My Foot Is Constantly 'Asleep' – and So Is the Rest Of My Body

Have you ever gotten that tingling, pins-and-needles, creepy feeling from having your foot fall asleep? Imagine if you had that tingling feeling everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and it never went away. That’s chronic paresthesia. Usually when people get paresthesia, it goes away. When it doesn’t, it’s often caused by some sort of neurological disorder or nerve damage, but the cause can be difficult to pin down. That’s the case with me.

I started feeling that prickling, tingling feeling over a year ago. It started very lightly in my fingertips, then moved up to my hands and feet, then slowly crawled up my arms and legs until I felt it all over my entire body – including my face, head, and everywhere you can possibly imagine. The tingling got more intense and really distracting, making it difficult to focus at work and during conversations with people. I paid attention to when it occurred and when it got worse. It’s always been there. It doesn’t come and go. Sometimes it’s like waves across my entire body, other times it’s as if my entire body is reverberating. It’s inconsistent, but always present and easily aggravating.

At first I assumed it was from one of my many medications I was on, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But when I stopped taking those medications and the feeling didn’t go away, that’s when I started to worry. I went to the neurologist and he asked me a lot of questions no one had asked me before. He told me I probably have epilepsy. This was a shock to me and I’m still in a bit of disbelief about it because that’s not a typical symptom of epilepsy. Putting together all my symptoms – paresthesia, migraines, panic attacks, and fainting spells (among other things) – he concluded it’s most likely epilepsy. He gave me some anti-convulsant medications, ran some tests, and is monitoring my progress.

The thing about chronic paresthesia is it doesn’t go away. Even after being on high doses of several anti-seizure medicines, the paresthesia persists. It makes me want to crawl out of my skin. It makes me worry that something is seriously wrong with me. Am I having constant seizures or auras? Did I have a stroke and not realize it? Do I actually have nerve damage? What’s going to happen to me if this never goes away? It makes me wonder if my doctor is mistaken and I have something else. My anxiety easily takes over and I worry that I’ll have this forever, despite all the medications. The uncertainty of the course of my illness and the constant presence of this symptom are what makes it so unnerving.

Chronic paresthesia is not often talked about, despite being related to so many different types of medical conditions. So, for those of you with this condition – what has worked for you? Has it gone away or does it still come back even on medications? Until I can find some relief, I will continue to let this condition motivate me to seek treatment and hope one day the tingling stops.

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