Surviving With Neuropathy
By David J. Stewart | August 2011
My neuropathy (nerve damage) symptoms have been horrible lately. I have stenosis (narrowing of the spinal cord pathway) and radiculopathy (symptoms in the arms and legs). I've been Diagnoses with Cervical Degenerative Disk Disease (which basically means my neck is falling apart). If you have neuropathy and these other conditions, you are not alone. It changes your life adversely. I have been surviving with neuropathy and CDDD since March of 2004.
I recently ordered two books to help me cope with the burning, tingling, puffy feeling in my arms, stabbing pain radiating into my arms and legs intermittently, and chronic toothache pain and tension in my neck. Doing anything causes pain in my fingers and toes. I've been switching fingers lately as I type because of the sharp pain in my fingers. I'm thankful that I am functional, but am having difficulty adjusting to all this. Only God knows the affliction that I feel inside my body.
One of the books that I ordered is PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY: When the Numbness, Weakness, and Pain Won't Stop by Norman Latov, MD, PhD, who shares his own medical afflictions (neuropathy) with others to encourage them. Dr. Latov states on pages 103-104..
Functioning day to day is not easy. Living with neuropathy teaches you very quickly that you cannot take anything for granted. Just a few years ago, if someone had told me that walking up a flight of stairs could be agonizing and make me feel like I'd just climbed Mount Everest, I wouldn't have believed them. Let me tell you: I believe them now.
From the outside, you could never know anything is wrong. In fact, someone recently said how lucky I was that no one can tell I have this disease. Actually, it's a double-edge sword. I don't want people to think something is wrong with me. On the other hand, I often feel like I'm suffering in silence because no one understands what I'm living with. I try very hard to hide what I'm going through. ...
When you are diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, you constantly are confronted with what life was like “before” and “after.” “Before” meant living without having to think about every little thing you do. It meant walking down stairs without having your heart skip a beat as you fear you may tumble down instead of walk down. “Before” meant taking a step without having to take a step.
“After” means thinking before doing. When you wake up in the morning, you get out of bed, remembering to be careful not to lose your balance.
SOURCE: PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY: When the Numbness, Weakness, and Pain Won't Stop; by Norman Latov, MD, PhD; pages 103-104; ISBN-13:978-1-932603-59-0
That is exactly what I have been diagnosed with (peripheral neuropathy) and am going through. Imagine having horrible toothache-like throbbing pain in the back of your neck, so horrible that it radiates into your facial area and makes your gums hurts 24 hours a day. Your eyes are irritated by light, Your face is sore. Your neck is hurting unbearable. Although you take a high dosage of prescription pain killers, it only helps a little bit and makes you sleepy; yet the pain is so horrible all the time and never, never, ever stops. It's a form of hell. Yet I always smile and try to hide it.
No one can see your pain, and you look fine unless someone watches you up close for a while. Consequently, many people don't believe you. It is a lonely feeling. Your own family doesn't understand. Even you didn't understand at first, not fully realizing what was happening inside your body and how it was affecting you. You lose everything near and dear to you, because no one wants to be around you, and you don't want to face another day of life being alone, but you know God is with you and loves you. Cervical Degenerative Disk Disease, radiculopathy, pain and neuropathy can ruin your life...
In severe cases, with chronic neck pain, the sufferer may also experience depression, mood swings (anger and anxiety), irritability, sleep disturbances, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and even drug dependency connected to the incident.
SOURCE: Neck Pain - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments
The neck pain is so bad at times that I have to close my eyes to concentrate when I'm talking to people, and that scares some people. I know that there are many people in this world suffering in pain, and no one has a right to tell any one of them how they should feel, because no one truly knows their pains and afflictions except them personally.
I'm sure you've heard the story about the elephant who had a thorn stuck in his foot, and then a mouse came along and removed the thorn and they because best of friends. Well what if the mouse pulled out the thorn, but the pain was still there? What if after 2 surgeries the pain was still there in the elephant's foot? And then some people told the elephant about other elephants who lost their legs or had their ears and tails removed, or had elephant cancer, and so the elephant should be quiet and be glad that he isn't worse off. Then they tell the elephant to live on the happy side of life, don't focus on the pain... do you really think Mr. Elephant is going to be any better off?
