Saturday began just like all the ones before. It was a beautiful sunny day in early May. As a college student, coursework and life kept me extremely busy. Though we didn’t spend much time together during the week, Shane and I enjoyed having tea at, “The Coffee Beanery” every Saturday. We treasured the time because it gave us the rare opportunity to slow the busyness of our lives down and catch up with each other.
Making our way through the crowded mall, we ordered our tea. I still remember it like it was yesterday. The soft aroma of Shane’s English Breakfast Tea blended with the sweet smell of my chosen tea, Chai. We continued chatting and enjoying our visit as we approached the door of the elevator. Then, something happened that changed my life.
BOOM! Suddenly, we were startled out of our conversation and I felt the most excruciating pain I had experienced in my life. I felt like crying, but I held my breath and stared at my foot, while feeling the most horrendous pain I can ever remember feeling in my twenty-six years.
Let’s be honest. For the most part, I don’t think our society has done well teaching men that it is socially acceptable to express emotions and deal with their own pain, let alone pain faced by a loved one. For a minute, Shane stood silently beside me with a shocked expression on his face. He was as still as a statue, terrified that the slightest movement would worsen my pain. He waited patiently for me to take charge of the situation. I took a deep breath. “Please take off my shoes and socks slowly,”I said. “I need to see how badly my feet are hurt.”
Only when we examined my feet did we discover the severity of my injuries. My feet felt like they were on fire, and I couldn’t stand having them touched for any longer than thirty seconds. They were black and blue, with toenails bright yellow and hard as rocks. The initial pain was so severe that I couldn’t even move to seek medical attention. Something had to be done to help me, and the sooner I received help, the better.
Many doctors were baffled by my symptoms. For nearly two years, I visited several different doctors, only to experience continuing frustration when I ended each visit with more questions than answers. I met this challenge the way I have tried my best to face all of life’s challenges. I approached the situation with my smile, sense of humor and positive attitude, each wonderful gifts that I inherited from the very special lady whom I am so wonderfully blessed to call my mom.
After over two years of baffling the medical community, I was both relieved and thankful to finally receive a diagnosis. I was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy a chronic pain syndrome which affects the sympathetic nervous system. Symptoms include: burning pain, extreme sensitivity to touch, skin temperature changes, and skin color changes (http://www.neurologychannel.com/rsd/symptoms.shtml ).
Although RSD is quite painful and can worsen if left untreated, I was blessed to be treated both by a fabulous neurologist and a pain management doctor whose primary area of specialization was the treatment of RSD. Just as each person’s RSD varies, so does the regimen of treatment. Physical therapy in a heated pool at an area hospital, acupuncture, and a clonadine patch which my neurologist prescribed were all effective treatments which enabled my doctors and I to successfully manage my condition (http://www.neurologychannel.com/rsd/treatment.shtml). As a result, I am now able to live my life and control my pain fairly well. I am truly thankful for that. The success of my treatment would not have been made possible without the Lord, my family and loved ones, and my wonderful doctors.