Dryness: It Had Nothing to Do With Diabetes

Back in August, I wrote about the problems I was having with dryness. My skin was super dry and my eyes were extremely dry. When I saw my eye doctor for the second time for the dry eyes the beginning of November, he said my eyes were “bone dry.” I tested negative for Sjogren’s with both blood work and a lip biopsy. I wasn’t 100% convinced that it wasn’t Sjogren’s because it takes on average 6 ½ years to get diagnosed.

When I posted about it on TuDiabetes, someone suggested autonomic neuropathy. Although on one hand that made perfect sense because I already problems with both peripheral and autonomic neuropathies, my control had been fairly good for the last 3-4 years. A few years ago, a friend of mine dubbed me the “delusional optimist.” I didn’t want to believe that things would be getting worse when my control was getting better. I live in the camp that believes that neuropathy can be reversed, no matter how bad things are. Things just didn’t make sense.

Besides the dryness, I was having extreme fatigue. There were probably more days than not that if it had not been for needing to go downstairs to take the dog out, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed. I used to have a really good memory and could remember some of the strangest things. The owners of one company that I worked for thought it was hilarious that I knew the VIN numbers of the cars that they owned. I went from having a really good memory to not being able to remember anything. If I made a phone call that someone would ask my address and phone number, I had a piece of paper in front of me with that on because I couldn’t remember it. I got words mixed up when I was talking to people.

In November, I wrote about a problem with an elastic/spandex allergy. I briefly mentioned reading about problems with memory foam when I was searching for spandex allergies. In the summer of 2005, I started using a memory foam pillow because I was having some problems with my neck and my doctor recommended using a contour pillow. Last summer, I also got a new bed that was memory foam. I first read about the memory foam problems on Monday, November 14th – World Diabetes Day. I decided to sleep on the couch with a different pillow. Several of the people that wrote about feeling better after ditching the memory foam said that it took about two months to really feel normal again. I marked 8 weeks on my calendar and those 8 weeks were up yesterday.

Even though I didn’t sleep that great on the couch, that first morning I woke up having more energy and feeling more alert than I had in ages. I started having a bunch of lows. The one day every time I turned around, I was having a low and had to eat Smarties. Normally when I have a bad day like that, I gain 2-3 pounds. The next morning when I got in the scale, I had lost a pound. It was like my metabolism woke up after a deep sleep.

I closed my bedroom door to keep the animals out. I read that the same problems that people have with memory foam can be found in animals. Both my dog and cat had seemed very sluggish, but I attributed that to them getting older. I didn’t want to take chances so I closed the door to keep them out. Because the door was closed, I also closed the heating vent. No point in heating up a room that isn’t being used.

I was cleaning that Saturday and was in the bedroom. Temperature wise, it was in the low 60s in that room. I started to sweat. I haven’t sweated in a couple years other than when I passed out from lows and the last time that happened was July, 2010.

The next Monday after one week on the couch, I was feeling pretty good and decided to get on the treadmill. I started sweating so much I was soaked – even my hands where sweating and the bar that I hold onto was soaked. It was like someone turned on a faucet. For the first week, the least little thing that could cause me to sweat would end up with me being soaked. It felt like I had several years of sweat just waiting to get out and they weren’t waiting any longer. After about a week, things went back to normal – I am sweating but what you would expect, not being drenched.

My skin is no longer super dry. The conditioner I use on my hair is supposed to be used once a week and with being so dry, I had to use it daily instead of weekly. I am back to once a week with that. My eyes don’t feel dry anymore and I am hardly using anything for moisture in them – I am guessing the little dryness I do have is more from winter dryness than anything else.

I used my treadmill for a few days and then it died. It is almost 10 years old and they want $120 just to come look at it. I don’t feel it is worth putting that kind of money out and there is no guarantee they can even fix it or what it would cost to fix it. I haven’t done any “real” exercise (just moving around more inside) nor have I changed my eating habits, and I have lost 12 pounds in the last 8 weeks. Like I said, my metabolism woke up from a deep sleep.

I was talking to one of my neighbors and she said that her daughter-in-law uses memory foam toppers on all the beds in their house. She said when she visits, she always wakes up feeling drugged – that is how I felt. She said that sometimes her son comes home from work really late so he will just sleep on the couch instead of going into bed and waking his wife up. He said he feels better when he sleeps on the couch. When I talked about the sweating, she said that her son used to sweat a lot and doesn’t sweat anymore. I don’t know that memory foam is causing his sweating problems, but I do have to wonder.

