Member Neuropathy Journey Stories: What's Yours?

Posted by John, Volunteer Mentor @johnbishop, May 12 6:29am

This discussion was created as a place for members to share their journey with neuropathy. This will allow members to easily learn from each other what has helped them and hopefully help new members avoid some of the painful and difficult struggles some of us have faced. The following is a suggested outline for sharing your story that would be helpful for other members for comparison to their own neuropathy story.

— When did your neuropathy start? What were the symptoms? When and how was it diagnosed?
— What treatments or medications have you tried?
— What side effects have you had, if any?

Optional:
— What would you tell your best friend if they told you they had neuropathy?
— What activities have you had to give up because of neuropathy? What do you instead?
— How has your life changed socially? at work? at home?

What’s your neuropathy story?

Note: If you want to ask a question for another member who has posted their neuropathy story here in this discussion, be sure to add their @membername in your post, for example @johnbishop. Your question may already be discussed in other neuropathy discussions. Be sure to check here first: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/neuropathy/ That way this discussion can be reserved for member neuropathy stories and hopefully make it easier to read and find similar symptoms to your own.

I started my journey with neuropathy when I was in my early 50s, with some numbness that started in my toes on both feet. I mostly ignored it because there was no pain and I really didn’t think much about it. After a few years, the numbness progressed to the bottoms of both feet and I mentioned it to my primary care doctor who said it could be nerve damage. He said they could run some tests and determine if it was nerve damage. I asked if they determine if it is nerve damage what can be done. I was surprised when he mentioned there was not any treatment that will help with numbness.

The numbness gradually increased over the years and in my early 70s the numbness had progressed to just below my knees. It was at this point that I was worried about my mobility and what the future would hold so I talked with my primary care doctor who helped me get an appointment with a neurologist. The neurologist scheduled some lab tests including an MRI, nerve conduction test and a physical exam. I was diagnosed with idiopathic small fiber peripheral neuropathy but unlike most people diagnosed with neuropathy I only had the numbness and no associated pain. I was disappointed that there was no treatment available even though I had a diagnosis but that is pretty much what my first doctor had told me 20 years ago.

After I received my diagnosis of small fiber PN I was trying every topical cream available that said it would help neuropathy with zero results. Then I found a book by Dr. Terry Wahls, The Wahls Protocol. She shared how using functional medicine and nutrient rich foods helped her treat her symptoms of multiple sclerosis and get her life back. This started my journey on looking at nutrition as a possible treatment for my neuropathy.

I learned there are a bunch of companies and folks with neuropathy treatments looking to take your money and it is up to you to do your own research and avoid scams. Fortunately, there is a lot of information on how to avoid scams but it is out of sight, out of mind for a lot of folks. Here are the ones I have used:

Quazar's wonderful guidance about avoiding scams and snake oil cures:
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/how-to-avoid-quacks-and-snake-oil-treatments/

FDA's Health Fraud Page:
https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm278980.htm

NIH's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) which offers guidance about integrative health and how to evaluate it:
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/decisions

That said, I have found a protocol of supplements developed by fellow neuropathy patients that works for me and has helped others with PN get off the pain medications. I was skeptical at first and took the list of supplements and vitamins to my doctor who shared it with the Mayo pharmacist to get his feedback on any interactions. His only comment was he thought the omega 3s in the list was high.

You can read more about it in this discussion:

Have you tried the new Protocol 525 product for neuropathy relief? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/have-you-tried-the-new-protocol-525-product-for-neuropathy-relief/

I started taking the supplements/vitamins September 2016 and by December the numbness in both legs went from just below the knees to just above the ankles. I have not made any more progress, but I am OK with it since I feel it has stopped the progression. My neurologist had told me to just watch it and let him know when it gets worse – in other words there is nothing I can do to fix it. Recently I have seen some feeling return to my feet at different times during the day which gives me some hope of more progress and a new normal.

I’ve been a member of Mayo Clinic Connect since 2016. And it gives me great comfort to talk with others, share ideas and information, not only here in the Neuropathy group, but also in other groups as new health questions come up, like managing PMR, getting a knee replacement, a CPAP, etc. Ahh, the joys of aging. Hey, if you qualify ;-), you might also want to join me in this group on Connect: Aging Well. (See all 70+ Groups on Mayo Clinic Connect here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/groups/)

What’s your neuropathy story?

REPLY

I am a Myeloma patient. My neuropathy started in my fingers and toes after 3 months on Velcade injections. I continued on a lower dose of Velcade for 2 months but it l left me with painful neuropathy in my feet. I was taking Gabapentin and was up to 900mg with little relief. Then they prescribed Cymbalta at bedtime which helped tremendously. I cut the Gabapentin down to 600mg. I’m thankful I am back to walking and exercise. My feet still burn but it’s not as debilitating as before. Other Myeloma patients have told it it will never go away completely. I guess it’s a a new normal.

REPLY

It has been a 4 year journey filled with troubleshooting and misfires before landing on my new normal of Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. I joined Mayo Connect 1year ago because I was lost and needed support of others who understand my doubts, fears and were experiencing similar diagnosis.

My downfall began August of 2016 (age 46). I had unusual neck and head pain from painting. My PCP sent me to physical therapy, no relief after 1 month. On to acupuncture for 2 months, nothing. Xrays were of no value. Jan 2017 my MRI revealed 1 moderate cervical herniated disc and 2 bulging discs. Ah hah, the answer! Wrong. 2 spine surgeons agreed surgery was not the answer and sent me to Pain Management. I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and cervical spondylosis. I worked with 2 different Drs because the first PM Dr. could only provide help to my neck while my head needed help too. This resulted in a total of 4 cervical and occipital nerve blocks as diagnostic tests (these are preliminary to Radio Frequency Ablations). From that point, July 2017 through January 2019 I received 10 Radio Frequency Ablations on my neck and head. Burning off the nerves provided initial relief but, eventually petered out. I so badly wanted to be cured and get back to work. I kept receiving these intrusive procedures and they became physically harder to take.
I developed Neuritis which felt like fire works in my neck and my shoulders now were becoming decrepit. I lost ability to use my arms and shoulders properly. I believe (and so does my neurologist) that these ablations were having repercussions on my body and causing nerve damage. I was prescribed short term Gabapentin eventually followed by Lyrica and a few round and rounds between the 2 drugs due to insurance coverage.

During this time, headaches and severe migraines were playing a role but again, my head pain was more than migraine. Occipital neuralgia supposedly. After 2 neurologists,…chronic migraine was diagnosed and I began botox injections every 3 months. I felt like a HUMAN PINCUSHION for 2 years straight between 40 botox needles at a time to the head plus all those God awful needle entries to my head and neck from RFA's I then began the newly introduced migraine monthly self injections of Aimovig followed by Emgality and now Ajovy (they lose effectiveness for me after 8 months or so).

During these times, stranger things began throughout my body. Back and hip pain had begun developing. Toe and foot pain, along with hand pain. These pains all lead me to Orthopedic Drs. who x-rayed and said nothing's wrong, I must have sprained something. I wore a boot for the foot I couldn't walk on, a hand brace (from weeding too much – what? who gets a weeding injury). I had an MRI of my back…it showed a mild disc protrusion. Yeah, so what. Just like my neck, nothing major to be effecting me this way. I received epidurals in my back and started PT again. The common theme began to reveal that nothing majorly, structurally, was wrong with me. I felt too young to be falling apart to all these unexplained, tormenting pains. I myself, decided to go to a Rheumatologist to rule out fibromyalgia. The Dr said I have mirroring symptoms but, not fibro and suggested my Lyrica dose be increased.

