two colorful, whimsical monsters are each about to snack on a human foot

Playing the Name Game with Neuropathy

My neuropathy has a mind of its own.

Does yours?

It’s worse than a fickle friend. It’s a fickle foe.

Just when I think I have it figured out, it surprises me, and not in a pleasant way. For example, I was pretty sure it was tied to cold and damp. I told my friends that on many a rainy day, my feet felt worse. As I have written before, it’s hard to describe. It’s a weird combination of pins and needles and numbness. Sometimes they feel like they are plugged into an electrical socket.

“You could be a weather vane,” one of my friends said.

But then, on some rainy days, they settle down, and I can almost forget that I have a problem. And along comes another sunny day… and they act up.

That’s why I’m saying that the neuropathy has a mind of its own.

I'm not going let neuropathy get me down

Still, I continue to run and play tennis, because I don’t want to let it get me down.

The other day, when I was cooling off from a run, I played a little mental game, relating to my neuropathy. I wondered what names I would give it if there were two neuropathy monsters attacking my feet.

I don’t know why, but I thought of the two marble lions, Patience and Fortitude, who guard the 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue public library in my hometown, New York, N.Y. They are majestic and not monsters at all, but they came to mind when I thought of naming a pair of things.1

According to the New York Public Library, they have had different names over the years.

“First they were called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox,” according to the website. “ Later, they were known as Lady Astor and Lord Lenox (even though they are both male lions). During the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression.”

Names for my foot monsters

I thought about names that I could give the foot monsters, such as, Annoyance and Bothersome. Sometimes though they are worse than those two things, so something stronger would be in order. Maybe, Maddening and Upsetting.

A friend who has diabetic neuropathy thinks that her diet plays a role; for example, eating gluten makes it worse. But since in the blood cancer world its cause is nerve damage from chemotherapy, diet is not a factor, at least in my case.

Patience and fortitude

Come to think of it, patience and fortitude are two qualities that those of us with neuropathy need in order to cope with the nerve pain in our feet.

When we feel a neuropathy attack coming on, we can try to tell ourselves to have patience, knowing that it will pass.

When it is upon us, we can hope for fortitude, which Merriam-Webster defines as “ strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage."

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