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Caring for My Body With Peripheral Neuropathy

I went to the doctor yesterday. It’s not unusual for me to be there, between seeing my eating disorder treatment team and my primary care physician, but yesterday was an unusual experience for me.

I was diagnosed with genetic peripheral neuropathy a few months ago. It’s a diagnosis that I’ve constantly been working to understand. I don’t experience the typical neuropathy pain most people with this diagnosis do, but I do experience a complete lack of sensation from my mid-calf down to both of my feet.

I’ve always been an active person, so I’ve tried to maintain my activity levels with progressively less feeling in my legs. I went rock climbing with my friends a few days ago, and I landed wrong and heard my ankle pop. I didn’t feel any pain, and I still don’t, but I felt like something was off. I wanted to make sure that everything was OK with my ankle to continue being active.

When I went to the doctor, I asked for an x-ray despite the lack of clinical indication for one. I had to explain to my doctor that I don’t feel the pain that comes with injury, and I was anxious that I had damaged my ankle without knowing it. After an hour and a half, my ankle was noted as sprained, and I was sent home with the instructions to rest for a few days.

Many people have told me they wish they wouldn’t feel pain. The reality is, as my peripheral neuropathy continues to evolve, anything that happens to my lower legs or my lower arms now demands a trip to the doctor’s office. There is no “too careful” in terms of making sure my body is OK and able to continue my daily activities. I’m still adjusting and learning this is OK. I’m allowed to take care of myself, even if that means going to the doctor more often as my neuropathy progresses.

There is no shame in doing what is needed to take care of your body. I will continue to tell this to myself as often as necessary. I am living in my body for as long as I am alive, and my body deserves my care and attention.

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Thinkstock photo via Jupiterimages.