17 June 2012

Peripheral improvement

This is one of those rare personal pieces that I do to keep any readers updated with my multiple chronic illnesses.  Isn't that fun?  No icky stuff will be discussed... at least I don't think any will at this point... and if it isn't your cup of tea, well, that is why hyperlinks and the BACK button were invented.  Today's topic isn't statins (of which I am off due to the problems that came on with using them that got me started on writing so I could keep some mental processes going) nor about inhaled insulin (of which there are problems not related to the drug, per se, but lowered breathing function over time) nor to the ardafinil that I am on which is a wonder drug for those who find staying awake and aware to be a major problem (and it was a huge improvement over the previous wonder drug modafinil).  This time it is back to the first chronic condition I got diagnosed with, Type I diabetes (aka Juvenile Diabetes, although it can occur at any time in life), and its long term effects.  I've been through a number of rounds of laser surgery to clear up minor holes in the back of my eyes, and got my blood glucose straightened out via diet and carb counting, which has meant some years without recurrence of that condition.  That leaves the other fallout of being a long-term diabetic, which is diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

That neuropathy started to set in very slowly over 20 years ago, mostly with my toes.  I take good care of my feet (they are at such a long distance away, after all, and attach my body to the ground) trim my nails and all that fun stuff and have had zero problems with ulceration.   You take care of your feet and you can continue to use them!  That didn't stop the neuropathy, however, and it crept slowly in over the years, just starting to get up past the toes... for 20 years I don't know if that is good or bad, but it is what was happening.  The neuropathy didn't create loss of all sensation, way out there at the other end of my body, just a numbness in the effected areas and a tingling sensation like when you fall asleep on your arm for too long and it gets the 'pins and needles' sensation when blood flow comes back to it.  In fact that is very much what is going on with diabetics as peripheral blood vessels get choked off to some extent due to the diabetes save that getting blood flow restored to choked off blood vessels is a bit more difficult to accomplish.

During my younger years, pre-diabetes, I ran cross-country and generally liked outdoor exercising.  College life and diabetes set back those activities some, early on, and more so when I grew older.  As I enjoyed hiking and camping, that meant good boots, as well, which meant a relatively snug fit that would take a few layers of socks.  Slowly losing feeling, way out there at the other end of the body, meant not really knowing how good that critical forward 1/3 of the foot was doing when trying on new footwear.  Most places don't do a 'try before you buy' deal, which would allow me to find out any areas of chafing or restricted blood flow that would happen after a couple of weeks of wearing.  Mostly I wore my older shoes, sneakers and boots... yes I have a pair of Nike Oceania II's that date back to the early 1980's and will still wear them from time to time.  When Nike brought back a limited run of their older Oceania I's, I got a couple of pairs as that was what I was wearing before the Oceania II's.  I have an older pair of those from the late '70s I used to use for swamp trekking.   I have bought one or two newer pairs of sneakers and work boots for the shop, and I wear them a little at a time every week until they got broken in with no ill effects. 

Imelda Marcos I'm not in the footwear category.  Or any other category, come to that.

As a side light I detest sandals with the strip between the big toe and first toe... that style chafes and causes actual blistering no matter what the material is.  Mostly, if I need any protection between the sole of my foot and the outside world, I want the rest of the foot protected as well.  That has saved me no end of injuries over the years.

Basically, the neuropathy put some minor restrictions on life and having to think ahead before doing anything.  As new footwear would take weeks, if not months, to break in slowly, protecting my footwear became nearly as important as protecting my feet.  Once I got fully employed, I really spent next to no time outdoors save for shoveling the walk, clearing up the yard and doing other fun things that required no long term stays outdoors.

During the last visit to my neurologist (for my catalepsy) I also brought up my neuropathy's status (basically the same over the past few years) and as he would also be the guy I saw for that, he brought up a new 'medicinal food' called Metanx.  If you use Wikipedia for the low down on it you find it is a vitamin mixture of B6, B9 and B12 (3mg/35mg/2mg) and it works to open up those blood vessels and get blood flowing out to the extremities once more.  You might see no results, you might take up to a year to get some results or you might start getting them immediately.

