About 15 years ago, Lance Quesenberry began developing peripheral neuropathy – he was 50 years old. His symptoms started with slight numbness in his feet just behind his toes; then a quiver in his left hand as he lifted his coffee cup. His handwriting became impaired. Fortunately, some of those early symptoms have gone away, but they have been replaced by others – tripping on sidewalks, dizziness, feet rolling over to the outsides – that have to be managed from day to day.
Living as normally as possible has helped him minimize the effects of his neuropathy. His focus is to assure that his mobility is optimal. He enjoys yoga, weight bearing exercise, Tai Chi, balance practice, water exercise and walking, finding time each day to do the exercises that he feels he need to do. Water exercise makes his feet feel almost normal for a while. A rest or meditation during the afternoon revives him. He maintains his weight by eating a healthy diet and uses supplements and vitamins. He says, “A good foot cream can calm down the burning in my feet and at the end of the day nothing feels better than soaking my feet in epsom salts.“ Then he massages his feet with a few drops of oil. He feels an ice pack can also be very comforting on the feet.
Balance can be a daunting challenge with neuropathy so Lance walks – a lot. Retro walking (walking backwards), walking in circles (good for physical and mental benefits), and walking straight lines. If there isn’t a straight line, he imagines one. It works! He tries to find soft surfaces to walk on, like grass, as concrete can cause foot pain and burning. Other simple things are standing on one foot to brush his teeth, shave (no cuts so far), and wash dishes (nothing broken). He tries to be imaginative when practicing his balance – making it fun.
Wearing quality shoes is a must to minimize pain and assure safe walking. He likes Allen Edmunds dress shoes with rubber soles. The rubber sole assists with traction and decreases general foot pain; it even prevents foot heat on hot days. He now has more shoes than his wife in his quest to be pain free.
Routine medical care is very important to Lance’s well-being. He sees Dr. Ahmet Höke, a neurologist at John Hopkins Hospital, for his neuropathy; his general practitioner is a holistic doctor who has helped him with nutrition and supplements. Several physical therapists have helped improve his neuropathic feet and dizziness. He uses mainstream PT as well as Integrative Manual Therapy, which can assist with the pain.
Lance had a good role model for living with PN. His father was diagnosed with motor neuropathy resulting from alcohol use or borderline diabetes when he was 62 years old. He had foot drop that worsened with time but he walked until his condition deteriorated. He went to water aerobics and when he could no longer do that, he did weights and the stationary bike. His doctors were amazed that he continued to walk (with two canes in his later years) until his death at 87 years old. He is an inspiration and as Lance says, “If he persevered, so can I!”