CRPS, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Type 1), is a change in the nervous system that's usually triggered by a very painful episode. The bad kinds affect the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, metabolism, circulation, and fight-or-flight response. Lucky me; that's what I've got. ... But life is still inherently good (or I don't know when to quit; either way) and, good or not, life still goes on.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Angel" in my mouth

I use endearments because I'm an affectionate person. "Sweetie" and "honey" and (my personal favorite) "sweet pea" are terms I use whenever the urge strikes.

One word I never used, because it was just too hokey, was "angel."

Yes, I used "sweet pea" with perfect ease, but couldn't bring myself to call anyone "angel" with a straight face.

What can I say? We all have our limits, however idiosyncratic.

I thought, What an overused, overfluffy, overly silly word to use about someone who is decidedly human -- as everyone I've met so far is.

Then I went through the Years from Hell, a period of about 3 years I try not to even think about because it was so bloody harrowing it's unbearable to remember, and there's nothing to be done now to change that.

One set of surprises were some of the people who I was sure would come through, but fell from view when their actions were supposed to match their words.
Many people who seem awfully nice are more socially adept than genuinely good. It's an important distinction.

Starting late 2011, I found myself using the word "angel" as an endearment for a very particular set of people. It came naturally to my mouth as a substitute for "sweetie" or "sweet pea" when speaking to those who showed up when the going became almost impossible,

who never gave up on me despite good reason to do so,

and who showed up for me through thick and thicker.

The handful of people who made the key difference between my living and dying, are the ones I call "angel" -- and find it easy to do so.

It's not over- anything. It barely does them justice. And, I have to say, some of them were a real surprise: people who aren't apparently nice can be genuinely decent and deeply good.

Like every ER nurse ever, I used to preen myself on how good a judge of character I was. This disease, and the many versions of Hell that it comes with, teaches us a thing or two about human nature.

It's fair to say that, even at my most brain-frozen, my judgement about people's core attributes is better than it used to be.

I know where to find the real angels on this earth.
Among my besties, that's where.


  1. does it come as a surprise to know that we see your wings, too? <3

  2. It takes one to know one, sweet pea angel!!

  3. Ditto what Sage and Lili said!

  4. Hello, I just found your blog and wondered what you mean by POTers in your post about the new nerve discovery. I can't find an explanation of it anywhere else. I am an RSD survivor. My brush with the acute phase of type 2, was in the Spring of '94. I was facing the likelihood of a morphine pump when I found a chiropractor who inadvertently released the peroneal nerve impingement that was trapped during some work in the garden. I still have peripheral nerve damage in both feet and ankles from that experience and have no vibratory response in my left ankle. But, I am so thankful to have the greater part removed. The pain such that I remember begging to have my feet amputated. Anyway, a couple years after I had RSD, I had widespread Fibromyalgia which lasted 8 years. It went into remission when I did an elimination diet. I was about 95% healed after changing to a raw food diet and taking out offending foods containing gluten. I had ten good years and traveled and did a lot. Now I am facing a crippling case of degenerative joint disease (DDD) causing more compressed nerves. Ha! I can't seem to get away from painful conditions. I was wondering if any of you have come across any connections between any of these conditions? I know there must be some way to explain the amazing amount of bone spurs in my spine and joints. I am thinking they might have grown up as a way to assist in the support of my skeletal system in the absence of properly functioning nerves and muscles. Thanks for your thoughts. I really like the way you are using your blog to educate and connect with the world.

    1. What an intriguing comment.. and a tenaciously difficult path at your feet! I'm more impressed by your repeated remissions than your revolving conditions, though. I'll explain in a moment.

      To answer your question, POTS stands for Postural Orthostatic Something I Can't Recall, and it's a type of autonomic dysfunction that makes it very difficult to maintain stable blood pressure. It's crippling because of the dizziness, nausea and repeated falls (and consequent injuries.) The knockon effects of unstable b.p. on the brain and circulatory system are unpleasant too. It's something that turns up comorbidly with CRPS, and many think it's a direct result of the autonomic disruption of chronic CRPS itself.

      These diseases have several underlying characteristics in common: at the system level, the immune system is involved in maintaining the disease state (whether or not it causes it is a separate question), and the citric acid cycle in the mitochondria becomes toxified with the wrong form of nitrogen so your cells go under siege from free radicals gone wild. The heaviest concentrations of mitochondria are in the nerve and muscle cells. Explains a lot, eh?

      There also seems to be HPA axis dysregulation -- that is, the hypothalamus (brain's signal switchboard), pituitary (regulatory signal-sender in the brain) and adrenal glands (secretory hormone gland for the survival responses.) This has been known anecdotally for years but the science is starting to catch up in regard to CRPS, fibromyalgia, and possibly some other diseases.

      There's more about mitochondria and the HPA axis in my science blog,

      Raw food rocks. I miss my dehydrator. One day I'll get another.

      Best of luck on your latest adventure (egads!) and thank you for your kind words :)


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