My CIDP Management - How I manage daily life with progressive CIDP: Exercise + Infusions + Diet & Drugs

My CIDP Management: Other than CIDP I have always had excellent health. As a 30 year veteran of 10k running I am very aware of changes happening to by body, and certainly did not expect to experience CIDP symptoms. Exercise, especially running, may be the best non-medical treatment for my CIDP. My ability to still run 10 km amazes my doctors (and even myself actually)! I have an excellent diet which is gluten free and this has reduced my CIDP-induced digestive discomfort. I do not take drugs or vitamins (other than IVIG therapy which is a blood product). I avoid exposure to chemicals especially those at home including perfumes/lotion. I try to keep up my busy lifestyle as a global traveling business person but I have found it more-and-more difficult to maintain. Sitting (and standing) at a desk or in a plane is in 2016 becoming highly problematic due to the pain of non-movement and deleterious effect it has longer term.

 

After so many years I have found that FREQUENT all body movement throughout EVERY DAY is my underlying best approach to managing my CIDP!

 

My Pain Management for CIDP: To an extent I am in a hard place as at end 2015 with frequent excruciating pain in my legs and lately arms has become a dominating CIDP management issue for me. Sitting is particularly problematic. I have not found a good solution for pain - and my doctors do not recognize its significance the huge issue it is! As of mid-2017 I remained steadfast in my rejection of the drug route for pain, but this October 2017 I am experimenting with cannabidiol CBD as a potential CIDP pain killer. [I will report soon as to whether I find cannabis helpful]. As 2016 began I was stuck with the knowledge that frequent movement is really the main ongoing way I have found to reduce the general pain caused by my CIDP. I avoid the (painful) normal sitting position opting for cross-legs, one leg up, crouching etc. I have also recently found it astonishingly helpful to avoid allowing my feet, legs, hands / wrists and neck to get cold. (Cold extremities is a core symptom of my CIDP all year round and CIDP Pain Nerve and Muscle Painwinter is very challenging as I feel crushed by the the bodily pain). I now wear thick socks in the house and importantly in bed (even in summer). I bundle-up to keep warm to excess when outside. Indeed, I find it quite effective to "overheat" the feet, legs and hands / wrists for sleep and also keep the whole body at what I would previously have considered way too hot. For me the pain reduction benefits vastly outweigh the discomfort of being hot. (On the flip side to movement, I have found that total rest in the form of a very long sleep - like 12 hours - also offers relief from pain).

 

My Exercises for CIDP: Most of the time I do not feel like moving due to the discomfort of my CIDP: But I force myself as I know the discomfort will be FAR worse without it. I do daily stretching to alleviate cramping and I find frequent all muscle movement an essential treatment for my CIDP. At first I found that the some exercises were impossible due to extreme muscle tightness or immediate pain or cramp. However, I found with perseverance it can be done and it is well worth it. For example, I can hold touching my toes for a count of 100 without difficulty now: This is a good leg and back stretch. Also I do not give up in the face of potential dangerous symptoms but rather adapt. I can develop breathing issues or muscle pain on a run but will absolutely continue the run to completion if at all possible! I maintain my weight, indeed cut 10 kg when my breathing issue suddenly became more serious in April 2013. Less weight is helpful for nearly all my CIDP symptoms.

