The Brimstone Monster: Battling Diabetic Neuropathy

Every night it is the same. My body decides that it wants to allow the routine of pain to occur. Some days are better than others, but every day is bad.

First, the hands begin to feel tingly followed by the feet. The tingly sensations become vibrating annoyances that branch out ever so slowly through my nervous system. Then the pain travels up the legs shocking and jerking along the way as if something is clawing as it rises and up around the shoulders until it encompasses my entire body! My entire system feels as if a slow burning fire scorches my flesh, yet it will not burn. It is my very own brimstone inferno, my body.

As the pain is incessant and constant, my mind will adapt so as not to overload my already taxed pain receptors making me not sense the pain so acutely. As soon as my senses have dulled sufficiently I will experience a sharp stab of pain somewhere that causes me to yell out! My senses cease to be dulled and I experience this personal hell repeatedly until mercifully it seems to diminish to memory before the next storm. At its zenith, the pain becomes so intense that I must remove all of my clothing and prevent air from circulating around me so that I can find some sense of peace, which never comes. The pain lasts all night and most days.

I am used to feeling pain if anyone can ever become used to feeling like this. In fact, as I type, I feel the pains in each of my fingers and my hands. I can feel it building in my core. It is enough to make life seem less important. It is enough to sap all hope and will to try more. It is enough to destroy ambition. The pain interferes with work and school. It interferes with family and marriage. It can be the source of so much emotional trauma for family members.

Each day I notice a few of the things that I did before become more difficult to do because this monster that burns within me constantly, the disease of diabetic neuropathy.

Source
This picture is of my boys and me on Fathers day 2012. Full blown neuropathy endurer.
This picture is of my boys and me on Fathers day 2012. Full blown neuropathy endurer.

Did You Know?

Currently there exists many brands of insulin to choose from for Diabetics!

It can be brain-draining to decide which is better

Artificial Human Insulin (made in labs form bacteria) or

Natural Animal Insulin (taken form the pancreases of animals).

You should consult your health professional about which one works best for You!

Participate!

Which Insulin works better? Artificial or Animal You Decide!

See results without voting

Diabetes

Diabetic Neuropathy means damage to the nerve endings caused by excessive high blood sugar levels due to diabetes and intercommunication between the brain and the pain sensors throughout the body--usually the extremities. My Brimstone Monster is the result of diabetes. It is important to understand diabetes to understand diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetes is a disease caused by the pancreas

  1. not producing insulin,
  2. not producing enough insulin,
  3. or cells in the body becoming insulin resistant.

Insulin is the hormone in the body produced by the pancreas that allows the body to metabolize sugars from the food we ingest.

In a healthy normal human, the pancreas regulates the amount of insulin it needs to produce in accordance with the amount of sugar in the blood to help the blood cells carry the needed energy to all the cells of the body. All food is metabolized into sugar and used as energy or stored as fats within the body to be used at a later time.

Not Producing

A pancreas which does not produce insulin does not provide a way for the cells to receive energy from the food a person ingest. Over time, the blood of the poor soul who has a defective pancreas is saturated with non-metabolize-able sugar until the body starts to dissolve itself for the needed nutrients from the bones and organs. If left untreated, this blood coagulates possibly leading to many complications of health such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and death just to mention a few!

Artificial human insulin, synthesized hormones, or animal insulin is the current treatment for this type of pancreatic issue. Generally, people born with this disorder are called Type I Diabetics though those with Type II Diabetes can also suffer from full pancreatic failure.

Not Producing Enough

Due to genetics and a number of environmental factors, some people's pancreases produce insulin insufficient for the needs of the body. The glucose or sugar from the food in the blood stream is not sufficiently metabolized with the count of insulin hormone. The pancreas unaided just cannot produce enough of the hormone to metabolize all the glucose in the system.

Though this is better than not producing insulin, the same dangers apply to the damage that will occur to the vascular and other systems if the disparity continues unabated. Artificial aid such as pharmaceuticals that stimulate the production of insulin in the pancreas is one way to treat the victims of this disease. People who suffer from this pancreatic disorder are usually referred to as Type II diabetics and are not usually born with a pancreatic problem. It usually appears in adulthood, USUALLY!

Source
Source

Viva La Resistance!

The pancreas may function within normal parameters, but for some biochemical reason, the insulin does not metabolize the glucose into energy for the cells. It is as if all the employees of the Company of Pancreas is on strike. Everyone is there, but no one is working!

