Do YOU know where your feet are?

One thing that I haven’t talked about yet except for the mention of the numbness in my feet, is well, the numbness on my feet. In more detail.

I’m sure everyone has experienced in their lifetime a body part or two “falling asleep”. That tingling, sometimes painful sensation that sometimes seems never-ending, and if you’re really “lucky”, it all leads to a “Charlie-horse”

Well, around early 2010…I was sitting at work one day and I felt a tingling in my feet. I hadn’t really noticed it before but given I was in this tiny cubicle and it got so warm under it, I just assumed it was because my feet had gotten warm and swollen, and my shoes had felt tight because of it. But later that night when I was relaxing on the couch, my shoes were off and the tingling was still there.

So I started to (finally) pay attention. After a week of it being continuously numb, I called the doctor who then referred me to a neurologist. Who, it turns out, would be the first of five. Throughout all my visits with all of these doctors, the last one a South African doctor located at the Neurological Center at the Rochester Hospital, I was subjected to blood tests, MRIs and Cat Scans, and the painfully uncomfortable nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and Electromyography tests which basically requires needles poked into the muscles of my legs, arms and back and little bolts of electricity to see “how they react”.

Not one of those neurologists was able to determine the exact cause of my neuropathy but they all agreed it was likely a combination of two things:  diabetes and genetics.

Diabetes has always run rampant in my family. Both of my maternal grandparents lost body parts to the disease.  My mother has suffered from nerve damage for as long as I can remember. And while she doesn’t have the constant numbness in her feet as I do, she does have a lot of pain in them after only a short time on them. I often have pain in mine as well. Sure, they will hurt from being on them after a short time just simply because they have to lug around a whole lot of weight, but it’s more than that. There are times when I wake up and they just hurt. My toes will feel like that are rocks or that they will snap in two at any moment.

Now you might wonder if they are always numb if pain is dulled. Let me assure you, it’s not. It’s actually intensified. Ever step on a Lego? Imagine that times 100 or 1000. Because it’s damage to the nerves, doesn’t mean the nerves aren’t feeling anything. Anytime I might step on something, the sensations travel through the nerves and explode outwards so often the pain might travel up my legs.

And in the cold winter months here in central New York, the only way that I can tell if my feet are too cold is to actually feel them with my hands. I have NO idea based on how they feel, if they are too hot or too cold. So frostbite is a danger.

So all these neurologists have agreed: this numbness will never go away. I will live with it for the rest of my life. Worse still, if I can’t control my diabetes, it might get worse and travel further through my legs (it’s already up to the top of both ankles) to my arms and hands.

I had mentioned in an earlier post about being clumsy. This is even more so now that I don’t always know where they are or what my feet are doing. If there is a gradual grading to a sidewalk, I may not notice and stumble. So add that to an already not-so-graceful person and it can spell potential disaster. So walking in the winter terrifies me now – thanks to the icy pavements and walkways. The walkway to my front door because I live in the basement of a house slopes downwards. I call it a “luge” in the winter because when it freezes, I’m better off with a sled than trying to walk down it. And it’s not even that steep!

So my feet fell asleep and never woke up.

So this is yet another reason why I was willing to take extra medications to try to control my diabetes because I didn’t want it to get further out of control to where I might suffer loss of limbs, or even like one of my uncles, blindness.  The plan is that the weight loss will eventually make even those medications obsolete but nothing is guaranteed.

2010 also is about the year that my body started yelling at me to “Wake the hell up!” but I stupidly didn’t listen. So this happened, my medications increased, as did my weight…and well…here we are.

I’m here as the poster “child” of what NOT to do concerning your health and weight. I’m certainly not advocating for all this utter silliness with obsession about body image and weight – I’m talking about allowing your weight to get so out of control that it affects your health. Affects your life!

I know plenty of people who are not a size 0 or 4, but a 14 or 16, and they are very fit and healthy.

And I’ve said this before, my journey isn’t about how I look, really. Yes, right now I feel far from pretty or attractive. But losing all this weight doesn’t mean I will miraculously believe myself to be pretty or attractive when I look in the mirror. But this is about how I feel. It’s about doing things that I cannot do because of my weight. Things that most people take for granted.

