The last week of chemotherapy I didn’t feel much peripheral neuropathy pain. My fingers were slightly painful and hard to use but after taking some B6 recommended by my oncologist the pain quickly went away. A couple weeks after that, and the completion of my BEP chemotherapy, my feet and hands started to tingle and go numb. This slowly progressed to awful, sharp pain like glass shards with every step. One of the things I will be forever grateful for is the ability of my oncologist to not only help me with his specialty but also find me excellent resources to recover from treatment side effects. I suppose when you are as good as he is you know all the right people. More on him in a future post :).
Babbling aside, here is how I resolved my peripheral neuropathy post BEP chemotherapy in 3 somewhat easy steps.
1. Combined Electrochemical Treatments (C.E.T’s)
When I visited my neurologist he assessed me and categorized me with severe peripheral neuropathy induced by chemotherapy. He did various tests to determine this: reflexes, walking tests with eyes open and closed, and a nerve stimulation test. The stimulation test involved laying on a small wet sponge placed on my lower back and touched with a small Q-Tip connected to an electrical current. This current is turned up until you feel a sensation at which time you say – “okay”. This is done in several spots giving the neurologist a launching point to know how nerves are responding to stimulation. After reading the report he gave me three options: 1) do nothing, 2) start medications to help ease the pain, or 3) try an alternative method called Combined Electrochemical Treatments. Doing nothing was not an option for me. I am young and if there is something out there to help me – I am going to explore it. The thought of starting neurological medications that had a very small chance of working and included bad side effects was the very last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t want to be sleepy, risk seizures, etc.. I was on the rebound from being sleepy. And I was working really hard to get chemicals out of my body. I don’t want to go back down that road! My last option was Combined Electrochemical Treatments (C.E.T’s), which combines the use of local anesthesia with a very sophisticated form of selective signals to heal cell membranes, reduce swelling, and improve circulation. C.E.T. uses the principles of physics rather than pharmaceuticals to heal and restore damaged cells. 80% of patients get better. They have 70% improvement in their function and a 65% reduction of pain, as well as significantly reducing their need for medication. This sounded like an awesome option for me especially considering it didn’t have side effects.
You may be thinking, what do Combined Electrochemical Treatments involve?
- I received three shots in each foot. One in each side of my ankle and one on the top of my foot where the ankle bends. I am not going to lie…these shots hurt. They bruised my ankles and made me sweat with fear when receiving them. I eventually got used to the pain and tried to divert my attention during administration of the shot. Every shot was well worth the pain. The shots created a temporary golf ball sized reservoir of anesthetic that would dissipate in about three minutes, at which point I could not feel my feet at all for the next 24 hours. (Yes, you can still walk and drive- can you believe it?)
- Each knee gets a suction cup on each side filled with a wet sponge and hooked up to a machine. (Do not wear lotion because the suction won’t keep. I learned this the hard way.) Or, you get electrodes on each side of your knee and the tops of your feet as shown below.
- The machine has various cycles of electrical impulses you get depending on what stage you are at in the process. Typically the course of action is 10-20 visits that last approximately a half hour. It feels like your muscles are instantly contracting and letting loose. Fear not, it doesn’t hurt. Seems like a crazy process being zapped over and over again, but it honestly feels kind of good. I will post a video at a later time.
This treatment cured my peripheral neuropathy in my feet and was well worth the almost three hour round trip drive for treatment each time.
2. Vitamin B6
In addition to C.E.T., I continued to take B6 which I will always stand by, as it helped me so much when my symptoms were mild.
3. Healthy Eating, Water, and Anti-oxidants
Healthy eating, water, and anti-oxidants will be a part of my life forever. In an effort to not further damage my nerve endings I always work hard to keep toxic levels in my body low with drinking a ton of water, and eating whole foods that help keep my system in balance. I also take Ultimate Anti-Oxidant Extracts by Andrew Lessman to continue my healing process.
Doing the above has made a significant difference in my quality of life. I have one lingering issue post chemo and it is my fingers. With a slight chill they turn white, painful, and numb almost like Raynaud’s. I have yet to get relief from this but if my hands are warm I am fine so I keep my hands warm. See picture below.
I hope this helps any of my fellow neuropathy suffers. I know from personal experience neuropathy is not fun. C.E.T. is worth a try to avoid the sleepless nights and daily pain. If you have any questions please reach out to me. I would love to discuss the process further with you. That’s all for today.