This is Part 2 of a 4-part series on the less common symptoms I experienced that led to a diagnosis of Type 2. I decided to share this in case you or anyone you love recognizes any similarities. If you are concerned, please seek out medical help immediately.
None of the symptoms that mysteriously plagued me alerted me to the condition I didn’t know I had. In the first part of this series (read it here), I recounted how I noticed serious yet comical cognitive changes.
Here I write about symptoms that clearly required more than a first-aid solution.
The symptoms I’d been experiencing for a few months escalated, making it more difficult to hold onto to the perspective that they were separate, unconnected and minor incidents.
The turning point came with a flourish, a really disturbing attention grabber.
A subtle, creeping numbness arrived, spreading from my shins all the way down along the top of my feet to my toes.
I didn’t know what to make of this. It was different from any of the other symptoms if for no other reason than it clearly couldn’t be treated with a nominal first aid approach!
I was armed with that most dangerous of states, a little knowledge, which is indeed a dangerous thing. On a good day, I took comfort in the fact that I lay claim to a slightly higher level of medical knowledge than perhaps the average layperson. This mostly had been gleaned from years of specializing in health psychology, although still obviously not in the same ballpark as a physician.
By the time the numbness appeared, I found myself in a holding pattern, a state of silent despondence. The lack of sensation in my left shin and foot was extraordinarily disquieting. Not painful nor uncomfortable, but nevertheless deeply disconcerting.
If I lightly traced my fingers over it, which I rarely did, preferring instead to avoid the gut-tightening fear, the immediate somatic feedback received left me feeling disoriented.
I was used to being able to discern being both the ‘touched’ and the ‘touchee’.
The practice of mindfulness had helped my mind to clearly distinguish sensation on both sides of “the touch”. The fingers stroking the shin, and the sensation of the shin being stroked would both be discernible.
But now, there is an absence of sensation from my shin, just numbness. This was proof that touch was happening only via the nerve endings in my fingertips, which confirmed they made contact with my shin.
But from the ‘shin’ side, I only noticed a very faint, blunted pressure from the fingertips on the shin. Normally, sensation would have been received both ways, discernible on both fingertips and the shin itself. Now it was missing. Touch happened on a one-way street.
This is a far cry from the anticipated experience of a delicate balance of equal sensation from both fingertip and shin.
My mind was busy ricocheting between contemplation of this new development on the one hand, and futilely denying it on the other. Consequently, I brilliantly managed to completely miss the beginning of the latest bodily misbehavior. By the time it got my attention, it had ballooned in significance, having become impossible to ignore.
What developed is the really annoying way in which my right foot suddenly refused to cooperate, and allow itself to be lifted up off the ground in a graceful horizontal manner when walking.
This was downright insubordination from my foot, not to mention verging on the dangerous.
I’d become fairly adept at diagnosing and treating the various little annoying things that bothered me.
But a floppy right foot and loss of nerve sensation in the left shin and foot was a whole different ball game.
After feebly running benign ideas about possible causes through my mind, nothing resonated. No matter how much I longed to do so, I couldn’t persuade myself to settle on any acceptable or easy answer.
Because one didn’t crop up. Unable to suspend disbelief, I was left to conclude that I was dealing with a possible movement disorder.
The reign of terror continued.
Eventually, I fearfully asked myself if it could be of a neurological origin? I recalled from my
graduate school classes in brain physiology that movement disorders often originate in the brain’s motor cortex. Whatever overall condition I was dealing with, the arrival of this latest occurrence was now far bigger then I was comfortable admitting, even privately.
My constant companion these days, fear, brought up a desire to run away from reality. But how does a person run away from their own body? This desire struck me as being like my own personal earthquake. I recalled that sense of inevitability, nowhere to escape to or run away from I’d experienced during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area.
No matter how much I found myself longing to be able to, there was simply no way to avoid, to run away from, or to hide… It was finally these last two symptoms, the numbness from shin to toes, and then my droopy right foot, that pushed me to put aside my fear long enough to make an appointment.
Stay calm and carry on!
I know, easier said than done! But important to try, as a state of panic distorts perspective, leading to an increased chance of a poor reaction, not a measured response. And the internal “hamster wheel” , those thoughts that that can accompany anxiety or panic and obsessively spin around your mind, can reinforce those negative and often catastrophic ideas.
Try this approach to stave off a panic attack, or at least high anxiety.
Sit comfortably, in a meditation postion (back upright, hands resting in lap or on thighs). Close your eyes, and let your attention rest gently on your breath. Take note of what’s happening internally
1. Follow the inhalation and exhalation, try not to control your breathing. The body will do it perfectly fine on it’s own.
2. After several rounds, on the next inhalation take a deeper in breath and hold it for 3 seconds.
3. Let out the longer and deeper exhalation before repeating #1 as many times as you wish.
Check in with yourself. How do you feel now compared to before you practiced this exercise?
Leave a comment below sharing what you discovered, it could encourage others to try it!