January 2019, I had just had my final rounds of ablations and my pain was exacerbated from them, more than ever. In retrospect I believe I made a big mistake having too many and pushing for the reason of getting my life and job back. It backfired on me. The Fall prior began oddities in my body such as tingling in my hands. Pins and needles all over. My body was not neurologically right. In addition, I was exhausted, having palpitations and shortness of breath. These symptoms slowly grew and took over my body. I managed miserably to get through the holidays then went to my Neurologist in January. I explained through tears and frustration that something was wrong neurologically and if he couldn't figure it out I was going Mayo Clinic. It was finally then that he tested me via skin punch biopsy and diagnosed me with Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. Ahhh hahhhhhh, finally! I was not going crazy, it was not all in my head, there was a name for this chaos in my body.

And so it began…a thorough and extensive workup to find an underlying cause. A plethora of blood work and genetic testing. I had already had MRI's on my brain, neck and back. I had bloodwork drawn prior for SED rates when I was trouble shooting but, this testing lasted for 2 months. Immediately landed on a B12 deficiency. I began B12 injections every other week for months until my level regulated. I slowly had more energy and could breath better without my heart racing.

Now, we work on regulating and controlling nerve damage and pain . My neurologist says maybe 2 -3 years nerves will regenerate. It's a crap shoot. I stick with Lyrica, tried Cymbalta for over a year then weaned myself off because I had memory issues. Throughout my pain journey, I began taking Nucynta until my new insurance wouldn't cover it. I moved to Norco (hydrocodone) and added medical marijuana for when hydrocodone is not enough.

My body was increasingly feeling sunburned, pins and needles, electric shocks in my head and face, sharp unexpected pains throughout, burning and weakness. By spring of 2019, my legs started to die and walking became restricted. This was and still is my biggest fear. At the same time, with my body in a state of flux, I developed Chilblains on my feet with tenacious itching, red painful sores and my feet were flaring between red hot and blue, purple, grey colors. My neurologist claims it was from neuropathy. This bout brought me to a dermatologist, vascular and cardiologist for ample testing (echocardiogram, CT scans) and ruling out any other misfires. After this episode settled, my Neurologist suggestion lidocaine infusions to control pain. I sat for 5-6 hours in the apherisis unit of my local hospital every Monday for 5 months. Lidocaine is a slow drip infusion that increases dose based on body weight. I was "in it to win it" (similar to my radio frequency ablations) but, it was a failed experiment for me and offered minimal relief. Others receive benefit.

I also had a spinal tap to rule out autoimmune diseases. I do not have any, thank goodness. However, the spinal tap left me with a ferocious spinal headache which landed me in urgent care followed by the ER and needed a cocktail to stop the pain. Never in my life have I experienced something so painful. This all lead me to seek the help of a chronic pain psychology for 2 months. I needed help but found she wasn't the one to help. I got nothing from her. I am fortunate to depend on family and friends and Mayo Connect for my mental health support.

My suggestion to anyone with peripheral neuropathy or symptoms….please do your research and gain knowledge about your body. Be your our advocate. I learned the hard way that we're kind of on our own out here. Drs can only take you so far and dont have the time to care as we want them to. It's very important to find a good PCP (primary care physician) and establish a relationship. They will lead and direct to the best of their abilities. My PCP is wonderful! He is my hydrocodone prescriber. He recommended medical marijuana for my comfort. He wrote my disability letter and qualified me for long term disability both through my job and Social Security. I know he's got my back. I also take a supplement protocol, try to eat healthier, and keep active as best I can and practice mindfulness, breathing techniques and meditation. I also benefit from weekly myofacial release therapy. In June I will attend Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Program for 3 weeks

Living with peripheral neuropathy in a constant battle. A 24/7 job. It takes mental strength and tenacity to not be defeated by it. It takes a village, if you will, to have all hands on deck, by way of medicine, mental health, holistic approaches etc… I say I still work but, no longer get paid. I'm sorry for the length of my story but, it was therapeutic for me and I thank you for reading it. I'm happy to help further should anyone need.

Be well-
Rachel

REPLY

Good afternoon. This discussion is an effort to give everyone an opportunity to share their neuropathy journey….all in the same discussion. How helpful will that be……you can then use the search field by topic or treatment. As your journey continues, it will be great to keep up with each other and add to our neuropathy knowledge bank.

So….here we go. My favorite saying when I learn about something on Connect, "if only I had known" or "if only I had done some research", or "if only I had begun posting earlier"

The scene:………………….patio breakfast and a few games of cribbage with my e-harmony friend, now life partner, about 7 years ago. We set up the board and he handed the cards to me to shuffle. When I tried and they scattered everywhere, he asked: "What's the matter with your hands?" That was my neuropathy coming out party.

Next steps: ………………..I revealed my situation to my two nurse friends. One offered me essential oils, the other medical cannabis. I chose cannabis because I knew my pain level was too high for well-intentioned essential oil products. To this day I manage my pain with a few CBD: THC products…..tinctures and topicals in different ratios. I was beginning to have high-level pain in my arms, wrists, and hands, electric shocks in my head, and burning pain down my legs as well as inside my abdomen. Good thing I had a coach. I would have been overwhelmed with all of the experimentation and evaluation required at that time to find the best medical cannabis products.

In the meantime:…………My orthopedic surgeon was consulted because at the time I had fallen down the stairs and needed a rotator cuff repair on the left side. He had previously done the reverse shoulder on the right side and I thought possibly it was "in trouble". He immediately took X-rays and went with me to his "buddy" who does spine work. They collaborated, put a hold on the rotator cuff, and did the cervical fusions first, rotator cuff second. I didn't even know enough to tell the difference between thoracic and cervical. I did remember lumbar.

Enter the neurologist:…..Only after the cervical surgery had healed and fused, did I learn that the pain, tingles, and needles, were still there which led to more tests and finally a punch skin biopsy to confirm that I had small fiber peripheral neuropathy (SFPN). It was not a bad shoulder surgery and I wore that darn brace for 3 months so there would be no claim of bad neck surgery. I also learned that my idea of slow learner had no comparison to bruised nerves that need to heal to be helpful.

Bump in the road:………. I had to get off of an anti-depressant that really helped my early-onset EOL ideation because of digestive side effects that were just too much to overcome. I substituted one more dropper of cannabis in the evening. Not as good as the anti-depressant until I adjusted some dosages.

The future:………………… learn everything I can. Alter what I can, accept what I can't.
Knowledge is Power. Share your neuropathy journey to help others on Connect.

What would I tell my best friend if she was diagnosed with SFN?
Join Mayo Connect….. participate, contribute, question or just use it for research……..then you won't be saying, "if I had only known."

May you be safe and protected.
Chris

REPLY
@rwinney

It has been a 4 year journey filled with troubleshooting and misfires before landing on my new normal of Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. I joined Mayo Connect 1year ago because I was lost and needed support of others who understand my doubts, fears and were experiencing similar diagnosis.

My downfall began August of 2016 (age 46). I had unusual neck and head pain from painting. My PCP sent me to physical therapy, no relief after 1 month. On to acupuncture for 2 months, nothing. Xrays were of no value. Jan 2017 my MRI revealed 1 moderate cervical herniated disc and 2 bulging discs. Ah hah, the answer! Wrong. 2 spine surgeons agreed surgery was not the answer and sent me to Pain Management. I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and cervical spondylosis. I worked with 2 different Drs because the first PM Dr. could only provide help to my neck while my head needed help too. This resulted in a total of 4 cervical and occipital nerve blocks as diagnostic tests (these are preliminary to Radio Frequency Ablations). From that point, July 2017 through January 2019 I received 10 Radio Frequency Ablations on my neck and head. Burning off the nerves provided initial relief but, eventually petered out. I so badly wanted to be cured and get back to work. I kept receiving these intrusive procedures and they became physically harder to take.
I developed Neuritis which felt like fire works in my neck and my shoulders now were becoming decrepit. I lost ability to use my arms and shoulders properly. I believe (and so does my neurologist) that these ablations were having repercussions on my body and causing nerve damage. I was prescribed short term Gabapentin eventually followed by Lyrica and a few round and rounds between the 2 drugs due to insurance coverage.

