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Three score and ten or more

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Neuropathy, Neuropathy, who's got the Neuropathy.

I am back to informing my so-called public about the fun involved in being a coot (or even a geezer.). Somewhere back in the early posts on this blog I covered some of the details leading to the discovery of my neuropathy. I will have to confess that until the doctors told me that I had a Polymotor Peripheral Neuropathy, I have no recollection of ever having heard the word. After almost six months of weekly, and sometime more frequent trips to the Medical College of Georgia, I was relieved to have a diagnosis, even if it didn't included a cause, or even a real prognosis. I confess that back in 1991 and 1992, I had come to the conclusion that death was imminent, or that my fate was probably the opportunity to test the Georgia Southern University building accommodations for the handicapped by tooling around in some kind of scooter for the rest of my career and life.

I should perhaps define neuropathy. In the simplest terms, it is a loss of nerve function. My particular type of neuropathy (peripheral) affects my legs, feet arms and hands. I have some feeling in my feet, but it is strange. Most of the time they tingle or burn, in the morning they feel like the skin on my feet is three sizes too small. My fingers sometimes feel like they are asleep, but the biggest effect is loss of strength. I can't pick up anything with weight and be sure it is going where I planned for it to go. Neuropathy is not without some benefits. When I shattered my ankle a couple of years ago in a car accident, the emergency physician came in to set it. He apologized profusely about how much is was going to hurt, so I braced myself and he grabbed my foot and twisted and pulled radically. He looked up a bit confused when I didn't scream or at least grit my teeth a little, but it didn't hurt a bit. Lack of nerve function means lack of nerve function.

Sine I discovered my neuropathy, I have found that there are a great many folks out there with neuropathies, caused by all kinds of different things, diabetes being the most common, and that the degree of handicap and even suffering varies widely from person to person, as does the type of treatment. My granddaughter has a diabetic neuropathy that affects not just her extremities, but her intestines so she has the kind of burning that I have on my feet in her abdomen. My wife Janet has a neuropathy as a result of her strokes. She has absolutely no feeling in one thigh and very little feeling in that leg, no burning or anything like that. Neuropathy is one of the reasons why so many diabetics have lost limbs. When they have foot injuries, they are difficult to feel and thus to treat. Once they are discovered, diabetic blood circulation makes them hard to cure.

Neuropathies are treated mostly with drugs that have other functions. Pamelor or Nortriptiline is what is used on me, and it was developed as an anti-depressant. Most of my friends who have neuropathy (including my granddaughter) are treated with Neurontin, which was developed as a treatment for epilepsy, and it goes on and on. I learned early that my feet are more comfortable with an application of Capsasin cream. (the really hot stuff that is applied to arthritic joints.) I recommended it to a lady in church who really suffers and she came to me the next Sunday absolutely furious. "You really put that stuff on your feet? Really? My feet hurt enough without you playing practical jokes." I don't recommend treatment to anyone anymore. When I took Neurontin for a year I had all kinds of psychoactive reactions including falling asleep, not while driving, but at almost every red light. Honking is noisy and gets you on your way.

With that boring academic introduction I have to get to the point.

As I mentioned in my last post, my sister, her husband, and their son and daughter-in-law came to see us Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, leaving Saturday morning. Thursday evening it began to rain, and I felt really bad. I felt like it was spoiling their visit. (Though they made it to Paula Deen's Lady and Sons restaurant before it began). My brother in law was tickled pink. He is a farmer in the Idaho desert, and though they have thunderstorms that deposit a lot of rain he could hardly believe that a soft stready rain could deliver two and a half inches of rain in one day. He just enjoyed watching it rain.

