Those of us who struggle with the condition of type 2 diabetes may face many complications including peripheral neuropathy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, peripheral neuropathy is “a result of damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves), often causes weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in your hands and feet. It can also affect other areas of your body.”
Today, we’re going to talk briefly about neuropathy and what, if anything can be done about it.
What causes neuropathy?
Again, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes.”
I can’t tell you how it affects other people, but I can tell you that the neuropathy I experience in my hands and feet, and legs started as an incredibly deep itch. I don’t know how else to describe it. When it started in my feet, it felt like I could scratch all the way through my foot and still not make the itching stop! It was and remains miserable. It has slowly been making its way up my legs. It always starts with the itching and then moves on to stabbing pain and numbness.
It is always so difficult to explain to someone that your foot is numb, but you feel stabbing pain. It sounds like you are going crazy. Sometimes the pain and itching make it feel like I am!
In the last couple of years, the neuropathy has also moved to my hands. Sometimes my fingers and hands itch and hurt so much that I have to stop whatever I am doing and scratch them. I realize that the scratching doesn’t really do much good to alleviate it. However, when I ignore the itch, it is like the itch “nudges” me until I scratch it. The itch intensifies and intensifies until it drives me mad not to scratch it.
Diabetic neuropathy differs slightly in that it is high blood sugar/glucose that injures the nerves and causes the problem.
It also differs in a rather significant way which makes type 2 diabetes caused neuropathy extremely dangerous.
Again, according to the Mayo Clinic, diabetic neuropathy can affect you with four different types of neuropathy. They are:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Autonomic neuropathy
- Proximal neuropathy (diabetic polyradiculopathy)
- Mononeuropathy (focal neuropathy
Each one of these comes with its own set of body parts that can be affected which pretty much covers the whole body from head to toe!
Anyone who says that diabetes is not a killer has not done their research.
The only good news about this is that there are ways to treat, slow, and perhaps even reverse the effects.
There are medications you can take to help with the pain of neuropathy. I used to take Gabapentin. It was supposed to help with the pain, but I had to take a lot of it and it really didn’t do much to stop the itching or the pain so I stopped taking it.
There are other medications or treatments you can partake in, of course, but I have found that rubbing lotion on my feet can be very effective at alleviating some pain.
Talk with your medical provider about other treatment options.
I believe exercise (walking) and losing weight can also be very effective in lessening the effects of neuropathy.
Whatever you do, don’t give up hope and don’t feel like you are alone. You are not alone and you are not crazy even if it feels like you are losing your mind with this pain and itching with no apparent cause.
There have been times when I have literally jumped and cried out when one of those sudden stabbing pains did its thing! Can you imagine being at work and crying out? It happens… My co-workers were getting quite used to it before COVID-19 which forced us all to start working from home. I wonder what will happen when we go back to the office? They will probably have to get used to me all over again!
My new normal
As I mentioned in my last article, I began walking and watching what I eat a bit closer after I learned about my high A1c. I decided to record my daily foods and walking here as a hopeful way of helping others and to document the path I have taken in my effort to reverse type 2 diabetes.
The image to the left is my daily walk. I use an app which is aptly called “Walking.” It is by Verv. It has been getting easier to walk the more I do it.
Today I walked a little over a mile in 27 minutes. When I started about a week ago, it would have taken me easily 40 minutes to do the same distance.
I have been working hard on walking at least one time a day and oftentimes walking two times a day.
In total today, I walked about 2 miles.
Meals are a much harder task for me to take on. For one, I am not a very good cook so I am limited to the few things I know how to make.
For breakfast today I had steel-cut oats with almond milk, flax seeds, chia seeds, frozen blueberries, trail mix, and coffee. This was a 707 calorie meal and held me over pretty well until lunch.
My fasting pre-breakfast blood sugar reading was 195. That was almost 200 less than it was a week ago!
For lunch, I had a salad with ranch dressing, whole cashews, chia seeds, and flax seeds. It did not hold me over very well and I was hungry in about an hour.
I fought the feeling of hunger and waited another hour before I had a small handful of cashews as a snack.
For supper, I had a pork steak with Italian-style bread crumbs.
My evening snack consisted of two pieces of string cheese and about 30 red grapes.
While my calorie goal is 1970, I had 2841 calories today. That is one thing that I seriously have to work on. I often overeat and I need to make sure that I am not doing that.
Tomorrow I intend to write about carbs. A lot of people think they are the enemy. Read on tomorrow to see what I think!
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About the author
Karin Nauber, is a professional journalist who has worked in the newspaper business for the past 25 years. She is also a grandmother who, along with her spouse, is raising one of their granddaughters. Karin has nine grandchildren with whom she enjoys spending as much time as possible. Karin also was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 13 years ago and has faced many challenges with the disease. If you would like to contact her, please do so at email@example.com.