Former College Athlete to CDC: Chronic Pain Is So Misunderstood

Former College Athlete to CDC: Chronic Pain Is So Misunderstood

Katelyn OLeary dress

Katelyn O’Leary

National Pain Report readers are continuing to submit comments to the CDC regarding the Draft Guidelines for Prescribing Opioid for Chronic Pain they are considering. Katelyn O’Leary is a South Bend, Indiana native now working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. A sports injury she suffered playing rugby in college changed her life. Here’s what she told the CDC.

My name is Katelyn O’Leary. At 27 years old I developed CRPS or RSD in my right leg following hip surgery to repair the labrum. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome has no cure, except for aggressive ketamine and opioids to make physical therapy possible. My quality of life has suffered severely due to this neurological disorder - and the pain is similar to holding a lit Roman candle against my leg and pressing it down the entire length to my foot.

If you suggest limiting opioids, people who actually need them will suffer even more than they already do. Of course you want to limit access to drug addicts and people who abuse them. But keep in mind the people who really need these medications to enable some kind of life - even one that is limited. Without medications I would be crippled and unable to walk. As a former College athlete, this would be devastating.

Please keep in mind the outliers and the people who suffer from ailments they cannot control or cure. They need help so badly - and usually aren’t diagnosed properly. It took almost a year of seeing multiple doctors for my condition to be properly treated, and I know I still have a long battle ahead of me if I ever hope to regain the use of my leg fully. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is considered the most painful condition in the world. We may be few, but to quench the burning fire of nerve pain in our extremities - we need access to medications and doctors who are willing to help. Please keep that in mind.

Editor’s Note: Katelyn earned her M.A. from Carnegie Mellon and has the aspirations to be a writer and producer in the entertainment industry. Another aspiration she has is to recapture the physical lifestyle that she loves. We’ll be hearing more from her about her story, her aspirations and her battle with CRPS and chronic pain in 2016.

If you wish to comment by the January 13, 2016 deadline, you can do so here.

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@DeeLiteFool (Katelyn O’Leary)

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Joe Courtois

I don’t think it’s right for those of us that NEED these medications and have proof we need them have to jump thru hoops to get. We were not the ones over prescribing these meds but are the ones to suffer. I blame the doctors that over prescribed to ppl that lied to get them. The math in this equation is not hard to figure out, I to of those ppl that need these meds just to have any kind of normalcy in my life but can not get them. Thank You

Katelyn, thank you for sharing your story and for advocating for proper access to opioid treatment for people suffering with chronic pain. Two things, one we are having a conference on Living Well with Chronic Pain in Long Beach this Feb. Please consider coming. More details are on our website,
Second, RSDSA is looking for a celebrity to record a PSA to promote earlier & greater awareness of CRPS. Do you have any connections who might be interested? If yes, please email me at Thanks again Best of health, Jim Broatch