Sliding into an Unknown Future

14th July 2018

My name is Jacquie and I am 25. I have a 6-year-old Son, Kyan and an amazing Fiancé, Taylor. I was diagnosed with CRPS in March, 2018. Here’s how my story begins…

All my life I’ve been surrounded by athletes and competitive sports. Ever since I can remember I was always somehow involved with some kind of sport whether it be gymnastics, dancing or long distance running. I was lucky enough to never injure myself severely, but I never really took these activities to heart even though many people encouraged me because they saw potential.

Fast forward to 2012 when I found a sport that I truly loved.

Softball.

Whilst I started off not exactly the most talented, I gave it my all and trained hard 3-5 days a week and worked my way up from a lower C grade level to B grade. It was on the 3rd of February 2018, the day after I got engaged when my entire life changed.

It was the final innings of a softball game and I was on second base heading towards third base when my coach yelled “down!” as I was about to be tagged out by a fielder.  So I did a textbook slide into third Base; I was safe. But during my slide, my right foot was caught in the grass and inverted my ankle. I had torn ligaments, sprained ligaments and shredded some cartilage surrounding my metacarpals. I was told initially that after 6 weeks in a Moon boot I could start physio and my recovery back to health. Easy enough…

But after only 2 weeks post injury I started getting symptoms of a disease that you wouldn’t want to wish on your worst enemy. The slightest breeze would send my right foot into what felt like 1000 swords stabbing up into my leg. The sound of loud noises doing the same. Going to bed and having the sheets on my foot burned like I’d never known before. The slightest movement or touch or fragment of hair would drive me insane with pain. The swelling, the colours and everything else in between that I experienced was truly a nightmare.

I saw specialist after specialist who told me there was nothing they could do but offer pain relief that barely worked. Recognising that my symptoms were eerily similar to my Mother, Co-founder of CRPS Network Australia, I was worked closely with my GP, Dr Farah Tan and my Mum. I was eventually referred to see Dr Phillip Finch; who diagnosed me with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

The good thing is that it was caught early, and the symptoms were recognised and most of all acknowledged by those around me.  Dr Finch booked me in for an L4 sympathetic nerve block to dull the nerves running into the foot. So on the 12th of April 2018, I went under the knife.

Just 2 days post-surgery, and after nearly 3 months of hell, I was able to just manage to wear 2 shoes instead of 1. That’s not to say I was healed, because the road is long and tough, but it was definitely a win against the disease. I was feeling the most positive I ever have in months and for the first time, I had a real smile on my face since the day I got engaged.

It is now 6 months since my initial injury and while I still have CRPS, I am able to manage it with a good combination of medications and Physio at home. I can wear most types of shoes, walk around aided with a walking stick and drive. I have my good days and definitely some horrendous days where I struggle to get up out of bed or do anything at all.

Thankfully, I have an amazing support network around me to keep me positive and keep pushing forward. I worked for Australia’s leading community nursing organisation. Helping clients of my own with their personal care, domestic home help, social support and many other activities of daily living, but at just 25, I never could have imagined that my role in the community would be reversed and it would be me that needed the help.

It has given me a lot of insight into the daily struggles and frustrations that my clients faced.  I know that when I do return to work, my journey will help me to be a better Nurse in the community.

So, while being diagnosed with CRPS has been a nightmare, I am aiming to turn it into a positive thing because I have learned so much about not only myself, but everyone else around me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever go into remission or if I’ll have to endure the pain for the rest of my life, but I am determined to not only help raise awareness and encourage research into this disease, but I’m also determined to show those that have also been diagnosed that it’s not always a dead end. There is always that light at the end of the tunnel to work towards and when you reach that light, it will be the most beautiful thing.

Don’t let CRPS own you.  It’s not worthy enough.