When I first started reading about problems with memory foam, I read on a bunch of sites that studies show that memory foam causes neurological problems. No one linked any of those studies though. When I started looking up some of the individual components of memory foam, I did come across more information on the problems. Your brain is your neurological center, so it makes sense that if you are resting your head on chemicals, there will be problems. Even before searching for the individual components, I knew that memory foam was obviously causing problems for me. I wouldn’t care how many studies were out there saying it didn’t cause problems – I knew that it did for me.

I want to be perfectly clear here that the memory foam did not cause all my problems with neuropathy. I had both peripheral neuropathy and gastroparesis (gastroparesis is a form of autonomic neuropathy) long before I ever used a memory foam pillow or bed. I do believe that the memory foam made things a lot worse and of course since I was diabetic, it was easy to blame any problems on the fact that I was diabetic.

One of the sites I read, the guy said that when you go to the doctor with some of the problems, no one asks you what you are sleeping on. No one asked me what I was sleeping on. I saw my PCP the end of December and when I mentioned it to him, I was surprised that he readily agreed that the memory foam was causing the problems. I have to wonder what he knows and why didn’t he share that before.

I threw my pillow in the dumpster. My mother had a queen sized bed in her spare room and she wanted to trade beds with me. I didn’t really want anyone else sleeping on that bed – I felt it was toxic and I didn’t want anyone else getting sick. While my brother was in Afghanistan, he had a storage unit with his stuff in. We put the bed in his van in his storage unit. He came home last week and will want to start using his van again.

My mother was insisting that I take the bed from her house – she said the other one won’t get used that much. My brother is staying at my mother’s house right now. They brought the bed on Sunday. I told him that he would be back for the bed because my mother was having him sleep on a toxic bed. He said, “think about where I have been.” He isn’t diabetic but his being in Afghanistan will probably be what gets blamed if he has any problems from the bed.

In a sense, I did have a problem with autonomic neuropathy because a problem with sweating is autonomic neuropathy. The autonomic neuropathy was not caused by diabetes though; it was caused by memory foam. If you are using memory foam, whether it be a pillow, topper or mattress, and having problems that don’t make sense, I suggest giving up the memory foam for a few weeks and see what happens. You might be surprised.
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13 thoughts on “Dryness: It Had Nothing to Do With Diabetes

  1. Sweating can have many causes, you seem to know what triggers yours but I also wanted to mention the sweating associated with thyroid disease(in particular hyperthyroid with
    Multinodular goiter) and the hormonal imbalances with that pesky ‘ole menopause; not sure if you’re at that age yet…
    On another note, the eye dryness you made. It’s of recently needs to be addressed as the lids need a lot of the right type of moisture in order to glide over the eyeball. As in Sjogrens(which is what I have) Dry Eye can cause abrasions to the corneal surface. There are RX meds like Restasis as well as OTC products like Systane, GenTeal and generic dry eye drops to help lubricate. some have preservatives others do not. There are also punctal plugs and auterization of tear ducts (NOT for faint of heart and those with RSD)BUT even if you tested NEGATIVE for Sjogren’s, it IS POSSIBLE that you test negative but have it anyway as I do-I even biopsied negative. You also mentioned Gastroparesis (I have pancreatitis and slow
    gastric emptying-pre-cursors to Gastroparesis
    proper) that come along with the more severe
    forms of Sjogren’s. I do so hate autoimmune diseases, don’t you?
    Have you ever had salivary stones and problems with your teeth despite excellent oral hygiene? Tell-tale signs of Sjogren’s also. Another thing I wanted to mention is that RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy a/k/a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) can cause sweating in such a way in areas injured through peripheral neuropathy. Ask your Neuro about all of what I mentioned; if I am right (and not to brag but I am now 13 for 13 on my own conditions) you can buy me a cup of tea!

    • Peripheral Nervous System Manifestations of Sjogren …
      journals.lww.com/…/Peripheral_Nervous_ …by J Birnbaum – 2010 – Cited by 6 – Related articles
      Nearly 30% to 50% of Sjögren patients can be seronegative with regard to these autoantibodies. …
      Here is a link for you:
      Peripheral Nervous System Manifestations of Sjogren …
      journals.lww.com/…/Peripheral_Nervous_ …by J Birnbaum – 2010 – Cited by 6 – Related articles

      Nearly 30% to 50% of Sjögren patients can be seronegative with regard to these autoantibodies. … More at site

      Also I do agree with the tossing of the memory pillow/beds; these are made from toxic petrochemical substances; most of us spend at least 8 hours per night (or day for those shift workers) in bed; it’s much safer for all involved to be in close proximity to more natural substances!

