Healing is the Cure for Better Wellness

Healing is the Cure for Better Wellness

By Cynthia Toussaint.

The day I accepted the reality that there was no cure for my CRPS, the natural healing powers in my body had space to take hold – and bring me to better wellness.

When I tore my hamstring at the ballet barre 35 years ago, my trainer told me I might not dance for up to eight weeks. I was angry and determined to prove him wrong. Come on, I was always a strong, healthy dancer – and I was going to lick this setback lickety-split!

Cynthia Toussaint

I had a full expectation of a speedy cure because my life experiences had taught me that unless an injury or illness killed someone, the person got fixed. Back then, I believed that once a doctor laid his magic hands on you, you’d be whole again.

A year and half later, the burning pain mysteriously spread into my “healthy” leg and I had to leave my dancing gig in Las Vegas. The good news was that I could finally rest and seek out my cure once and for all. By then the pain told me that I would no longer have a career as a dancer – but I was certain the doctors would make me well enough to move on to the acting career I’d planned my whole life.

That’s when the doctor abuse started and phrases like “it’s all in your head”, “conversion disorder” and “hysterical female” put a halt to my entitled cure. As the years ticked off and the CRPS spread while people ran for the hills, my fate hit me like a cold slap in the face. No doctor was going to pull a cure out of his hat for me. I was never going to get well.

After I’d been sick for a decade, I moved to Los Angeles to re-ignite my show business career with what I had left. They couldn’t fix my body, but I was going to damn well fix my life. Of course, I hadn’t yet gotten the memo that Hollywood doesn’t hire the disabled, especially a woman in a wheelchair who’s pain makes her “unreliable.”

With dreams gone and hopes dashed (not to mention the 24/7 level 10 pain, fatigue and near total isolation!), I decided that suicide was my only option. I remember looking at the bottle of pills, that I was always going to take tomorrow, and laughing at the foolishness of that elusive cure. But that extra day bought me the time to see that, even without a cure, even without reclaiming what I once was, there were things in this world worth living for.

With time, a lot of time, I inched toward acceptance and finally, and most importantly, I embraced suffering as an intimate part of me and, indeed, my new normal.

Being okay with “what is” allowed me to let go of my dreams lost and exorbitant expectations. Once I honestly looked at the new me, it opened the door to fresh possibilities. And eventually, to my great surprise, healing.

Eight years later, I left the abusive Western medicine model, a humonguously positive step for me. Though I was collecting auto-immune diseases like trading cards, I was feeling better and able to do more. Then after an intense period of writing my life experience as a book with John, my 38-year partner and caregiver, my pain relief was too much to deny.

Always a water-lover, I got into a pool first and quickly became a swimmer again. In no time I was doing a floor ballet barre and practicing a movement therapy called feldenkrais. Miraculously my singing voice returned after fifteen years of pain-induced hibernation. And I was playing my beloved piano again. Then I started traveling… and never quit.

Looking back with a big dose of understanding the virtues of self-care, I see that the positive shifts I made in my life, along with accepting the new me, allowed my brain to release feel-good chemicals to bring better wellness. The anxiety-inducing, disappointment-mounting pursuit of a cure produced the opposite.

Perhaps what I love most about integrative care is that it focuses, not on a cure, but on healing.

To this day, well-intentioned friends and acquaintances, forever bring me the cutting-edge cure for all that ails me. If I bought and used these countless machines, potions and belief systems, I would be out of money, time and healing.

We women in pain need to avoid the culture of cure as the end all – and embrace acceptance as the off-ramp to well-being.

As my surrogate father once said, “you’ve finally befriended your pain, Cynthia, which is bringing you some freedom. That being said, if tomorrow your pain decides to pack its bags and go, that would be just dandy.” Of course, I want to be cured, I want the pain and fatigue to be gone at long last. But the smart money is on that ain’t gonna happen.

In the meantime, healing is where it’s happening. The obsessive, false hope for a cure almost ended me. Acceptance is bringing me wellness, new horizons and all that jazz…

Cynthia Toussaint founded For Grace in 2002. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to gender disparity in the treatment of pain. She is also a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Cynthia Toussaint founded For Grace in 2002. It is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to gender disparity in the treatment of pain. She is also a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report.

