If you missed the first part to the story, you can catch up here.
I followed doctor’s orders and took a few days off to rest. Since I couldn’t exactly return to Barn Duty on crutches, I was given a desk job at the front office of the park until my ankle healed enough that I could go back with the horses.
Everything was as it is expected to be with a severe sprain. Bruising, swelling, pain, tenderness, weakness. Except… it wasn’t. Something wasn’t right. I did exactly what I was instructed to do- ice, wrap, elevate, take Advil, don’t use it, on and on. And yet it didn’t get better. In fact, it got worse. Much worse. The bruising developed into deep purple mottling that covered my entire ankle. The swelling didn’t go down no matter how much I elevated. And the pain.
There are no words to describe the type of pain that comes with this disease. The best way I can describe it is imagine that someone has cut you open and drained your blood, replacing it with lighter fluid. They light it on fire then sew you back up. They then pour said lighter fluid all over the outside and light that on fire. Finally, they take a red hot dagger from the fire and stab you repeatedly, over and over, relentless and never stopping. That’s the type of pain that developed. I still now can barely pull my socks on- and that was with many, many years while attempting to do so.
All this while, I’m seeing Occupational Health. They send me to PT; I complete it, barely, and only with the help of my old swim coach who is a PT. We are several months out from the injury- why isn’t it healing? Scratching their heads, they refer me to a foot & ankle specialist. Which Worker’s Compensation (WC) promptly denies. Multiple times.
Finally, 5 months out from the injury, the county WC approves a visit with the foot & ankle specialist. By this point, I’m not working because they couldn’t keep me on as a desk worker since I was hired as a barn worker, so they let me go. School is burdensome as I’m still on crutches. I just wanted it to be over.
That day I saw the foot & ankle specialist changed my life with one sentence. “There’s nothing I can do for you; you have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy”. I have what? My parents are nurses; they had never heard of it. And as the doctor sat there explaining what RSD was, I broke inside.
This would affect me for the rest of my days, and I’d be disabled for life.
I was only 20 years old.