My journey as a woman in pain began when I was a 21-year-old ballerina. Up to that time, my life had been a love affair with performing and I knew I would have a long career in the bright lights of show business.
Then one day I suffered a ballet injury that changed my life forever. That simple hamstring tear quickly turned into the most excruciating, burning pain I had ever felt. My leg turned purple and became swollen and cold, while the torturous pain steadily grew worse.
Compounding my horror, my doctors completely ignored my symptoms. For the next 13 years, they told me my condition was “all in my head” while the disease with no name mercilessly spread throughout my entire body.
During these nightmarish years, my glamorous career slipped away and my family and friends left (some would later return.) I spent weeks at a time bedridden, screaming in pain, crawling on the floor to get anywhere. I was left totally disabled without any diagnosis or treatment all because of this mysterious, never-ending pain.
My shining star was my partner John who stayed by me, whispering support all along the way. His love lifted me through the worst of times, his steady strength soothed my wounds.
Finally, I was able to find a pain management specialist who immediately diagnosed me with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (and later Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and other inflammatory and auto-immune conditions.) Though I quickly improved, my condition had progressed too far unchecked for a cure, leaving me in constant physical pain and relying on a wheelchair. But at last I was believed and my pain had a name. With this new light, I had a new focus.
My future is now filled with the fight and ambition to bring the plight of women in pain out of the dark and help all those who suffer needlessly due to bias and ignorance. I never again want what happened to me to happen to another.
...“the dream of never again.”
Note: Ms. Toussaint is currently in her second partial CRPS remission (first in 25 years!) Read how it happened.
John & Cynthia’s Story as a Ballet April 2005
(Choreographed by Toussaint)