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National Neuropathy Week

Posted Sep 14 2008 2:42pm

May 12-16 marks the fourth annual National Neuropathy Week. This week has special significance for me because peripheral neuropathy is a side effect of my condition.

Some 20 million Americans have peripheral neuropathy. It is a disease caused by damage to your body’s peripheral nerves – the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord. When these nerves are damaged, they cannot communicate well with your muscles, joints, even your internal organs. Untreated, neuropathy can cause loss of coordination, weakness, pain, and numbness, especially in the hands and feet.

While the right medication can prevent the illness from progressing, it cannot undo the damage done. That’s why it’s so important to seek a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Finding the right medication has been a long, complicated road for me and I still deal with pain and side-effects of numbness, like occasionally breaking my toes because I can’t feel my feet!

Finding the right doctor has also been essential to my treatment. I met with several different neurologists before I found Dr. Norman Latov, a specialist I highly recommend. The Neuropathy Association’s website has a resource page with recommended physicians by state. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have found an amazing oncologist, Dr. William Sherman, who primarily oversees my treatment. One of his specialties is using chemotherapy agents to treat neurological diseases. It is a large misconception the chemotherapy is only used to treat cancer. In fact, many autoimmune disease includingrheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, and are treated today with chemotherapy.

The Neuropathy Association calls neuropathy “one of the most common diseases most people have never heard of.” It is frequently misdiagnosed, often mistaken for side effect of other diseases like diabetes. Research and therapies have been under-funded and slow to develop.

This is why The Neuropathy Association was created. Through its website you can find support networks, neuropathy centers, and other important information. The association also provides advocacy and research grants. This week The Neuropathy Association will feature daily online activities to raise awareness and educate the public about this disease.

The Neuropathy Association is extremely valuable to me. In fact, it is one of three organizations to which WELLalarm™ donates a portion each WELLcharm™ or WELLtag™ pendant sold. We also donate proceeds of our sales to: KIDS of NYU Foundation, Inc. and The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

I hope you’ll have time to learn a little bit about neuropathy this week – it just might help out you or a loved one someday!

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