I’ve referenced this song in previous posts because of the comfort it brings me. I seem to possess a natural resilience and consistently get back up and push forward when facing the never-ending challenges this world throws at me. I would be lying if I said it’s easy to keep kicking and feel hopeful.
I wasn’t sure if I would ever find new treatment options for my chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). I had begun to not only lose hope but fear was doing its best to cripple me. As a chronically single woman, I’ve been fearful of more falls occurring when by myself as I get older. The only reason I can almost grin when thinking about the grade 3 sprain I suffered from in January is that it was the first time I’d fallen and wasn’t alone. I had been walking with my realtor looking at townhouses when I went down hard. That dreamed dissolved right then and there.
So, as the winds of resilience push me forward, again and again, I was determined to find a specialist who could help with my CIPN. Lo and behold, I found one who not only listens but thinks outside of the box because he fully understands how debilitating and painful CIPN can be for cancer patients.
Meet my chiropractor Dr. Dan Ruitenbeek in Marietta, GA. His training is in clinical neurology. He’s the first specialist who wasn’t trying to shove medications down my throat or make me feel those were the only options. What many cancer patients with CIPN don’t think about or maybe even know is the lack of blood flow and how that plays into how severe or not the symptoms can be.
First, we had a consultation and he did some tests to get a baseline of the nerve damage in my hands and feet. With every little test, including thermal imaging, I was floored but also overwhelmed with emotion by what I was NOT feeling. There’s quite a bit of math involved, too.
Second, Dr. Dan reviewed the results of my consultation and laid out his suggested treatment plans. I knew there was major nerve damage, but the numbers did shock me.
Severe sensory loss category:
- Right foot – 62.9% loss
- Left foot – 60.0% loss
- Right hand and Left hand – 45.7% loss
My new treatment protocol is a combination of both in-office and at-home treatments. The first three months are like a bootcamp of sorts to see what stimulations I respond to, the levels, and any unforeseen reactions.
***Disclaimer: This is my specific treatment and not for everyone. Everything you see below is based on the severity of my CIPN and prescribed by my chiropractor.***
- Anodyne thereapy: At-home treatments, 2X per day
- Rebuilder tub with rubber pads and electrodes: At-home treatment, 1X per day
- Conductive garment gloves: At-home treatment to help with my hands for 30 minutes, 2X per day
- In-office treatments: i receive stimulation and get help with blood flow.
- Light therapy: In-office treatment
My back, thighs, and feet are wrapped (kinda like a baked potato) and I feel this heat from the pads. I do this for 20 minutes. Though I can feel the heat in my back (helps with lumbar facet joint pain), I feel some heat on my thighs and a minuscule amount in my feet. The goal is to help with blood flow to help gain some feeling again. One day (fingers crossed) I hope to fully feel the heat.
I’m still in the first month of all these treatments. It definitely takes planning to do the at-home treatments and time to go to the in-office treatments. Still, I’m hopeful that I will begin to feel small to moderate difference after my first three months. My treatment plan is for a full 12-16 months, which also includes eating foods to help reduce inflammation and cutting out other foods. This is a slow but intentional process.
If you want to know more about my chiropractor, location, and other offices, click here. Tell him or his staff that Megs referred you. I don’t get anything monetary out of sharing all of this information about my holistic treatments. I just want to give others hope by knowing there are other potential treatments that might help deal with the falls, pain, and lack of blood flow caused by CIPN.
Until next time,
This post originally appeared on Life on the Cancer Train on December 19, 2020. It is republished with permission.