Though I haven’t fallen down the stairs, or tripped on my own feet, I haven’t figured out how to get up again and proceed with life.
Mary Oliver has a short poem in A Thousand Mornings (2012, p. 9) that says it all.
After I Fall Down the Stairs
At the Golden Temple
For a while I could not remember some word
I was in need of,
and I was bereaved and said: where are you,
My biggest fear right now is that I’ll fall down: Where are you, beloved feet?
It’s official: I have peripheral neuropathy. It’s in early stages, though given the fire and pain in my feet and legs, you could fool me. My doctor has ordered an MRI scan. I’ve never had one. I don’t want one now. And yes, I’ll have it.
Last Friday I had two diagnostic tests in the office. Together, they took about an hour. The first (scroll down in this link) (NCS) was supposed to be the easiest. Electrodes on my feet and legs were prompted to shock me. Sometimes my responses were minimal—or even nothing at all. However, most of the time (a good thing) the shocks were just that. Horrific. I thought they would never end.
So…moving on to the second test (EMG). It was supposed to be the most difficult. The doctor inserted thin needles into my legs and feet, prompting me to use or flex various muscles while he listened for noise. Then he did one more poke in my lower spine. The needle pokes weren’t fun, but they were nothing compared to the shock tests. In the end these results were also mixed. Another sign that this disease is in early stages.
I was surprised that my problem most likely began in my lower spine, not in my feet or legs. The MRI will help clarify what’s going on.
In the meantime, my feet are a mixed blessing. I’m grateful to be sleeping well most of the time. The best exercise these days is a walk outside with D or riding my indoor bike. My feet smile and even tear up a bit when I’m playing the piano or working at my computer. Yet when I’m working in the kitchen or around the house, they scream at me for mercy. Especially in the afternoon and evening.
If you’re interested in knowing more about this disease that shows up in various forms, I’ve found these two books helpful:
- Peripheral Neuropathy: A Guide for Patients and Families, by Norman Latov, MD, PhD
- Peripheral Neuropathy: What It Is and What You Can Do to Feel Better, by Janice F. Wiesman, MD
Thank you for your prayers and good wishes! The photo at the top is one of my Longwood Garden favorites–posted today just because.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 Oct 2021
Photo taken by DAFraser in October 2019 at Longwood Gardens