No Intention of Giving In to Neuropathy
--Martha W.

I told my neurologist I had no intention of giving up my active lifestyle. I enjoy fly-fishing, playing tennis, skiing, and traveling.

Martha W.

For two years I had known that something was wrong with my feet.  At night, when I went to bed, I complained to my husband about my symptoms…but I didn’t know how to describe it…or what to do about it.  To say that my feet felt as if I walked on a hot pavement and burned the bottoms--a kind of parchment feeling--just didn’t seem to make sense.

Then, one lucky day in the newsletter of the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, there was a blurb someone had written about peripheral neuropathy and its symptoms….and I said, “Ah-ha! I’m not crazy! I know what I have.”

I am now 68 and retired.  My life had always been an active one: I worked full-time and for recreation, I skied, played tennis, fly fished and traveled….all activities that required  “dependable” feet.  So, first I read as much as I could about peripheral neuropathy; then, I saw an excellent neurologist who confirmed my neuropathy diagnosis. When I told him that I had no intention of giving up the activities I loved, he referred me to a specialist at Yale New Haven Hospital who, again, confirmed the diagnosis. I, then, began treatment with neurontin.

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But the medicine was not a cure, and I knew some changes had to be made if I were to lead a life filled with the activities I loved.  I began to work with a personal trainer, focusing on balance skills.  I realized I had to give up playing singles tennis; now, I focus on doubles, and I love it. 

With fly-fishing, I have learned that I need to wade in as much as possible as fishing from a boat is too restricting. I always buy shoes that are a bit bigger than I need….and that are as breathable as possible. Our traveling has also been a challenge but the challenges have been do-able.

As time went on, I realized that I just couldn’t stay on my feet as long as I used to.  Interestingly, my pain is not bad if I am walking; but if—as in a museum—I have to stand in one place, it is sheer agony. In addition, I have had to teach those around me how to help me.  My husband now knows that when the ground is uneven, he needs to hold my arm….and that I can’t cross streets as quickly as he can. I can no longer run to make a light. I have also taught my grandsons, ages 14 and 12, to help me navigate uneven paths, enter the ocean and walk on rocks and steps with no handrails.  And, they automatically come forth when we are together.

For now and the future, I have absolutely no intention of giving up the things I love….not until I must! 

- Martha W. 


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