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From Clemmons, North Carolina, USA:

It started about five months ago when I noticed the outer part of my right upper thigh had gone numb. I went to the doctor who said not to worry about and that it may go away with time. It didn't, but the numbness has not spread or reduced, the area has been constant.

About two months later, I came down with congestion and a general feeling of disorientation. I thought this was the flu at first, but the symptoms(congestion in the upper portion of my nostrils, drainage in my throat) has persisted for over four months. The feeling of disorientation bothers me the most. It feels like my perspective on things has changed, like I've lost a sense of reality about things, and I've also noticed that some of my cognitive functions(math especially) and memory aren't as sharp as they used to be.

The biggest problem I have with differentiating between these symptoms is they started to occur a week before I had my first panic attack, which I believe was induced by smoking a large amount of marijuana. Directly afterward, I started to experience the symptoms of having an incredibly high heart rate, dry mouth, and a slight numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, but I managed to drive home.

Things were relatively fine during the next two months, although I felt tired a good part of the time, and my disorientation was still affecting me. I was working as a general manager about 55 hours a week and didn't get much good sleep or meals, working 40 miles from my home and not getting home from work on some nights until 2-3 am.

Two months ago, I went to see a psychiatrist who prescribed Zoloft for my disorientation which he thought may have been due to the panic attack, but a month later is when the real fireworks started. At this time, I had been taking the Zoloft for only one week. I work between two stores (one is locating in my city, the other, where I work most of the time, was 40 miles away). I had stopped in early that day to work on some things. I felt very drained before I left and an unusual feeling of anxiety was about me. I did feel anxious on a regular basis, but after having the first panic attack, I had cut back a little on going out and around in public. I didn't eat well for several days before. I left the store after finishing and rode up the interstate to where I worked, only to run smack into a traffic jam I waited and waited, the traffic was moving awfully slowly, and it wasn't very hot, but I had started to sweat considerably. A feeling in the pit of my stomach started to creep up on me, similar to the way I felt when I had my panic attack. One of my friends had told me if it happens, to breathe into a paper bag to regulate CO2 levels. I tried, but I panicked, and ended up hyperventilating. Before long, my stomach had starting curling itself into a knot, a terrible burning sensation of numbness and pain, making it hard to breathe. My arms had started shaking wildly, and my arms started going numb, my hands going completely numb. My fingers were frozen, and I could not move them an inch. I was having trouble breathing, so I tried taking deep breaths and battling it back. I managed to regulate myself within a couple of minutes, but soon after it struck back with a vengeance -- this time making my entire body numb and me feeling like I was about to pass out. I swung my car out of traffic and managed to drive home, but could not speak coherently for nearly 20 minutes.

The same thing happened to me the very next day, except this time I was at work. I had been working up a sweat cleaning a room for an hour and a half, and finally came back in to let my employees take their break, leaving me alone on a Saturday night(our busiest) to face hundreds of people by myself. The feeling started again. I called my mom and luckily she showed up, but I barely made it through. I was in the middle of a full-blown panic attack (or what may have been one) when my employees came back. I had to leave breathless, and I went home to get food in me.

I had to take a two week leave from work, and eventually had to resign because a condition called agoraphobia had arisen. At first, I couldn't even climb back into my car without feeling unbearably anxious, but I've worked on it over the past two months. I've made progress (albeit slow), and can now drive almost anywhere with someone I trust, and can drive most places at night without much trouble. I find myself starting to feel anxious if there's no route for escape or I get too far from home (un-coincidentally I suppose). I find that if I don't think about it too much I'm ok, but if a thought creeps in my mind (i.e. I was trying to go to church this morning and was at a traffic light, when I thought "What would happen if you had one now, your parents aren't home for you to call and you're far from home at this light with no way out" I got the feeling spontaneously, and only with a lot of resolve and rationalizing did I get it back.

I'm still far from leading my normal life. The agoraphobia makes it hard to go anywhere, and the fact that I can't tell whether I have panic disorder or hypoglycemia (one being harmless but unpredictable, the other being predictable and controllable, but possibly dangerous) has me anxious with uncertainty. I don't have these attacks at home, though I still have the numb thigh, the congestion and stuffiness, and the general feeling of tiredness (although this has gotten much better).

I've done extensive research into this, and found nothing but contradiction. Panic attacks are supposedly random, while whatever I have seems to be very situationally-based. Hypoglycemia attacks supposedly take place three to five hours after eating, but my eating habits seem to bear no relevance to my attacks; its not what or when I eat, just as long as I do keep something in my stomach. I fit a few of the symptoms for type 2 diabetes, although this develops mainly in older people.

A few other things -- My stomach and intestines have been having lots of gas for the past month or so and a lot of gurgling when I don't have much in my stomach. I also have off-and-on bouts of diarrhea (although I suspect this is caused by the Zoloft because on days when I take it, I have it, on days when I don't, I don't). Most of my discomfort takes place in my stomach( sometimes it feels like there's a pool of acid just sitting in it).

I'm visiting the doctor in a few days to get tested for diabetes and a few other things. I just wanted to get the help of as many professionals as possible. What do you make of my symptoms? From what I've researched, it seems they all have a link in one way or another (i.e. numb thigh might be a neurological disorder caused by diabetes, which can cause hypoglycemia, which can cause or be caused by panic), although I'm sure this may be true of virtually every medically recorded symptom out there)


From the diabetologist point of view, the neurologic symptoms described are not characteristic of diabetic neuropathy. I did not recognize any of the usual symptoms of diabetes. The central problem seems to be outside that of diabetes.


[Editor's comment: Pain or numbness of the upper outer thigh is typical of a benign condition sometimes called lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment syndrome or meralgia paresthetica. WWQ]

Original posting 29 Oct 2001
Posted to Diagnosis and Symptoms


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