During this time, headaches and severe migraines were playing a role but again, my head pain was more than migraine. Occipital neuralgia supposedly. After 2 neurologists,…chronic migraine was diagnosed and I began botox injections every 3 months. I felt like a HUMAN PINCUSHION for 2 years straight between 40 botox needles at a time to the head plus all those God awful needle entries to my head and neck from RFA's I then began the newly introduced migraine monthly self injections of Aimovig followed by Emgality and now Ajovy (they lose effectiveness for me after 8 months or so).

During these times, stranger things began throughout my body. Back and hip pain had begun developing. Toe and foot pain, along with hand pain. These pains all lead me to Orthopedic Drs. who x-rayed and said nothing's wrong, I must have sprained something. I wore a boot for the foot I couldn't walk on, a hand brace (from weeding too much – what? who gets a weeding injury). I had an MRI of my back…it showed a mild disc protrusion. Yeah, so what. Just like my neck, nothing major to be effecting me this way. I received epidurals in my back and started PT again. The common theme began to reveal that nothing majorly, structurally, was wrong with me. I felt too young to be falling apart to all these unexplained, tormenting pains. I myself, decided to go to a Rheumatologist to rule out fibromyalgia. The Dr said I have mirroring symptoms but, not fibro and suggested my Lyrica dose be increased.

January 2019, I had just had my final rounds of ablations and my pain was exacerbated from them, more than ever. In retrospect I believe I made a big mistake having too many and pushing for the reason of getting my life and job back. It backfired on me. The Fall prior began oddities in my body such as tingling in my hands. Pins and needles all over. My body was not neurologically right. In addition, I was exhausted, having palpitations and shortness of breath. These symptoms slowly grew and took over my body. I managed miserably to get through the holidays then went to my Neurologist in January. I explained through tears and frustration that something was wrong neurologically and if he couldn't figure it out I was going Mayo Clinic. It was finally then that he tested me via skin punch biopsy and diagnosed me with Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. Ahhh hahhhhhh, finally! I was not going crazy, it was not all in my head, there was a name for this chaos in my body.

And so it began…a thorough and extensive workup to find an underlying cause. A plethora of blood work and genetic testing. I had already had MRI's on my brain, neck and back. I had bloodwork drawn prior for SED rates when I was trouble shooting but, this testing lasted for 2 months. Immediately landed on a B12 deficiency. I began B12 injections every other week for months until my level regulated. I slowly had more energy and could breath better without my heart racing.

Now, we work on regulating and controlling nerve damage and pain . My neurologist says maybe 2 -3 years nerves will regenerate. It's a crap shoot. I stick with Lyrica, tried Cymbalta for over a year then weaned myself off because I had memory issues. Throughout my pain journey, I began taking Nucynta until my new insurance wouldn't cover it. I moved to Norco (hydrocodone) and added medical marijuana for when hydrocodone is not enough.

My body was increasingly feeling sunburned, pins and needles, electric shocks in my head and face, sharp unexpected pains throughout, burning and weakness. By spring of 2019, my legs started to die and walking became restricted. This was and still is my biggest fear. At the same time, with my body in a state of flux, I developed Chilblains on my feet with tenacious itching, red painful sores and my feet were flaring between red hot and blue, purple, grey colors. My neurologist claims it was from neuropathy. This bout brought me to a dermatologist, vascular and cardiologist for ample testing (echocardiogram, CT scans) and ruling out any other misfires. After this episode settled, my Neurologist suggestion lidocaine infusions to control pain. I sat for 5-6 hours in the apherisis unit of my local hospital every Monday for 5 months. Lidocaine is a slow drip infusion that increases dose based on body weight. I was "in it to win it" (similar to my radio frequency ablations) but, it was a failed experiment for me and offered minimal relief. Others receive benefit.

I also had a spinal tap to rule out autoimmune diseases. I do not have any, thank goodness. However, the spinal tap left me with a ferocious spinal headache which landed me in urgent care followed by the ER and needed a cocktail to stop the pain. Never in my life have I experienced something so painful. This all lead me to seek the help of a chronic pain psychology for 2 months. I needed help but found she wasn't the one to help. I got nothing from her. I am fortunate to depend on family and friends and Mayo Connect for my mental health support.

My suggestion to anyone with peripheral neuropathy or symptoms….please do your research and gain knowledge about your body. Be your our advocate. I learned the hard way that we're kind of on our own out here. Drs can only take you so far and dont have the time to care as we want them to. It's very important to find a good PCP (primary care physician) and establish a relationship. They will lead and direct to the best of their abilities. My PCP is wonderful! He is my hydrocodone prescriber. He recommended medical marijuana for my comfort. He wrote my disability letter and qualified me for long term disability both through my job and Social Security. I know he's got my back. I also take a supplement protocol, try to eat healthier, and keep active as best I can and practice mindfulness, breathing techniques and meditation. I also benefit from weekly myofacial release therapy. In June I will attend Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Program for 3 weeks

Living with peripheral neuropathy in a constant battle. A 24/7 job. It takes mental strength and tenacity to not be defeated by it. It takes a village, if you will, to have all hands on deck, by way of medicine, mental health, holistic approaches etc… I say I still work but, no longer get paid. I'm sorry for the length of my story but, it was therapeutic for me and I thank you for reading it. I'm happy to help further should anyone need.

Be well-
Rachel

Jump to this post

@rwinney Hi, Rachel. I found myself crying reading this. Your struggles are not to be believed. I would not even know how to respond to everything you have wrote. One thing came to mind, but does knowing even make a difference? I started wondering if you could have CRPS, with all of your traveling pain. Would you believe, another thing about your health came to mind, but my tears washed my thought away. Or was it a senior moment? Could be both. It is really bugging me that I do not remember, because it had to do with diagnosis. I know my heart goes out to you, and if I remember what I forgot, I will post again. You have worked so hard, that it must be utterly exhausting. To have such a clear thinking brain, and a deteriorating body, just kills me. I used to listen to Stephen Hawkings and wonder where/how he got his courage. How do any of us get our courage? Why not give up. Your writings are a testimonial to the human spirit. Your drive overwhelms me. God bless you, Rachel, and may Mayo help you in some way. Love, Lori

REPLY
@artscaping

Good afternoon. This discussion is an effort to give everyone an opportunity to share their neuropathy journey….all in the same discussion. How helpful will that be……you can then use the search field by topic or treatment. As your journey continues, it will be great to keep up with each other and add to our neuropathy knowledge bank.

So….here we go. My favorite saying when I learn about something on Connect, "if only I had known" or "if only I had done some research", or "if only I had begun posting earlier"

The scene:………………….patio breakfast and a few games of cribbage with my e-harmony friend, now life partner, about 7 years ago. We set up the board and he handed the cards to me to shuffle. When I tried and they scattered everywhere, he asked: "What's the matter with your hands?" That was my neuropathy coming out party.

Next steps: ………………..I revealed my situation to my two nurse friends. One offered me essential oils, the other medical cannabis. I chose cannabis because I knew my pain level was too high for well-intentioned essential oil products. To this day I manage my pain with a few CBD: THC products…..tinctures and topicals in different ratios. I was beginning to have high-level pain in my arms, wrists, and hands, electric shocks in my head, and burning pain down my legs as well as inside my abdomen. Good thing I had a coach. I would have been overwhelmed with all of the experimentation and evaluation required at that time to find the best medical cannabis products.

