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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome by 1pen Complex Regional Pain Syndrome by 1pen
For the "Express It!" contest. [link] My second entry. Figured why not. Was having a rougher night than usual because some of this nerve block is starting to wear off and I can feel the pain coming back. It was so great for about 48 hours to have my hand back and as excited I am at the prospect of several more of these things giving me more long term relief, it was surreal to have that window, those few moments where a breeze felt like a breeze and water felt like water and everything was back to how it was before the injury. Now I can feel the hand, it's like it's dying, going out on me. So as much as I am excited by the knowledge that a nerve block works, I got a bit depressed to watch the hand go again. Nothing quite like losing a limb...especially as an artist and a writer.

So tonight I stretched out across the couch for a bit and ate some reeses peanut butter cups cried for a while and figured, oh hell, I've cleaned my house, I worked on my latest novel, I'm going to do a drawing while I can. :) So I got off my couch and drew what I had been feeling.

Sometimes the pain is so bad, all you can do is curl up and cry it out. I guess this expresses the lows of the condition, feeling useless since I feel the hand going again, but glad to know that something works.....the picture may be of the lows, but the fact that I drew it....well, it's promising, it's uplifting, and it means...hope, I guess. :)
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:iconjoeyv7:
joeyv7 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2009
Jesus.

I read your article by :iconprojecteducate:
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2009  Professional Photographer
Oh? The interview with =TheBigBadFish then? Huh.

Oh it's not that bad. :giggle: It's been officially over a year now, so it's a permanent disability, something I hadn't really considered when I did that drawing. But all is well, it's amazing how much you get accustomed to it.
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:iconjoeyv7:
joeyv7 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2009
Hmmm. Good you can control it, then :)
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2009  Professional Photographer
:lmao: I wish I could control it, then I wouldn't have it at all, nah it's not like that it's more of a raising of the pain tolerance and adapting to life one-handed thing. :)
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:iconjoemacgown:
JoeMacGown Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
I was just reading here about your CRPS, man, what a bummer. It is wonderful that you appear to be able keep your spirits high through all that pain.

Cool drawing, I don't believe I have ever seen a couch dragon before!
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2008  Professional Photographer
Thanks, I didn't think I'd seen a couch dragon before either, which is kind of why I went with it. It's just so much easier to express myself in that form anyway.

And thank you for your sympathy too. I've gotten so I prefer the older name for the disease: Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Type II (which roughly translates to "progressive degenerative disorder/dysfunction/collapse of the sympathetic nervous system as a result of injury") to CRPS. 1., the original name for this disorder makes more sense and describes it better and 2. because CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) to many patients (including myself) comes across as sounding like a bogus condition.

It's not necessarily that I keep my spirits high (because that would be lying, I cry quite a bit some days), but more or less that the body, and nature itself, is a remarkable machine, it can and does evolve. It's the mind that's the problem for some. My body wraps around any new trial that presents itself with ease figuring out, very quickly, how to do things in new ways. But for some people the mind is the one playing catch up, trying and sometimes failing to cope with the implications of chronic pain and the change that must result from it. Lucky for me, that hasn't been the case. I really owe much of that to the fact that I'm battle-tested: I've already endured a life-threatening heart condition and learned to love and care for someone with autism. Both of those earlier (and ongoing) experiences required patience, realistic optimism, tenacity, strength, and encyclopedic knowledge of the situation at hand and how the law, medical industry, etc. pertains to it...essentially all the things I need to cope with my own disability.
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:iconmaraudermaniac:
MarauderManiac Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008
Holy shit!
And I thought I was in pain! Seems that you've got a hard life, poor person, but your art is amazing! Just keep being positive and make your wonderful art. :D
Can anyone get the syndrome after a injury or is it for example an age group that's in danger or something?
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2008  Professional Photographer
Thanks so much for your comment. I'm glad you like the art. :) It's not quite so bad for the most part, you get used to the pain level. I mean, what else are you supposed to do? I know some people it destroys them, but I'm hanging in there alright for now. Have good days and bad days. :)


May I ask what kind of pain you are going through too? I hope it's not too serious. :hug:

