By Carolyn McNoldy
My name is Carolyn and I am the brains behind Carolyn’s Cards. I have been battling CRPS for eight years. It started in my left elbow after a surgery. It took me about two years to be directed to a doctor who actually knew about CRPS and was able to make the diagnosis. Since the original elbow surgery I have had fourteen additional surgeries to help control the pain. I even had a peripheral nerve stimulator implanted in my arm. Then just when I was getting the hang of living with my CRPS limitations, it spread to my left shoulder and left side of my neck almost three years ago.
I spent six of these eight years not knowing another person with CRPS. Since CRPS is uncommon it is hard to meet others with it. About two and a half years ago I finally had the chance to meet someone else which I could truly relate to. There was a walk at a local mall that my family went to with me. It was fantastic to meet other people like me! We talked about doctors, treatments, location of our CRPS in our bodies and a million other things that only people with CRPS could talk about and be able to relate to. We could also discuss CRPS related things without worrying about being judged. My family was also happy to have the opportunity to talk with other caregivers and people with CRPS. Meeting and talking with others has been very therapeutic for all of us, especially me. It has allowed me to fully and completely accept my diagnosis of CRPS and I am now “owning” it proudly. I have become a CRPS Warrior!
I read about the first RSDSA Young Adult Weekend on the RSDSA Facebook page. I was very excited about the chance to spend 3 fun days with others like me. I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend all of the RSDSA Young Adult Weekends, which are now 4 days long. It was during the first weekend that I had the chance to really meet and bond with other young adults with CRPS. After that weekend I did not want our bond to end. Staying in touch with my new friends was really important to me. Instead of sending the usual email or text I decided to start sending cards. I send these cards every so often, for special occasions such as birthdays or weddings, or if I hear that someone needs a pick me up. It’s always nice to receive something in the mail, especially if that something is not a bill!
The inspiration for sending cards came from my Mom. She sends me cards when I am struggling with my CRPS battle or recovering from surgery or just feeling down. It’s hard to find people who can relate to what you are going through. The cards always put a smile on my face and brighten my spirit. The cards serve as a reminder that I am not alone and encourage me to keep fighting. I hoped I could do the same thing for my new friends but I was worried that they might find them a little annoying. Was I ever wrong! It turns out that I had nothing to worry about.
It has been almost a year and half since I started sending cards and I continue to hear how much my cards are appreciated, enjoyed, and how they brighten my fellow warrior’s days. I continue to collect names and addresses at each Young Adult Weekend and send out more cards. After hearing about the happiness my cards bring I suggested that it become a program with the RSDSA. I want to be able to reach out to more people with CRPS and brighten their day. It makes me really happy to know I made someone with CRPS happy. I also want to send cards to caregivers of those with CRPS. Sometimes the journey they take with their loved ones is not easy for them and they need encouragement and smiles too. I am excited and looking forward to sending smiles to even more warriors and their caregivers across the miles!
Please feel free to send your request for a card to be sent out to RSDSA or to [email protected]. I’ll need the person to receive the card’s name, address, and reason for the request. Please know that these addresses and other personal information will be kept confidential.