They tell the elephant with the thorn in his foot to “learn to cope,” but they don't live in pain, so it's easy for them to tell someone to do what they have never done. Some people think just because they have a highschool knee injury that hurts whenever a storm passes that they understand pain. They don't know what physical pain is until they've had it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which brings tears to their eyes and destroys their life. Then a person can honestly say that they know pain. Pain that goes away is not the same as pain that never goes away. They are world's apart. I would gladly suffer the worse physical pain known to mankind for a day, than to suffer a lifetime with constant, dull, agonizing pain in my neck that afflicts me day and night. And than there's the sharp radiating razorblade-pain in my arms and legs. The pain in my neck is worse because it never stops, I never get a break, it never eases up. No doctor has been able to help me.
It is lonely suffering in so much pain when so few people truly grasp what I'm dealing with. I feel burning and tingling from my neck down both arms and to a lesser extent, my legs throughout the day. The pain is equal in both arms and legs, but affects mostly the right side. I have stabbing razorblade-like pain into my left and right toes throughout the day. Thankfully, it's only intermittent (unlike the constant toothache-like neck pain and tension in my neck). The worse thing is that lately I have had to stop what I'm doing because the pain becomes so bad in my fingers and toes.
That's what I deal with daily. Could you imagine someone tapping you on the shoulder for 5 hours? It would be torture! How about having an excruciating toothache in your neck for 7-years? It's easy for people to compare and tell you to stop complaining, which is heartless to say such a thing. I have had plenty of people brush me off, even medical people,
I have also been diagnosed with stenosis (narrowing of the spinal cord pathway and radiculopathy (tingling, burning, weakness, and pain radiating in the arms and legs). I read this passage and wanted to cry because that is exactly how I feel. I feel alone when I'm around people because they don't know the raging storm inside of my body... burning, tingling and pain in my arms and legs, arms that feel twice their normal size, my neck feeling like a bomb ready to blow, and neck pain like a toothache that radiates into my gums and facial area. The pain in my neck as I type is awful. It's a miserable way to exist. It seems like only a dream when I think back to a time in my life when I was pain free and happy. I am in God's hands. James 5:13, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.”
Until a person is afflicted with endless pain, they naturally can't relate to such suffering and can't possibly understand. They just can't. I know what's it's like to be outside on a beautiful day with the sun shining, and everybody is enjoying life and having a good time; but physical suffering within my body is afflicting me and it overshadows me. I look fine, but my whole body is crying out in affliction. I fight it and try to live anyway, but it catches up with me and oftentimes I feel overwhelmed in public with burning, tingling, fatigue, weakness and pain. I try to live a normal life, but it is difficult.
Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” That is why this website is here, i.e., because God has done a work in my heart to will and to do of His good pleasure. Amen and amen!
I ask for your earnest prayers for this ministry and me daily. The sharp pain radiating into my arms and legs is getting worse lately. I hope it doesn't continue to worsen. I can do things, it is just painful. For the first time lately, I've had to completely stop typing on my computer keyboard because the sharp pain in my fingers is so painful. I know that there are others out there suffering in pain and affliction. You're not alone my friend, you have my heart.
I am just thankful that I remembered my Creator in the days of my youth, before the evil days came nigh when I didn't enjoy life anymore. Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” I didn't “live it up” so-to-speak as the sinful world in my youth, and I have no regrets for following Christ. I made a lot of mistakes; but I gave my life to serve God, to take a stand for what is right, to be a soul-winner, love justice and mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. Now that the days are evil (physical hardships) and I find no pleasure in living, my only thought is to serve God by helping others, especially those who are afflicted like me, and to look forward to going to Heaven.
This ministry is much bigger than me, it's about the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE (John 14:6)! HEAR YE HIM!
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
I love you all in the Lord, whoever you may be!
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