Beth Taylor

Silent Struggle to Second Chance

By Christie Cox

Beth Taylor’s story weaves together a tapestry of health challenges, pain, hard-learned lessons, and a relentless fight against a silent predator—complications from not knowing she had diabetes or diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).

Beth, 63, navigated through life with an unwavering trust in her body’s resilience until her mid-50s, when she sought an evaluation for blurry vision. Like many in her generation, she reserved doctor visits for times of illness rather than prevention. The bloodwork her primary care physician conducted found a hidden adversary: type 2 diabetes.

She later learned she had also lived with diabetes’ often-silent companion, DPN, for years—manifesting as tingling, numbness, pain, and the distressing sensation of “walking on needles.”

Beth was propelled into the unfamiliar territory of endocrinologists, blood sugar monitoring, insulin injections, and the challenges of managing multiple complex conditions. Then in 2023, she almost died before her various specialists connected the dots of how her diabetes, DPN, and the medications treating her pain were damaging her liver.

She learned too late how much silent damage diabetes can cause, even before it’s diagnosed, and how much harder it is to treat when access to care is lacking or disjointed.
Beth experiences pain and loss of sensation in her feet, which are frequently swollen.


“How in the world do I have diabetes?” Beth recalls wondering after her diagnosis. She rarely ate sweets and maintained a diet rich in healthy proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Yet her A1C (a measure of blood glucose levels) at the time of her diagnosis was twice the level that initially indicates the presence of diabetes.

This seeming disconnect highlights a serious challenge facing both doctors and patients: the tendency not to recognize, or even to ignore, early symptoms. Failing to make those connections can lead to painful complications, loss of limbs, or even death.

Beth—who lives in Euharlee, Georgia—now believes she was living with DPN, often-painful nerve damage in the extremities caused by high blood sugar, for years before her diabetes was diagnosed. Initially, she only knew she had excruciating pain in her foot—she described the sensation as having had her feet in the snow for a long time.

She’d had lower back surgery for degenerative disc disease years before and assumed her foot pain was related, never getting it properly checked out. It wasn’t until she began to experience blurry vision and sought an evaluation for corrective surgery at 55 that her doctor’s discovery of diabetes changed her trajectory. The diagnosis provided more insight into the pain that eventually spread to both feet, which her doctors later confirmed was a complication of her diabetes that will not improve.

Beth says her feet “felt like they once went to sleep and never woke up.” Fond memories of family vacations are intermingled with instances of burning her feet on the sun-heated beach or breaking her toe without realizing it due to reduced sensation.

She tried prescription nerve medications, including gabapentin and pregabalin, which did not help. “Back then, I would do anything to get rid of the pain,” she says.


For years, when Beth went to doctors for help with her DPN pain, she was offered few options other than pain medication. “I felt invisible,” she recalls. “It’s very discouraging when doctors tell you, ‘There’s nothing we can do for you.’”

As an active mother working full-time at a local bus company, she took prescribed pain medications for more than 15 years to manage her relentless foot pain so that it would not keep her from walking or driving. She and her specialists did not realize until it was almost too late that those medications were taking a toll on her liver.

In 2023, Beth was diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. The prognosis without a transplant was grim.

“We made her funeral arrangements as we prayed she’d be able to rest in peace,” shares Ashley Neely, Beth’s daughter.

Beth believes part of the reason the damage was not caught sooner is that communication is lacking between her specialists—a primary care provider, endocrinologist, neurologist, and rheumatologist.

“This web of doctors could not connect the dots,” Beth says in hindsight.

In the summer of 2023, Beth spent three months in the hospital with liver failure, only able to leave for one day to attend her son’s wedding.

She was near death when a liver donor was found. Doctors told her that to move forward with the transplant, she would need to completely stop taking pain medications.


Today, Beth is healing from her transplant. Unfortunately, because she can now only take occasional over-the-counter painkillers, “the neuropathy is way worse after the transplant,” she shares. She has had to find new ways to cope.

Her husband of 42 years, Jeff, is a supportive partner in her daily care. She enjoys occasional outings with him, their two children, and their five grandchildren, all under the age of 10. On good days, the family navigates the local grocery store, where Beth likes to examine the fresh produce, something she misses when shopping online. And although she enjoys attending all the grandkids’ activities when she can, she is especially thankful for their interest in jiu-jitsu—because it takes place inside.

Over the years, Beth developed a collection of self-management techniques for her foot pain and swelling, including elevating her feet while sleeping, wearing compression socks, and using a lower leg air compression massager to improve circulation to her feet. Although physical therapy hasn’t helped much, she tries to keep moving—her current goal is to walk 2,000 steps a day.

Beth and her doctors frequently examine her feet to look for sores or injuries, as unchecked foot wounds can increase the risk of amputation for individuals with diabetes.

Her DPN pain now extends up to her knee on one leg. She also has pain from DPN in two fingers on her dominant hand, which makes it difficult to pick up her grandchildren’s toys.

Her grandkids don’t understand why “Glamma” can’t play with them like she used to, and that can be hard, Beth shares. Sometimes her grandson “helps” her meet her daily step goal by holding her phone and having it track his own steps.


Knowing now that diabetes and DPN can be silent diseases, Beth urges others living with these conditions to take their symptoms seriously and act early.

“Don’t ignore it or wait,” she says. “Go to the specialists, change your diet, regulate your blood sugar levels, and learn how what you eat, or the wine you love, impacts you.” She believes not knowing these simple tactics earlier likely worsened her symptoms.

Arming herself with a better understanding of her condition and how diet impacts her blood sugar was essential. She uses a continuous glucose monitor to check her levels throughout the day.

Beth is inspired by the family she always dreamed of having. They were her voice when the system seemed indifferent to her needs. It was their research, their questions, their insistence that she be admitted to a larger hospital, and their refusal to accept a grim prognosis that eventually led to her second chance at life.

Her story underscores a harsh reality: a medical system that is designed to react to emergencies rather than preventing them. She emphasizes the importance of regular health screenings, prevention, early detection, frequent check-ins with specialists, and vigilant monitoring of treatments and their effects. And she calls for a health care system that listens and responds before it’s too late.

Today, Beth does not take her second chance for granted; she cares for her grandchildren and savors each moment. She and her loved ones have learned to no longer take “no” for an answer. And despite the challenges she’s been through, a sign hanging in Beth’s home illustrates the attitude that helped her and her family persevere through it all.

It reads: “It’s all good.”