After Diagnosis

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(This is a continuing series of posts on my journey with chronic pain & RSD)

Since RSD is not common and most people have not heard of it before here’s a definition:

From rsdhope.org: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, formerly known as RSD or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a progressive disease of the Autonomic Nervous System, and more specifically, the Sympathetic Nervous System. The pain is characterized as constant, extremely intense, and out of proportion to the original injury. The pain is typically accompanied by swelling, skin changes, extreme sensitivity, and can often be debilitating. It usually affects one or more of the four limbs but can occur in any part of the body and in over 70% of the victims it spreads to additional areas.

What came after the diagnosis I will only touch on in brief.  I am more interested in going into detail about how I’ve been able to use my mindfulness practice to grow and heal in relationship to my disease and physical pain.  I see no real benefit to anyone in my going over at length all of the bad days and challenges I underwent those first few years after my injury.  I think it’s easy to think that sharing these moments provides some relief but I think more often than not it simply perpetuates suffering and keeps us stuck in the cycle of pessimism and complaining.

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Diagnosis

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In 2005, a few days after turning 26 years old, I had one of those seemingly cliched days that I had only heard about but not yet experienced (and honestly hoped not to since they sounded a little too dramatic for my taste).  I had a day that changed my life forever.

It was early July and I was out in the backyard with my then 5-year old stepson Jaden and his 3-year old friend Cadence.  I was Cadence’s nanny at the time but due to the fact that my car had been set on a fire in a random act of arson (among a string of others that summer) the day before I had no way to get to the family’s house for work and so he was dropped off at our house for the day.  It was a warm summer day and the boys were playing.  We were in the midst of continuing the renovation work on our house and a brand new front door was propped up against a table in the garage waiting as its first coat of fresh paint dried.  The side door to the garage was open and one of our two cats wandered in and then a large crashing noise soon proceeded, followed by the cat bolting like the wind.  Hoping the door’s windows weren’t broken I rushed into the garage with bare feet (which is never a good idea, at least in our garage).  As I was hoisting the door up and attempting to situate it more sturdily I accidentally dislodged a piece of MDF that was hanging at about eye level.  The heavy wooden board fell right onto my bare left foot.

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