Paula is our featured patient, a 26-year-old woman from Winnipeg, Canada who lives with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. As a child, Paula was an actress and athlete, she starred in in a number of TV commercials and on stage with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People in addition to competing on her school cross country team.
It was cross-country that inadvertently changed her life. In 2001, when she was 13, in grade 8, she twisted her ankle at an event. The pain continued, and she bounced from one referral to another. It took eighteen months of confusion, fear, misunderstanding, and increasing pain, until CRPS was even suggested as a potential diagnosis and Paula could begin the long journey of understanding, treating, and eventually, accepting, the new diagnosis of chronic pain.
Paula has subsequently been seen by a spectrum of health, mental health, and health-related professionals. Despite this, Paula entered the University of Winnipeg in 2005. For a while, she was able to maintain a 4.0 average, but due to her chronic pain she was forced to take fewer and fewer courses each year, until one course a year was all she could do. Paula was forced to choose between dealing with her pain or going to school, and had to choose in favor of her health.
Although it is excruciating for Paula to travel, she hopes that some good can come out of having this terrible medical problem, by educating the people who make decisions for those in pain.
Participating in the Symposium will allow her to share her experiences with others and try to explain what it is like to live with severe, unremitting pain for what has now been a dozen years. Paula’s full story and medical case will be translated into a case study available to students and instructors in advance of the symposium.