If you have diabetes, you are well aware of the warnings. You've heard your doctor, nurses, nutritionist, family, and friends speak of complications.
If you don't have diabetes, you've probably seen the ads on TV, read the magazine or internet articles, or heard from others about the covert damage diabetes can cause.
For me, I recognized the dangers of high blood sugars, but without the immediate consequences, I often put their effects out of mind. Further, I have earnestly been trying to control my diabetes for as long as I can remember. I remember praying and asking God to consider my efforts. I asked Him to protect my body despite my blood sugars.
I have had the privilege of meeting so many others like me with type-1 diabetes. I've seen people with serious complications and some with none. I had also been a bit prideful when it came to NOT having complications. It's an elite group of people that defy the odds, and I was glad to be a part of it!
All of that changed 11 months ago, in November of 2009.
We were working on a construction project at church. I vividly recall the unquenchable thirst, the irritability, and the lethargy. I tested my blood sugar and I was over 400. I felt even worse than I had 5 seconds prior. Then as I walked down the hallway, my feet instantly felt as if they were on fire. The tops of my feet burned horribly, and I was very alarmed. Actually, I was terrified. I hoped in vain that it was due to my elevated levels, and desperately wanted to believe that once my levels receded my pain would accordingly diminish.
I started taking ibuprofen in mass quantity. 4 every couple hours helped, but never made the pain go away. I called my doctor, my nurse, my Medtronic rep....anyone who I thought could help.
I was referred to a neurologist and made an appointment quickly. My visit was initially unpleasant (for more details, click here), but it did result in recommitting to exercise! I inquired about a test called the 'nerve conductivity test,' but the doctor started with the initial foot-touch tests. He said that he wasn't sure it was neuropathy, although it could be the start of it. He reasoned that even if it WASN'T PN (peripheral neuropathy), it was likely coming. Not what I hoped to hear, but the pain was so intense I just wanted a fix.
He prescribed a drug called Cymbalta, which is often used to treat depression. I went home and subsequently took the pill after dinner.
At around midnight I got up and I didn't feel right. I was perspiring and shaking. It felt identical to a very low blood sugar, so I got up and tested. My blood sugar was 124. Wrong, I thought, so I tested again. 128. What on earth was going on?
Then I felt really sick to my stomach. Very nauseated. It really felt like an intense case of the stomach flu, but despite the overwhelming feeling, I was not getting sick. This cycle of sweat and nausea continued late in to the night, until I finally fell asleep in the bathroom on the ceramic tile floor. The sad part is that the floor was quite cold and felt heavenly. A cold, hard, bathroom ceramic tile felt like a dream that night.
When I awoke later that morning, I knew that was the last of my Cymbalta use. I immediately went searching for alternative answers.
The problem with the internet is that you never really know if something is legit or not. Sure, 'people' rave about a product or treatment, but are they real? Does the stuff work? These are questions I had to find the answers to, and fast!
I had previously taken (on and off) a product called Nerve Fix. I bought it through Amazon, and never really had any problems with it, although I was taking it for a sporadic right foot (big toe area) tingle. The symptoms were not consistent, so I can't definitively speak to its effectiveness.
I placed a call to a company called WSN (Wellness Support Network). They make a product called "Nerve Support Formula" and I wanted more info. I got it, and in about 3 weeks of usage I was starting to feel better.
Through additional research I found additional supplements. Namely, Alpha Lipoic Acid, later I added Acetyl L-Carnitine, and then most recently also started Fish Oil.
I also use a vibrating foot massager called the MEDI-RUB Massager 2000 plus. This thing is great, and helps promote blood flow. It offers relief to me when my foot is sore.
The last part of my puzzle is an amazing device called the ReBuilder. I highly endorse it. My insurance did not cover it (although I understand most do), so I was able to get the high-powered one on ebay (used).
Now, let me also interject that when I saw the neurologist I brought in my WSN pills for him to examine. He looked at the ingredients and said he thought it could be beneficial. That's when HE told me about ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid), and how Mayo clinic recommends it for PN. Good enough for me!
I recently got a book on PN from Amazon "Beating Neuropathy, taking miracle to misery in just 5 weeks"), and they specifically talk about the ReBuilder as a very effective treatment option for PN. I had already started using it, but it was reassuring to read that!
So here's my regimen:
(1) Alpha Lipoic Acid pill (600 mg)
(2) Nerve Support pills
(2) Fish Oil pills (Mega EFA, Omega-3 EPA & DHA 2.126g per serving)
ReBuilder: as needed (can be done 2x/day) - usually done a few days a week as maintenance.
Medi-Rub: as needed.
That's the foot portion of what's been going on. It's tough for me to admit, and not easy to talk about. But I've been very aggressive with treatment, and if you can be disciplined you will see dramatic improvement. When things went haywire I also used Neurogen (with limited success, although it does smell good!) and Zostrix. I have since discontinued using both.
Today, the tops of my feet no longer burn at all. My left foot is 100% better, pain free. My right foot is 90% better - aargh. That last 10% really bugs me. In many ways, I'm back to where I started. My right foot still aches at times - specifically my big toe area. It's bothersome, but inconsistent. Most days it's either a indistinguishable or of little consequence. Some days it's more bothersome, and rarely (but it does happen), it just flat out aches.
I purchase my supplements (ALA, Fish Oil) through Vitacost.com. I have found their prices, products, and support to be unbeatable. I purchase the WSN Nerve Support direct from the manufacturer.
I share all of this info with you because despite my best efforts almost a year ago, I never did fin anyone on the internet who compiled an objective, exhaustive review along with specific direction on dosing and acquisition.
I buy the Omega-3 fish oil pills here. There are 240 pills, so @ 2/day, this is a 4 month supply (for $21.99).
I buy the ALA pills here. There are 60 pills in the bottle, and at 1/day that's a 2 month supply (for $8.28).
I buy the Nerve Support Formula direct from WSN here. I used to buy it through Amazon (it's also available there), but with the auto-ship through WSN it's the same price. There are 120 pills in the bottle. At 2/day (can take more if needed), that's a 2 month supply. (for $42.70).
So that's it! My hope is that you are encouraged by this information. There is hope, and there are alternatives (if you so desire).
Please contact me directly with any questions you may have.
Keep believing, and keep pumpin...