Thursday, September 5, 2013


Today’s the day. My Gimp-a-versary. I became disabled at 2pm on Sept 4th, 2004, when I fell down 1 stair and shattered my femur, thus developing RSD. I still can remember so clearly laying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. My legs were bent at the knee with my feet trapped under my butt as I lay back on the stairs. The impact of my knee hitting the floor had shattered the right femoral neck, but I didn’t know that yet. All I knew was that something was WRONG- that would be the shock speaking, I know now. I refused to let anyone touch me for the first few minutes, before finally allowing my dad and neighbor to move me on to the couch. Somewhere in there, I managed to lock my legs at the ankle. No clue how the heck I pulled that off, considering I had only some now damaged muscles and no bone with which to move my right leg. My ankles stayed locked for the next 5 hours.

It felt like an hour but it was likely only 15-20 minutes before an ambulance arrived. The local paramedics told my mom we were all crazy, I most assuredly had NOT broken my hip and I was drug seeking. So they picked me up and slammed me down on the stretcher. Think bull in a china shop. That’s when the pain broke through the haze of shock and the screaming began. From there, things began to get a bit fuzzy. I lived only 6 minutes from the ER, but it was more than 2 hours before I was given IV pain meds. They only finally drugged me when my screaming began to scare off people in the waiting room.

After 2 hours in the ER, they took x-rays, which were sent to the orthopedic oncologist who had performed my first hip surgery 6 weeks prior. He refused to do the repair himself due to the complexity, and the quest to find a surgeon began. We finally found someone a few hours later who would take my case and I was shuttled across town a hospital he could operate at. I remember nothing from this point to 3 days post-op, and the next month is mostly a blur.

I’ve not had a single pain free day in the last 9 years. The degree of pain and the way it manifests have changed, but not the pain itself. If I had gotten a diagnosis immediately, there might have been a chance I would have been one of the very lucky one who get a period of remission, but I was blown off. For years my doctors didn’t believe how much pain I was, partially because I have a very high pain tolerance and managed to push through the pain and stay in college. Like many RSD patients, the road to diagnosis was a long one, including a misdiagnosis of Chronic Pain Syndrome along the way. It wasn’t until I ran into my now-Interventional Pain Specialist out cell phone shopping one day  (he was my Pediatrician when I was young) and he asked me to come in for my first Sympathetic Nerve Block that I got a real diagnosis and proper treatment.

Ironically, September is also Pain Awareness Month here in the US. So, I'm celebrating surviving 1 more year* with RSD by putting my story out there. I've (with permission) hung 2 signs on my desk, facing a main hallway at work. One sign details some basic info about chronic pain, the other says, in huge bold letters, "I'm disabled due to RSD/CRPS. Have any questions? Feel free to ask!" I figure if I can get just 1 person to ask, then it'll be worth putting myself out there. 

* The idea to view ones Gimp-a-versary as a celebration of survival came from a friend of mine who's disabled due to multiple car accidents/spinal damage. I liked it so much I've adopted it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment