On the night of October 7th, 1998, I was working at a fast food restaurant and doing cleaning duties. I had fallen once before at the same place in July of the same year fracturing my pelvic bone. Had been off work for two and a half months and little did I know what was going to happen to me once again. When I fell the first time my son had just left so, needless to say, he felt as though it was his fault that he should have been there.
Well, on the night of October 7th, 1998, history repeated itself. My son once again had come in to see me for just a little bit. It was my third night back to work after being off for the prior accident. I was working behind the counter and I had gone around the corner to go through the doorway. I no sooner hit the doorway when my left foot went out from underneath me. I twisted my body in hopes of being able to catch the sink on my left side, but to no avail I missed it. I landed smack dab on my left hand, breaking the radius bone.
I was taken to the ER and the orthopedic doctor that was on call told me he was going to have to put me to sleep to set the bone. Everything went like it was supposed to that night and he told us that he wanted me in his office in two days. My husband and I went in and the doctor did another x-ray. He came back and said the bone had moved and that he would need to insert pins to hold it in place. I had a cast on my arm for several months. All this time my hand was burning like someone had taken a box of matches and set it fire. I told my doctor about it and he just told me that I had a very serious fall and that it was going to take some time. So I went on with my daily routine as much as I could, all along in severe pain.
Then one day after noticing my fingers turning purple, I decided to talk to the work comp nurse. Bad mistake. She put me in contact with another doctor. He was very crude and his bedside manner was horrible. He didn’t even take the time to be nice. He said that he wanted to take the cast off and I told him that I would need to lay down. They laid me down and when he took the cast off I got so sick I thought I was going to pass out. My friend who was with me couldn’t believe the treatment I was getting. The doctor acted like I was nothing but a big baby. The pain was so horrible, I couldn’t think of anything else. He then put my arm in a sling and told me to come back in a couple of weeks.
When I went back he said that he wanted to take the pins out right there in his office. I looked at him and said, “I don’t think so. You’ve got to be crazy to think I can just sit here and let you mess with my hand while I am in so much pain.” He rolled his eyes and said, “Well I guess we can do it over at the hospital.” We then set up the appointment for December 1st. All along I was taking all kinds of medications for pain.
I am not really sure how it all came about – how I found out about RSD – but I did. I started doing some research and everything I read about RSD fit me to a “T”. The next time I went in I even mentioned it to the doctor. He didn’t say anything at all about it. But he did want me to start therapy ASAP.
The first day my therapist could hardly touch my hand without me yelling or crying. After going through this for several visits, she came in one day and took a look at my hand and then ran out. When she came back in she told me she called the doctor and had told him that I had different signs of RSD. I suppose he told her to start me on a different kind of therapy because that’s what she did. This went one for several more weeks.
Then in March of 1999, I had my last visit with this doctor. The work comp nurse was there as well. She and I were the only ones in the room for a little bit. I looked at her and said, “How can you do the job you have and lie to the patients like you do? You’ve known all along what was wrong with me and you never said a word. This doctor that you sent me to has been nothing but crude, rude and socially unacceptable!”
She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said. “Kim, I am so sorry. I truly am. But I was just doing my job.” Then the doctor came in and for the first time he actually sat down and talked to me. It was then he told me I had RSD. He asked me if I had anything to say. You bet I did! I let him have it with full barrels. I let him know what kind of a doctor he was, that I pitied any patient who had to see him. I told him that he should have told me the truth a long time ago. I said this was my health they were dealing with! He couldn’t believe how I lit into him. After I was finished, he said that he wanted to set me up with another doctor to have some blocks done. I went through three blocks, two under my arm and one through my neck. The relief only lasted for about eight hours.
It’s been ten years since the fall and I live in pain everyday. My pinky and ring finger on my left hand had to be fused at the second joint because they had been curled for a long time. So now I am unable to use them at all. I recently went to the ER knowing full well that they wouldn’t be able to do anything for me. But they did give me some pain medication. It is sad that with all the technology we have today no one has ever taken the time to teach doctors about RSD. I cannot believe how many doctors and nurses have never heard of it. When you tell them what you have, they look at you like what the heck are you talking about?
All I can say is I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It took away something that I had gone to school to do. I was going to open my own business and do nails. I got my license in November 1997 and was trying to get things together to open up my own shop. It takes awhile to get everything in order when it comes to the money. I had already rented a place and went to the bank to borrow a little bit of money to get started. This was in October of 1998 just before I fell. I even paid three months of rent thinking I would be able to go ahead with my plans. They were all shot down. I lost everything! I still keep my license up to date though. Who knows, maybe someday I will be able to fulfill my dreams.