Hello - my name is Kathy, and I live in the Lockyer Valley up in Queensland with my husband of 28 years and our daughter - plus all of the animals.
I suffered a grade IV sprain of my left ankle in a workplace injury back in 1999 back when I was working in the health care system. it was originally diagnosed as a simple sprain by an over-fatigued locum who'd been up all night - and I eventually developed CRPS. that was the beginning of the end of my nursing career, but it's not like I was allowed to fade away gracefully. I went through all of the usual treatments too - lumbar sympathetic nerve block, a couple of trips to hospital for epidural infusions for a week at a time, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, lyrica, brufen, panadeine forte - plus workplace visits from the occupational therapist and the workcover case manager. antidepressants were denied to me initially, as I suffer from epilepsy and they're contraindicated due to the risk of increased seizure activity.
overall - I found the people who provided the services to be helpful and sympathetic, although back in 1999 little was still known about CRPS. the workplace was a different matter though, but I won't dwell on that unpleasant experience - except to say I eventually had to refuse to return to work due to the un-supportive environment, and I developed PTSD as a result of that experience to complicate what was already a complicated injury.
after 18 months of pain and failed treatments and workplace issues - the major depression was well on the way to being suicidal and I begged the GP managing me to prescribe an antidepressant. I really do have to credit him for keeping me alive during this time, as he had me always having to be somewhere. when I wasn't seeing someone for health care during the dark days - I was at home with my family. when I look back now though, I have a gap of about 4 years in my life which has just gone in a fog of depression and pain.
I was eventually medically retired from work about 4 years after the injury, so I had to give up my nurses registration and midwifery registration. it was a big hit to my sense of self, and I went through a grieving process over all of the losses that I had experienced.
we all experience loss as a result of developing a chronic pain condition, but I suppose my own message of hope is the potential to rebuild our lives and do new things that we never imagined previously.
back before I'd injured myself - the internet was a place I'd rarely surfed. as the years went by though, I got onto the internet and saw it as a potential means to earn an income. this led me to teaching myself how to build web sites with html pages, and then I progressed to using content management systems. eventually this wasn't enough for me and I started to teach myself how to code PHP programmes. it's maybe 5 years since I registered my business name and company name now - and this was a significant moment for me as I'd finally moved on and had redefined "who I was and what I do".
it was around this time that I was suffering some really bad tension headaches, and a chemist suggested I take a combination of nurofen plus, panadeine and a doxalyamine at night. I did this religiously and found not only did my headaches disappear - I stopped waking up screaming from nightmares and began to sleep through the night, and I began to get my pain levels down to a tolerable level.
I've found programming software to be something I can do from home with my feet up, and I don't have to tax myself physically. I get to work from home at my own pace, earn a bit of an income, and I get to meet and help clients from all over the world from many cultures. I play videos on my computor as I work on my software, so I'm able to keep my mind fully occupied all day which helps to distract me from the pain. it's a bit like having an endless puzzle, and my clients give me new challenges for my mind by asking for new features to be implemented into my software.
I could never imagine giving up my life of software development now - even if I was physically able to return to nursing, and while I've got issues with a pain flare-up at the moment and dealing with a less than supportive local doctor - I try to remember that there are a lot of good positive things in my life, and that there are yet undiscovered surprises that may lead to new opportunities for me.