try natural over anything our government recommends when it comes to drugs. I believe we are all medical guinea pigs for science. I won't give up. Ms Tex

Betty Roan said...

I'm going to try not to climb up on my soap box, but no promises. In 1993, my mother was so ill and dizzy she couldn't walk down the hall from her bedroom to the kitchen without holding onto the walls to steady herself. She was diabetic and suffered from hypothyroidism. Treatment for these illnesses, insulin and synthroid. I had to take family leave and come back to Illinois to help her. When I got here, I found she was taking about 20 pills every morning and a similar number at night, some of which were heart medication. I made appointments and took her to a gazillion doctors who did another gazillion tests. Come to fine out, the meds were causing her problems. All she really needed to be taking was the synthroid and insulin. Once she was weaned off the meds she was fine. She had never had any kind of tests for heart before yet she had nitroglycerin and other heart meds. I think the docs must get a kick back from the drug companies. Otherwise, why prescribe so man. 6 years later, my mother passed away. Her stupid doctor took her off synthroid, because her thyroxin level was too high. Even I know you don't take a hypothyroid patient off the drug, you merely lower the dose. I blame this stupid physician assistant for her death. When I came back home, I found her drugs were back up to a cabinet full of bottles. Makes me sick! I feel for you and hope you can find the remedy. I once thought doctors were next to God, but after that experience I know they are not. You have to know what's wrong with you before you ever go or it's a waste of time. Okay, guess I got on the soap box. I'm climbing down now. I hope you are able to have a wonderful Easter.

Snooty Primadona said...

I'm learning that as patients, we need to become our own advocates & learn as much about our conditions as we can, before ever seeing the doctor. The days of believing in ALL doctors is over. Granted, there are many good doctors but they are not all created equal. We need to talk amongst ourselves & share what we've learned in order to be more informed. I think I'll call it Medical Networking For Better Health.

Beth Dunn said...

You have to tell us if your hands/feet feel better if you go off your meds. This is so sad. I've recently been given more and more meds for "issue" I have and don't want to become another cog in the pharma wheel

Mental P Mama said...

You HAVE to be your own advocate. Believe me, no one else is going to do it for you. And train your children to do so, too. They will need to do it for you when you cannot. I know this all too well. And next? Go see an acupuncturist. Swear.

The Incredible Woody said...

Makes me ever so thankful for my family doctor. He is 'just' a GP but he is so much more. He is the kind of doctor that gives you his home phone number in case you need him. He is the kind of doctor that limits his patient load so he can dedicate the amount of time needed to each patient and so he is not ruled by his practice so he still has time for his family. He is also one of those weirdos that will tell you to take certain vitamins or herbs to help what ails you! I love him. I count myself very, very lucky.

Anonymous said...

Haven't been to your blog in a loooong time. I'm reading oldest to newest so I haven't read the next post where you're going to blow our minds (looking forward to that) but wanted to add my two cents.

Three of my siblings are nurses, so my naturopathic beliefs label me as a "weirdo", a label I wear proudly. If you haven't watched it yet, try to get your hands on the documentary Food, Inc. It changed my world. Not just about pharmaceutical drugs, but also food - processed food, which is just as bad or worse.

My firm belief is that there probably are some relatively safe and helpful pharmaceuticals out there - and they're found on the Walmart $4 list and they're the tried and proven soldiers that have been around for many decades. It's the new "razzle dazzle" drugs that have fancy logos that I will always avoid. Not only have they NOT been fully tested, doctors receive huge incentives based on the number of Rx's they write to their patients. It's illegal for pharmaceutical companies to blatantly cut the doc a check - so instead, they will send the doc and their family on an all-expense paid vacation to Cabo, St. Barth's, London, etc., under the guise of a pharmacology seminar that requires 2-4 hours of "continuing education" and 6+ days of four-star dining, accommodations and attractions. These doctors are greedy sons of bitches who went into the healthcare field to fatten their bank account, not with the priority of actually helping people get or stay healthy.

Shop around for a new doctor. Find a doctor that allows a full hour to hour and a half for his new patient consult. See if he asks about your lifestyle, your relationships, your interests, what foods you eat, what you drink, your exercise levels, how many hours you sleep, your overall satisfaction level, what stresses you, etc. Find a doctor that addresses the mind, body & spirit - and not just symptoms.

And what mental mama said - acupuncture, acupuncture, acupuncture. I can't explain how it works I just know it does. I credit acupuncture for managing my pain and keeping me from having cervical spinal fusion surgery -- and for regulating my blood pressure, thus eliminating the need for blood pressure meds. Something about aligning the "chi". Haven't really delved into how it works -- I just know that it does seem to work and since the Chinese have been doing it for 2000+ years and it's still around, there's got to be a reason for it.



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