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Three score and ten or more

Saturday, September 04, 2010


No I am not going to whine about my neuropathy.  I think I have written, at least briefly, about neuropathy before, but if I haven’t, sot that you will know what I am talking about, I will briefly define neuropathy.  It is the elimination or at least diminution of nerve function.  In someone like me who has a peripheral neuropathy, it means that you have lost a lot of nerve function in you arms and hands, and legs and feet.

When they told me I had such a thing, I realized that I had something I had never heard about before.  Since getting it, I found that most neuropathies belong to diabetics, and that If one suffers from diabetes there is almost a fifty percent chance that sometime in you life neuropathy will affect you.  Over eighty or so percent of folks who have a neuropathy are diabetics, the rest of us have what the doctors refer to as idiopathic neuropathy.  (idiopathic is the word doctors use do say that they don’t have the vaguest idea what caused it.  In my case, the general assumption was that I had spent much of my early professional life with my hands in acetone, toluene, dies and other  substances while building and painting scenery and making puppets.

Since that time some doctors who treat me think I probably had a light stroke or two, and that caused it.  Janet had two strokes when she was in Finland and she certainly has a neuropathy (quite different from mine) so I tend to agree.  For most folks the affects are similar but vary in intensity, but the most common effects are that you can’t feel much below the knees, except for the bottoms of you feet which burn and hurt like heck most of the time.  I always feel like the skin from the ankles to the bottom of my feet is about two sizes too small.  I spend about fifteen minutes per foot applying a prescription med that has neurontin and lidocaine in it.  I also use capsaicin cream (the stuff that burns- only my feet are reversed to the effect on my feet is cooling) etc.  I also check my feet carefully for sores etc, because these and create serious problems.  (I also take a whole bunch of different kinds of pills.)

I am writing this because, this morning I had one of the most irritating effects.  When you can’t feel your legs, you can bump into almost anything with out feeling it.  This morning I tripped over an extension cord and fell on the sidewalk.  It didn’t hurt much and, as usual, I didn’t pay much attention.  I was busy getting ready for the delivery of our new freezer.    The delivery guys from Lowes showed up and I was helping them move stuff around for the installation when one of them looked down and said “What in the heck happened to your leg?”  I looked down  at my left leg and my pants were soaked in blood from the knee to the ankle. 

I can’t tell you how often this happens and how many pairs of chinos and even dress slacks I have ruined this way.  i have  salvaged the last two or three of these because I have become an artist with pre-spot, cold water and a brush, but if it happens to something that requires dry cleaning, none of the cleaners around here seem able to handle fifteen inches of blood soaked pants  I swear I am going to invent some kind of blood alarm.  I still haven’t convinced Jan that just soaking the leg of one’s pants in blood does not necessarily require a 911 call or a trip to the emergency room.   Oh well, the pants are de-blooded and the gauze patch on my knee has only required one replacement today.

(My neurologist said that free bleeding like that is a good thing.  If I were a diabetic neuropath, diabetics have vascular problems which inhibit healing, and that’s why many of them lose limbs from foot and leg injuries. Maybe I should not look a gift horse in the mouth.)


At 11:40 AM, Blogger exMI said...

If she were the one bleeding you would have her in the emergency room so fast there would be a sonic boom......

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Norma said...


I'm going to link to your graduation gift story--it's a good one.


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