  • Nightly stretching about 15 minutes: Stretching makes it far less likely that I will have a cramp while sleeping. I focus on my feet and legs. I have various types of leg stretches that I have found useful. I also do crouch stretch of my feet and find circling each foot while sitting (holding ankle resting on top of other knee) very effective. I found it essential to hold each stretch position for a count of 100. By the end of the fifteen minutes my legs feel a whole lot better!
  • Running 10 km in about 80 minutes now at age 70!: I have run as an amateur for more than thirty years and will never stop if I can help it! I switch to "auto-pilot" when I run and get quite remarkable relief from my CIDP symptoms both during and afterwards. My CIDP has slowed my pace especially due to a breathing issue that can develop both as a result of a jerk or sudden movement and speed. I run at least twice a week and three times if I can always keeping the same pace from start to finish. Sometimes I do a fast 6 km walk too between runs especially in the days immediately following a IG infusion.
  • Alternate stand-sit Position for desk work: I have customized my work desk so that I can stand or sit while working. My computer can move to the required height and everything can adjust to multiple positions allowing me to change position frequently. Although the pain is still there, frequent re-positioning definitely helps.
  • Exercise Intolerance: There is some talk of exercise intolerance with CIDP. CIDP is for me inherently linked with exercise intolerance and it is true that keeping very still helps with pain and perhaps cramping. However, I believe this is short term and definitely short sighted as the overall benefit of exercise is absolutely definite for me. There are difficulties for me but I count myself lucky compared to some others with CIDP who are paralyzed. Exercise does temporarily cause stiffness and very tiring nowadays if not exhausting. BUT again for me this is absolutely not an excuse for not doing the exercise and there is no doubt in my mind that my exercise (indeed any movement) is essential to the good management of my CIDP!

My IVIG Infusions for CIDP: After four years of IVIG infusions I have found out by trial and error the approach that works best for me.

  • Night before the IVIG Infusion: All I do is drink plenty of liquids the night before. No alcohol and no drugs. I used to take one Benadryl the night before but dropped it when I realize it is not useful. I do my nightly stretching and also maximize sleep time to get a good night sleep.
  • The day of the IVIG infusion: I drink a whole lot coffee, coke, water etc from the time I get up. I take in my laptop to work but get up and walk around several times during the infusion. I take two Benadryl and one Tylenol while at the clinic before the infusion commences. I insist on a slow infusion rate of 150 mL/h max - this reduces side-effects. I walk around (even go for a coffee while connected) as much as possible during the infusion as sitting for four hours causes pain and cramping.
  • The day after the IVIG infusion: I continue to drink liquids. I have stopped taking any drugs as on balance I found they do not help and indeed may make it more difficult to handle the situation.
  • For ten days following the IVIG infusion: I feel the side-effects of the IVIG infusion for about ten days. IVIG side-effects for me include a mild flue-like symptoms in the first ten days after each infusion, painful body scabbing rash lasting fifteen days, sometimes temporary disfiguring large lip scabs, occasionally inflamed red eyes and eye-lids lasting about five-days and in the past inside mouth sores for five days (the latter at first was severe but no-longer as I seem to have got used to it after four years of IVIG). I take no drugs and take it somewhat easy for ten days, trying to keep a normal workload and activities. I do regular stretching and fast walking but no running.

My Hizentra IgPro20 Infusions: October 2015 I will begin subcutaneous IG or SCIG for CIDP Hizentra IgPro20 weekly infusions, and will record how I manage this process on this page. My intentions were short lived as I was only on the trial for seven weeks before it was decided that I should stop the trial.

My Diet and Drugs for CIDP: I have an excellent diet which is gluten free and this has reduced my CIDP-induced digestive discomfort. I do not take drugs or vitamins (other than IVIG treatment which is a blood product) -

  • Gluten Free Diet: I have found that I do better on a gluten-free diet. This is an inconvenience but I have tried on-and-off gluten and think I fair better without.
  • Low Fat, Meat and Sugar Diet: I eat twice a day. Breakfast at noon is invariably whole oats oatmeal, with few raisins and skim milk. Best evening meal is vegetables with legumes or rice or quinoa. I have meat twice a week on average.
  • Low Alcohol consumption: I sometimes take a small wine with dinner or occasionally the odd brandy with coke. I cannot tolerate much alcohol and know that it tends to dehydrate and cause cramping.
  • Digestive Assistance: I take two teaspoons of psyllium husks each morning and four tablespoons of freshly ground (gold & brown) flax seed twice weekly. This regimen keeps the digestion working quite well and lessens digestive discomfort caused by CIDP
  • Cannabis "cannabidiol CBD": October 2017 I am experimenting with cannabididiol CBD as a potential CIDP pain killer. [I will report soon as to whether I find cannabis helpful].