I developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome three years ago this January, after opening a door onto my foot. Straight away I was in agonising pain, and my foot became swollen and dark purple in colour. The following day I went to A and E, I had numerous X Rays which all showed my foot was not broken. My foot started to go black and the pain was getting unbearable, and no painkillers the doctors had given me were working. My mum took me back to the doctors, who sent me to the fracture clinic, and it was there, over a month after the initial accident I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. My brain had stopped identifying that my foot was there and was slowly cutting off the circulation. I was told very little about the condition at this point, but was referred to the Pain Management Clinic, and a physiotherapist to try and get me walking again without crutches. Simple tasks such as walking, putting shoes on and showering were almost impossible as the pain was so unbearable. There is no way I could even begin to describe the pain.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a very rare and life-shattering condition and It has a crippling effect on the sufferers life. Complex Regional Pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that is believed to be the result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems. Typical features include dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, and swelling.
After my first appointment at the Pain Clinic, I was told that a very small number of people recover from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, as the quicker the diagnosis the higher the chance of complete recovery however early diagnosis is almost unheard of. I was put on a high dosage of a tablet called Gabapentin, which made me feel exhausted all the time, and I would often fall asleep and not realise it, and as I suffered badly with M.E already, it made functioning on a day-to-day basis very difficult. The pain also stopped me from being able to sleep well at night, so my concentration during the day was very badly affected. I was in my final year of A Levels when I developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, the excruciating pain, the effects of the prescription drugs and M.E meant I fell badly behind. I missed two months to begin with, and when I did go back I struggled with the pain and the weekly hospital appointments.
Through the Pain Clinic, I tried many different treatments such as nerve blocks, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, using a tens machine daily and numerous different pain killers. My mum and I spent many days researching the condition, treatments and different people we could see. I went to London to see a specialist and visited a specialist unit at the Royal Bath Hospital, as well as exhausting all options at our local hospital and a wide range of none-medical treatments.
I finished my A levels, but not with the expected grades, and didn’t get onto my first choice course at university. I was also diagnosed with depression and my M.E was getting worse, which made starting university very difficult. Everyone around me was telling me how brilliantly I was doing, how strong I was and how proud of me they were, but I could not get past the fact I was going to be in pain for the rest of my life and could not see how much I had actually achieved despite having two medical conditions. During my first year at university, I was seeing my doctor at the pain clinic, a neurologist, a pain psychologist, physiotherapist as well as being under the Royal Bath Hospital, I was having weekly massages to try and reduce the sensitivity and seeing an osteopath every week. To make matters worse, my university was unsympathetic regarding the amount of time I needed to take off and were making things very difficult. At one point they suggested I should leave. It got to the stage where I was so depressed I didn’t get out of bed for almost three weeks, I was a nineteen years old suffering with several difficult medical conditions and could not see how I was going to lead a normal life.
Things only got worse, and by my second year at university the pain had spread from just my right foot, all up my right leg and into my right arm, which meant I was not able to write for long periods of time making university very difficult. My walking pattern changed because I had a limp causing backache. I was discharged from the Pain Clinic as they told me there was nothing more they could do for me.
Just as I was ready to give up my Grandmother’s friend told her about her niece who suffered with M.E and had been on a course called The Lightening Process and it had complete transformed her life. After suffering with M.E for nine years and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome for two and a half, and getting nowhere with medicine, my family thought it would be worth trying as we had nothing to lose. I did not want to get my hopes up, as we hadn’t got anywhere so I tried not to think about it despite the day getting closer.
The Lightening Process team makes it very clear that it is not a treatment, and its something you have to continue with after the three tuition days. I chose to see Claire as she’d had M.E herself and I thought she would be easy to relate to.
To begin with I was very cynical about the Lightening Process. I can remember sitting listening to Claire on the first day wondering how something so simple and none invasive could solve all my problems. However by the end of the first day my opinion had changed greatly. I came out the session feeling lighter and full of energy and couldn’t wait to tell my mum all about what we had done. However, it was the second day that I saw the greatest improvement. Before the Lightening Process I could not walk for more than five or ten minutes without having to stop, however after the second session me and my mum walked back to the hotel which was a twenty-minute walk, without stopping!! Neither of us could believe it! I had my energy levels back and was now able to walk further than I had been able to for the last two and a half years! That night to celebrate, my mum and me went out for a meal and walked there and back!
Since the Lightening Process my life is un-recognizable! As soon as my partner and friends saw me they said I was a different person. I was more confident and seemed lighter, as if a weight had been lifted. I have spent this winter healthy, which is the first in nine years! I’ve had a cold without it leaving me confined to my bed for a minimum of a month. I am able to go on nights out with my friends and without coming home early through exhaustion and have actually been out every single weekend for the past four months, which was un-heard of before! I have reduced my medication from six tablets a day to one, I have started ballet dancing again and I am able to walk long distances, run, jump and do everything I used to be able to do. I do still get the odd twinge in my leg, but I can cope with that!
The Lightening Process has given me my life back, and has actually given me a future to look forward to. I will be forever grateful to them!