I am a 17-year-old girl living in Georgia. The best word to describe me is redeemed because I’m a born again Christian. Like most teenagers, I couldn’t wait to start high school and the freedom that came with it. But God had a different plan.
At the beginning of my freshman year on September 4, 2010, I woke up with pain in my right foot and ankle. By the next week, I could barely walk. I had no idea what happened, but I had pain I never imagined possible. My foot swelled, turned black, hurt to touch and was freezing cold. After seeing several doctors, I was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). I had a nerve block a week and physical therapy for four weeks and then entered into remission at the end of 2010.
At the beginning of 2012 I came out of remission. After trying another nerve block which failed, I decided to have a spinal cord stimulator implanted. Before I could have the trial surgery to see if the stimulator was going to work for me, I had to go through a 6-8 week process with the insurance company to see if they’d pay. About halfway through the process the lady in charge of insurance approval calls to prepare me — because she didn’t think I’d be approved. They just don’t approve people so young, and she assumed I’d at least have to get a second opinion.
Instead of falling apart like I would’ve imagined myself doing, I fell to my knees and called on God. The next day she called to tell me my case was in review. She stayed at work longer than her normal work hours because she thought we’d know that day. That evening we got the call that without having to take any further action, I was approved for surgery!
Though I was supposed to be awake for surgery, my doctor put me to sleep and only woke me up when needed. I’ll never forget waking up and hearing the remote beep as the stimulator was turned on. I had no idea what it would feel like or if it would even work. To God be all the glory, I had about 70% pain reduction! I had the final surgery on May 16, 2012.
I wish I could say that once recovery was over my life went back to normal, but it didn’t. Accepting that I have RSDS, has been the hardest thing I’ve done. Until the beginning of 2013, I was not happy with my new life. How does one adapt to such an awful disease and spend every waking hour in pain?
I can never properly describe what happened one night in January, but it was then that I realized that it is possible to have joy when life is not joyful because joy should come from something that is never changing. That something is God. If 100% of our joy lies within Him, then we never have to be depressed when life changes.
This isn’t something that comes naturally, but it’s a choice you make every day. It requires believing that He really does “work all things for the good to them that love Him.” It requires complete and 100% faith that this is where He wants you.
I cannot describe what it’s like to wake up every day with my leg on fire, yet still have joy in my heart. I went from asking, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?” to “I’m so unworthy to be trusted by God to live this life.”
If He let me live what society calls a normal life, then I would never get to experience Him the way I have. God has already promised me an eternity of no pain, so how could I complain about a few years down here living in pain?
Though bad days still come and I still have weak moments, I can honestly say that I am thankful that God shook up my life by giving me RSDS to allow me to experience a life that I never thought possible.
With everything I am I can truly say that it is SO sweet to trust in Jesus!
Katherine Gibson lives in Georgia with her family and will be graduating from high school in 2014.
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The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.