Have No Fear – My New Year’s Resolution as a CRPS Patient

Have No Fear - My New Year’s Resolution as a CRPS Patient

By Melissa Wardlaw.

Not long ago, I went on a short trip to visit a dear friend in the D.C. area, and this was part of a pact to myself which I am planning on continuing into the new year. This resolution is to take more risks, and to have no fear! You see, traveling, like many other activities I used to do before a spinal cord injury and subsequent diagnosis of CRPS/RSD (among other chronic illnesses) changed my life forever, is very difficult and exacerbating for my medical situation. These extra “flare-inducing” activities I rarely do or simply don’t do them at all.

When it comes right down to it, those of us who live with chronic illnesses and pain have to plan our lives around our medical situations. In fact, every decision must be made with our medical situations in mind - considerations such as:

What is the weather going to be? What do I need to bring? How long will I be away from home, including travel time? Who is driving? How far is it? Where is the nearest exit when I’m there? Who will I have to burden if I need to leave early or lie down? What is the distance I will have to walk? Honestly it never ends.

When I do any activity, large or small, it requires preparation beforehand and rest/recuperation afterwards. Just a simple trip to the grocery store or putting on makeup can send my pain and symptoms into a tailspin! Since everywhere I go and everything I do has a physical cost, why am I holding myself back from doing things I enjoy, just because of the fear of them causing me extra difficulty, flares or exacerbation?

So, there it is - my New Year’s Resolution is to take more risks - to have no fear! No, I’m not talking about climbing Mt. Everest or jumping out of an airplane (although the latter sounds quite fun)! I’m just simply talking about having more fun - saying yes more than no and not worrying so much about the repercussions of my actions. If I incur more pain or exacerbation of symptoms, which I’m sure I sometimes will, at least I had fun while doing it! My medical situation has stolen enough from me, and I’m tired of letting it steal my fun too! Happy New Year!

NOTE: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not represent the views or opinions of other CRPS/RSD patients or practitioners.

Melissa Wardlaw was diagnosed with CRPS/RSD (now full-body involvement) as a result of a spinal cord injury suffered in 2002 during routine epidural steroid injections. She also has fibromyalgia, lumbar/cervical degenerative disk disease, migraines and additional chronic medical issues. Formerly a high-powered Business Executive & Consultant in start-up operations and HR, Melissa has an MBA in entrepreneurship, is a Certified Career Coach and Certified Professional Resume Writer, and now spends her time career coaching and offering peer support/counseling & advocacy (pro bono) as her health will allow. She also runs both in-person and online support/empowerment groups for CRPS/RSD, chronic illnesses & pain in Metro Atlanta. Melissa is also an avid volunteer and supports multiple organizations committed to rescuing animals and helping others with chronic illnesses & pain. She has two Ragdoll cats, who graciously “allow” her to live in their brand-new home in Atlanta, GA.


Authored by: Melissa Wardlaw

Melissa Wardlaw was diagnosed with CRPS/RSD as a result of a spinal cord injury (non-paralyzing) suffered during a routine medical procedure. She also suffers from fibromyalgia, lumbar and cervical degenerative disc disease, migraines and additional chronic medical issues. Formerly a Business Executive/Consultant with an MBA in Entrepreneurship, she is also a Certified Career Coach and Certified Professional Resume Writer, and now spends her time career coaching and offering peer counseling/advocacy (pro bono) to those dealing with similar medical struggles. As a fierce advocate, she also runs both in-person and online support/empowerment groups for CRPS/RSD and chronic illnesses/pain in the Metro Atlanta area. A “fur mom” to two cats, Melissa is an avid volunteer and supports multiple organizations committed to rescuing animals and helping those with chronic illnesses/pain. She can be reached at crpsatl@gmail.com.

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Melissa Wardlaw

Hi Sandra. Thanks for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your medical situation. I’m also in Georgia, and run a support/empowerment group in Metro Atlanta. We would love to have you join us! Pls feel free to contact me at crpsatl@gmail.com - I would be happy to speak to you! Hang in there - you’re not alone.

Tim Mason

Check these folks out. They can point you in the right direction. They are located in Chattanooga Tennessee. I believe that is the nearest Neurosurgical group to you. From there you can get a referral to a pain management practice.