Anyone can get CRPS/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (actually, I guess it's a disease or a disorder or something. Not sure syndrome is the right word) following an injury. It doesn't even have to be a major injury or even a major injury to a nerve (though in my case it was following a major injury to a major nerve). When your body is hurt it triggers a response in your sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your flight or fight response; it helps your body survive a threat to its well-being. Sometimes, in rare circumstances, an injury triggers an unusually high response from this system. It tells the brain that that limb or region of the body is in trouble. When your body senses it is in serious trouble it has to make decisions about what it will save. When it gets these messages it will sometimes decide to "naturally amputate" or reduce blood flow to that region. This is what happened to me. My brain keeps receiving messages from the arm that it is "lost" and should be cut off, so my brain sends signals to the body to cut off blood to that arm. Over time, reduction of blood causes the muscles, nerves, tendons, skin and bones to change and if it goes far enough to atrophy and even die. Because the sympathetic nervous system is largely peripheral the response is completely involuntary. It is not a matter of "positive-thinking" or hypochondria as some misinformed doctors (or even family members) may think. A patient has no control over the sympathetic nervous system or its ability to reduce limbs to nothing. Doesn't mean you can't think positively (I know I do) it just means you have to respect the body for what it can do, will do, what you cannot control, and just concentrate on what you can control...like your emotional response to it. :)
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:iconmaraudermaniac:
MarauderManiac Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2008
Thank you for the answer! I think I understand your disease better now, but it doesn't sound less painful. :hug: i hope you're making your life work though.

My ';pain' is consisting of two things.
The physical pain is something I've been having for a little year now. In November of 2007 I fell off a horse during a gallop and landed on my back and banged the head into the ground. I got a concussion and after som days I realised my neck was really sore and hurting and I couldn't sleep because I didn't find a good position for my neck. The doctors said that I my neck muscles had become so tight (I can't find another good English word for it) that it was causing pain. I started treatment, but the muscle-tighting-thing spread down the back, to the shoulders and the jaw. i had a back injury a couple of years ago and that one started erupting more often than before becaus I ha almost got rid of it. I also fell off the same horse in March of 2008 and got the same result (concussions, more sore neck). That was the reason I got all those injuries.
The doctors also diagnosed me with chronical headache after the concussions, so I got some pills which works a little. So I do very easily get headache and I'm sensitive to sound and light and also getting very warm.

The oher thing is that I've got OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). That's a mental illness you can find out more about if you search for OCD here at deviantArt. There obviously are many artists out there with OCD. :D

Feel free to ask questions if you want, I don't get offended. :)
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2008  Professional Photographer
Sorry it took me two months to get back to you, I'm sorry for that! I'm sorry to hear about the falling-off-the-horse incident. I fell off once when I first started riding as a kid, and I remember the wind getting knocked out of me then. But I've had a concussion before (surfing accident) and that was awful too. Chronic pain, in whatever form it takes, it unpleasant in so many ways. I mean, not only does it hurt, but when it's not a visible disease or injury it's hard for other people to take your pain seriously and that can be very discouraging.

I know all about OCD. I don't have it, but one of my family members is autistic and she can demonstrate some very OCD-like behaviour. That's a very difficult condition and I'm sure it feels like a prison sometimes, I know it does for her. :hug:

I don't know if I asked this already, but have you ever thought about joining the :iconitdoesnothaveme: club here on deviantART?
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:iconmaraudermaniac:
MarauderManiac Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2008
Thank you very much for answering.:love:
Yes, it is very discouraging when there is a non-visible injury to my head and neck because few people can see what it's like. And OCD is like a prison. I've finally started to open up and have tried cognitive therapy, which didn't work, and now I try Exposure therapy with response prevention. Fancy, huh? :)

No, you haven't asked, but I've thought about joining. How do you do that? I didn't find out.
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:iconazibel:
Azibel Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2008
I don't know if I'm a cold-hearted person or what, but the dragon just *fwomp*'ed out on the couch kinda made me laugh.

It's a lovely piece of art however, and after reading the comments I hope you're feeling better now...
:hug:

Also: How did you come by this condition? Were you born with it or did something else happen?
I'm sorry if my questions offend you, but I'm just a bit curious ^^"
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2008  Professional Photographer
Whoops, I meant uninformed people in that other comment. hahaha. har d to type with one hand, ya know. ;)
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:iconazibel:
Azibel Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2008
Actually I think you said uninformed people... Eh, whatever :P
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2008  Professional Photographer
Hey it's not insensitive or cold-hearted at all to say tha, I was actually trying to make light of an otherwise rotten day. :D

CRPS or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is not genetic/not something you're born with. It's a chronic condition brought on by an injury (type 1, without nerve damage, type 2 with nerve damage) that for reasons still unknown brings down the sympathetic nervous system network in the affected region.