In the meantime:…………My orthopedic surgeon was consulted because at the time I had fallen down the stairs and needed a rotator cuff repair on the left side. He had previously done the reverse shoulder on the right side and I thought possibly it was "in trouble". He immediately took X-rays and went with me to his "buddy" who does spine work. They collaborated, put a hold on the rotator cuff, and did the cervical fusions first, rotator cuff second. I didn't even know enough to tell the difference between thoracic and cervical. I did remember lumbar.

Enter the neurologist:…..Only after the cervical surgery had healed and fused, did I learn that the pain, tingles, and needles, were still there which led to more tests and finally a punch skin biopsy to confirm that I had small fiber peripheral neuropathy (SFPN). It was not a bad shoulder surgery and I wore that darn brace for 3 months so there would be no claim of bad neck surgery. I also learned that my idea of slow learner had no comparison to bruised nerves that need to heal to be helpful.

Bump in the road:………. I had to get off of an anti-depressant that really helped my early-onset EOL ideation because of digestive side effects that were just too much to overcome. I substituted one more dropper of cannabis in the evening. Not as good as the anti-depressant until I adjusted some dosages.

The future:………………… learn everything I can. Alter what I can, accept what I can't.
Knowledge is Power. Share your neuropathy journey to help others on Connect.

What would I tell my best friend if she was diagnosed with SFN?
Join Mayo Connect….. participate, contribute, question or just use it for research……..then you won't be saying, "if I had only known."

May you be safe and protected.
Chris

Jump to this post

@artscaping Hi Chris, It is almost like your neuropathy snuck up on you. I wonder if, when you fell down the stairs, that was also due to neuropathy. Not a pretty picture. To have surgery, and have the tingling, needles, pain still there must have been devastating. I am so glad that you are here on Connect to share so many things. Your road has been far from easy, and I am here with you. Lori

REPLY

Hi all
This is my story.
I am 75. Up until about 3 years ago, I was (I thought) remarkably healthy for my age. I was skiing, road biking long distances, hiking, etc.
I was having the usual old guy's problems with urination, and eventually decided to have a procedure done. My urologist ordered a CT scan of my belly, and, to his and my surprise, discovered a large tumor (lymphoma) on my small intestines, and numerous other tumors on both kidneys.
Long story short, the lymphoma was resected, turned out to be very slow growing type. I probably had it for years. The kidney tumors were unrelated, and were determined to be something rare (onchocytoma), and not malignant, so they're still in there.
BTW, I finally had the prostate surgery, which went well, except that I was found to also have prostate cancer, but again, the very slow growing type. All these conditions are simply being watched for development
For years, I had been noticing strange feelings in my feet. They felt like they were sweating, but weren't. This started happening when wearing shoes without socks.
Around the same time as my surgery , the feelings in my feet began to get worse, to the point where I couldn't wear any shoes or socks without experiencing severe burning. Finally, I got what was going on, saw neurologists at UCSF, had the million dollar workup, including skin biopsy, and was diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy of unknown cause.
I've tried almost every medication in the book, and can't honestly say that any have helped much. Currently, I'm on 150 mg of Lyrica at night (I tapered down from 450 mg daily, just to see what happens, and honestly, I can't say for sure). I'm also on Cymbalta. I have tried tramadol (doesn't work for me), gabapentin (as expected, same as Lyrica), low dose Naltrexone (who knows) and various supplements, vitamins, acupuncture, gadgets, the entire catastrophe.
Ironically, with all these diagnoses, the only thing that bothers me is the peripheral neuropathy, which has put the kaboom on half my life.
I'm trying my best to live as much of my life as I can. In particular, I am still able to ride fairly long distances on my bike, which I do whenever I can.
What I tell friends who I suspect may have PN is that they should see a neurologist soon. If they're lucky enough to have a treatable cause, the sooner the better. Also, it is helpful to have an expert do the workup. As we know, the disease is complicated and tricky to diagnose and treat. It's also helpful to understand that with these types of diseases, it's not at all unusual for medical providers to sometimes not act as well as we would like. Some even dread seeing patients with these types of chronic pain problems. So, don't take it personally, or allow it to make you angry. That doesn't help.
I had to quit a very satisfying (although part time) job simply because I couldn't wear shoes and socks. I've also had to quit numerous recreational activities, as noted above.
Regarding social interactions, I have less than before. Some of this is because sometimes, I don't feel well enough to go, or the venue will make me uncomfortable. I was a life long serious traveler. but I hardly travel at all now. Also, I have grown tired of having to explain to people what's wrong with me. I look like a healthy 75 y/o man. People's eyes glaze over, and I feel I'm boring them. Ironically, I often feel better in company when I finally participate, probably because I am distracted from the pain. This has led me to trying to learn how to distract myself.
It's mostly our responsibility to find out what helps. It's almost always different for each person. There are ways to feel better. We have to do the work and experiments to find them.
Hope this helps.
Jeff

REPLY
@lorirenee1

@rwinney Hi, Rachel. I found myself crying reading this. Your struggles are not to be believed. I would not even know how to respond to everything you have wrote. One thing came to mind, but does knowing even make a difference? I started wondering if you could have CRPS, with all of your traveling pain. Would you believe, another thing about your health came to mind, but my tears washed my thought away. Or was it a senior moment? Could be both. It is really bugging me that I do not remember, because it had to do with diagnosis. I know my heart goes out to you, and if I remember what I forgot, I will post again. You have worked so hard, that it must be utterly exhausting. To have such a clear thinking brain, and a deteriorating body, just kills me. I used to listen to Stephen Hawkings and wonder where/how he got his courage. How do any of us get our courage? Why not give up. Your writings are a testimonial to the human spirit. Your drive overwhelms me. God bless you, Rachel, and may Mayo help you in some way. Love, Lori

Jump to this post

@lorirenee1 Hi Lori – you've touched my heart and your words are very meaningful to me. Thank you.

I have researched CRPS and wondered. Maybe Mayo will hone in on it for me while I'm there.

I think courage is simply a survival skill. You know that courage comes with tests, hurdles, doubts and fears. Courage comes with exhaustion because in order to have it, you must be willing to fight and prevail. I've had many moments, like we all do, when I feel I have nothing else to give. I look at those moments as a nap from my fight. It's exhausting to fight so, you've got to take that break. Here's the thing… I will always get up swinging again! 💪🏼

Encouragement from Connect and people like yourself have meant the world to me. It's always easier to do it together than alone. Take care my friend and keep your fight.
Rachel

REPLY
@rwinney

It has been a 4 year journey filled with troubleshooting and misfires before landing on my new normal of Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. I joined Mayo Connect 1year ago because I was lost and needed support of others who understand my doubts, fears and were experiencing similar diagnosis.

My downfall began August of 2016 (age 46). I had unusual neck and head pain from painting. My PCP sent me to physical therapy, no relief after 1 month. On to acupuncture for 2 months, nothing. Xrays were of no value. Jan 2017 my MRI revealed 1 moderate cervical herniated disc and 2 bulging discs. Ah hah, the answer! Wrong. 2 spine surgeons agreed surgery was not the answer and sent me to Pain Management. I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and cervical spondylosis. I worked with 2 different Drs because the first PM Dr. could only provide help to my neck while my head needed help too. This resulted in a total of 4 cervical and occipital nerve blocks as diagnostic tests (these are preliminary to Radio Frequency Ablations). From that point, July 2017 through January 2019 I received 10 Radio Frequency Ablations on my neck and head. Burning off the nerves provided initial relief but, eventually petered out. I so badly wanted to be cured and get back to work. I kept receiving these intrusive procedures and they became physically harder to take.
I developed Neuritis which felt like fire works in my neck and my shoulders now were becoming decrepit. I lost ability to use my arms and shoulders properly. I believe (and so does my neurologist) that these ablations were having repercussions on my body and causing nerve damage. I was prescribed short term Gabapentin eventually followed by Lyrica and a few round and rounds between the 2 drugs due to insurance coverage.