With this unfortunate situation, the same complications will occur as if the body produces no insulin at all and the same treatments artificially will apply. Along the spectrum of diabetes exist many of the suffers to one degree or the other needing differing artificial intervention to assist them in living productive lives.

I say ARTIFICIAL intervention because there are natural things that SOME, NOT ALL, people can do to avoid unnatural intervention of the system. Diabetes is a manageable disorder if strict adherence to glucose or sugar levels in the blood are maintained--between 80 and 120 mg. This is done by diet and exercise, medications, machine monitoring of glucose levels and a regular doctor visit to assess health. It is a team effort between Health Workers and the Patient.

Because Diabetes is a progressive disease that slowly damages the body over years, after 10 years of successful management of the disease, complication from having diabetes may start to arise--generally between the tenth and twentieth years. Whether the glucose levels are uncontrolled, a la HIGH, or normal this will occur; consequentially, the Severity of the complications developed depend on how well diabetic Patients manage their health.

My Brimstone Monster

Diabetic Neuropathy Medical Illustration
Diabetic Neuropathy Medical Illustration | Source

I did not manage my health well. I was diagnosed one month after returning from my mission in the South Africa Cape Town mission December of 2000. I had been having symptoms since the last few months of my mission, but I did not know it. My missionary companion, Burkley Probst may have saved my life, because he insisted that we eat healthily. I had gained almost one hundred pounds on my mission. I was not actively exercising as a missionary and I would eat mountains of food!

Since both of my parents have Type II Diabetes, I was genetically disposed to the disease. Along with my environmental factors, my habits, I may have caused the disease to occur earlier in life than it could have, maybe?

Burkley Probst

Burkley would make us walk to places rather than drive each time and eat right. By the time he came along, it was too late for my health. One of the signs of having diabetes is frequent urination.

I remember when I first became aware of a health problem. Burkley and I were at a Born Again Christian's home in the middle of a prayer. The man would not stop praying and I was sweating bullets because I could not hold my urine! I think I prayed the entire time for him to stop praying!

I bolted from the prayer circle when amen was said! Sadly, I had to urinate just 30 minutes later thinking that whatever Burkley made me eat that day caused this sudden problem.

The plane ride to the United states was gruesome for me because I had to go to the restroom every 30 minutes for 12 hours! I sat in the window seat and the guy sitting next to me would not change seats with me! Horrid!

When I was at home, my mother took me to get tested and I thought my life was over upon discovering I had the disease. I at least knew what was wrong with me.

I am on the far left and Burkley is the guy on the right with his tongue sticking out.
I am on the far left and Burkley is the guy on the right with his tongue sticking out.
This is me with my family before the emergency room incident.
This is me with my family before the emergency room incident.
This is the Johnson Family, my family with my mother included. These are the people my disease effects and who love me anyway.
This is the Johnson Family, my family with my mother included. These are the people my disease effects and who love me anyway.

Dealing with the Pain

I have suffered with it since 2008 when I was diagnosed with it after a trip to the emergency room and a consultation with a neurologist.

I kept asking for morphine. It was right after Thanksgiving. I had come off of my four-month diet plan so that I could eat traditional Thanksgiving food. I had previously been doing P90X and my results were great. Going off the diet was not.

Following that episode in the hospital, my health steadily declined over the months until I came crashing down August of 2010. My body completely betrayed me. I could no longer run or walk for long distances. I could no longer exercise. I could do none of the things I had done before.

Neuropathy had already started giving me pain, but now it cripples me. I can barely stand for any person to touch me sometimes. On top of that progressive pain, in 2010 my daughter passed away in a terrible manner and I had to quit my job because I could not perform it anymore.

The pain and depression solidified at this point forward and that has been my lot since then: a round of pain here, depression there and endurance everywhere. Every sense is heightened and emotions raw because of the constant pain. Hypertension increases because of pain. The immune system is taxed and stress levels run high because of the constant pain over all the skin. This is besides the other symptoms associated with other complications.

Each day I must rely on my faith to help me avoid lashing out at my family, which does not work every day. I constantly need to remind my kids that they cannot jump on Daddy because I hurt.

I have to allow my wife to know when I can be touched because randomly showing me affection is not an option because I could be in pain. She was the only person to know about my pain until my health became serious in 2010.