My oldest son is an artist with the outdoor smoker, smoking turkeys, boston butts, and other stuff, for himself, his friends and sometimes for us, and we had purchased several pounds of really, fresh out of the water, giant shrimp for him to make shrimp and beef (separate, not one item) shish kabobs.. He didn't let the rain bother him, he hauled his smoker to our house, set up a beach umbrella gizmo to work under and smoked a vast quantity of shrimp, bacon, top round steak in one inch squares, pieces of red, yellow, and green peppers, chunks of granny smith apples, crookneck squash and zucchini into an amazing pile of skewers filled with goodies. As a side dish he had prepared black eyed peas flavored with the remains of a smoked boston butt that he had done earlier in the week.

We ate until we were well beyond the recommendations of any diet program the staggered off to bed.

What, you might ask might this have to do with neuropathy? Well, my feet had been giving me trouble for about four days, beginning well before the family arrived (I think, while Janet was in the hospital having surgical correction for her wrist). I had applied all of my prescription nostrums and some that were just kind of voodoo things, but nothing helped. Saturday morning after the family left, I took a shower, soaked my feet in hot water, then sat down to inspect and treat my feet. They were burning across the entire sole and part of the upper foot on both feet, and I was miserable. I sprayed them with some mystic thing that was prescribed and began to massage them with a prescription cream when I felt a rough surface on the bottom of the foot between the third and fourth toes. Thinking that perhaps some skin had peeled, or that I had some vagrant grain that had got into my sock the previous day, I grabbed it with my finger and thumb and pulled it off (or out). I had a piece of scorched pointed barbeque skewer that had driven between my toes over an inch into the bottom of my foot. I can't remember having my shoes off for a moment while the shish kabobs were being smoked, and I can't imagine how I stepped on the darn thing, but even more, I was astonished that I couldn't distinguish the pain of the skewer from the overall pain of my foot.

It worries me, of course because that is the kind of thing that creates the ulcers that diabetics get that cost them body parts. I slathered the thing with topical anti-biotic and started a regimen of ampicillin, but it is still confusing and painful. So I thought I would sit at the computer and whine about it.

(Actually the Oscars are on, and I am blackballing - at least for as long as it takes to write this- the Oscars because The Bucket List didn't get any nominations.)

I am going to try to post some pictures of the shrimp shish kabobs in the next few days.

5 Comments:

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

The shish kabobs (sp?) sound wonderful but the neuropathy sounds awful. My dad had it real bad and would nearly go nuts rubbing his feet and shins with rubbing alcohol. I've had it in on my left side since the stroke. The weird thing is that it started in my left thigh before I had the stroke. I have no feeling there.

The last time that I saw my mom she told me that she was ready to die. I asked why since she was only 80. She told me that she had had a great deal of joy out of her body because she'd always been healthy but that, as she aged, her body was starting to become a burden. She let go a year later.

I can see that time coming for me one day but I've been stricken with a lot more illnesses than she was and maybe I'm used to more physical distress. I'm not ready to let go yet but I do see that the pain would one day outweigh the pleasure and I'll be ready for what I hope is incorporeal bliss.

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger changingoftheguards said...

I feel your pain my man, I have bi-lateral peroneal neuropathy, I have blogged about it to. Its a hard thing for people to understand, until they feel it...
Good luck

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger DWJ said...

I've been reading your Blogs and find them interesting. Nobody has ever read any one of mine as far as I can tell. I figure that if no one reads them it is too much effort to do them.

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger DWJ said...

I looked up the Bucket List and find that not only did it not get any nominations, but the reviews rated it between d and d-. You probably have to be a geezer to appreciate it.One reviewer said it has a maximum amount of plot cliches, inane imbecilic dialogue etc. Maybe I'll go when it comes to the dollar theatres, but I sure won't pay any more than that to see it.

 
At 2:15 AM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Hey DWJ, I reviewed THE BUCKET LIST on Jan. 16, and gave it a rave. In time, and with adequate repentance most reviewers will be forgiven for not having taste equal to mine. Most of the current batch of movie critics wouldn't give a life affirming show a decent review under any circumstances. If you watched the Oscar program which nominated movie did you have an instant urge to run and see (except Ratatoile-however that is spelled)

 

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