Why do my big toes feel like they’ve got rubber bands around them?

And other questions that you’d think would be related to Diabetes. But aren’t. Have you any ghostly and mysterious symptoms?
An Open thread.

This entry was posted in About Eat 4 Today.


  1. DuctapeFatwa March 10, 2006 at 8:37 pm #

    katie I am sorry to say I think it sounds like peripheral neuropathy. Not everybody has the same symptoms with that.

    Some people who must have done some really good deed in a past life have no symptoms. Others have what they call the sock, which means it feels like they have them on even when they don’t, and that is what your rubber bands make me think of.

    I would ask your doctor about seeing a neurologist, who can do tests to determine whether that is what is causing it.

    A really large % of people who have diabetes eventually get some degree of PN, from what I have read, but for most of them, it is not anything like how it manifests itself in me, so please do not be alarmed that you will end up in my situation.

    But you do want to know if that is what it is, although as you know, there is not really a cure for it, the closest thing to a cure is to stabilize the blood sugar to stop it from progressing. But that is what they tell you when you come in with symptoms and get diagnosed.

    In the case of an “old” diabetic that starts to get symptoms, I don’t know what they do, but you should find out, and tell us.

  2. FamilyMan March 10, 2006 at 8:45 pm #

    KB when I first read the subject line I thought exactly what Ductape has written above. I wasn’t sure, but I figured if anyone would know it would be DT. I also agree with him about the neurologist.

  3. katiebird March 10, 2006 at 8:52 pm #

    Ductape, this rubber band thing is what made me make the doctor give me the blood tests that found the diabetes almost 10 years ago.

    I’ve had 2 neurologists look at my feet & toes and an endochronologist also. And, now another family practice doctor. Everyone agrees that it isn’t related to that. But, they don’t tell me what it is.

    It’s an almost constant sensation in one toe and it comes and goes on the other. It’s just the big toes. And it’s never gotten any worse. Just the same old thing. I say it doesn’t get worse, but I’ve been noticing it more today and some days I do.

    Even though I’ve said it isn’t peripheral neuropathy, it has been about 3 years since I’ve had a specialist look into it.

    And I do have a fear of chronic minor things masking serious horrible things. So, I’ll make an appointment on Monday. (I hope I remember)

    I was actually hoping that someone would say, “Oh, that’s another obesity thing. Once you loose a few more pounds those chubby flintstones will be just like new again.”

    Oh, well.

  4. DuctapeFatwa March 10, 2006 at 9:51 pm #

    That is strange. They must have suspected that is what it was if that was the symptom you went in with and the immediately tested you for diabetes.

    I wonder if they just don’t want to call it that because you don’t have any burning or tingling, white toenails, discolored toe tips, or loss of sensation in any toes.

    And maybe it did not register as loss of nerve function when they tested all that. But I agree if it has been 3 years, it can’t hurt to have them look again, they may have better measuring devices now.

  5. katiebird March 10, 2006 at 10:02 pm #

    So, the fat feet aren’t flying. (sigh)


  6. DuctapeFatwa March 10, 2006 at 10:07 pm #

    LOL katie, I will be called sexist for this, but I have never known a lady who was losing weight to be completely happy with just where she was losing it at any point in the process. Why here and not there? When will THIS part look thinner?

    From what you have said, you have struggled with weight for a long time. Have you considered the possibility that you might just have naturally plump toes?

    And that this might not be a bad thing? :)

  7. katiebird March 10, 2006 at 10:47 pm #

    I don’t mind the plumpness of the tootsies — I was just hoping that it could be the cause the rubberband feeling.

    The feet are hopelessly big anyway, losing weight isn’t going to make them delicate.

  8. DuctapeFatwa March 10, 2006 at 10:55 pm #

    I have yet to hear a lady complain that her feet are just too damn small.

    Unless it is a circulation issue, which you should also ask the shamans, um, doctors, about, if they are fat because they are retaining fluid, for instance, sometimes pregnant ladies say that their feet feel fat and tight when they are swollen as a side effect of pregnancy, so I guess if they are swollen with fluid for any reason, they would feel that way.

    But the rubber band thing sounds more localized, more like a weird sensation caused by a misbehaving nerve. Or maybe I just project that speculation on it because of my own condition.

    I would be more aggressive with the doctors regarding the cause, and what tests can be done to rule out this and that, especially if you are feeling it with greater frequency and/or intensity than before.

  9. katiebird March 10, 2006 at 11:08 pm #

    You know, I’m wondering if maybe it goes back to my spike-heeled shoe days. I was addicted to spike-heeled shoes until I got hit by the car.

    But, I’m just thinking — I’ll make an appointment, I promise.

  10. kansas March 11, 2006 at 8:50 am #

    “I was addicted to spike-heeled shoes until I got hit by the car.”


