What is it like to live with chronic pain?
Have you ever experienced pain? Stubbed a toe? Got a sunburn?
Imagine enduring that pain for days on end. No hope of relief in sight.
That is what my brother in law lives with.
I share this not to be a debbie downer but to shed light on a population of people that live with chronic pain that can’t be seen from the outside.
Thankfully for Gabe, there is hope for relief!
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing him and gleaning more insight on his story.
My Interview with Gabe
1) What is CRPS and how does it affect you physically?
Well, Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, is a neurological disorder that is caused by several different variables (physical injury, stress, sickness, etc.) coming together to create the ‘perfect storm’. It can start out as intense pain in one region of the body, but can eventually incorporate one’s entire body. For many people, the excruciating pain does not stop there. There are many cases where CRPS has led to digestive disorders, such as Gastroparesis, which is caused by the nerves in the stomach shorting out, causing the whole digestive tract to become paralyzed.
2) When did you first suspect something was wrong? How many different doctors/specialists did you go to?
For me, my five-year journey with CRPS started in October 2013. I was at a fencing practice, doing some warm-ups for the evening when I arched my back too far and it popped. It hurt for a few days after, but the pain eventually went away, so we did not worry about it after that. Two months later, I was performing as ‘Scrooge’ in A Christmas Carol at our local theatre when I caught a respiratory virus, followed by an infection, followed again by another respiratory virus. However, being the lead, I had to push through all nine performances. Halfway through, I began having sharp, intense pain in my chest, like someone took a dagger and plunged it into my sternum, twisting it every few minutes to ensure maximum pain. We went to our family physician, who diagnosed it as costochondritis, gave us some medication for the pain, then sent us on our way. The medicine worked at first, but it soon was not enough as the pain only intensified after that. Twenty doctors and specialists later, my pain has become full body. Every medication I have taken works for a short period, but the pain eventually ups the ante and I find myself back at square one.
3) What do you do to keep pushing on?
I use my blog, Treasures On The Sand, to encourage other chronic pain warriors in their daily battles. I strive to bring hope to those who find themselves in the pit of despair, just as I have. It is difficult to look for hope when all you can see is the pain, pain, and even more pain. However, if we do not have hope, we will remain in the darkness and may never find our way out.
4) What is the treatment that you’re hoping will help you get relief?
For me personally, my glimmer of hope has come from Dr. Katinka van der Merwe at the Neurologic Relief Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Dr. Katinka specializes in treating CRPS and equipping those who battle it with the tools they need to achieve victory over it. No, it is not a cure, but it is a means of hope, hope that CRPS does not have control over our lives and that, one day, we can take our lives back.
5) What is your biggest encouragement for those that live with chronic pain?
Never lose sight of hope! Do not allow yourself to fall into that pit of despair. I have been there and I never want to go back. Seek out that glimmer of hope and take it by the reins.
6) Anything else you would like to share?
Keep up the fight, fellow warriors! There is light at the end of this tunnel. There is a finish line at the end of this race. Keep striving for hope!
There is Hope
It’s hard to watch someone you love live with chronic pain. You can feel hopeless. Thankfully, there IS hope. Gabe is a walking testimony of Hope in dark times.
If you feel so led, please take a moment to check out our YouCaring page for Gabe as we continue to raise support for him to get the treatment and encouragement he needs at the Neurologic Relief Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. If you aren’t able to donate monetarily, we covet your prayers and words of encouragement for him!
There is hope for these ferocious fighters!