During this time, headaches and severe migraines were playing a role but again, my head pain was more than migraine. Occipital neuralgia supposedly. After 2 neurologists,…chronic migraine was diagnosed and I began botox injections every 3 months. I felt like a HUMAN PINCUSHION for 2 years straight between 40 botox needles at a time to the head plus all those God awful needle entries to my head and neck from RFA's I then began the newly introduced migraine monthly self injections of Aimovig followed by Emgality and now Ajovy (they lose effectiveness for me after 8 months or so).

During these times, stranger things began throughout my body. Back and hip pain had begun developing. Toe and foot pain, along with hand pain. These pains all lead me to Orthopedic Drs. who x-rayed and said nothing's wrong, I must have sprained something. I wore a boot for the foot I couldn't walk on, a hand brace (from weeding too much – what? who gets a weeding injury). I had an MRI of my back…it showed a mild disc protrusion. Yeah, so what. Just like my neck, nothing major to be effecting me this way. I received epidurals in my back and started PT again. The common theme began to reveal that nothing majorly, structurally, was wrong with me. I felt too young to be falling apart to all these unexplained, tormenting pains. I myself, decided to go to a Rheumatologist to rule out fibromyalgia. The Dr said I have mirroring symptoms but, not fibro and suggested my Lyrica dose be increased.

January 2019, I had just had my final rounds of ablations and my pain was exacerbated from them, more than ever. In retrospect I believe I made a big mistake having too many and pushing for the reason of getting my life and job back. It backfired on me. The Fall prior began oddities in my body such as tingling in my hands. Pins and needles all over. My body was not neurologically right. In addition, I was exhausted, having palpitations and shortness of breath. These symptoms slowly grew and took over my body. I managed miserably to get through the holidays then went to my Neurologist in January. I explained through tears and frustration that something was wrong neurologically and if he couldn't figure it out I was going Mayo Clinic. It was finally then that he tested me via skin punch biopsy and diagnosed me with Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. Ahhh hahhhhhh, finally! I was not going crazy, it was not all in my head, there was a name for this chaos in my body.

And so it began…a thorough and extensive workup to find an underlying cause. A plethora of blood work and genetic testing. I had already had MRI's on my brain, neck and back. I had bloodwork drawn prior for SED rates when I was trouble shooting but, this testing lasted for 2 months. Immediately landed on a B12 deficiency. I began B12 injections every other week for months until my level regulated. I slowly had more energy and could breath better without my heart racing.

Now, we work on regulating and controlling nerve damage and pain . My neurologist says maybe 2 -3 years nerves will regenerate. It's a crap shoot. I stick with Lyrica, tried Cymbalta for over a year then weaned myself off because I had memory issues. Throughout my pain journey, I began taking Nucynta until my new insurance wouldn't cover it. I moved to Norco (hydrocodone) and added medical marijuana for when hydrocodone is not enough.

My body was increasingly feeling sunburned, pins and needles, electric shocks in my head and face, sharp unexpected pains throughout, burning and weakness. By spring of 2019, my legs started to die and walking became restricted. This was and still is my biggest fear. At the same time, with my body in a state of flux, I developed Chilblains on my feet with tenacious itching, red painful sores and my feet were flaring between red hot and blue, purple, grey colors. My neurologist claims it was from neuropathy. This bout brought me to a dermatologist, vascular and cardiologist for ample testing (echocardiogram, CT scans) and ruling out any other misfires. After this episode settled, my Neurologist suggestion lidocaine infusions to control pain. I sat for 5-6 hours in the apherisis unit of my local hospital every Monday for 5 months. Lidocaine is a slow drip infusion that increases dose based on body weight. I was "in it to win it" (similar to my radio frequency ablations) but, it was a failed experiment for me and offered minimal relief. Others receive benefit.

I also had a spinal tap to rule out autoimmune diseases. I do not have any, thank goodness. However, the spinal tap left me with a ferocious spinal headache which landed me in urgent care followed by the ER and needed a cocktail to stop the pain. Never in my life have I experienced something so painful. This all lead me to seek the help of a chronic pain psychology for 2 months. I needed help but found she wasn't the one to help. I got nothing from her. I am fortunate to depend on family and friends and Mayo Connect for my mental health support.

My suggestion to anyone with peripheral neuropathy or symptoms….please do your research and gain knowledge about your body. Be your our advocate. I learned the hard way that we're kind of on our own out here. Drs can only take you so far and dont have the time to care as we want them to. It's very important to find a good PCP (primary care physician) and establish a relationship. They will lead and direct to the best of their abilities. My PCP is wonderful! He is my hydrocodone prescriber. He recommended medical marijuana for my comfort. He wrote my disability letter and qualified me for long term disability both through my job and Social Security. I know he's got my back. I also take a supplement protocol, try to eat healthier, and keep active as best I can and practice mindfulness, breathing techniques and meditation. I also benefit from weekly myofacial release therapy. In June I will attend Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Program for 3 weeks

Living with peripheral neuropathy in a constant battle. A 24/7 job. It takes mental strength and tenacity to not be defeated by it. It takes a village, if you will, to have all hands on deck, by way of medicine, mental health, holistic approaches etc… I say I still work but, no longer get paid. I'm sorry for the length of my story but, it was therapeutic for me and I thank you for reading it. I'm happy to help further should anyone need.

Be well-
Rachel

Jump to this post

As if my story wasn't long enough…I wish to add, for anyone who may be in early stages of neuropathy troubleshooting.

I had a negative EMG/Nerve Conduction Study in 2017 and not diagnosed with SFN until 2019. As I learned that Small Fiber Neuropathy is NOT shown in this test, only Large Fiber Neuropathy, I wondered why noone thought to line me up with a skin biopsy earlier to rule out SFN, given my symptoms of nerve dysfunction and not proving Large Fiber through the test.

In retrospect, I do understand that SFN is still very unknown and misunderstood. I will take some of the blame (it's not all on Drs) for not pushing and learning enough during that time. Such foreign territory, especially when you are overwhelmed by pain.

REPLY
@rwinney

It has been a 4 year journey filled with troubleshooting and misfires before landing on my new normal of Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. I joined Mayo Connect 1year ago because I was lost and needed support of others who understand my doubts, fears and were experiencing similar diagnosis.

My downfall began August of 2016 (age 46). I had unusual neck and head pain from painting. My PCP sent me to physical therapy, no relief after 1 month. On to acupuncture for 2 months, nothing. Xrays were of no value. Jan 2017 my MRI revealed 1 moderate cervical herniated disc and 2 bulging discs. Ah hah, the answer! Wrong. 2 spine surgeons agreed surgery was not the answer and sent me to Pain Management. I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and cervical spondylosis. I worked with 2 different Drs because the first PM Dr. could only provide help to my neck while my head needed help too. This resulted in a total of 4 cervical and occipital nerve blocks as diagnostic tests (these are preliminary to Radio Frequency Ablations). From that point, July 2017 through January 2019 I received 10 Radio Frequency Ablations on my neck and head. Burning off the nerves provided initial relief but, eventually petered out. I so badly wanted to be cured and get back to work. I kept receiving these intrusive procedures and they became physically harder to take.
I developed Neuritis which felt like fire works in my neck and my shoulders now were becoming decrepit. I lost ability to use my arms and shoulders properly. I believe (and so does my neurologist) that these ablations were having repercussions on my body and causing nerve damage. I was prescribed short term Gabapentin eventually followed by Lyrica and a few round and rounds between the 2 drugs due to insurance coverage.

