My road to recovery: Dealing with peripheral neuropathy

Notice how the flesh beneath my right thumb is slightly bigger than the other one?

I have been on leave from work for about two months now. I have not also been writing and my laptop has been reduced to being a plaything to my daughters. I sometimes feel like a total invalid, and for a busy body like me, who gets an adrenaline rush from doing so many tasks and accomplishing all of them by the end of the day, that thought could be very depressing! Worse, I could no longer feel the warmth of my children’s touch on my skin.

Truth is, I could no longer run, jump, skip, not even walk for more than 30 minutes. I could no longer travel alone with my little girls as I always encounter small accidents. I have lost my appetite for food–and most things–yet I seem to gain weight (probably because of lack of exercise). I get tired easily. I can’t hold an object in my hand for more than five minutes, including my usual companion when my daughters are in school or busy with something–my iPhone. Standing or sitting for more than ten minutes makes me tired and uncomfortable too. My muscles are simply weak. I have also become more irritable, and there were even times when I feel helpless and very emotional. My face sometimes feel numb and tightening sensations would envelop my scalp, especially before bedtime, making me wonder whether I would still wake up the following day and see my little girls. Every night, I would cry myself to sleep as I pray.

I remember waking up one morning a couple of days before Christmas and feeling that something’s wrong with my body, particularly with my hands and feet. The tingling sensations had started as well as the numbness, and they simply won’t go away. Right after Christmas, I went to see a cardiologist (the only available internal medicine specialist in the hospital at that time) who tagged my case as peripheral neuropathy. I later on found out that this is a rather vague term, as it could have different causes, at the same time could represent symptoms of different illnesses as well. In my case, everything’s still unclear. I had undergone a series of blood tests, which revealed that my case has nothing to do with diabetes, malfunctioning thyroid glands, etc. so I was simply given a 5000-mg Vitamin B complex to take everyday for a start.

Just before the New Year, I had this not-so-brilliant idea that a body massage might do me some good. Well, it did nothing but worsen my condition. On top of my raging nerves, my whole body started to ache all over–every part of my body that the blind masseuse had touched, that is, including my face. (And I still couldn’t understand why she had to touch my head and face!) I don’t think I’ll ever have another body massage in the years to come and I definitely would never go back to that massage spa (at the second floor of SM Muntinlupa) if I ever decide to have it again.

Anyway, I finally saw a neurologist and has been under medication (Gabapentin + Neurobion 5000) since then. She required me to undergo a nerve and muscle test (NCV and EMG, respectively), which I refuse to be subjected to mainly because it  could be extremely uncomfortable according to the articles that I have read. I just can’t imagine myself sitting through the whole ordeal even for just a few minutes, with needles being poked on my muscles and nerve endings, especially that I have very low tolerance to pain and have developed the fear of electrocution since I was young. Not to mention that I have to pay the hospital a substantial amount for it (e.g., it’s PhP4,000 at the University of Perpetual Help Hospital in Binan, Laguna and PhP7,000 at the Asian Hospital)!

My daughters, ages five and eight, have become my guide and helper in just about anything that I needed to do. I feel bad about it, but at the same time, I am grateful to have discovered that they are more than willing to aid their granny mom in any way they can. I have looked up so many information online about this illness and even met a 78-year old lady who has the same case. However, there’s no clear-cut answer as to how I have acquired the said illness, which is rather common to athletes, the elderly, and those who have experienced a stroke, shock, or some serious accident.

I do feel quite good for the past three days now, however. The tingling sensations on my arms, legs, and head, which tends to intensify whenever I exhaust myself from doing house chores and running errands, have now been reduced to 20%. While my toes seldom get numb now, my hands feel nearly 100% normal again. I can now wash my hands comfortably, although I still use rubber gloves when washing the dishes and continue to take hot baths regardless of the weather or the time of day. Moreover, my back pains are gone while the muscle pains on my thighs have substantially subsided. Although my leg muscles still easily get tired, somehow, I am able to move around more and a little faster now. And, yes, I can now write again and use the computer, obviously.

Indeed, I have lost extra income from my home-based jobs, and my activities have been limited. I miss doing a lot of things too. However, there are positive things that my illness have also brought about. Sure, there were times when I have felt so broken, even hopeless. But I have learned to lean closer to God. Good friends have shown their concern for me and tried to encourage and help me in any way they could. One of my girl friends, an occupational therapist in London, even sent me a set of therapy gloves and an exercise guide. My children have never been more helpful and caring to each other and to me, too. Best of all, my husband has been showering me with gifts and affection like he’s never done before.

I have learned to relax now and appreciate the things and people around me. I have come to acknowledge that I also need other people to get through certain situations in life and that I cannot do all things by myself. I am now taking care of my body better than before. Aside from the physical therapy sessions that I regularly go through at a nearby hospital, I exercise any time of the day or whenever I have sufficient energy to do so, even when in bed (yoga). I try my best to get enough sleep at night and take a nap during daytime as well. I try to keep negative emotions at bay by being more prayerful, by reading good literature, and by refusing to become easily angered as well as by avoiding to comment on situations that I have no responsibility. Lastly, I try to think of happy thoughts–mostly about the wonderful days I have spent with my husband as well as the blessings my family has been receiving from God. Instead of thinking that I might not grow old with with my hubby or live long enough to see my children grow up and each have a happy family of her own because of my poor health, I have started thinking how I could show my love to my family each day.