    That sounds like a great first line for a comic romance novel, although I’m sure it was not funny at the time.

  11. katiebird March 11, 2006 at 9:31 am #

    kansas, it’s almost like you could tell that mister and I were supposed to go out on our first date that night.

  12. kansas March 11, 2006 at 10:05 am #

    You are cracking me up. You are writing this obviously thrilling and romantic tale in chapters, keeping us on the edges of our seats with anticipation.

    And I can’t even stay to read to the end!

  13. katiebird March 11, 2006 at 7:33 pm #

    (after getting run over) I had to drive myself home. It was one of those nights when it was 15 below zero. And I called mister to tell him that I couldn’t go out because I’d been hit by a car.

  14. DuctapeFatwa March 11, 2006 at 8:08 pm #

    Do not leave us in such suspense kbird! kansas is waiting, pencil at the ready, for the next chapter.

    What kind of flowers did he bring over, and of course we all want to know what kind of food?

  15. katiebird March 11, 2006 at 8:13 pm #

    Well that’s where we got some conflict. I’ve heard that every scene has to have some conflict.

  16. DuctapeFatwa March 11, 2006 at 9:11 pm #

    You missed your calling. You should have been a serial story writer in the lurid magazines of yesteryear! :D

  17. poco March 11, 2006 at 9:20 pm #

    Okay, this is related to diabetes, and is a question, but not really the type of question that kb suggested.

    I am just wondering if the topic of “karela” has been discussed on the diabetes fora here? If you all know about it, I’ll shut up, but if not, I’ll plug it as my favorite vegetable that also helps to control diabetes.

  18. katiebird March 11, 2006 at 9:51 pm #


    I’ve never heard of it. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been mentioned here.

    Could you write up an article about it? What are the benefits and how does it help?

  19. kansas March 11, 2006 at 10:28 pm #

    And then??

  20. DuctapeFatwa March 11, 2006 at 10:31 pm #

    I have not tried it, I do take cinnamon and the next time I am in a store that has it I am going to look for some karela, sometimes called “bitter gourd” or “bitter melon.”

    The rich white folks grocery store doesn’t have it.

  21. katiebird March 11, 2006 at 10:34 pm #

    Well, I called (I was very shaky) and it turned out he was kind of shaky also. His 13 year old son had run off with friends and not come home and he was going to have to drive around looking for the boy. So he couldn’t go out that night.

    So he went out to find his boy, and I sat on my bed and thought about whether I could possibly go to work the next day.

    (I was actually run over by a car in the parking lot at work. And no one called the police or did anything about it. They just let me drive myself home. Where I lived alone.)

  22. DuctapeFatwa March 11, 2006 at 10:41 pm #

    Oh now there is a plot twist! Stay tuned for the next excitng episode Can katie go to work tomorrow? Can she become a stepmother to a 13 year old who has run off? And what kind of flowers will the mister-to-be bring when he does show up?

  23. kansas March 12, 2006 at 1:37 am #

    By “run over,” do you mean RUN OVER?? And what happened to the shoes?

  24. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 9:33 am #

    I didn’t end up with tire-tracks across my back, but I was under the car and reaching up with one hand to pound on the side of the car to get his attention and make him stop the car. While the people I was with screamed at him to stop.

  25. poco March 12, 2006 at 10:21 am #

    oy kb,
    now i am sitting on the edge of my seat wanting to know more.

    Re karelas–don’t know enough for an article but this is what I know. It is, as DTF mentioned, also known as bitter gourd or bitter melon and also as chinese melon. And the only places you can get it are chinese or indian grocery stores. The chinese version is longer (about 9-10 inches) shaped somewhat like a cucumber, light green in color. The Indian version is smaller (4-5 inches) dark green and very warty, and more bitter. I am more familiar with the Indian version.

    Karelas have an insulin-like principle that lowers blood and urine sugar levels. Some years ago there was a rather nice story in NYT about older Jewish women, suffering from diabetes, who have developed warm relationships with Pakistani grocers who save up fresh karelas for them.

    So you buy these karelas–they should be crisp and tender, not woody or limp–and scrape some of the warts off. This is how I cook them–as I mentioned–they are my favorite food bar none.

    After scaping, make a slit lengthwise and stuff them with a spice mixture (salt, cayenne pepper, turmeric, ground cumin and dried, ground pomegranate seeds) You can get all these things at the Indian grocery store. Then you cook them in oil (canola or mustard oil) and fry them till they get golden brown in color. Remove the karelas from oil, and add sliced potatoes (cut like french fries) and cook them for a while and then add sliced onions and cook the two together. When the potatoes and onions are done, (you can add some more of the spice mixture as they are cooking if you prefer) add the karelas for a final mix-up and there it is.

    It is an acquired taste, precisely because thay are somewhat bitter, but I guess thats what makes them useful for lowering the sugar levels.