    • Thank you for all the information Cathy. I have seen my eye doctor several times for the dryness already. I was using Restasis plus OTC drops. I haven’t needed to use them as much but I still do use them some. My doctor and I did discuss the tear ducts and I don’t want to go that route. I guess you can put me in the faint of heart when it comes to eye stuff! I do hate the autoimmune stuff – it just seems to feed off of each other.

      I have never had salivary stones and am just starting to have problems with my teeth this last year.

      I wouldn’t doubt that you are right and I don’t think you are bragging. Unfortunately as patients, we have to do a lot of the leg work ourselves. I think we sometimes know more and would make better doctors than the ones with MDs after their names! I don’t mind buying you a cup of tea!

  2. Dear Kelly, Do u have a pic showing what ur heel looks like now? Did All or most of the skin grow back? And was it regular skin or more like a big scar? ‘integrity’…( i also had MRSA- staphylococcus.aereas and was given Vanco’ for 6 plus weeks. Your story is exactly like my experience (except, of course I didnt write about it—But I thank YOU Sooo very much for sharing your healing ordeal. I am sure ur story has, or will help prevent many other diabetics from going thru siimilar nightmare.

    • All the skin grew back but it is like a scar. The doctor calls is a callous and I go about every 10 weeks to get it trimmed. It is kind of rough right now because I go next week for that and it was longer than normal between trips. By integrity, do you mean does it stay closed? It has only opened once since it closed March, 2007. The picture in the in the one part of my story is of my foot that went thru the war – when I posted, the link is hard to see here but if you hover your cursor in the middle, it stands out more.


      I will see if I can take a picture tomorrow that shows how the callous looks. You are writing about your experience here so you are writing about it! The more we share will help other people. I really wish I had found someone to talk to when I was going thru my mess.

      • Kelly, ur healed foot looks pretty darn much back to normal– like i was hoping it would. You really cant tell by looking that u ever had surgery. i think many athletes have ‘calloused’ feet, so its not really a bad thing, right. I know what u mean when u say how important it is for us to talk to others while going thru this mess.. i keep wondering will I be able to walk the Atlantic City boardwalk and casinos like I used to do. I feel like ur blog (is that correct terminology) was like someone throwing me a life preserver!!!! Thank You…the nurses at my hosptl wont show anyone elses befor/after pics because of privacy laws.

      • Joe, my foot does look normal. I should add that it is wider than the other one because of the surgery I had, but being a guy, you probably aren’t as concerned about that part! I don’t worry about the callous, especially considering the alternative! I am surprised that your nurses wouldn’t show you some pictures. That is possible to do without you knowing who they were. Yes, you will be able to walk the boardwalk like you used to! And blog is the right terminology.

        My sister took those pictures and at the time, I had an old monitor and didn’t have a good view. After my foot was closed, I was cleaning up my computer and clicked on them with a different monitor – I didn’t realize how bad it was until after it healed. In one way, I am glad I didn’t know!

  3. i forgot to mention that i had osteomylitus, a bone infection on my heal and a portion of my heal bone was removed. my ‘op’ was in Oct 2010. from all of the articles i have read, as well as your experience, 2 years seems to be the norm for the wound to close…so i am hoping and praying this Oct 2012 i will be functioning again. What an ordeal!!! but like you said too, atleast i have my leg.

    • Hi Joe. I am sorry that you are going thru a foot mess also. There are some doctors out there that should not be practicing medicine and you have obviously met one of those. I probably wouldn’t have my leg today if I had not switched doctors. I have had a couple minor problems with my heel since the original mess, but they were minor. I also have a very good doctor now that I trust and I know will do the right thing for me. I hope that October 2012 is going to be your month also. I also had the osteo and they removed part of my heel. I understand what you are going thru.