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There was some comfort in your words about accepting the pain. This is a great way to make sure that you are getting the best for your medical issues. A cousin of mine would love this article as she looks into reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Maureen M.

@Sandy CRPS is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
RSD is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy which is the ‘old term’ for CRPS.
If you google CRPS or RSD who will find the condition description.
@Steven…. I’m praying for you. Please keep strong warrior. Scream on a
mountain top!
We are all in this rocky boat together. You are loved and cared for by us all.

@Cynthia, I have followed you and your many years of great struggles for a long time now. You have been so blessed to have John (38yrs?!) to support and assist you.
As others have posted…many if not most of us have no one.
I have prayed for you several times in the past.
I find this writing of yours a more positive change of direction for you.
You sound much happier and on a new and better path. So, I am thrilled for you.
Our pain journeys can fluctuate from very tough to smoother sailing as we strive to discover new treatments and increased acceptance of our conditions.
I’m in a low lately, even though the newer things I’ve been doing were helping me tolerate pain better, for awhile. It all changed quickly for no apparent reason.
Yet, I have learned to always remain hopeful for a better day. Attitude is everything! Yet, it’s hard to keep a good one when the pain is winning. 🙁
I hope that your better days remain forever! 🙂
Warm Hugs to you, Maureen


I am happy for you have found a way to move on pass your pain. I too have no pain from RSD.CRPS. Although I suffered horribly and thought my life was over. Jesus healed me. It never spreaded anyway just in my right foot. But since I have received this miracle from Jesus (I mediated daily :”by His stripes, I am healed” November 7, 2016 3 years and 3 months later I have the nasty 6.25 inch scar from the podiatrist that screwed up my bunionectomy tattooed with a purple cross and Jesus’s wrap falling from it. Now I can look down and see how Amazing Jesus is and how He continues to work in my life. I am not working again full time and loving it!! I thought my career was over, but Jesus had a perfect plan for me. I spend every morning in His word to start my day. I pray constantly for many and follow His guidance in everyday. I am not saying this will or would happen for anyone but just sharing what has happened to me! Praising Jesus constantly. Although when it was first dx all my so called friends and family deserted me. Then I found so called friends in a RSD group. But since this miracle has occurred they have deserted me. But Jesus has lead me to an incredible church family that our my true family. Jesus even repaired my relationship with my daughter and we are closer than ever before. Praise goes to Jesus as I can do nothing by myself but by His strength I can do the impossible as He dwells in me. God Bless All.

R. Reaves

Reply to Steven: Thank you for sharing the reality of your life. My spouse also “kicked me to the curb” after my diagnosis. He was way too busy drowning his life in a bottle of vodka. I have an appointment next month, when my doctor will tell me how he intends to comply with the CDC. So yeah, they’re reducing and reducing the amount of the dreaded “O” medication that has made the past decade less painful. I too am grateful that I know Jesus, and through Him, I am able to have peace in my heart. I loved your closing, “I feel safe that I will be feeling the arms of Jesus. Please make sure that you are too!” AMEN!


To Steve and Angel, I am just checking on you two, I’m hoping u have managed to survive this torture 1 more day. I’m so sorry, I know how u feel, I’ve had 2 suicide attempts from the pain, they put me a ward for 7 days, still didn’t bother to help my pain, the kicker was, they had drug addicts in their, and THEY WERE GIVEN hydrocodone, so they wouldn’t suffer withdrawals, and make it worse,? They would try to sell me their pain medication in the bathrooms, it’s just a disgusting backwards system.

Angel doll

I finally married at 49, and 2 most after I said I do,I couldn’t move I was n excruciating pain! All I wanted to do was sleep. 16-18 hrs and then back to bed. Amphetamine to help me stay awake as I started dropping weight. 40 lbs in a month. My new husband was a blessing. He was so emathic,he hurt as I did because he felt like he couldn’t help me as much as he tried. I just woke up today and realized again that my doctor forgot to call in my amphetamine and while tapering off methadone for pain,I’m going through withdrawal of amphetamines. What is the problem? Why? Why each month is my body being racked by medication not called in correct by the”. NURSES” who insist that they have faxed my sky high blood test to the ER 3 times, but the ER can’t find it anywhere. It was never sent. How did I have 2 silent heart attacks at 48? How did I suddenly get so racked with pain, that my body feels like it’s being dragged over glass? I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this. Not being able to do anything but watch everyone else. I just want to end it. No more doctors, autoimmune diseases, pain, fighting for pain meds. It’s ruined my life, marriage and I know I will end my life one of these days I have all my medication filled. I can’t do it anymore… I just can’t