    I have heard that now stores are selling karela capsules–everything I have read about the capsules sugests that they are completely useless.

  26. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 11:02 am #

    “Karelas have an insulin-like principle that lowers blood and urine sugar levels.”

    Really? That almost sounds worth eating a warty vegetable. We’ve got several Asian grocery stores in my neighborhood (or near neighborhood). I’ll stop by one soon.

  27. kansas March 12, 2006 at 11:13 am #

    poco, what you said about the bitter taste of karelas reminded me of Ayruvedic medicine (India) and how it emphasizes the importance of balancing the various “tastes,” for health and diet.

    It’s been a while since I read about it, but I think one of the things they claim is that by making sure that we have all the primary tastes in each meal–bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and pungent–it both satisfies us more, so we eat only what we really need, and it stimulates certain organs in a healthful way. There are seasonings available that one can sprinkle on food to make sure it has the right balance, but it gets a bit more complicated because supposedly each person is a particular body type that ideally requires more and less of each flavor.

    Kbird, how in the hell did you get under that car in the first place??

  28. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 11:22 am #

    kansas — I don’t really know. My friends said that one minute we were walking through the parking lot and the next thing they knew, I was flying through the air. The next thing I knew, I was scrambling like a crab (back to the ground, stomach up) under the car and banging on the side.

  29. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 11:24 am #

    One of my sisters says that I shouldn’t say I was run over by a car. But I say that if you are hit by a car and end up under it and it’s moving over you — then you are run over.

  30. kansas March 12, 2006 at 11:27 am #

    Good grief!!! I’d say you were “run over,” too.

    Did you check the brake lines while you were under there?

  31. FARfetched March 12, 2006 at 3:38 pm #

    LOL, kansas!

    It’s good to know that bitter melon has another name (karela). A poster on my blog has a book of herbal cures and claimed that a mixture of banaba, guggle, bitter melon, licorice extract, cinnamon herb powder, gymnema sylvestre, yarrow, cayenne, juniper berries, huckleberry, and vanadyl sulfate will cure 99% of Type II diabetes cases and 64% of Type I cases… but had no idea about proportions. The result sounds horrible-tasting; I guess The Boy would be willing to choke it down for a cure but….

    But hey, I figured it might be worth trying. I figure it can’t be more than $20 worth of ingredients.

  32. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 3:43 pm #

    FARfetched — Do you have a title for that book of herbal recipes?

    Cures 99% of Type II cases??

    How would that work.

  33. DuctapeFatwa March 12, 2006 at 4:06 pm #

    FARfetched please ask the poster to provide the proportions, and if possible, a link to a site that provides this preparation already mixed. That sounds like a lot of things to mix together oneself.

    And then there is that person who said karela in capsules doesn’t work, so he or she also needs to tell which of these things must be actually eaten. I really don’t like bitter melon. How much of it and how often would I have to eat it?

    Or have the poster come here and be swamped with questions from relentless diabetics. ;)

  34. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 4:08 pm #

    (raising hand) I second each of Ductape’s questions and requests!!!

    (please, please, please)

  35. poco March 12, 2006 at 6:26 pm #

    Hi dtf and kb,

    I am not an expert (or even particularly knowledgeable) on diabetes at all. This is what I know–Indian doctors recommend diabetes sufferers to eat karelas with their regular meals 3-4 times a week.

    I am sorry DTF that you don’t like them–maybe after they are cooked and you could choke down 2 of them (even 1 and a half) a couple of times a week, it would help. I wish I could cook them for you–you would have to eat them just to be polite– and I think you might start to like them. Plus my obsessive love for them would end up infecting you.

    Mixing them up with onions and potatoes makes them more palatable (the other veggies impart a sweetness) and the pomegranate seeds add a tart flavor, with the cayenne providing the heat.

    I am assuming that some of the spice mixture that is used in cooking the karelas may have similar properties to the things mentioned by Farfetched., but really what do I know?

  36. DuctapeFatwa March 12, 2006 at 6:43 pm #

    Well, if I absolutely had to eat 3 or 4 of them every week, I would just cut them up and try to hide them in the Flexible Vegetable Dish that Does Not Suck that I eat 3 or 4 times a week.

    But I think I would probably dribble more mango chutney on it than I am supposed to. I used to use globs, and I have had to change to driblets. It has been almost as painful for me as renouncing coca cola and sugar in tea.

    I don’t put pomegranate seeds in, for tartness I use hot lime pickle. Thankfully, I have not had to renounce that.

    Yesterday I sinned and ate 4 cookies again. And later I had No Sugar Added ice cream with reduced sugar strawberries mixed with fresh strawberries. That is my confession for the day.

  37. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 6:45 pm #

    I’m about to leave for Whole Foods to see if they’ve got some karela.

    Ductape, how were your sugars after your experiment?

