My story is your story and her journey is my journey. Insignificant “injury” to my left hip during a very stressful time in my life. “It’s no big deal” I said to myself, but it never healed. Medical doctors, physiotherapy, osteopathy, medication, X-Ray, bone scan, MRI. And so I started on a journey searching for answers to the chronic pain that became a daily experience. After two years of this, I made a decision that would change the course of my life: I decided to try acupuncture to help calm my hypersensitivity to stress from public speaking.
“Why is the pain in my hip intensifying?” I wondered, confused and scared. To this day, I believe that the acupuncture triggered the CRPS. This wasn’t supposed to happen! I certainly never planned for this growing up. I eagerly wanted to find out what was wrong with me and how I could fix it. After receiving a steroid injection into my hip from the director of a pain clinic that claims to treat CRPS, I became bed-bound. When I spoke to Dr. M on the phone and explained how much things had worsened, he told me that it was because of my personality and that I’d “asked too many questions” during our appointment.
I was forced to move home with my parents. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. My family doctor suggested I might have CRPS. I looked it up on the internet and contacted the Canadian CRPS charity, PARC. In June 2013, I got diagnosed by an anesthesiologist well-versed in CRPS, only a few days before my 26th birthday.
I jumped into finding a treatment to ease the pain and return to a normal life. This would prove to be extremely difficult. From hyperbaric oxygen to lasers, Dilaudid to Gabapentin, chiropractic to reiki. Two road trips from Toronto to the U.S. for treatments. Feeling worse. No relief. Bizarre symptoms. “I’m not crazy,” I want to scream, and sometimes do.
Fast forward to March 2019. I hit an all-time low and can’t fathom living like this for much longer. I want this hell to end. I beg for mercy. I can’t do this anymore. Just let me go. But inside me there remains a glimmer of hope. Maybe it’s just a microscopic spec of hope, but it’s hope. My parents drive me downtown to the hospital. It takes an hour to get there. In the car, I’m waking up, coming back to life. I haven’t left the house in 30 months. My skin hasn’t seen the sun in all that time. It’s March 4th, 2019. It’s -25 degrees celsius in Toronto. I’m still here. I breathe. I see people; regular people, walking on the sidewalk, talking on their phones, bundling up from the cold. I want to be one of them.
Surrender. I’m admitted to the hospital. To the locked psychiatric ward. I’m afraid. But hope starts to grow as symptoms begin to subside. I feel the subtle shifts. I’m scared. I’m excited. I’m alive. In hospital we work hard as a team. I start taking Cymbalta. I get diagnosed with a giant blood clot in my leg. Blood thinners. Occupational Therapy. Psychiatric treatment. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Family and friends visit. Their love shines into my broken body and shattered soul. Music makes its way back into my life. I break free from the rigidity of my schedule at home. My parents get a break from me and I from them. I breathe. In and out.
Rachael’s Story – www.facebook.com/rachaelsstory18