Chronicling pain helps woman cope with injury

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Chronicling pain helps woman cope with injury

A fall five years ago left the Inverness resident in constant pain. She hopes her self-published book will help others who suffer.

By JORGE SANCHEZ, Times Staff Writer
Published August 1, 2005

INVERNESS – Jan Carole wishes that life came with a pause button. Just like on a DVD player. Push a little button and the action stops.

If she had that pause button, she might have been able to avoid a crippling injury five years ago. The fall at a motel broke her leg and caused unrelenting pain that remains today.

Carole’s condition is called RSD/CRPS – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

How Carole describes it:

“Right now, it feels exactly as if there is a hot iron resting on my leg,” she said during a recent Times interview. “Now, for most people a hot iron pressed against their leg would cause them to jump up, but since I know there’s no iron there, I have to just take the pain and continue with this conversation.”

As a means of coping with the pain and creating a road map for others suffering from RSD/CRPS, Carole recently self-published a book, Anatomy of Pain . . . Coping with RSD/CRPS .

The book deals with Carole’s experiences with the fall and the ensuing medical, psychiatric and legal issues.

In June 2000, Carole and her husband, Ed Dwyer, were enjoying a weekend getaway in Daytona Beach.

After dinner, they checked into a motel. First they went to the spa. It was full, so instead they decided to go for a walk along the beach.

Leaving the spa, she thought she was walking on a level surface.

“It was dark, and the only lights came from those small lights by the plants,” Carole said. “I couldn’t tell the platform was raised above the sidewalk.”

She estimated the fall was “two or three stairsteps” in height.

The description from her book is familiar to anyone who has suffered a fall injury.

“There, between paces, between heartbeats, in the blink of an eye, one life ended and another began. How is that possible . . .?

“As I moved forward and put my foot down, there was nothing under it.”

Then came the sound.

The sound of a chicken bone snapped . . . a green twig split . . . a fresh stalk of celery . . . a pecan or walnut cracked open . . . .
“Take all these sounds and somehow put them together in some sort of sound blender, combining them into one sound, like a single note from a well-trained choir, that was the sound I heard . . . Making it worse, I knew it was coming from my body, from within me . . .”

The compound fracture caused her pain nerves to go into permanent attack mode. And it didn’t stop there. A few months later, although she was still able to work, she suffered a stiff shoulder.

Workers’ compensation covered the surgery to relieve her pain.

“But what I didn’t know is that surgery is an open invitation for RSD to spread,” she said. “And that the shoulder and neck is the worst area for this to happen.

“The surgery freed my frozen shoulder, but shortly after, I couldn’t even stand to have clothing touch it.”

Battling through the pain, Carole discovered that writing, even a few words at a time, was cathartic.

“It started as a relief valve just for me,” she said. “I thought if I can put it in written words, just get it out of my system, I could feel better.”

The book goes in depth to provide the essentials of pain medications, orthopedic treatments, psychiatry and interpersonal relationships, as they affect an RSD patient. Carole said her research shows that nationwide, about 6-million people have RSD.

“That’s not a huge number,” she said. “I’ve never actually met another person with RSD, although I’ve chatted with them online. So even doctors don’t always know a lot about this condition.”

As an example, many health professionals, adopting a “use it or lose it” philosophy, will prescribe physical therapy for RSD sufferers.

“That’s not always good. RSD is a condition that can actually be made worse by too much physical therapy. You have to know your body and be very careful not to do too much,” she said.

When her leg pain became too much to endure, she considered amputation. But the doctors told her the nerve endings would still attack her and she would suffer from phantom pain.

She wrote the book as a self-help experience and to help others.

“I wrote it so nobody else feels like “I’m the only one that feels this way”‘, Carole said.

Carole will have book signings at the following locations:

–11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Poe House Books, 657 N Citrus Ave. in Crystal River

–10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 13 at Awesome Books and Gifts, 2780 N Florida Ave. (U.S. 41) in Hernando

–10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 20 at Rainy Day Editions, 202 Tompkins St. in Inverness.

Anatomy of Pain is available at Amazon, Booksamillion and other online booksellers. Visit Carole’s Web site at www.jancarole.com for other RSD links.

–Jorge Sanchez covers arts and entertainment in Citrus County. Call 860-7313 or e-mail sanchez@sptimes.com

For the original story online, click here: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/08/01/Citrus/Chronicling_pain_help.shtml

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