For me it was about 2 weeks before I noticed some of the numbness moving back from around the ball of my foot region in both feet and going back towards the toes.  This continues on and now I can feel individual toes undergoing a very constant form of the 'pins and needles' sensation plus some numbness still in the big toes.  The sensation is more dramatic than the creeping numbness affair of the neuropathy and there is still a general feeling of stiffness at the extreme portion of the foot as well as with the toes.  Also with that is just a bit of feeling of warmth out there which goes along with the general ability to actually get sensation back.  The question of how much actual nerve damage there is will remain as a concern.  There have been reports of Type I diabetics getting transplants also having their neuropathy reversed and near complete restoration of sensation at the extremities returning, so that is a hopeful sign.  When the body can identify the need to grow additional capillary vessels, it does so, which may be a part of what is going on, as well.  In theory this should also help the optical portion of neuropathy which happens for the same reasons as the peripheral neuropathy, just with much smaller blood vessels.

Time can only tell with these things.

If this can follow a Feiler Faster Thesis and Simple Time Substitution compression, then what took a couple of decades might only take a couple of years to be reversed.  Don't place bets on that sort of stuff... but medical knowledge is in the increasing capability in faster cycles phenomena which is just part of the much larger phenomena going on with humanity.  This isn't a 'singularity' coming up, but a rapidly compressing cycle of knowledge expansion and comprehension that will make the last 20 years seem like ancient history to us in 2 more years.  Medical knowledge and capability will go right along with that, if we don't try to continue being stupid about it.

I welcome this new and ever changing future just ahead of us.  It will scare the pants off of every petty tyrant, every control freak and every Nation that tries to 'socialize' anything.  And that... that I welcome most of all.  That will be FUN.  Why I might even get a NEW pair of sneakers!


MargieH said...

I have Peripheral Neuropathy in my legs and feet. I do not have diabetes but only contacted neuropathy after I started taking high blood pressure. One product that has really helped me is Vitamin B1. It keeps down the discomfort. Another site that has good basic information is http://www.medicalbug.com/what-is-peripheral-neuropathy/ . I definitely am not a doctor, but I just wanted to share some thought hoping it will help someone.

A Jacksonian said...

Dear Margie,

Thank you for the information!

I think I have B1 in my line-up already, but will double check.

For me being able to have restored feeling is definitely something that I didn't expect short of an SF story. But then this is the future, so it may be time to start raising my expectations of the present.

Bmore said...

Just felt like I should drop you a note to let you know I follow your writing. I would appreciate it if you kept the link to my blog private if you can. Don't care to be bombarded by trolls there, I get my fill of that at HA. Anyhow I just didn't want to feel like a lurker, I don't like lurkers. ; )

Bmore said...

P.S. I mainly read the Jacksonian Party page. But I do browse this page from time to time. ; )

A Jacksonian said...

Bmore - My thanks! My posting rate is very, very low as I get some more physical capacity to do more. I also have those times I'm just pretty well exhausted and useless even to myself...

I can't do much if you link your profile to your webpage, btw, as I have no control over that.

Glad to have you drop by!

jay said...

Hi -
Thanks for your thoughts and contributions. I rarely post comments on the site in which I read your comments, but I closely align with your sentiments / outlook, and you frequently have me internally saying "YES!" or "AMEN!" So, thank you for the inspiration and encouragement.

In addition to sharing your ideology, I also appreciate your exceptional ability in written communication. You can express both humor and outrage exceedingly well.

Finally, it is clear that your mind is humming along nicely with clear logic, reinforced by experience and obvious study.

My son was diagnosed with Type 1 last year. To be sure, it is a thorn in the side, but I see him coping well (with your type of fortitude), and I am looking forward to medical advancements as well.

Take Care AJacksonian, and thanks again. - j

A Jacksonian said...

Dear jay -

You are very welcome and hope the best for your son and for your family to adjust to his condition. It is currently one of those conditions that has always been 'on the cusp' of a 'cure'. The stumbling blocks for it are the auto-immune part and the regrowth of beta cells. Removing the first doesn't guarantee the second, but a body does regenerate such cells given time.

Important in the long term care of T1 diabetes is HbA1c via blood glucose control (I don't use an automated system but take readings before meals and 2 hours after and adjust as necessary), plus the use of a minimal amount of an anti-hypertensive to help on capillary blood flow. Getting blood cholesterol down is important, as well, but that doesn't mean a restricted diet, just knowing the effects of food on an individual's system.

I use a spreadsheet for my daily BG tracking and I have years of data to see how my body reacts to different regimens, as well. That is a vital part of daily maintenance: seeing weekly, monthly and annual trends.

My time to write is now limited: catalepsy and some returning stamina demand I do something with them that is at least productive in a physical sense. That requires me to learn a whole new set of skills and approaches... a good thing, but taxing as well.

I offer encouragement to all and only scorn to those who scorn others or seek to tear down men so as to imprison mankind. I am their enemy. Luckily, they can't stand humor, so that works out very well, indeed.

May your son fare well and that for your family as well.