Christa Whightsel is a 25 year old from Ohio. She has had RSD/CRPS for five years and each day is a struggle.
Christa Whightsel: Creator, Co-Founder, and President
Christa was injured while taking the trash out at work one day and that injury from the trash cart running into her caused her RSD. She is currently living at home with her family.. She likes to stay busy as a Nanny and hanging out with her Amazing Friends and her Wonderful Husband Joey.
Living life with RSD has changed everything for Christa. For a very long time she was angry till she realized that being angry was only hurting herself. It wouldn’t change her situation, and it wouldn’t take away her pain, or bring her a cure. Half the battle against RSD/CRPS was her attitude. It is hard when you are in the worst pain imaginable to pick yourself up and tell yourself that life is worth living, when at the moment it doesn’t feel that way.
Christa believes she was put on this earth and given these struggles to allow her to grow and become the person she is today. She also loves to learn from others and grow with them. It is so important to support your fellow human being, because we all go through pain physical, mental, or spiritual, just not all go through all the above 24/7 365.
She feels like just like you, she knows her limitations but she has goals, dreams, and fears. She wants to live her life, despite the pain. It is very hard, grueling at times, and, truthfully, hard on her health, but that will not stop her from loving and living life.
All this helps her keep on bringing happiness and hope into the lives of her fellow RSD Angels. So in order to spread more awareness and RSD Angel Hope she decided to start a Support Group and Non-profit Organization (Still in the works,) called RSD/CRPS Doesn’t Own me.
She is grateful to God for allowing her to be able to live life to the fullest and to have met all the amazing people she has.
Life is always worth living and Christa lives by this mantra, “Reach for the Stars, eventually your arm will stretch. If you fall short, reach with another person, even then you are that much closer!”
Pull from her profile on the volunteers page (out of date based on dated submitted)
I am starting to think my body has a mind of its own.
When I was in 7th grade a week after my birthday I was walking down the hall and started feeling weird and before I knew it I was on the ground being shook by my math teacher. I had fainted. They called a squad but when they came, but they said all seemed fine. This went on and on for months. I would faint 2 sometimes 3 times a day and sometimes they wouldn’t call the squad at all.
My fellow students and worst of all the adults and staff at my middle school started saying I was faking it. They thought that I was just a lost little girl trying to get a lot of attention. I even went blind one day and the nurse told me to walk around the office to trying to probe out that I wasn’t really blind. I walked into a sharp edged table and put a gash in my knee. She still didn’t believe me.
This went on for 7 months, no help nothing but judgments. I finally went to a neurologist who asked my mom if she knew my pituitary gland was being squished by my excess fluid. He told us to go to a specialist in the matter and she finally told me what I had. Pseudo Tumor Cerebri which is a buildup of fluid in the spinal Column and the brain. In my case the fluid was trying to get out and it was trying to go out my optic nerves.
I ended up losing my side vision (peripheral) and the pressure on my pituitary stunted my growth and messed with my hormones. I finally got that under control, there isn’t a cure for that either but there is a high rate of remission. I went in and out 2 times finally in remission for a while.
Flash forward to April 7th, 2008. I was working at Build a bear and I had just thought about quitting because I went out and got my nose pierced the weekend before and they threatened my job if I didn’t take it out. I almost wished I had walked away but hey….anyways. I was taking out the trash at work and my coworker was behind me and I was pulling the 1/2 ton metal trash kart down a small wheelchair ramp. I found out after that the kart was broken and I had been trained to pull a broken kart….big no no. It went rouge and ran into the back of my left heel….I blacked out and it felt like it hit a nerve and I almost threw up. I hobbled back after throwing the trash out.. The blood in my shoe wasn’t customer friendly so they let me go home but I went to Urgent Care. They said I sprained it and it might be something else but to follow up with a different Dr. So I did.
I went to a “mouse” of a Doctor he put me in a walking boot. My foot started hurting….more then I would think a torn ligament and a sprain would be. I kept telling the Doctor but he said it was normal. We went back after 14 weeks of being in this boot. He thought I was just being a big baby. He told me that I needed to get out of the boot and into a brace…..he went to look at the swelling in my foot and he barely touched it and i flinched and pulled away. He finally said, “It might be RSD”, but nothing was really said after. I stayed pretty laid up and bed ridden for about 5 months. No one said RSD again to me and I thought nothing of it. We did different tests and they all said nothing. I wasn’t getting a paycheck so I was stuck at home with my parents. About the 7th month he finally said that I really had was RSD. I was so pissed and frustrated by this time that I wanted to spit.
My mom talked to a Doctor friend of hers and he pointed us in the direction of the best RSD Doctor in Ohio and he was 10 miles from my House. Dr. Deshpande worked real hard with me. We tried a lot of different things. He did a Sympathetic Nerve Block and did different narcotics. I ended up in the hospital after the Nerve Block with double the pain. They gave me 3 rounds of dililudid before I could stand the pain again. So about November of 2008 he finally said that I should get a Lumbar Stimulator or also called a Spinal Cord Stimulator. It is a machine that sends out electronic impulses in hopes that those pulses will block the pain getting to my brain. It works to a degree but I still got about 70 to 95% pain most days. I got it in January 2009 and around May 2009 it died and wouldn’t recharge. So finally in October of 2009 they gave me surgery to give me a replacement battery that didn’t have to be recharged. Since the start of my RSD it has spread from just being localized to just my left ankle to now it has taken over my whole left side of my body.
People always ask me if my life is still worth living because of all I have been through. Of course life is still worth living. I have met so many people after I was diagnosed with RSD. In July I was married to the love of my life, Joey, and I wouldn’t take back a day I have spent with him. He truly is my rock and my strong hold. Then there is my friend Krista whom I started this organization with and I love her just as much as anyone could love someone. Then there is Flora who has been my sister in every sense of the world except for blood. She picked me up when I hated myself and taught me to see the positive in life and not the negative, and for that I thank her.
These are all people I wouldn’t have met in a million years. Also RSD/CRPS Doesn’t Own Me wouldn’t be also. It is my baby and I never realized it would blow up as big as it has. It keeps me hopeful that someone else who has been diagnosed with RSD/CRPS will find and hear about the information that we try to put out and goes into remission all the faster. We want to see that happen to each and every person afflicted with this horrid disease. We want to see every person’s family to support them and try to understand because without support we feel lost and hopeless.
I am so glad to be a part of this wide world of awareness and I pray that I will continue to be a part of it!
Creator, Co-Founder, and President