During this time, headaches and severe migraines were playing a role but again, my head pain was more than migraine. Occipital neuralgia supposedly. After 2 neurologists,…chronic migraine was diagnosed and I began botox injections every 3 months. I felt like a HUMAN PINCUSHION for 2 years straight between 40 botox needles at a time to the head plus all those God awful needle entries to my head and neck from RFA's I then began the newly introduced migraine monthly self injections of Aimovig followed by Emgality and now Ajovy (they lose effectiveness for me after 8 months or so).

During these times, stranger things began throughout my body. Back and hip pain had begun developing. Toe and foot pain, along with hand pain. These pains all lead me to Orthopedic Drs. who x-rayed and said nothing's wrong, I must have sprained something. I wore a boot for the foot I couldn't walk on, a hand brace (from weeding too much – what? who gets a weeding injury). I had an MRI of my back…it showed a mild disc protrusion. Yeah, so what. Just like my neck, nothing major to be effecting me this way. I received epidurals in my back and started PT again. The common theme began to reveal that nothing majorly, structurally, was wrong with me. I felt too young to be falling apart to all these unexplained, tormenting pains. I myself, decided to go to a Rheumatologist to rule out fibromyalgia. The Dr said I have mirroring symptoms but, not fibro and suggested my Lyrica dose be increased.

January 2019, I had just had my final rounds of ablations and my pain was exacerbated from them, more than ever. In retrospect I believe I made a big mistake having too many and pushing for the reason of getting my life and job back. It backfired on me. The Fall prior began oddities in my body such as tingling in my hands. Pins and needles all over. My body was not neurologically right. In addition, I was exhausted, having palpitations and shortness of breath. These symptoms slowly grew and took over my body. I managed miserably to get through the holidays then went to my Neurologist in January. I explained through tears and frustration that something was wrong neurologically and if he couldn't figure it out I was going Mayo Clinic. It was finally then that he tested me via skin punch biopsy and diagnosed me with Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. Ahhh hahhhhhh, finally! I was not going crazy, it was not all in my head, there was a name for this chaos in my body.

And so it began…a thorough and extensive workup to find an underlying cause. A plethora of blood work and genetic testing. I had already had MRI's on my brain, neck and back. I had bloodwork drawn prior for SED rates when I was trouble shooting but, this testing lasted for 2 months. Immediately landed on a B12 deficiency. I began B12 injections every other week for months until my level regulated. I slowly had more energy and could breath better without my heart racing.

Now, we work on regulating and controlling nerve damage and pain . My neurologist says maybe 2 -3 years nerves will regenerate. It's a crap shoot. I stick with Lyrica, tried Cymbalta for over a year then weaned myself off because I had memory issues. Throughout my pain journey, I began taking Nucynta until my new insurance wouldn't cover it. I moved to Norco (hydrocodone) and added medical marijuana for when hydrocodone is not enough.

My body was increasingly feeling sunburned, pins and needles, electric shocks in my head and face, sharp unexpected pains throughout, burning and weakness. By spring of 2019, my legs started to die and walking became restricted. This was and still is my biggest fear. At the same time, with my body in a state of flux, I developed Chilblains on my feet with tenacious itching, red painful sores and my feet were flaring between red hot and blue, purple, grey colors. My neurologist claims it was from neuropathy. This bout brought me to a dermatologist, vascular and cardiologist for ample testing (echocardiogram, CT scans) and ruling out any other misfires. After this episode settled, my Neurologist suggestion lidocaine infusions to control pain. I sat for 5-6 hours in the apherisis unit of my local hospital every Monday for 5 months. Lidocaine is a slow drip infusion that increases dose based on body weight. I was "in it to win it" (similar to my radio frequency ablations) but, it was a failed experiment for me and offered minimal relief. Others receive benefit.

I also had a spinal tap to rule out autoimmune diseases. I do not have any, thank goodness. However, the spinal tap left me with a ferocious spinal headache which landed me in urgent care followed by the ER and needed a cocktail to stop the pain. Never in my life have I experienced something so painful. This all lead me to seek the help of a chronic pain psychology for 2 months. I needed help but found she wasn't the one to help. I got nothing from her. I am fortunate to depend on family and friends and Mayo Connect for my mental health support.

My suggestion to anyone with peripheral neuropathy or symptoms….please do your research and gain knowledge about your body. Be your our advocate. I learned the hard way that we're kind of on our own out here. Drs can only take you so far and dont have the time to care as we want them to. It's very important to find a good PCP (primary care physician) and establish a relationship. They will lead and direct to the best of their abilities. My PCP is wonderful! He is my hydrocodone prescriber. He recommended medical marijuana for my comfort. He wrote my disability letter and qualified me for long term disability both through my job and Social Security. I know he's got my back. I also take a supplement protocol, try to eat healthier, and keep active as best I can and practice mindfulness, breathing techniques and meditation. I also benefit from weekly myofacial release therapy. In June I will attend Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Program for 3 weeks

Living with peripheral neuropathy in a constant battle. A 24/7 job. It takes mental strength and tenacity to not be defeated by it. It takes a village, if you will, to have all hands on deck, by way of medicine, mental health, holistic approaches etc… I say I still work but, no longer get paid. I'm sorry for the length of my story but, it was therapeutic for me and I thank you for reading it. I'm happy to help further should anyone need.

Be well-
Rachel

Jump to this post

Wow, Rachel, what a crazy 4 years you have been through! You are certainly a friend to the medical profession, you have been seen by a lot of doctors! Linda and I have read your entire saga and are amazed. Amazed by your drive, amazed by your willingness to experiment and amazed by having such an attitude of positivity in the face of such disappointing failures on so many fronts. It sounds like you have put your body through so many type of treatment it's lost track of which way is up. I hope the Mayo program in Florida leads you to some more and better understandings of what your body needs. You mentioned your legs were dying. I am wondering, do you have use of them at this point? And did this all happen to you out of the blue 4 years ago whereby you had okay health prior to that? And if so then you have an idiopathic condition with no known precipitator of it to begin with? Such a strange thing to happen. At least with Linda we understand the cause: chemotherapy. Although in some ways all that knowing that does for you is to feel such immense regret at deciding to do it. Especially now knowing an alternative treatment is available for cancer that is SO much preferable to chemo (which I will happily tell anyone about who is interested by the way). Well, we admire your courage and your pluck Rachel. You are a TROOPER in all the best senses of the word. Best from us both, Hank

REPLY
@artscaping

Good afternoon. This discussion is an effort to give everyone an opportunity to share their neuropathy journey….all in the same discussion. How helpful will that be……you can then use the search field by topic or treatment. As your journey continues, it will be great to keep up with each other and add to our neuropathy knowledge bank.

So….here we go. My favorite saying when I learn about something on Connect, "if only I had known" or "if only I had done some research", or "if only I had begun posting earlier"

The scene:………………….patio breakfast and a few games of cribbage with my e-harmony friend, now life partner, about 7 years ago. We set up the board and he handed the cards to me to shuffle. When I tried and they scattered everywhere, he asked: "What's the matter with your hands?" That was my neuropathy coming out party.

Next steps: ………………..I revealed my situation to my two nurse friends. One offered me essential oils, the other medical cannabis. I chose cannabis because I knew my pain level was too high for well-intentioned essential oil products. To this day I manage my pain with a few CBD: THC products…..tinctures and topicals in different ratios. I was beginning to have high-level pain in my arms, wrists, and hands, electric shocks in my head, and burning pain down my legs as well as inside my abdomen. Good thing I had a coach. I would have been overwhelmed with all of the experimentation and evaluation required at that time to find the best medical cannabis products.

