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Torrington woman shares what it's like living with chronic pain worse than childbirth, amputation

With just 200,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed with CRPS, it is classified as a “rare disease” with no cure.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut woman is doing her best to deal with that pain and push toward personal goals. She is a 17-year survivor of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), diagnosed after spraining her ankle as a senior in high school.

Kelly Considine, 34, is a jack of all trades. She’s an artist, a dog mom, and she’s also a chemistry teacher. 

"I love painting, reading, crocheting. All of that keeps me busy,” Considine said.

“Right now, getting able to teach chemistry and getting back into the field of work has brought me some more hope that I am on the right path towards achieving more goals,” said Considine.

These are goals that she set for herself as she continues to live with CRPS.

“It completely changed the trajectory of my life,” said Considine.

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Known as the “suicide disease”, CRPS is considered one of the most painful diseases known to date.

According to doctors, CRPS ranks more than 40 out of 50 on the McGill Pain Scale.

According to the McGill Pain Scale, the level of pain CRPS can cause outranks childbirth, kidney stones and even the amputation of a limb.

“Going outside and feeling the wind on my shin feels like I am getting kicked over and over again or washing myself with a washcloth feels like sandpaper even if its the softest kind I can find,” said Considine.

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With just 200,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed with CRPS, it is classified as a “rare disease” with no cure.

Minute by minute, second by second. As she manages the fire inside, she holds on to hope.

“I probably won’t ever be pain free or live a normal life, but my hope is that I can get out of a wheelchair one day if things progress in the right direction,” said Considine.

That hope pushing her to become an advocate for those like her through her work with the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association.

“I’ve overseen their walks, was the chair of their walks the last two years and we’ve raised close to $100,000 in the last two years,” said Considine.

This November, which also happens to be CRPS awareness month, Kelly received proclamations from Mayor Carbone of Torrington and Representative Michelle Cook for the General Assembly and the Governor's Office for her advocacy.

Kelly said doesn’t want the pain of CRPS to stop others from fulfilling their dreams either.

“A lot of doctors don’t know about it so they tell you the pain is all in your head,” said Considine. 

Hartford Hospital's Chief of Psychiatry Dr. Javeed Sukhera echoes this.

“What’s really tough about it is that it can have a functional impact on people's lives and it’s often an invisible symptom,  which means people experience a lot of invalidation from the health care system where the reality and severity of their pain isn’t always believed,” said Sukhera

As people like Kelly take it one day and one goal at a time, she continues to advocate for those battling the constant pain of CRPS.

“I want to spread awareness about CRPS. The quicker the diagnosis the better the prognosis,” said Considine.

DeAndria Turner is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. She can be reached at dturner@fox61.com. 


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