Source

Neuropathy not just in the feet

Neuropathy does not just occur in the feet. It can occur all over the body as it does with me. The nervous system basically starts to malfunction, similar to Fibromyalgia.

The constantly overactive nervous system pain causes the most problems. Any person dealing with nerve pain alone has a difficult daily life, especially when medicines like Cymbalta only work partially to relieve the systems--I would rather have it than nothing at all. That is a whole other level of hell!

Cymbalta helps with the nerve pain and depression. Depression is a common companion for people dealing with chronic pain and health conditions.

If you are accustomed to being the breadwinner and can no longer do so because of circumstance beyond your control like I am, life can be really hard to accept. It is important to be aware of your feelings and what is the root of negative feelings to avoid undue mental anguish.

Because I know that I am prone to depression because of my health, I take steps to avoid slipping into depression bouts for long periods of time. It is a constant battle and I am not always successful.

Did You Know?

Eventually, when the searing pain burns the nerves out in a particular area it becomes numb.

The numbness spreads and the damaged nerves die out which can take a lifetime.

Eventually, the numbness can make a person feel like he or she has prosthetic limbs since there is no sensation.

It is dangerous. Infections and damage still occur even if it cannot be sensed by the brain anymore.

Prone To Injury Unawares

I went into the hospital because my blood pressure was 264/190 and my glucose levels were above 400 levels. The averages respectively are 120/80 and 80 to 120.

I was on the verge of a stroke and a diabetic coma! I had gone to the emergency room by referral from the urgent care doctor because of a swollen leg and foot. Apparently, due to my lack of feeling in certain parts of my foot, I had injured myself somehow.

Voicelessness

Three days it took to get my blood pressure and glucose level under control, while I took morphine for pain--caused by my swollen leg. Each time in the past that I went to the hospital, no doctor would listen to me if my blood glucose levels were high because I am a diabetic.

They assumed that I ate irresponsibly. This time, I told them that

  • my leg is swollen and painful, which is causing me to have high blood pressure.
  • The pain prevents me from wanting to eat so I starve and
  • my liver dumps sugar in my blood as a result to give me energy--
  • which cause my glucose levels to rise!

No one would listen. It is not as if they were ignorant. It is common knowledge among doctors, or I hope it is, that the liver dumps sugar in the blood when the glucose levels get too low as the last resort for energy. The fact that my glucose levels were approaching 500 mg while the normal range is 80 to 120 mg made them suspicious of the liver dumping exclamation of mine.

It looked like I was about to be discharged once morphine took away the pain and the insulin-regulated my glucose levels enough for me to eat. I prayed all night that the nurse and doctors would notice my leg and foot, which I kept pointing out to them.

Source

Family Support

My wife called the nurses' station that very night and explained to the nurse in charge why I had initially been sent to the ER and to look at my foot. She did and saw nothing, but she felt impressed to call a wound nurse.

The wound nurse saw a small dot on my foot and called the doctors. Four doctors saw my swollen foot and leg and three did not want to act while one adamantly suggested surgery.Three days these four doctors debated whether or not I should have an operation on my foot putting the total up to six days I had been admitted to the hospital, Tempe Saint Luke's Hospital--the best in Phoenix!

Six days I was made to lie in a hospital bed praying for something to be found wrong with me! I felt the pain and used the morphine. I knew something was wrong. I have the unfortunate face and body type that no one can look upon me and tell that I am ill. I look healthy no matter what I feel!

The doctors met on the Sixth day discussing my situation. Two were against cutting into my flesh because it did not look like I needed it and all the tests and scans returned negative for a problem.

Two thought something needed to be done other than elevating my foot. One of the two told the other three that he believes I had an infection that could be going towards the bone!.

Another day passed with the team of doctors in disagreement. I prayed more. One doctor, the one who knew that I had an infection, went to my room alone and asked me to sign a consent form to operate.

He could not convince two physicians that anything was wrong because nothing showed on any test, but he was sure that he could see an infection--being that it was his specialty. The surgeon would not cut, so he decided he would. I gave him my consent and he cut open my flesh.

Samuel Nwafor, M.D., FACP, FAPWCA

Source

Out came a confluence of fluids that confirmed his suspicion. He had the nurse take pictures of the infection hidden behind my skin and removed the necrosis from my body. God answered my prayer by inspiring this doctor, Dr. Nwafor, to look beyond the machines and test and trust his impression.