Humans have three primary nervous systems: the central, peripheral/sympathetic. The central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal chord and controls mostly voluntary acts, your conscious acts. It also has control over muscle nerve fibers and various organs. The peripheral involves sensory feedback. The sympathetic nervous system sort of combines the two to do its job(the one that is destroyed by this syndrome) it is the system responsible for mobilizing the body when under stress. It is the system famously responsible for your "flight or fight response." When my left arm was injured (in a hospital mistake, no less, I was the wrong person for a procedure) it triggered an reaction by my sympathetic nervous system which instructed my brain that the arm had been catastrophically injured and had to be shut down. It began a process of natural amputation. My body began to "shut down" that region by cutting off blood flow to it. Over time, anywhere from a month to twenty plus years I will lose function to that arm and possibly most of the function to my upper body. Doctors try to intervene to stop that arm from communicating with the brain, but it is difficult to prevent that. Even when the link is severed, the body rebuilds it or finds a way around it. Despite what uniformed people may believe this syndrome is not "all in your head"... because the sympathetic nervous system controls all of the involuntary reactions in your body. You cannot consciously control it.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask, I'm not offended at all. :)
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:iconazibel:
Azibel Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2008
It's a little depressing, but thank you for the info. It sucks that the hospital is the root cause of the problem in addition to your having the problem!

And, well, light has been made, move along now :P
Nothing interesting to see here except maybe a sleeping dragon. Just don't tickle it ;)
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2008  Professional Photographer
Nah. It used to be, but the human body and spirit are real marvels. We can adapt. And we do. And that's what I'm doing. :D And yeah, it does suck that the hospital screwed up...but that happens, quite frequently.
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:iconazibel:
Azibel Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2008
Unfortunately...

But at least you have the ability to laugh about your situation! Not many people do.

*sings* Always look on the bri-ight side of life!
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2008  Professional Photographer
Do do..do do do do do do! :sing:
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:iconazibel:
Azibel Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2008
Ahh, you probably sing better than me :P

I can hit a pitch, I can carry a tune....
only problem I've got is doing them at the same time ^^"
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2008  Professional Photographer
Oh I'm a horrible singer, way too shy to get my voice out. :giggle:
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:iconfiredrak14:
FireDrak14 Featured By Owner May 23, 2008
Holy Sh*t. I never knew what you had was so bad... but I guess you've adjusted to it pretty well. It's a sad thing, and I hope those nerve blocks keep you going. :hug:
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 23, 2008  Professional Photographer
Getting one today. (shudder). The thing itself is very fast, but very unpleasant...but the reward is great. I just dread the actual needles in the neck thing. Really really uncomfortable let me tell you. But last time I did it I got there at 1:15 and we discharged at 1:57,...so yeah, fastest procedure ever! Just...trying not to think about it. I just want it over already!

Yeah, it's bad, but I'm lucky, I'm a type 1 (we ruled out type 2 on wednesday, which would have been much worse) and these nerve blocks and all the physical therapy that goes with it are really promising. Thanks for the :hug:
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:iconfiredrak14:
FireDrak14 Featured By Owner May 24, 2008
Welcome. :) The least I can do when I hear how much you're suffering. Hopefully the docs can manage it enough to keep the pain down for more than 48 hours, because I'm sure it's annoying to go to the hospital and then to pay for the procedure. =/
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 24, 2008  Professional Photographer
Well, the hospital is paying for the procedures. It was unpleasant and recovery is not fun, but all is well. Thanks for your concern. :)
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:iconfiredrak14:
FireDrak14 Featured By Owner May 25, 2008
Whoo. That makes me feel better. ^^;
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:iconthebigbadfish:
TheBigBadFish Featured By Owner May 11, 2008
Is it like carpal tunnel?

(REALLY good drawing btw)
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 11, 2008  Professional Photographer
Nope. Imagine sticking your arm in a bucket of boiling water and never bringing it back out again. CRPS is a condition where, following an injury (type 1, no nerve damage, type 2 following nerve injury), the sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. This means you have more pain than you should for an injury or the nerves never recover after the injury or a combination of both. The condition results in chronic pain (like boiling water) that affects much of a limb, a constant INTENSE burning sensation and hypersensitivity to touch and temperature changes. With the nerves haywire, much of the musculature, soft tissue, and skin are altered or lost because the pain prevents the individual from being able to use the limb. Sometimes, the affected nerves can "leap" the condition to other nerves (in my case, it crossed over to the ulnar nerve) or "mirror" on the other side of the body on the other limb. Over time the affected limb can change color (mine has turned a reddish brown), atrophy (the muscles waste away), the skin changes, or simply is lost. Without treatment the condition becomes progressively worse, in the worst scenarios just a few years ago the limb may have been removed to prevent spreading or to give the patient relief. But now we also have nerve blocks, which is what I did last week. They inject a fluid into the nerve hub that controls that region of the body, blocking the pain signals from the affected region from reaching the brain. It only lasts a few days, but during that time aggressive physical therapy ensues to keep the patient from losing use of the limb. Repeated nerve blocks have the potential to provide long term even permanent relief. They can't cure it, but the nerve blocks can bring the pain down to a tolerable level so a person can function as normally as possible and return to using the limb. It's important to be as quick as possible in acting on the injury once it occurs if the condition presents. It is a "point of no return" condition, once you've passed a certain stage there is no going back, no undoing of the damage, so prevention of progression of the condition is directus imperitus.