In the meantime:…………My orthopedic surgeon was consulted because at the time I had fallen down the stairs and needed a rotator cuff repair on the left side. He had previously done the reverse shoulder on the right side and I thought possibly it was "in trouble". He immediately took X-rays and went with me to his "buddy" who does spine work. They collaborated, put a hold on the rotator cuff, and did the cervical fusions first, rotator cuff second. I didn't even know enough to tell the difference between thoracic and cervical. I did remember lumbar.

Enter the neurologist:…..Only after the cervical surgery had healed and fused, did I learn that the pain, tingles, and needles, were still there which led to more tests and finally a punch skin biopsy to confirm that I had small fiber peripheral neuropathy (SFPN). It was not a bad shoulder surgery and I wore that darn brace for 3 months so there would be no claim of bad neck surgery. I also learned that my idea of slow learner had no comparison to bruised nerves that need to heal to be helpful.

Bump in the road:………. I had to get off of an anti-depressant that really helped my early-onset EOL ideation because of digestive side effects that were just too much to overcome. I substituted one more dropper of cannabis in the evening. Not as good as the anti-depressant until I adjusted some dosages.

The future:………………… learn everything I can. Alter what I can, accept what I can't.
Knowledge is Power. Share your neuropathy journey to help others on Connect.

What would I tell my best friend if she was diagnosed with SFN?
Join Mayo Connect….. participate, contribute, question or just use it for research……..then you won't be saying, "if I had only known."

May you be safe and protected.
Chris

Jump to this post

Chris I agree with you absolutely. Connect is a most wonderful tool for those dealing with or simply trying to understand PN. The great thing is that it is so well organized and it is fairly easy to search around for things. OK, so in reading your saga it sounds like (correct me if I missed it) there is no one known precursor to your developing neuropathy? Strange how so many people do not know what caused it for them. I suppose for some it might be hereditary. I am glad you are finding help from THC. Hank

REPLY

@jesfactsmon You nailed it Hank…I agree that my body has lost track of which way is up and I love how you summed it up. Thanks so much for being genuine. I admire you and your wife's caring ways and tenacity as well. After last year and the beginning of this year…all I could think was there is something bigger. So, for me perhaps Central Sensitization or CRPS comes in to play. I'm spent quite honestly and looking to Mayo for clarity and an overall plan as to how to live best with what I've got.

I was a perfectly healthy girl/woman, although I always considered myself a "delicate flower" (family joke) and just rolled with the little things like mild scoliosis, car sickness, intolerance to cold and wind and light, poor eye sight. Always got headaches easily but tolerable and never sat still for 2 seconds. I was an overachiever and a tad bit of a perfectionist but, it worked. Then I turned 40 and was diagnosed with a hereditary corneal disease. I held on to my eyes deteriorating until 43 then was severely losing visual ability, having extreme light sensitivity and waking up cloudy. Scary stuff. I had no choice but to have double cornea transplants and cataract surgeries over a 4 month span. I'm a die hard and maybe just plain stupid but in my normal fashion, I put things that mattered to me like watching my kids play sports first and second was my job. I preached "Go hard or go home" to my kids so I tried to lead by example and do the same. I banged out those surgeries with one complication and got to those games and work, in sunglasses and hats and sat in dark corners. Turned off overhead lights at work and closed blinds. Blinged out my cataract glasses (always must look cool) and I miserably and never quite comfortably, got the job done. Never did I miss!

And that is when my health/ life took a turn and became one obstacle after another. I just always wanted my kids to be proud of me the way I was of them. They were and still are my main source of motivation. As I go to Mayo Clinic, I hope for clarity of my health conditions, my personal being and the hope for betterment because I want to be a participating grandma one day to the best of my ability! It kills me to know I've lost so much. There is a lot of denial still.

My legs….well, I can walk minimally given the day. My gait and balance are fine, thankfully. However, my legs no longer have strength or endurance to walk repeatedly or stand long. I may wake with my calves blown out for no reason whatsoever. Meaning they are very tender and painful with pressure like someone took a bat to them. I can enduce them by over doing (which means too much normal walking or standing in my house) or have absolutley no control over them. Feels like I've run a marathon when I've barely walked. Presently, I'm sitting with them wrapped in heat and they're achy, tender and painful. Today, I'm done for the day. That's why I'm house bound bc its not worth the price I pay. Wheelchair is a must for distance….hospitals, stores. airports.

I guess Im a great example of what came first the chicken or the egg??? B12 deficiency claims to be the cause of neuropathy but so much before that, it baffles me. Who knows when neuropathy really began setting in???

I'm sad about Linda's chemo and what I call her "souvenir"…left over neuropathy from a cancer treatment. How very wrong in my mind that a cancer survivor is left with such misery. It breaks my heart and makes me mad, honestly. Linda, jump on the courage train with me and many others that are being tested but, refuse to lose. C'mon…go hard or go home! At least we have each other.
Best wishes to you both.
Rachel

REPLY
@rwinney

As if my story wasn't long enough…I wish to add, for anyone who may be in early stages of neuropathy troubleshooting.

I had a negative EMG/Nerve Conduction Study in 2017 and not diagnosed with SFN until 2019. As I learned that Small Fiber Neuropathy is NOT shown in this test, only Large Fiber Neuropathy, I wondered why noone thought to line me up with a skin biopsy earlier to rule out SFN, given my symptoms of nerve dysfunction and not proving Large Fiber through the test.

In retrospect, I do understand that SFN is still very unknown and misunderstood. I will take some of the blame (it's not all on Drs) for not pushing and learning enough during that time. Such foreign territory, especially when you are overwhelmed by pain.

Jump to this post

@rwinney Hi, Rachel. My neuro doc did not want to bother me with a small fiber test, because he said the treatment would be the same, whether I had a diagnosis or not. He said some people are not nuts about getting the little samples taken from their skin. It hurts, I guess. I insisted on the test, and my test for small fiber did not come out positive. Only my large fiber did. Who knows. There is no good treatment for this goofy, painful illness, anyway…..Love you, Rachel, and thanks for the sweet compliments to me. Yes, maybe check out CRPS when you go to Mayo. Have you done any mirror imaging techniques? Why I ask, is that they are done successfully, sometimes for CRPS. Always thinking. Sometimes I wish I could just stop already, and just drink a damn beer…… Love, Lori

REPLY
@rwinney

It has been a 4 year journey filled with troubleshooting and misfires before landing on my new normal of Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. I joined Mayo Connect 1year ago because I was lost and needed support of others who understand my doubts, fears and were experiencing similar diagnosis.

My downfall began August of 2016 (age 46). I had unusual neck and head pain from painting. My PCP sent me to physical therapy, no relief after 1 month. On to acupuncture for 2 months, nothing. Xrays were of no value. Jan 2017 my MRI revealed 1 moderate cervical herniated disc and 2 bulging discs. Ah hah, the answer! Wrong. 2 spine surgeons agreed surgery was not the answer and sent me to Pain Management. I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and cervical spondylosis. I worked with 2 different Drs because the first PM Dr. could only provide help to my neck while my head needed help too. This resulted in a total of 4 cervical and occipital nerve blocks as diagnostic tests (these are preliminary to Radio Frequency Ablations). From that point, July 2017 through January 2019 I received 10 Radio Frequency Ablations on my neck and head. Burning off the nerves provided initial relief but, eventually petered out. I so badly wanted to be cured and get back to work. I kept receiving these intrusive procedures and they became physically harder to take.
I developed Neuritis which felt like fire works in my neck and my shoulders now were becoming decrepit. I lost ability to use my arms and shoulders properly. I believe (and so does my neurologist) that these ablations were having repercussions on my body and causing nerve damage. I was prescribed short term Gabapentin eventually followed by Lyrica and a few round and rounds between the 2 drugs due to insurance coverage.