Good for YOU! There are MANY diseases, injuries, and failed surgeries that are NOT overcomed “by will power”. I am happy for you but…..what about those of that STILL suffer and dot/gov gives not a damn. Sorry, I have MET sooooo many different patients in over 2 decades that have NO way to cope with pain any longer. No miracle “cures”. My opinion…..only!

Sharon C.

This is such a lovely, uplifting piece of writing, but I’m not sure it speaks to those with intractable pain. Recently, my CRPS pain has migrated from my right hand and arm to include my left hand. Unlike Cynthia, I have no time to consider a cure, all I do is try to make it through the day. Want to know what I think about? When will they take away my opiates, the only things that dull the burning, throbbing, zapping, electrifying, pain that plagues my days and nights.


I enjoyed your article. Defining CRPS at the beginning would have helped a lot. I am a retired physician and I don’t know what it means. Everybody should define their abbreviations. Thanks.

Neldine Ludwigson

Amen Ave, every time I read one of these super perky get well miraculously fairy tales I want to scream. Even if I wasn’t struggling through my own agony to care for my husband (amputation of lower right leg from a traumatic degloving accident at work) and my Mother when necessary (diverticulitis which lead to needing a colostomy, 4 major heart attacks with two bypass surgeries and get own spine and joint pain), I wouldn’t have a support system. After nearly two decades of going downhill faster and faster, nobody really cares. Even my doctor said “I get backaches too”, then went jogging by as i was loading our walkers into the car. I wish I had the luxury of a bottle of pills to end it all, ha! Used to be a gymnast, was on the base’s swim team, chopped wood, maid and waitress work, was tough as hell. Now can hardly stand long enough to cook an easy meal. I don’t believe in miracles. Oh well, bully for the lucky ones. Whatever.


Thank you Terry for sharing, now that the doctors have made it clear that they’re at the DEA insistence will be taking away all but a smidgen of our previous life-saving pain medication. I wonder how everyone is dealing with it. Unfortunately, my pain is so severe and getting worse that the next pill they remove May will be it for me besides self-help of marijuana and any thing else that we can think of that isn’t linked to killing someone. Does anyone have any other ideas along those lines? I understand the Isolation part Terry. That’s because not even family wants to talk to you because you remind them that you’re a short-timer just by being you. I thank God you’ve been blessed with a caregiver and partner. Mine divorced me leaving me alone. The obvious conclusion is so scary and you have no one to talk to about it. Either they’ll run the other way or want to lock you up or both. It was a wonderful story but again what would the story be without any pain relief whatsoever? That is what we all are looking at immediately ahead. My medication is 38% taken away already with another 40% to go. I know it’s not fun talk about but if anyone has any more great ideas this would be a fantastic time to share them with us all. Kratom is not for me . Time is has run out. Thank you all and God bless us. I feel safe that I will be feeling the arms of Jesus. Please make sure that you are too!


That was beautiful. I have never indulged my pain in the activities i truly wanted to do. It’s not fair. If I can’t go and be Nice, I don’t go.


This article was very well written, and hit home on almost every point. Thank you for sharing your healthy perspective.


What a beautiful and awesome inspiration you give to those of us who need a word of encouragement now and then to keep going. That, yes, this life of chronic pain can be very hard to take.
Thank you again for bringing a ray of light into my life, and I’m sure many other’s lives as well who read this story you just wrote. God bless you, my dear.


Most people with CRPS are suffering beyond words. But don’t have partners, money to move to the beach, a rich family, not even pain meds. I think the column is for the rich in healthcare and support. Not for the average isolated CRPS person


Very good accomplishments. It sounds like you’ve had someone with you through this, caring for you, providing a home and security. Too many people with CRPS are not as fortunate,but face a life with no income, no home, Can Grace help out?