Saturday, May 30, 2009


Sometimes we can psych ourselves out with the expectations of the pain. We wake up knowing that we are going to hurt, and surprise surprise, we do. Don't get me wrong, I am NOT FOR A MINUTE minimizing the pain of RSD. It is akin to living in a torture chamber - there is nowhere to go to get away from the pain, but the mind is a powerful thing, and we can certainly psych ourselves into more pain than we physically have. In that same vein, we can psych ourselves into feeling better. Every time I take my pain medication, I say to myself "okay, help is on the way, this pill is going to make me feel better!" Does it always work? Well, no, but it can't hurt. Watch your own expectations; don't make things worse for yourself.

Many years ago, at the beginning of this journey, I had a permanent epidural catheter in place. I loved it - I got decent pain relief from it, but my body rejected them all. While I still had one, I got some pain relief, but I also had some numbness and weakness, which caused me to take a bad fall onto a concrete parking stop. I did a number on my knee - yes, the same knee that my RSD started in. It wasn't pretty!!!

My knee swelled so badly that I had to have it opened. When the surgeons did the skin graft to reclose, some bacteria remained in there, and had a HUGE party! My surgeon said it was RSD causing the swelling, redness, and tightness in my whole leg, and my Pain Management Dr. said that it was infected, go see the surgeon.

By the time they figured it out (okay, I bullied myself into the surgeons office because I knew that it was infected), My leg was HUGE, a funny yellow color, and the infection was in my pelvis and belly. I went into emergency surgery within the hour.

I tell you all this because it does relate to my opening of expectations. My surgeon came to see me just before surgery, and he told me that he was going to have to remove my leg at the high hip. And then there was dead silence. What do you say to that? "Okay doc, see you later"? I couldn't think of anything to say. I had this strange desire just to touch my leg, figuring it was the last time. Imagine going into surgery knowing that you will come out without your leg. It was powerful, to say the least. I didn't even have time to call my mommy and sob.

I woke up from surgery, and I literally didn't want to look down. I refused to move my hand down to where my leg should be. I knew it was gone, but I didn't want the confirmation. I finally screwed up my courage, and put my hand down, and ..... HOLY CRAP. My leg was still there. My surgeon came to see me once I was fully awake, and he told me that once in surgery, he had decided to be bold and try to save it. He said that it may all come to naught, he could have to remove my leg at any time, but we would try it.

I have never been so happy to be in so much pain, and to face so much rehabilitation, and have the RSD be so much worse. I was thrilled!! It was all about the expectations. I expected to have no leg - I had my leg, and the rest wasn't as important. Don't get me wrong, it hurt, and I never did fully recover, not to mention I have some of the most outrageous scars on my left leg, but I have my leg.

Perhaps my doctor did that on purpose so that I would be happy with him for causing me so much pain. He set my expectations one way, so that the true outcome seemed like a real bonus! How goofy; but I learned a lot. I learned how powerful the mind is as a healing tool, and how powerful it can be for leading us down to the depths of depression. And I try to never forget that. Stay positive, stay in control.


  1. I applaud your courage through that ordeal. How scared you must have been.
    And I love the part about not being able to call your mommy and sob, I would have wanted to do the exact same thing!!

    Thank you for sharing all this with us all, you have no idea how difficult it is to explain to some how powerful the mind really is and what an excellent tool it is for helping with healing, but your story puts it in perspective so everyone can understand.

    Make it an Amazing Day....Every Day!!
    Coach Marla

  2. Thank you so much Coach Marla - and thank you for sticking with this blog and adding your comments. I sure appreciate it!!

    The mind is an incredibly powerful tool, it's all about how you choose to use that power. It can really let you sink down, keeping horrible thoughts spiraling you into a desperate depression. But it is just as powerful a healing tool - that's why meditation can work so well at relaxing the body, and even easing pain. We NEED to make a conscious choice to move forward!

    Thank you again Coach Marla.