Monday, January 28, 2013

My Foot Stopped Working: Grossly Normal

The 22nd was one of the most reassuring hospital visits I’ve ever had. My primary care physician was up to date on my records, listened carefully, brought in equipment to examine my feet and was attentive every concern I had. At one point I told him that if I kept motor control, I’d be happy to deal with the numbness. He put a hand on my shoulder and said, “We’re going to find a cause, so you won’t have to."

If they don’t, then that’s false hope, but damn if that didn’t lift my spirits. At the very worst, he’s great at pretending he cares. I don’t believe he’s pretending. You don’t do that many exercises to somebody’s foot for show.

The MRI found arthritis in my spine. Up until then I’d been ignoring my back pain as much as possible, chastising myself for weakness. It’s funny how a word like “arthritis” can scare you into realizing how bad your back hurts. I went from calling myself a baby to absolutely babying myself.

The MRI results said most of my vertebrae are “grossly normal.” The least reassuring phrasing I could think of, but it’s a positive. I wish they’d given me a copy of the images themselves – they would have made killer author photos.

The arthritis isn’t the cause of the numbness. The doctor said it wasn’t in the proper areas and not severe enough to be messing with these nerves. I’ve got a follow-up with his associate neurologist in February. It’s a month off, too far for my comfort, but it’s as early as possible.

Today nine of my ten toes are numb, like they’ve been wrapped in ice, and most of the ball of my right foot is tingling. The worst was a few nights ago when, mid-exercise, my big toe fell asleep. Days later, it’s never woken back up. It’s weird, but I can move it. I stand by that I’d deal with this if it was all.

20 comments:

  1. I also like the sound of grossly normal.

    I hope they find out what is going on with yur feet. The neurologist sounds like the best next step. Last spring I had a similar problem with my right shoulder down to my fingers. It turned out to be muscles and tendons that had knotted up hard and tight, pressing on nerves. It took 12 weeks of intense PT to fix, and now I do exercises to keep that place flexible. I do hope yours is as easy a fix. Thinking of you, holding your health in the light. Peace...

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    1. The head nurse suggested physical therapy and recommended the place she goes to for her back problems. Said she wouldn't be able to walk that day if not for help the day before. So at least I have a center I can look forward to visiting if that's where I'm headed, and PT is a small price to pay to keep motor function.

      Thank you for the well wishes, Linda, and everyone.

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  2. I'm with Linda in hoping that PT will help. I had to go through it for some back problems a few years ago. Made a world of difference.

    Take care, John. Baby yourself.

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  3. I agree, it's a pity they didn't give you copies. Then when someone told you to "show some backbone," you could whip out the pic and troutslap 'em. ;-)

    Here's hoping PT and maybe the occasional trip to the chiro-cracker or masseuse will help. My right thumb went numb on me once, and a few back crunches cleared it up.

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  4. Grossly normal is a lovely phrase. I hope you find out what's going on soon, John. Sending positive thoughts your way.

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  5. It's so nice when the people charged with your medical care actually care- I'm only sad that this is unusual in your world.
    But as always, I'm rooting for you.

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  6. Sounds like you're in good hands. I have arthritis in my upper back (results of damage when a drunk driver hit me a few years ago), and it makes my fingers/arms go numb if I don't watch what I'm doing. I hope they figure out what's happening!

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  7. Isn't it weird how numbness is? It's not exactly a pain, but it's an irritatingly weird feeling. I have a spot in the middle of my back that goes numb a lot (the result of a disastrous lumbar puncture by the supposedly best neurologist in the state). And it drives me crazy. (Yes, admittedly, it's a short trip.)

    I hope they get it figured out. Sometimes not knowing is the worst part. And I hope it's an incredibly easy fix. I hate to think of friends in pain.

    Stacey

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  8. I'll take your "grossly normal" and raise you a "genetic anomaly" (per my last back xray.

    Seriously, sorry for the numbness, but it sounds like your doctor is on the hunt for it. That is a great feeling.

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    1. I can't beat that on back scans. What anomaly was there, if you're willing to say?

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  9. Thanks for the update! Despite the arthritis, I'm glad there doesn't appear to be anything seriously wrong in the spinal area. I'll add my 2 cents in support of PT - I've seen it work wonders for people with moderate to severe back or shoulder pain. Oh, and I agree you should baby yourself and not consider pain "weakness". I sucked it up and put up with intense shoulder pain for weeks, and as a result I caused even more damage. Hoping for the best for you.

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  10. Good luck, John. I think of you every day.

    A friend of mine had something similar, only it affected his whole body. Then one day *poof* it simply went away.

    I hope you have a poof day soon.
    ~jon

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    1. I'm touched you think of me so often, Jon. And you're right - those freak things can just disappear. Had one friend who couldn't feel his leg for six months, then one morning it was simply back. Never figured out why.

      The numbness honestly doesn't scare me, and isn't much worse than the constant pain in all my other body parts. It's only the motor control loss. I am very bad at dealing with immobility. It's one of my big issues, maybe a phobia.

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    2. I can certainly understand that.
      ~jon

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  11. I hope they do find out what is causing it for you John and fix it up very soon or as Jon said that you have a poof day very very soon.

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    1. I like this notion of a "poof day" very much!

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  12. I am very happy about the 'grossly normal' label. Numb feet/toes is challenging, but survivable. I wobble, but can still walk (and chew gum). Good luck with the next neurologist. And I am a tad jealous about the caring nature of your primary care physician. Ok, more than a tad.

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  13. If nothing else you've got an awesome book title out of this. (And if you don't use it, let me know as I'd be tempted.)

    I'm impressed at your stoicism. I'd be freaking out if I couldn't feel my toes and had to wait as long as you have/had.

    And seriously, be really nice to yourself. You need to keep your internal resources well stocked. You should probably insist that other people are nice to you as well. (I'm thinking massage, getting you treats, that sort of thing.)

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  14. Very rare to find a doctor that will assure you of anything other than he/she'd like to see you again in a couple of weeks. Have to figure yours is sincere. Grossly normal is an unnattractive way of putting something positive. I hope you find out something soon John.

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  15. PT for sure and yoga to handle the waiting to see the neurologist. You, take care of you. Positive healing thoughts coming your way.

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