Sandra Sears

I am new to northeast Georgia. I fell down stairs living in California on June 18, 2017, then again in Water August 2017, I have excruciating, pain in ankles, sciatica nerve, that affects down left leg to ankle damaged in the stair fall, plus before the fall I was having severe pain with right ankle where 3 bones of arthritis was discovered, I began walking sideways on my foot. Since the water fall in the kitchen, my sciatica became involved, shooting pain down to ankle and up left side of back. I also have complete degenerative cervical disc, C7 complete rupture is fused with my hip bone.my primary in California on our last appt diagnosis for me is reflex sympathetic dystrophy. I am in severe pain 24 hours a day. Have tried neuro and orthopedic who are not familiar with this. Please someone point me to a doctor who can help me. I have the sweating, burning, barely able to sleep. Sandra 2078072965 alli do is manage pain, very tired. Melissa I would so much appreciate talking with you.
Sincerely, Sandra Sears

Very encouraging Thank you

Tim Mason

I have set boundaries for myself. I have learned to say NO and mean it. I don’t have CRPS but do have disabling arthritis condition that involves scar tissue on nerves.
I took my ability to walk for granted. Any flare up can cost me three or four days of bed rest.
I simply cannot risk it at my age.
I have had many pivotal moments in my life that can never be repeated if I were fully healthy.
I have owned and ridden horses, rafted the Colorado River (7 day trip), rock climbed, was an avid whitewater canoe expert.
Looking back, I think I over did it with my back. They say “Genetics loads the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger”
Do what you can while you are young. There will no regrets when you get old and you won’t be setting in your rocking chair thinking “I wish I had done that when I had to opportunity”
One problem I see with this generation is that they are few risk takers. Even in industry.
We went to the moon and back on a sliderule. Being phobic is actually taught in many schools.
Take the risk, earn the reward. Follow your gut instinct and you will do fine.
I wish you much luck and fun in all you pursue!


Kim cady. I suffer chronic pain fibromyalgia m.e and severe spine arthritis . I try to focus on what I can do and not what I can’t . Focus on what your good at and enjoy . I’m limited in walking , which I used to love . So I paint . I can’t sit in one position for long , but do find when I’m engrossed I forget the pain.

Melissa, thank you so much for ur message. I too suffer from chronic pain and numerous other issues with Ms Systemic Sclerosis/Scleroderma. Fear is my biggest enemy. In giving in to my fear of going or doing, I end up isolated and go further down hill. I have been working on my fear, I appreciate your comments. I suffer staying home as much as doing. Hopefully I can just do.

Penny R. Rosen, M.A., MLS

Thank you for your words I suffer from the same “ailments” as you, but no migraines, since
Jan.1994, caused by a fall on ice. Back then RSD/CRPS was a basically unknown entity.
I was treated as an experiment from New York pain docs to a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins
who had an amazing “G-d” complex during the first 18 yrs. Now, after leaving my pain docs after 24 yrs. and no more opiods (I live in NJ), I ‘m considering getting my law degree on line.
You are so right re planning to do activities outside the home, especially in the winter.
I’m looking forward to going to D.C. on Jan.18, 2018 to join the Women’s March and hoping
that it doesn’t snow! Have a Happier New Year. Thanks agaain.

Doug Hilgers

What !?!? Editorial Team is composed of how many Autocrats ??
Because a commentmerely repeats the medication ketamine it is dusallowed for refundancy!?!?!?
I was under the impression that this site was somehow a function of those with CP to be heard ??????
It appears that My perceptions were in error ?
Seems like yhat just another ploy to use and abuse People with little initiative, power of voice: What a sham!-goodbye

I’m with you, Melissa. CRPS has stolen so much from me. The thinking through every moment of every day is exhausting. I have only so many spoons. But if I’ve got the choice of sitting in pain in my house or being in pain and experiencing something fun, I’ll choose the fun…at least some of the time. 🙂

Judie Plumley

Good for you! I find myself thinking I can’t do stuff anymore when it’s really that it’s too much trouble or I am afraid. Nothing makes you feel more like a loser than fear. Let’s all do something out of the ordinary! It may be worth it.

Marea Campagna

I think this is a darn good position to take and I think I’ll be right along side you on ths one! Too many stolen opportunities knowing the added pain I will feel after I do even a normal activity someone else would do.

Doug Hilgers

Melissa -Thank You for sharing ( and caring)!
No problem relating to Your fears ( or past fears )-Whi was it that said ( Mel Gibson?) “ Never bring Your fear home with You “?
Now : A Question : Am I the only one in this blog who has heard of or has hope in the potential benefit of Ketamine induction?-Doug