Nope, not like carpal tunnel. ;)
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:iconrainyskyz:
RainySkyz Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2010   Writer
I'm so sorry for you. I thought I had it bad from car crash and other injuries which slowly has been catching up to me over the decades, and now the left arm goes completely out on me, like it died, heavy, limp, as if stuck away in the freezer, cold pain, pins and needles that wake me up at night or when awake during day... but when I can locate which vertebra has moved and move it back, it goes away. Until then, nothing seems to stop the pain. Ibuprofin helps with other spine pain, and antihistamines with other. But not this. A pinched nerve. Different than nerve damage. But I can empathize, except mine is icy cold whereas yours is boiling hot. Yours definitely sounds so much worse.

I hope there will be improvement somehow, or something can be done to help. Yours sounds like a nightmare. Truly sorry!
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:iconskritchmeee:
skritchmeee Featured By Owner May 17, 2008
Jesus H. Christ stuck with thorns to a honey-covered hot dog, that sounds painful. :( I can tell you're strong, though, and you seem to be dealing with it well. Keep mastering it, and don't let it master you! :heart:
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 17, 2008  Professional Photographer
Thank you. I intend to master it, some days are better than others, and I've got great docs behind me. I'm pretty confident even though the pain can turn a good day into a hellish one.
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:iconskritchmeee:
skritchmeee Featured By Owner May 17, 2008
Well, just stick with it. I know it can be tough. And keep turning it into art; when the pain overwhelms you, always turn it into art. :) Even if you can't use your drawing hand, you can still do something else - singing, splatter paint, *something*. I find reading really creative and unconventional comics helps, too. :3
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 17, 2008  Professional Photographer
Thanks. Have you seen my unconventional stuff? I'd say about the last four or five deviations (minus the one for Aida) have all been about the therapy I get from art. :)
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:iconskritchmeee:
skritchmeee Featured By Owner May 18, 2008
You have conventional stuff? :giggle:

Yeah... I find that there's always a subconscious element of that, even if I don't really see it until I've finished the piece. Art started as therapy for me, when I was a little kid, and I suppose it has continued to a certain extent in that vein. :)
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 20, 2008  Professional Photographer
I think a lot of my stuff is pretty conventional, but I'm always trying to get beyond it. I actually keep a lot of my art by making little letter-sized scans, putting them in plastic protectors and then into a binder...it's a visual journal, so to speak. I can look at those drawings in chronological order and remember what I was enduring, enjoying, etc. at that time in my life.
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:iconcolourize:
Colourize Featured By Owner May 16, 2008
... O_O ... Damn.
Didn't know it was that bad! I sure hope it'll work out for you, and that they'll be able to fix it somehow!



Nonetheless, your drawing skills are still awesome, if that might be to any comfort!^^
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 17, 2008  Professional Photographer
Thanks for your kind support. I'm actually quite lucky. It's early, I've got great docs. Gotta make the best of something pretty crappy.
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:iconcolourize:
Colourize Featured By Owner May 21, 2008
Glad to hear that!:D Would be trrible for an artist to lose the use of a hand completly...
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 21, 2008  Professional Photographer
:nod:
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:iconthebigbadfish:
TheBigBadFish Featured By Owner May 11, 2008
Oh

Well.. that sounds really really really really really painful :(

I hope someone finds a longer-lasting solution

Oh btw you could enter that deviation in Cathartsis :iconitdoesnothaveme: is running, then you can get prizes for your frustration
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner May 11, 2008  Professional Photographer
It does, all the time (my nerve block started wearing off today, but from wed-sat it was amazing) but you have to move on and live and keep using the hand and eventually it's just always there, but you go about your day anyway as best you can.

I think I entered it in "Express IT!" which ended yesterday and I don't know if I can put it in both, or how to put it in both. I did note *ItDoesNotHaveMe with the thumbnail. I've been in the club since day one, but haven't been good about keeping up with it or knowing what to do. ^^;
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