During this time, headaches and severe migraines were playing a role but again, my head pain was more than migraine. Occipital neuralgia supposedly. After 2 neurologists,…chronic migraine was diagnosed and I began botox injections every 3 months. I felt like a HUMAN PINCUSHION for 2 years straight between 40 botox needles at a time to the head plus all those God awful needle entries to my head and neck from RFA's I then began the newly introduced migraine monthly self injections of Aimovig followed by Emgality and now Ajovy (they lose effectiveness for me after 8 months or so).

During these times, stranger things began throughout my body. Back and hip pain had begun developing. Toe and foot pain, along with hand pain. These pains all lead me to Orthopedic Drs. who x-rayed and said nothing's wrong, I must have sprained something. I wore a boot for the foot I couldn't walk on, a hand brace (from weeding too much – what? who gets a weeding injury). I had an MRI of my back…it showed a mild disc protrusion. Yeah, so what. Just like my neck, nothing major to be effecting me this way. I received epidurals in my back and started PT again. The common theme began to reveal that nothing majorly, structurally, was wrong with me. I felt too young to be falling apart to all these unexplained, tormenting pains. I myself, decided to go to a Rheumatologist to rule out fibromyalgia. The Dr said I have mirroring symptoms but, not fibro and suggested my Lyrica dose be increased.

January 2019, I had just had my final rounds of ablations and my pain was exacerbated from them, more than ever. In retrospect I believe I made a big mistake having too many and pushing for the reason of getting my life and job back. It backfired on me. The Fall prior began oddities in my body such as tingling in my hands. Pins and needles all over. My body was not neurologically right. In addition, I was exhausted, having palpitations and shortness of breath. These symptoms slowly grew and took over my body. I managed miserably to get through the holidays then went to my Neurologist in January. I explained through tears and frustration that something was wrong neurologically and if he couldn't figure it out I was going Mayo Clinic. It was finally then that he tested me via skin punch biopsy and diagnosed me with Small Fiber Polyneuropathy. Ahhh hahhhhhh, finally! I was not going crazy, it was not all in my head, there was a name for this chaos in my body.

And so it began…a thorough and extensive workup to find an underlying cause. A plethora of blood work and genetic testing. I had already had MRI's on my brain, neck and back. I had bloodwork drawn prior for SED rates when I was trouble shooting but, this testing lasted for 2 months. Immediately landed on a B12 deficiency. I began B12 injections every other week for months until my level regulated. I slowly had more energy and could breath better without my heart racing.

Now, we work on regulating and controlling nerve damage and pain . My neurologist says maybe 2 -3 years nerves will regenerate. It's a crap shoot. I stick with Lyrica, tried Cymbalta for over a year then weaned myself off because I had memory issues. Throughout my pain journey, I began taking Nucynta until my new insurance wouldn't cover it. I moved to Norco (hydrocodone) and added medical marijuana for when hydrocodone is not enough.

My body was increasingly feeling sunburned, pins and needles, electric shocks in my head and face, sharp unexpected pains throughout, burning and weakness. By spring of 2019, my legs started to die and walking became restricted. This was and still is my biggest fear. At the same time, with my body in a state of flux, I developed Chilblains on my feet with tenacious itching, red painful sores and my feet were flaring between red hot and blue, purple, grey colors. My neurologist claims it was from neuropathy. This bout brought me to a dermatologist, vascular and cardiologist for ample testing (echocardiogram, CT scans) and ruling out any other misfires. After this episode settled, my Neurologist suggestion lidocaine infusions to control pain. I sat for 5-6 hours in the apherisis unit of my local hospital every Monday for 5 months. Lidocaine is a slow drip infusion that increases dose based on body weight. I was "in it to win it" (similar to my radio frequency ablations) but, it was a failed experiment for me and offered minimal relief. Others receive benefit.

I also had a spinal tap to rule out autoimmune diseases. I do not have any, thank goodness. However, the spinal tap left me with a ferocious spinal headache which landed me in urgent care followed by the ER and needed a cocktail to stop the pain. Never in my life have I experienced something so painful. This all lead me to seek the help of a chronic pain psychology for 2 months. I needed help but found she wasn't the one to help. I got nothing from her. I am fortunate to depend on family and friends and Mayo Connect for my mental health support.

My suggestion to anyone with peripheral neuropathy or symptoms….please do your research and gain knowledge about your body. Be your our advocate. I learned the hard way that we're kind of on our own out here. Drs can only take you so far and dont have the time to care as we want them to. It's very important to find a good PCP (primary care physician) and establish a relationship. They will lead and direct to the best of their abilities. My PCP is wonderful! He is my hydrocodone prescriber. He recommended medical marijuana for my comfort. He wrote my disability letter and qualified me for long term disability both through my job and Social Security. I know he's got my back. I also take a supplement protocol, try to eat healthier, and keep active as best I can and practice mindfulness, breathing techniques and meditation. I also benefit from weekly myofacial release therapy. In June I will attend Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Program for 3 weeks

Living with peripheral neuropathy in a constant battle. A 24/7 job. It takes mental strength and tenacity to not be defeated by it. It takes a village, if you will, to have all hands on deck, by way of medicine, mental health, holistic approaches etc… I say I still work but, no longer get paid. I'm sorry for the length of my story but, it was therapeutic for me and I thank you for reading it. I'm happy to help further should anyone need.

Be well-
Rachel

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Dear Rachel, my heart is breaking to hear all you've been through. I have a similiar story in that I have so many afflictions besides neuropathy. Neuropathy tries to destroy my life. The symptoms are so many. I fight for my sanity and crawal out of my skin. Ug. The Gabapentin and Lyrica have horrible side-effects but am now back on Gabapentin. It helps me not jump! Thankfully I'm a woman of faith and my God is so present and gets me through. His peace through Christ. I know this life is only temporary and I will get a new body some day!!! In the midst of all my diseases and unrelenting, often intolerable pain, I have joy and hope and assurance. I find I have to ask close people to adjust their expectation of me. I hate doing that. No one understands this pain. I00% of the time I tell people when they ask how I am, that these are facts not complaints. I will pray for you when my failing memory allows! Many blessings and warm regards, Sunnyflower

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@sunnyflower

Dear Rachel, my heart is breaking to hear all you've been through. I have a similiar story in that I have so many afflictions besides neuropathy. Neuropathy tries to destroy my life. The symptoms are so many. I fight for my sanity and crawal out of my skin. Ug. The Gabapentin and Lyrica have horrible side-effects but am now back on Gabapentin. It helps me not jump! Thankfully I'm a woman of faith and my God is so present and gets me through. His peace through Christ. I know this life is only temporary and I will get a new body some day!!! In the midst of all my diseases and unrelenting, often intolerable pain, I have joy and hope and assurance. I find I have to ask close people to adjust their expectation of me. I hate doing that. No one understands this pain. I00% of the time I tell people when they ask how I am, that these are facts not complaints. I will pray for you when my failing memory allows! Many blessings and warm regards, Sunnyflower

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@sunnyflower Neuropathy is often an invisible disease. I suppose some people's thoughts aren't very kind when they see me park in a handicap spot, and see me walk into a store with no cane or limping or whatever. They just don't know how much every step hurts, and as a rule, handicap spaces are closest to the door, saving me a few steps. Mental illness is another invisible one, mostly. People like my service dog, and sometimes will ask me what her service is. Usually, telling them that she's a psychiatric service is enough information, but sometimes people have a lot of questions because either they need a dog, or someone in their family needs one. I try to be polite, and hopefully make any interaction a learning experience. I've had only a few negative encounters with people who don't believe me, or don't believe that a psychiatric service dog isn't a real service – it should only be a companion dog or whatever. I carry a card with the ADA information to show if necessary.

Jim

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