I’m talking about being able to walk into any restroom stall in a public place and not feeling like you’re trying to do your business in a coffin. I’m talking about trying to fit into some cars, doing up the seatbelts in them, or those on a plane – without embarrassing yourself for having to ask for an extender. To be able to go to the movies without stuffing myself into a seat. Two of the cars I really liked when I was car shopping in February were a bust because I couldn’t fit into the seats well enough to reach the pedals (for those that don’t know, I’m only 5’4″ with very short legs). I had one salesman say to me when I got into the Chrysler 200, “Wow, you surprised me getting into that car like you did.”

And without moving into too much of a TMI moment here – obese people have rolls of fat and skin. What do you think happens when it gets hot and they sweat? If you’re unsure because you’ve never experienced this, think: rashes. Rashes that eventually can cause scars. I tend to run warm all the time so you can understand yet another reason why I hate the heat. Being Canadian aside, I’m just not made for it.

I know the adage to not concern myself with what other people think about me when they see me. To not allow any of their false judgments of me as a person bother me. I’m trying. But it’s hard. Imagine walking onto a plane, shuffling somewhat sideways down the aisle, and seeing the terrified looks of the people in the rows watching you. And you just know that most are praying silently, “Please don’t let her be sitting next to me.”

And I’ve always been “considerate” with my weight. That is, I try my hardest to not inconvenience others with my size by brushing up against them when passing, or having my big body roll into their personal space. Believe me, no one is more conscious of my size than me. And I don’t have to own a mirror to know it.

I’m telling you this now. I’m not saying any of this to gain your pity or to seem like I’m complaining. This situation I’m in? This is on my shoulders and no one else’s. This is all on me. I’m merely trying to open up about the struggles. If that helps either someone who is going through similar situations to know they are not alone, or to help them realize they need to do something about their own situation before it gets out of control.  But better still, if this reminds those who are not suffering from morbid obesity and might sometimes find themselves judging someone by how they look and not knowing their story or what’s on the inside, maybe you’ll consider what I’ve said here and try to be understanding. And more so, supportive.

Okay off the soapbox. 😉

Even then, there are things that I would love to do just because they would be fun. Fun. Now there’s a concept that is often foreign to me. While you will never catch me throwing myself out of a plane no matter what size I might be, how fun would it be to paddle down the river in a canoe, take a long hike up a beautiful mountain trail, or spend hours walking through ancient ruins? Those are the things that I would consider the most fun. And I can’t do any of them.

So rather than continue on the Pity-Party-For-One train, I’m doing something about it. And frankly, if I can do this, anyone can do it too. I don’t have the market cornered on doing extraordinary things, and that’s okay.

But sometimes you just have to do that extra – because who really wants to be “ordinary”?

Blessing to all. xo


2 thoughts on “Do YOU know where your feet are?

  1. Danielle, your posts are terrific. You’re probably sick of hearing it (as I am from my own experience), but it’s so brave of you to share all this.

    For the record, due to my accident (and being paralyzed from the waist down!), although I’m making a slow comeback, I have no feeling at all in my right leg from the hip down, or in either foot from the ankle down. Worse, I have “foot drop,” so have to wear braces. My initial fear was that I would never be able to walk without sensation, but I am learning to get by without it. I so appreciate you sharing that part of your struggle. I’ve been so afraid that the lack of sensation would be a detriment, and the irony is that while to you it’s part of your struggle (walking on numb feet, unbalanced), to me, it’s a victory (walking on numb feet, though unbalanced!).

    The f—king hardest thing is to go one day at a time when leaping forward is what we want to do. Whatever! I’m sharing this journey with you, one day at a time. We’ll come out the other end in some kind of shape!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Beth. For reading, but for also your comments, support and even sharing your own experiences.

      My issues obviously pale in comparison to yours but that’s so kind of you to still be there rooting for me (as I am for you). It is ironic that our shared issue is seen from two different perspectives.

      Knowing what I know about you, I don’t see anything slowing you down and expect you’ll continue to just be amazing (and sorry…very brave 😉 ). Thanks again so much. xox

      Liked by 1 person

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