One thing I have noticed is that I feel so much better and able to do more stuff around the house whenever I am happy, when I take things easy, and keep my faith that I shall be totally healed soon by God’s grace (without having to go through more tests). After all, why worry so much when I know who holds my future? :)

* * *

Addendum

I still haven’t gone through the NCV and EMG tests, especially after another doctor has told me in all honesty that although the results of the said tests could help, it wouldn’t really provide a very accurate diagnosis of my case. For one, since the tingling sensations were all over my body, it couldn’t be carpal tunnel syndrome, which the NCV and EMG are most useful (for). He advised me to avoid getting stressed instead and I think he’s right, especially that the tingling sensations would become severe whenever I’m deprived of sleep, exhausted, or very anxious about something.

However, I never stopped researching about peripheral neuropathy (PN), and I was willing to try just about anything that could promise to help improve my health condition. Eventually, I came across this article stating that PN may be be connected to having a weak immune system, just like most diseases. And so my search for potent immune boosters began, and incidentally, I was blessed to have met people who introduced me to Nu Skin|Pharmanex, a direct selling company that has been around for about 30 years now in the US, specializing in anti-aging products, including food supplements. I began taking LifePak, their super-immune booster food supplement in July 2012 and experimented by gradually lessening my intake of doctor-prescribed medication (Neurobion 5000 and Gabapentin) as well as some known brands of multivitamins that I’d been taking, until I felt bold enough to stop taking all of them.

You see, I normally wouldn’t last a day without taking the said doctor-prescribed medication, but since August 2012, I have been relying solely on LifePak. These days, I would only experience very light tingling sensations on my toes whenever I would stress out myself – usually from too much walking or doing a lot of house chores during the day, coupled with lack of sleep for two to three consecutive days. In addition, since taking LifePak, I started experiencing migraine less, I only experienced sinusitis once in a while and it wasn’t even half as bad as it used to be, I no longer feel very sluggish the following morning if I stay up late at night, and to date, I’ve never had fever.

Nu Skin|Pharmanex recently launched ageLOC R2, by the way, which is supposed to make the person’s body 10-20 years younger, and it was featured on Discovery Channel Asia in December 2012. It is listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference in the US, aside from being available in approximately 50 countries, including those with very strict regulations when it comes to food and drug, such as Singapore, Japan, and Canada. I am hoping that ageLOC R2 would help totally extinguish peripheral neuropathy from my system. I shall chronicle my experience once I start taking it.

If you have the same medical condition as mine, you might want to re-evaluate your lifestyle, and start taking high-quality food supplements, like LifePak, along with healthy diet and regular exercise, too. Of course, remember that a positive mindset, a happy disposition, coupled with faith in God always bring about miraculous effects! :) – The Musing Mom, 4 July 2013

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6 thoughts on “My road to recovery: Dealing with peripheral neuropathy

  1. Peripheral Neuropathy can also be down to having an over-active immune system so blindly recommending/advertising a companies drug is misguided. PN can be caused by over a hundred different things, B12, cancer, inflammation caused by the over active immune system – which in turn can be triggered by infection or illness or, as in my case, CIPD. Having spent 3 weeks in hospital, mostly bed bound, i fought daily just to get myself out of bed. The nerve conductivity testing is very important to decipher if it is the nerve core, protective sheath, motor and/or sensory nerves that are damaged – you must have it for a true diagnosis along with MRI, CT scans and lumber puncture. PN can go into remission naturally (in the case of G.Barre syndrome as example) depending on its root cause, those could simply coincide with you taking these tablets – if left alone there is potential that if it does return then it may be worse and if it affects the core (which you don’t know as you never had the test) then recovery is far more difficult!
    Incidentally, you mention a fear of electric shock, it isn’t nice but you have to be strong and cope with the test for a gain! I have a total fear of needles and still allowed them to do the LP – and its from this that they diagnosed the cause and treatment!

    Good luck, the docs and physio can provide the tools to make you well but only YOU can make yourself better

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    • Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me these things. It feels good to be able to connect with someone who knows exactly what I’ve gone through. Honestly, the more I read about PN and illnesses showing related symptoms, I get more convinced that my condition was very serious and I was very lucky – or stupid – not to have myself admitted in the hospital. I’m also surprised that none of the specialists I have consulted mentioned the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). I’m afraid that I got all its symptoms, but when it comes to how it’s triggered, none seemed to apply to me, at least, according to the materials I’ve read so far.

      Yes, I still plan on having those tests done, when it recurs, to find out what’s really causing all those symptoms. I guess I just need a little more nudge. I’m curious though, what did the docs say was the cause of your illness? I hope you’re doing very well now and the symptoms have not recurred. Again, thank you for writing.

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