I love Mrs. Whiskeyfellow with all my heart. She's the reason I do what I do for the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge. The charity angle is meant to raise money for a charity that is meaningful for the participant. Well, my charity of choice is the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrom Association (RSDS.org). Its mission is to assist those who are battling CRPS and drive research for a cure. My wife is one such Pain Warrior.
I have been Mrs. Whiskeyfellow's caretaker for the last several years as the disease has progressed. And, as much as I witness, I still don't have anything to use as a reference point to understand what she goes through. CRPS (or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) is something you can contract after an injury or surgery. It can affect anyone at any age. Your pain receptors never stop firing. The pain is unbearable.
Today, I had a chance to learn what a sliver of this feels like. Two years ago, I did an ice bucket challenge and used my hands for it. Sticking your hands in ice water for a minute isn't a very big deal, but what happens afterward is.
My feet are a different story. I don't like anyone or anything aside from socks and shoes touching my feet. Not because of pain, but just they're very sensitive (and ticklish). I refused to do my feet two years ago because of that. Unfortunately, people who are battling CRPS don't get to pick and choose when they have a pain breakthrough. As such, this year I promised Mrs. Whiskeyfellow that I would do the ice bucket challenge and use my feet this time.
Mrs. Whiskeyfellow filmed the entire thing. This is not a funny video (at least not to me), but it is informative. And, that's just part of the story.
The link to the video is here (Blogger won't allow something this large to be imbedded).
I ended the challenge about 20 minutes ago, and what I'm writing about next wasn't filmed. When I first pulled my feet out of the ice water, my feet started sizzling with electric shocks. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow forced me to walk and I had difficulty feeling the floor because of the pain. I got myself to the couch and sat down. As time wore on, the pain increased. It went from electric shocks with a stabbing sensation in both feet to burning and back. My heels recovered quickly. The arches, balls of my feet, and toes did not and had not yet. There was a cycle of burning, shocks, and stabbing. Sometimes it felt like a screwdriver being jammed in my feet. Sometimes it was pins and needles as the nerves started to wake.
If you've ever lived in a cold climate on a cold windy day and didn't cover your ears, you know what it feels like to have your ears freeze. That's the easy part. The hard part is when they thaw. If you have some memory of that sensation, that's what the burning feels like.
About 25 minutes in, my left foot felt much better than my right. My right already had some neuropathy to it (before this challenge) which may be why it took longer to recover. The stabbing in both went away. The burning in my arches and toes had not. The spasming in my feet finally ended. But the pain remained.
About 30 minutes in, I was finally able to put my feet flat on the floor without intense pain. But, from all the spasming, my Achilles, especially in my right foot, started throbbing. Thankfully, that didn't last very long.
My conclusion is this was awful but still an unfair comparison. After 30 some-odd minutes, I was mostly okay. Those battling CRPS don't get a break. But, it sucked nonetheless and it would take a lot of coaxing for me to repeat the process.
Finally, I know a lot of athletes do the ice bath thing after a rigorous workout. I am not an athlete and haven't been for about 20 years. Even then, I was a cyclist and a golfer and I never ever jumped into an ice bath.
For those of you who have already donated, thank you. Both Mrs. Whiskeyfellow and I are very grateful. If finances are tight, I get that. I won't pressure you. Just send over good thoughts for the Pain Warriors.
Thank you for reading this, cheers!