God helped him find the problem so that he could heal my disease. I spent the next month in a nursing home getting intravenous antibiotics. It was a strange experience being that I am so young to live in a nursing home, but God heard my prayer and gave me what I needed. And he did it for the entire month of September 2012 to the beginning of October 2012. The story with my foot does not end but continues through to 2014, but that's another article.

Be Aware

Make sure if you have diabetes in your family tree that you take notice of your eating habits. You do not have to become a vegan, but you must eat a balanced healthy diet to avoid the early onset of diabetes.

Most people get diabetes in old age.

For

  • Native Americans,
  • Blacks
  • and Hispanics,

the rate of diabetes in younger people is exceptionally high.

Minorities are more likely to have the disease and must be aware of the genetic disposition. Native Americans are more susceptible than any other group.

© 2012 Rodric Johnson

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Comments 12 comments

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

What a story..wow. You have and are really suffering. I am so sorry, but appreciate your sharing the story. maybe it will encourage others to be careful with their diet. And if diagnosed take extra care to exercise and eat healthfully. Voted Up and Sharing on Facebook.


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

I can identify with your problems my friend. I have diabetes also and go through many of the same trials. Hang in there my friend. whonu


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

I feel for you whonunuwho. I am deeply and honestly empathetic myself if you have similar pains. Thanks for commenting and reading my hub. I keep wondering if there are any new treatments that can help with the constant pain. I am thinking about shock therapy. I figure if it has do do with the over-stimulation of the nervous system, electricity should help. That's me thinking though.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks so much for reading and commenting carol7777. It is an uphill battle, but I have help along the way. I wanted to share a long time ago, but I felt strange about it because I didn't want people to think that I was trying to bank on their sympathy. I realized that I would bank on their sympathy no matter when I shared it because it is a sympathetic issue! I figured, why not share. I have looked and have seen that no one has shared about this on hub pages to the extent of relating a personal experience. I suppose maybe I could start a trend! Or not. I am glad I am able to share. It may motivate someone to be more healthy. I know my kids should be motivated after living with me!


Robertr04 3 years ago from Detroit,Mi.

Hi Rodric, me again. From reading your article it seems you were on your way to the dibetic condition before you left on the mission. Diabetes makes you want to eat more, so symptoms are aggrevated, as well as brought on by eating too much fat, too many sugary foods, along with possibly consuming caffien and alcohol ( in your case I doubt). This type of diet overworks, then damages the pancreas, so your body loses the ability to produce or use insulin correctly, converting food into energy. You probably need to follow a vegetarian type diet. Cut out the red meats and processed foods (salami, bolgna etc.) Stop drinking cows milk and diary products. Raw vegetables and fresh fruits would be desirable. Raw nuts (not roasted or salted) whole grains and plenty of steam distilled water (not tap, spring or mineral) some common water treatments can cause nuerotransmitter imbalances. Plus steam distilled leaches out all minerals that can't be assimilated. Eat food rich in calcium, magnesium and vitimin B. Have a glass of carrot juice twice a week with a pinch of sage and 1tsp of Bragg's liquid aminos for adrenal stress. A fresh green drink ( 3 green vegetables blended with a pint of distilled water) every day would be nice. We definitely recommend organic fruits and vegetables, but if unable by all means use a natural poison antidote (Black Cohosh, Wheat Germ, Virginia Snake Root, Buglweed, Grape Seed) to name a few, to keep the body free of the pesticides and herbicides used on our foods. Chew your all juices (swish around in your mouth thoroughly) to mix the saliva in to aid in digestion. Diabetics have been known to have problems with taking juices without dicomfort. Drink your solid food (chew until liquefied) also for saliva mix. If you are interested, I can recommend some natural herbal products that may greatly improve your diabetic and neuropathic problems. Your condition can be corrected. Praying for and wishing all the best.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Robert thank you for all the wonderful suggestions. By all means, please send more and give more. I am not against you sending me links and information of any kind. What you have sent me is good. I look forward to more.

My email is rodricjohnson29@gmail.com

I welcome more knowledge because knowledge is light and light leads to wisdom. And wisdom leads to understanding God in all truth. These are truths and as a Saint, I want to acknowledge all truth.


Robertr04 3 years ago from Detroit,Mi.

