November is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Awareness month, if you’ve read my previous blog post about my little sister then you’re aware that CRPS was her first diagnosis of many Invisible Illnesses. With that being said, November is a special month for my family and a time to ramp up the awareness we are spreading. For Melanie and my family, awareness is a year round thing but it peaks twice a year… November A.K.A. Nervember and January for Crazy Sock Day & Crazy Sock Walk!
So you might be sitting here reading this wondering a few things… well, you’re in luck because I have read your mind and I’m going to answer three of the questions floating around in your head right now!
Why is raising awareness so important?
Like I said above, CRPS is an invisible illness, it can’t speak for itself! There’s a high possibility you’ve encountered someone with CRPS (or any other invisible illness for that matter) out when you’re grocery shopping, or in class next to you, or out at your favorite restaurant. A lot of times from the outside looking in they may look like everything is just dandy, they are masking their chronic pain and trying to fight through another day. Not Melanie, yes she is masking her pain and fighting through another day but she’ll gladly tell a stranger all about CRPS or her wheelchair or her crazy socks. Why? Because awareness gives you power. Awareness helps Melanie feel less alone, it builds a foundation of support for her to stand on, and it gives her a platform to tell her story and empower others.
Melanie’s biggest awareness project is Crazy Sock Day and Walk! Every year since 2010, we have celebrated on January 24th (the anniversary of Melanie’s injury) by wearing crazy socks! The first year it started out as just my family wearing crazy socks and surprising Melanie with a cookie cake but now it’s a world wide celebration and social media takeover all for CRPS Awareness! In 2015, we decided to go bigger and ended up holding the first Crazy Sock Walk in Melbourne Florida! Now, not only did we have an internet gathering but also a physical gathering of people in crazy socks to raise awareness and donations for CRPS research with The U.S. Pain Foundation!
How can I help?
Easiest way to help us in raising awareness this Nervemeber is first to educate yourself. Do you know what CRPS is? Have you read Melanie’s story? Do you feel confident giving a simple definition of CRPS if a stranger where to ask? Will you wear crazy socks out and about for Melanie? Well, if you answered no to the first 3 questions and yes to the 4th then all you need to do is a bit of reading and then you’re ready! A great resource to learn about CRPS is from RSDSA.org. RSDSA is a huge supporter of Melanie and we give a portion of our donations to them each year. Usually, my simple answer to someone who asks about it is “CRPS is a chronic pain condition that causes burning, stabbing, constant pain to a limb after a basic injury. Basically, the nerves do not heal properly leaving the limb with hypersensitivity, pain, and temperature changes. And that’s just a simple answer.” I start there and see what type of questions come to follow or direct them to my sister’s facebook page. That’s just one way that I help raise awareness for Nervember.
Can I participate in Crazy Sock Day 2018?
Yes! Of course you can! If you live in Florida, you can attend the 4th Crazy Sock Walk in Melbourne Florida (Here’s the flyer!) But if you don’t live in Florida or you’re busy that Saturday you can still participate and help Melanie raise awareness. On January 24th wear your craziest socks and share them on our Facebook or Instagram, and tell your friends how they can help too.
This blog post may have been a bit of a shameless plug but awareness is something that is so important to me. I’m in a position as a PT student where I can influence and educate my classmates to also see the importance of awareness for invisible illnesses which means I’m making a small but sure impact on future health care providers. Never be scared to start too small, with awareness or with anything, because once you get the ball rolling, it snowballs and all of the sudden you’ve touched more people than you could ever imagine!