How CRPS is Like Pennywise and “IT”- What We Can Learn
By Samantha Anderson
To compare CRPS to one of the biggest horror re-makes of this year, “IT,” seems like a bold move. But, let’s say CRPS is Pennywise. How can we find similarities?
When the remake of Stephen King’s “IT” came out, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. Horror movies are not my number one go to, at least not any more. Last week, I was having a particularly down day, so my husband suggested date night. We work opposite schedules, so this made me incredibly happy. We decided a movie would probably be for the best, but then the only movie we “mutually” wanted to see was “IT.” Yes, readers, I may have fudged the truth a little bit, as I did not want to sacrifice date night.
We went to the theater, which has brand new, fully reclining seats so it is super comfy (bonus). I was a little anxious going into the movie, but I liked horror/thriller movies at one point, so I thought I could do it. I’m going to say that I saw a grand total of 7 minutes of the 2 hour and 20-minute movie. I hid behind my Snowcaps box for a majority of the film. My husband felt awful that I was so scared. But as I kept saying, “It’s date night, this is fun, woooo!” Although, I am sure that got less enthusiastic as the movie dragged on. I watched any part that was not gory or particularly freaky and I heard everything.
As I was sitting here, trying to decide what to write about this week, I realized that CRPS can be a lot like “IT.” While comparing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome to a really bizarre horror movie seems far-fetched, hear me out. The more I think about it, the more I am amazed. Some spoilers ahead for those that have not seen the movie or read the book!
There can be a pattern. For me, I live with the pain every day, but flare ups are particularly bad. While Pennywise and all of his crazy antics haunted the town every couple decades, it took the children from this movie time to determine the pattern. Seemingly enough, no one had determined this pattern before, or at least they had not documented it. For me, my pain tends to come in patterns. Certain times of the year are bad for me, like changes of season or storms. I also tend to flare after my clumsy self gets some kind of injury. Establishing a pattern gives a certain edge to all of this. Having more knowledge can make things less scary, as you can determine preventative measures or ways to try to avoid triggers/cope with flares. That is similar to what the kids did. They found the pattern and determined that they had to stop Pennywise before the cycle started again, therefore preventing casualties in the future.
Do not be afraid of the entity. I am not afraid of clowns. Pennywise himself does not scare me. He is just an entity that causes mayhem. His appearance and name do not make me shutter. I am not afraid of CRPS either. I know what it does to my body and to the bodies of so many. I know the mayhem it causes in myself and my peers in pain. But CRPS will not scare me into submission. I will not just accept it and let it control me. I will fight back against it. Whether I am raising awareness or funds, I will fight back. When I flare, I cannot let it take over. Pain is scary, the unknown is scary, but CRPS and Pennywise can float away together. I will not let these entities that think they are so scary and intimidating impact my life like that.
Children are our future. In the movie, the children are the ones that are realizing what is going on. They are seeing all of their fears come to life as a part of Pennywise’s plan. But they come together to strategize on how to beat Pennywise and save other kids, present and future, from his tactics. Today, we have to realize that, in the CRPS community, children are our future as well. Kids are getting diagnosed with CRPS younger and younger. These kids come together at camps and online to support each other and to show chronic pain who is the boss (them). The Pediatric Pain Camp is a prime example of this. These kids discuss becoming doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other medical professionals or advocates to shed light on CRPS. They are looking for solutions that the adults may not have thought of yet or that have been thought of, but not acted on yet. They are giving us hope that we will all defeat our personal Pennywise, or CRPS. We have some incredible kids that want to help us all.
Noise can be the scariest part. As I said, during the movie, I hid behind a box of Snowcaps. There were quite a few parts of the movie (that I wasn’t watching) when my anxiety started rising to a level I could not explain. The score from the movie was really getting to me. There was a solid few minutes where the “anticipation” sound was so loud, that even while I was looking away I could feel the anxiety. I looked to my husband to tell him my anxiety was up and noticed he was already looking at me since he could feel the vibration through the floor and knew that it could aggravate my pain. Sometimes, it is our triggers that can be the scariest. Whether it is loud noises, storms, stress, or an additional injury, these are the things that can scare us and cause us the most pain. Anticipating all of this can be just as bad. At least life does not come with an anticipation soundtrack. Yikes!
Our own personal fears are what get us. Pennywise feeds off the fear of children. He is able to make these children see their biggest fears come to life in order to feed off of them more. Our own fears can be worse than the CRPS. Being afraid of what our friends and family think can prevent us from interacting with them. Being afraid of our futures can send us in to a spiral of thoughts of feeling stuck or lost. Being afraid of the pain can make it so we avoid doing anything at all. All of these fears and stresses can trigger our pain. By not submitting to all of our fears, we can save ourselves some pain. While no one should ever make your feelings seem invalid, we have to remember that we are so much stronger than our fears. There is always a way to overcome them. There is always hope.
In the end, the overall message is that when we come together to fight “evil,” we truly can win. So, when we all come together to raise awareness for CRPS/RSD, raise funds for research, and support each other, we are slowly defeating the evil we experience every day. We have that power.