      When I went thru that mess and couldn’t move, I gained 65 pounds. I wasn’t able to lose it until my foot was totally healed and my doctor gave me permission to use my treadmill. When I had another ulcer in that spot and had to quit using my treadmill, I was determined that I was not going to gain weight so I cut my calories back to 1000 a day – I still gained 8 pounds during the 2 months I couldn’t use the treadmill. I normally eat 1200 calories a day and if I can’t exercise, I gain weight. It is hard!

      • Kelly, Thanks for your prompt reply. I must say it is comforting to me to read about your experience and how similar it is to mine. I was just wondering if your wound is completely healed now..and for how long? And so maybe, I hate to say it, but that Iranian doc was right about ulcers that keep comming back. Ugh. Can you walk normally again(6 hrs/day) without aid of walker/cane? Did you have to go to a special shoe store to get a heel insert ? I am walking -very limited-on my ulcer as it is healing using foam pads under my heel and wearing my regular sneaker. Also what do you think caused ur ulcer?

      • Kelly, Thanks for your prompt reply. I must say it is comforting to me to read about your experience and how similar it is to mine. I was just wondering if your wound is completely healed now..and for how long? And so maybe, I hate to say it, but that Iranian doc was right about ulcers that keep comming back. Ugh. Can you walk normally again(6 hrs/day) without aid of walker/cane? Did you have to go to a special shoe store to get a heel insert ? I am walking -very limited-on my ulcer as it is healing using foam pads under my heel and wearing my regular sneaker. Also what do you think caused ur ulcer-was it strictly due to blood sugar? i keep thinking i sholuda let someone else cut the lawn. ha

      • Although she might be right that you will always be at risk for ulcers, that doesn’t mean that you will ever go thru anything like this again either. My foot closed 100% in March, 2007 so it has been almost 5 years now for me. In 2008, I had an ulcer at the site of the original wound – that was caused by my orthotics being worn out. That was the only one at that site. I had one when I was moving furniture and smashed my foot. In the summer of 2010, I also passed out from low blood sugar in the middle of the night. My neighbors heard me screaming before I passed out and called 911. After I got back from the hospital, I had a big blister on my foot. That healed up very fast and my doctor told me that he never saw a diabetic foot do what it was supposed to do before.

        My original ulcer started as dry cracked skin. I did what I was supposed do and called my doctor on day one. I had a very good doctor but unfortunately moved right after that started and had to find a new doctor. I don’t know what caused the infection, but the new doctor ignored all the signs. I got sick and went to the ER. After being admitted, I found out that I had the osteo. I picked up MRSA while in the hospital. After getting out of the hospital, I went to a different doctor. He did pick up the MRSA, but I later had both an MRI and a culture showing the infection was still there. He put on a wound vac that shouldn’t be used with the osteo and that turned my bone to mush. When things started really going south, I switched doctors again. I guess you could say it was a comedy of errors but it wasn’t very funny.

        I use a walker but I also have neuropathy really bad and my balance is horrible. It is like walking drunk for me. That was becoming a problem for me prior to my foot wound so it is not a result of the wound.

        I am able to use a treadmill – I was even doing 1 hour a day 6 days a week. Unfortunately, my treadmill broke last month so I am now without that.

        I have a prominent boney mass on the bottom of my foot and my doctor was cutting a hole in the orthotics to provide some relief for the bone. The last time I went to get orthotics, it took awhile to get them approved. They didn’t realize that I had changed PCPs and they needed something from my PCP so sent the paperwork to the wrong doctor. The ones I had were worn and bothering my foot so I bought some of those Dr. Scholl gel inserts to use until the actual orthotics were finished. I really like those so asked my doctor if it was OK to just use those and he said yes.

        If you are able to walk on your toes without putting your heel on the ground, I would try to do that until your foot is 100% healed. That was really stressed to me.

  4. Hello Kelly,I am 51 yr male, type 2, 5’9 aprox 280 lbs.going thru a similar experience as you. After cutting the lawn one day, my dad noticed that the skin on my heel was ‘gone’. after the ER, i spent several months bedridden in hosptl w/ IV 4x day. blood test almost every morn. i have been fortunate to have had good health til now. with very limited walking -using walker, it is very difficult to keep my weight under control. I was wondering if you ever struggled with ur wt. Also the ER doc (an Iranian woman- who i wouldnt trust my pet with) recommended ‘aggressive surgery’ meaning to take my leg..this is my First experience with a diabetic ulcer. She also said that she’s seen wounds heal, but open up again because the integrity of the skin isnt strong enough so why not take my leg Now.

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