Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Foot Stopped Working: Needles in My Legs

I thought I’d experienced every nerve test. I’ve had sweat tests, blood tests, muscle biopsies, shock tests, tests where they strapped electrodes to me and tossed me onto a treadmill. I have what are likely exaggerated memories of an hour spent in a room with gradually elevating temperature and currents being run through my left arm.

But this “Nerve Shock Test” I got in Fishkill was a new one. The technician stuck needles into the muscle tissue of my legs, then electrified the needles to record nerve reactions. It may be the first time I’ve ever bit my lip to keep from yelling. Didn’t help that the technician was a jerk who talked down to me for the entire test.

What a nice place to be electrocuted.
Then I got off the table and heard exactly what anyone who’s been electrified for their own health wants: “This shows there’s nothing wrong. That’s a good thing.”

A good thing because, according to a glib explanation, it ruled some problems out. It’s probably not Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. He didn’t even think it was neuropathy, though he didn’t have an alternative to suggest. Now all I had to do was get another neurology appointment to come up with more tests. Recall that last time, the Nurse Practitioner was drawing a blank on what it could be and what to do.

The only good thing I’ve experienced is that the numbness hasn’t spread far. For the last few days I’ve felt it in the ball of my left foot. Otherwise it is located in the toes and periphery, and every time I’ve checked, motor control has been available. Sweet, sweet ability to walk.

I waited two weeks before posting this, just in case. Bruises the size of my thumbs still mark where the needles “probed.”

Eight days after Nerve Shock Test. My leg doesn't look like Jupiter anymore!


  1. Sorry to hear what a jerk some people can be, it makes me want to go there and slap him awake for you!
    Hope you are doing at least somewhat better, and am sending healing thoughts and positive energy your way!

  2. I'm new (or late) to your blog. But I've done a lot of testing for leg problems. So, pardon if I'm re-asking; have you done spinal studies for stenosis. Including cervical.

  3. Well, I suppose once they eliminate everything else, the last affliction standing will be what you have. But your experience makes me want to stick needles in the technician & turn up the voltage.

    This is probably a stupid suggestion, but when I get a gout flareup, my toes or other parts of my foot sometimes get numb. Usually, it just hurts. But uric acid would show up in your blood tests, so that's probably not it.

  4. Aaaaargh. I am so sorry. I loathe and detest condescending technicians. I tend to wish painful hemorrhoids on them (undignified and uncomfortable but not fatal). And I do understand how frustrating and demoralising it is when there is obviously something wrong and no-one can find what it is. It made me doubt my sanity (more than usual). I really hope that you get answers soon.

  5. My best friend from high school is a nurse and she says you should always report healthcare workers that are like that otherwise no one ever knows. You don't deserve to be belittled, especailly while being electrocuted. That's just wrong. More than that, I'm sorry they're still fishing for answers. Where's Dr. House when you need him?

  6. It must be so frustrating to keep getting variations of "we don't know what's wrong". I volunteered (when I was young and poor) to be "electrocuted" for a neurology center so they would have a baseline of normal reactions. Wow. Was it ever painful. (But hey, they paid me $50.) I admire the way you've coped with a life of chronic pain - true courage. You inspire me in so many ways.

  7. When I got my diagnosis, it was scary as shit. But it was also a relief to know why these weird things were happening to me when I'd historically been a perfectly healthy individual. So I'm not gonna pretend I can imagine the frustration when test after test tells you that you shouldn't be experiencing what you're experiencing. But I can tell you that I love you and that i'm thinking of you. And all the other responses you're getting can tell you that I'm in good company in that.

  8. That technician has to go into a story! Also, this sucks. You manage to sound very pragmatic in these posts but the idea of not being able to walk would fill me with terror.

    Hope a way forward can be found.

  9. That sounds like a horrible test. I hope too that a way forward can be found for you John.

  10. Did you notice that the black stone obelisk in the picture has what looks like "OW" written on it in cursive? It's clearly a warning to visitors.

  11. Did you notice that the black stone obelisk in the picture has what looks like "OW" written on it in cursive? It's clearly a warning to visitors.


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