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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What is Neuropathy?

I try to explain my medical condition but most people don't
understand. "What is neuropathy?" they ask.

Let me offer two explanations. One is a medical definitation.
The other is a description by someone who has neuropathy. I
like the second one better. Only a person who suffers from it
can really explain what neuropathy is.


Neuropathy describes a condition in which a person suffers from
peripheral nerve damage often associated with an underlying
disease. Though not a disease itself, neuropathy is diagnosed in
many people for whom no pre-existing cause can be determined.

The symptoms of neuropathy are usually the only method of
diagnosis. One might suffer sensations similar to decreased
circulation in the extremities, such as numbness, ranging from
mild to severe, and pins and needles. Limbs feel alternately
burning hot and icy cold, accompanied by sharp or dull pain and
muscle fatigue. These feelings are associated with reduced fine
motor coordination, possibly leading to paralysis at the worst

Our nerves are sensitive paths along which our body relays
electrical information between our senses and our brain. One
system of nerves branch out from our spinal cord to sense things
like movement, pain, tactile sensation, temperature, etc. When
damaged, these functions become scrambled or have reduced
sensitivity. While it's easy to diagnose neuropathy based on
pain, it's difficult to treat because it is so commonly
idiopathic, which means the doctor doesn't know why the patient
has developed peripheral nerve damage.

A few examples of the various type of neuropathy include:
peripheral neuropathy, sensory neuropathy, Diabetic neuropathy,
Auditory neuropathy and optic neuropathy.

From an actual person who has neuropathy:

I know exactly how exasperating it is to have doctors telling you
different things. That's the beauty of neurology: nobody knows a
damned thing about it. If it's a problem with the nerves, the
quacks make duck soup and tell you to take two aspirin and call
somebody else in the morning.

Neuropathy ruined my ability to follow interpreters, but nobody
could see anything wrong with me, so I got  a lot of weird looks.
The quacks just said, "Duh."

Neuropathy is a unique kind of Hell, one in which you suffer,
but no one around you really understands. They think you are full
of crap. What proof can you show them? None! So you suffer alone
and have to endlessly struggle to get people to understand what
you are going through.
Be happy and cheerful when your life is coming apart at the
seams. Sure, no problem! My boss kept telling me to see a shrink
about my poor attitude. See a shrink to solve my communication
problems? That will help a lot! I had to give up the job. Damn, I
was proud of making it that far. But the stupid hands quit on me.
Can't follow the terps anymore. Can't read large print fast
enough for real-time. Can't function in real-time situations.
Have to function in real-time situations. So I need a shrink for
my attitude? I'm not smiling enough. Smile about what? Pre-death?

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