BY NOBERT RUG
I have peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy. This is customarily associated with symptoms like numbness pain, and tingling but there are other symptoms as well.
The peripheral nervous system is composed of three different types of nerves. They are the motor, the sensory and the autonomic nerves. Each of these nerve systems controls different functions. I have both sensory and motor peripheral neuropathy.
Damage to my motor nerves makes walking difficulty. My legs feel heavy like I am trying to move a 25-pound ham and are difficult to move especially on waking up. I sometimes feel off balance. Since damage to the motor nerves disrupts the signals from your brain and spinal cord to the muscles telling them what to do even something as simple as walking can become a difficult task. I require a cane while walking to maintain my balance.
Also, I need to see the floor or ground, or I lose my balance. If I shut my eyes, I start waving around like a willow sapling in a wind storm. A doctor tested for this damage using a pin. They repeatedly pushed it against my flesh on my foot and I could not feel anything.
However sometimes if I step on a coin I swear I can tell if it is heads or tails. Then I have electric shocks. It feels like my toes are getting shocked and the feeling moves across the bottom of my foot.
Because I suffer from symptoms related to this motor nerve damage, I must exercise extra caution when walking on stairs or other areas where my risk of a fall is greater. This is the primary reason I had a first-floor addition put on my house, so I wouldn’t have to climb stairs. Allowing myself extra time and not hurrying can also help me limit my risk of falling. I now walk like a two-year-old.
I also find it difficult to pick things up off the floor due to a lack of balance. I sometimes try to hook then with my cane or use my cane to push them close to something I can grab on when I bend over. My wife bought me a “Picker Upper” as I call it so I can retrieve things from the floor.
Because damage to your motor nerves affects the ability of your brain to transmit messages to your muscles I find myself limiting the use of my legs and feet. Unfortunately, this decrease in physical activity results in me having muscle deterioration and weakness. This is often referred to as muscle atrophy and I found it hard to get up from a chair. I had a box built to raise my chair to assist me in getting up.
Muscle weakness further contributes to my loss of balance and difficulty walking that I previously mentioned. While exercise is often difficult and painful for me there are low-impact exercises that I do to help retain muscle mass and prevent muscle deterioration. I am now attending Physical Therapy to help with this and have exercises I do at home to try and rebuild my strength like stepping on and off a step stool every time I leave the living room to try and build up my muscles.
The disruption of signals from the brain can also lead to cramps, muscle spasms and twitches. Sometimes it feels like my toes are overlapping each other. They aren’t, it’s just my nerves playing tricks on me. Most of the time, the cramping strikes at night and ranges in severity from mild to terribly painful.
While most common symptoms that are associated with peripheral neuropathy are a pain, numbness, burning or tingling they are not the only symptoms. When the motor nerves fall victim to neuropathy the symptoms can go far beyond pain or numbness. They affect my ability to control muscles and perform otherwise simple physical tasks. Though you may not be able to completely reverse these negative effects, alternative therapies like exercise can help you build and maintain muscle mass. This helps to minimize the impact of motor nerve damage.
There are other therapies I use though to help me mitigate the peripheral neuropathy symptoms. I take the controlled drug, Lyrica twice a day. Other things I use are homeopathic treatments. I treat my feet with a Frankincense and Mir oil every morning. Finally, I use a CBD tincture twice a day. Every time I need a refill, I search the internet for the best price because there are now so many players selling this that pricing is all over the place. I have also moved from 300 MG to 1200 MG and the price increases proportionately. I can buy the 1200 MG for less than some people ask for the 300 MG.
CBD has been called safe for almost everyone. This is according to a new article from the World Health Organization. But you should check with your own doctor before you begin using any CBD product. Research has shown several CBD oil benefits, ranging from alleviating social anxiety to improving rheumatoid arthritis. CBD could also decrease chronic pain although your mileage may vary.
Norb is a freelance journalist from Western New York. Follow him here.