  38. DuctapeFatwa March 12, 2006 at 7:13 pm #

    You mean after the sins? Well, I did not tell the worst sin. I cheated and waited longer than 2 hours after the cookies, and got a 103, and the ice cream was late at night, and more than 8 hours passed until I tested so it was only 89.

  39. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 7:18 pm #

    Well, actually that sounds pretty good to me (I know, it’s not the best way to test) I’m thinking that a couple of months ago, the numbers wouldn’t have been that good. Even with the same delay in testing.

  40. DuctapeFatwa March 12, 2006 at 7:39 pm #

    You are right they would not have been. Still, I should have tested 2 hours after the cookies and the half the calories half the sugar orange juice. (You have quite a knack for extracting confessions kbird) Yes, I had some of that too. 50 calories, 10 grams of sugar in 8 ounces. Manito tried it first and said he could not tell a difference.

    The first time I tried it, I could tell a bit of difference, it tasted a bit less like orange juice and a bit like ShuggaJoocePunch, but after the first time, it didn’t.

    It has some Splenda in it, but maybe because it also has sugar I haven’t noticed an aftertaste.

    It prompted me to buy a small box of Splenda to experiment with in coffee but I have not yet summoned the courage.

    I might try it tonight, because there are some strawberries left over but no more No Sugar Added ice cream, so I was just going to have them dipped in sugar. The few grains of sugar on a strawberry I don’t think will make the meter too mad, my total consumption should be less than a level teaspoon.

  41. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 7:53 pm #

    I think you are doing great — really great. The one thing I’d do is measure the teaspoon or however much of sugar and put it on a saucer or something. And that way you’ll know for sure how much you’re eating. You can add more if you need to, but measure it.

    I think measuring what you eat is as important as measuring your blood sugar afterwards. And really — the measurements are more important than what or how much you eat.

    How can you know what adjustments are critical if you don’t experiment (and measure, measure, measure) ?

    And I was thinking about something yesterday. My gut is a wreck. All kinds of foods I used to love make me sick. And I can’t eat out without getting sick. I think it is a result of the obesity (it might also be metformin — but I think that effect is mostly gone). So a lot of my self control is just because I can’t eat much anymore.

  42. DuctapeFatwa March 12, 2006 at 8:08 pm #

    I think you should ask your doctor about that, you might just have irritable bowel syndrome, which can probably be treated just by having you take some prevacid or aciphex or something. Not that IBS is always that easily treatable, but for lots of people it is.

    They may want to give you some tests, to rule out other causes, but you know by now that all Metformin does is empower you to get extra exercise sprinting to the nearest freshening up area.

    If you are getting any other digestive symptoms, or if Metformin was not doing that to you any more and now is, your doctor needs to know. Maybe it is not IBS, but just your body saying it does not like Metformin any more.

    And yes, that is exactly what I will do with the sugar, Madame and I will use separate dipping plates so I can see just how much of my teaspoon is consumed by how many strawberries. I am using the one teaspoon limit because the strawberries themselves have sugar, for coffee I put in two.

  43. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 8:14 pm #

    I don’t know if there is something about me that makes the words I say to doctors sound like nothing.

    But, I have talked to my doctor about this. She didn’t mention the Irritable Bowel thing. Maybe the Metformin thing confused the issue. I don’t know.

    I do know that one of the reasons I’m so passionate about the water is that I’m really miserable when I don’t drink it.

    Also I have to really watch how much fiber I eat (like I can’t eat popcorn at all) or there are truly horrible side effects.

  44. katiebird March 12, 2006 at 8:18 pm #

    Oh, I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this. But my mother had Colon Cancer when she was just a few years older than I am now. So I’ve had regular colonoscopies and I always get complements on the beauty and health of my colon. (sigh. it’s been 2 years, I suppose it could have changed)

  45. DuctapeFatwa March 12, 2006 at 8:25 pm #

    Well that is good! That means that it probably is not anything wrong with your colon :)

    I would just tell her the symptoms you are having, including the fiber and water, all of it, and see what she thinks it might be.

    If it is something that is bothering you, and keeping you from eating what you want to and enjoying your food, it is something that needs to be treated.

  46. poco March 13, 2006 at 10:30 am #

    I read the vegetable recipe that you posted, dtf. It sounds delicious–let us know how it turns with the new additions.

  47. FARfetched March 14, 2006 at 7:53 am #

    I’ll get back to everyone on this. I did ask about proportions, and he seemed to think they weren’t important (perhaps they weren’t listed in the book). He was another blogger who has since stopped blogging; maybe I can find an email address.

One Trackback

  1. [...] It never occured to me that I’d be writing about this here. It’s an old, almost forgotten story. But, it snuck out in a comment on the My Big Toe thread – one comment led to another and now I’m bowing to the force of public will and telling the rest of it here. [...]