I’m 43 years old and I have diabetic neuropathy.
I’m 43 years old and I walk with a cane. The diabetic neuropathy has robbed me of the sensation in my lower legs below my knees, my feet, and my toes. It dramatically alters my sense of balance. I can barely walk more than a very short distance without resting and I certainly will never run again. Falling is a regular occurrence. Stairs are a nightmare; I’ve managed to fall up AND down them many times. Gone are the days of church softball leagues and touch football games on Saturday afternoons. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.
I’m 43 years old and I can barely dress myself. My wife and daughters tie and untie my shoes and button and unbutton my shirts for me. The diabetic neuropathy has robbed me of the sensation in both of my hands so it’s incredibly difficult and painful to do even the most mundane of tasks with my hands and fingers. My strength is limited. I can’t open a jar of pickles – one of my favorite late night snacks. I can’t clip my own toenails. I can’t write or type for more than just a few moments at a time. I’ve played the piano much of my life and now I rarely am able to play as it’s just too painful and nearly impossible to play with precision. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.
I’m 43 years old and I can’t work anymore. I’ve been very active and have worked hard to care for myself and my family all of my life. But now my entire day is filled with incredible pain. I stumble instead of walking. I fall instead of standing. I drop what I should be holding. Burning. Stinging. Aching. Stabbing. Exhausting. Overwhelming. It’s hard to work when these are the descriptive words I use now throughout my day. I’m completely dependent on the support of others. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.
I’m 43 years old and my life is filled with doctors’ visits. There are trips to the family doctor. The endocrinologist. The neurologist. The podiatrist. The ophthalmologist. There’s now an ear, nose, and throat specialist because the neuropathy has now progressed far enough and is severe enough that it is affecting my hearing. I’m also about to add a new doctor to the list: A urologist as it seems the neuropathy is beginning to affect my bladder. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.
I’m 43 years old and I’m a walking pharmacy. It seems every other moment throughout the day I’m pricking my finger to check my blood sugar, stabbing my side with one of the six doses of insulin I require, or taking one of the dozen different daily pills I take to control my diabetes and to limit (often unsuccessfully) the pain and discomfort from my nerve pain. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.
I’m 43 years old and my life is filled with an endless list of “I’ll Never's”. I’ll never run with my daughters through a field while flying a kite. I’ll never play tag with them or chase our puppy with them. I’ll never hear them giggle as I lift them up over my shoulders as far as I can reach. I’ll never play softball or golf again. I’ll never enjoy a walk without the fear of falling. I’ll never run. I’ll never climb. I’ll never throw and I’ll never catch. And it’s all because of diabetic neuropathy.
I'm 43 years old and I smile through the misery because that's what people need from me. I laugh for others when my body is screaming in pain. I do my best to pretend everything is going to be okay when the reality is I know it won't be. The only certainty is that it will get worse. Only my family knows the depth of my suffering. And I'm not sure that even they can know what it’s like to be me. And it's all because of diabetic neuropathy.
I’m 43 years old and can’t imagine living another 43 years like this. Dear God, please don’t let me live that long. I’m 43 years old and I have diabetic neuropathy.