Hi Rodric. In the American Southwest there is a needle bearing and evergreen tree. Think Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and you get the picture of where it is at home. It ranges in size from that of a shrub to up to 30ft tall if it has enough water and better soil. Out West, its common name is the "Single-Seeded Cedar Berry" tree. There are 2 kinds of Cedar Berry trees. One kind has the female flowers on it, the other male flowers. The flowers on the female trees produce a small waxy seed pod with a single seed in it. That is the part used to make the herbal extract. We use it to support and correct pancreatic function. It also sustains immunity and dissolves "bad cells". Along with the dietary changes and a body manangement program (cleansing & maintenance)) we have had remarkable results. The cleansing is vitally important because there is no healing without first cleansing. You continue with whatever program your doctor has you on.


Robertr04 3 years ago from Detroit,Mi.

Hey Rodric, haven't talked to you in awhile. How is everything going? I've got another suggestion for you. Go to a health store and get some litmus paper. I want you to check your pH (urine and saliva). pH is a measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions in your body. The more positively charged nitrogen ions present, the more acids present. The less hydrogen ions present, the less acidity. The pH scale ranges from 1-14. & is considered neutral. Anything below 7 is acidic. Above 7 is considered alkaline. A healthy body should be slighty alkaline. Deviation in your cell and tissue pH level from a healthy range (7.0-7.4) into an acidic state (below 7.0), the acid wastes that your body is normally able to discard when it's healthy through elimination routes start to back up like a clogged sewage system.The pH of your bodily fluids affects the state of your cellular health and inner cleaniness or filth. When your pH levels are in proper balance, you will experience a high level of health and well being. You will be able to resist states of "dis-ease" and the onset of chronic symptomologies. Every metabolic and system function, including all regulatory mechanisms such as digestion, respiration, hormone release, neurotransmitter and immunity depends entirely on delicately balanced pH. pH stands for power (potential) of hydrogen. Diabetes is an acidic condition. The pancreas produce one of the highest pH body fluids. A shortage of calcium ions in the body impairs the production and release of insulin hormone. This eventually leads to an acidic blood condition. With accumulated waste products coating the receptor sites of the insulin producing beta cells, insulin is prevented from being synthesized or utilitized. Diabetes is the result. This could be improved by an alkaline diet and detoxification. I hope I haven't brought on confusion with pH 101. But I thought it might help you to better understand what happened and correct the condition. To balance the pH quickly, the juice of 2 lemons and 2 limes in a pint of water, 3x/day, should do the trick. Also 2tbls of apple cider vinegar (with the mother in it) in 4-5oz of water is good. Distilled water or purified (reverse osmosis) water in either case. Look for my coming hub. Have a good one. Shalum


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Robert. It seems that you need to write that hub about pH 101. It would be a great addition to health knowledge on hubpaes. I look forward to it.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Robert, and silent readers, my health has taken a downward turn again, but I am still kicking. I think that I am at a point where I can try the alternative healing that you suggest Robert.

I have a friend who is doing this type of spiritual focus healing that I want to try also, talking to the body. I went to a few sessions with him and I felt better for a while.

I am sure it is my mind over the matter that composes my body and promoted self-healing and the meds actually normalizing my mood, but it helped me emotionally if nothing else.

Oh yeah, I updated this article a bit.


Carl Stone 5 months ago

When I read this story I realized just how similar it was to my condition. One day, while taking a short walk, I suddenly and inexplicably started experiencing intense burning and prickly sensations in the soles of my feet.

These symptoms persisted for many months before I was forced to accept the unavoidable truth that I was a peripheral neuropathy sufferer. I visited a podiatrist who told me there was no effective medical treatment for this condition. All he could do was write me a prescription for something that would help to take the edge off.

His offer was tempting, but deep inside I just knew there had to be a better answer. No way did I want to get hooked on dangerous painkillers for the rest of my life and risk damaging my health even more with the unwanted side effects.

Long story short, I came across some simple natural remedies and stimulating techniques that gently soothed my irritated nerves and woke up my numb, sleepy legs, feet, and hands.

In fact, you might want to check out this article, it really helped me a lot:

http://www.journalofnaturalhealth.com/neuropathy


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 3 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks for reading and sharing what you have learned. I was taking Cymbalta, Neurontin, and Lyrica for the pain. The side effects cause me to have marital problems so I stopped all of the drugs. I have not felt the pain so intensely since I went off the drugs unless I let my diabetes get out of hand. I like natural remedies also.

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