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Life Beyond Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain was normal for Deborah. Diplomat lessened her burden.

“I have been adamant that I want [Diplomat], because you have been wonderful.”

— Deborah, Artist & Diplomat Patient

It all started with a surgery on Deborah’s knee. It was supposed to be a routine arthroscopy — no complications, nothing to worry about.

The surgery changed her life.

Immediately, she suffered bruising, swelling and other complications. A second surgery to fix those problems brought more pain and less mobility.

Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). The chronic disorder causes swelling and joint pain, making daily life difficult. Deborah, previously an active 41-year-old, was forced to use a cane and could barely walk on her own.

But she had her art.

To get through her pain during recovery, Deborah leaned on her creative outlet. She didn’t let RSD define her or get in the way of what she loves — painting, drawing and working with mixed media. No matter her condition, she could always retreat to her canvas.

“It helps to get me away from pain. … If you’re doing something creative, you have a kind of Zen-like feeling that you’re not really inside of your body. You’re kind of, like, at one with the medium — the painting. You can set it aside. It really works.”

Deborah’s husband was a compassionate caregiver every step of the way, offering support and driving her to appointments.

“He and I are a real team. He is just incredible. When this first happened, he didn’t panic. I was in the [continuous passive motion] machine; so that we didn’t have to be apart, he would carry the machine upstairs every night and downstairs every morning.”

Though she had a fantastic support system, the world of specialty pharmacy was difficult to navigate. Deborah was bounced from pharmacy to pharmacy due to issues with insurance. The intricate bureaucracies of each new provider made it difficult to access the medication she needed.

“I had to call and always talk to a new person and get passed along to another person, and invariably, they don’t get it right.”

Eventually, she was able to switch to Diplomat.

“[Diplomat] has been wonderful. A gal, Daniella, calls me before I need my medication refilled. She calls me to make sure what other parts of the equipment I need. Am I out of the needles? Am I out of whatever? There’s a lot of equipment that goes with it. She’s got a list, and she goes through it asking me what I need. I’ve never had a pharmacy do that. … Oh, my gosh — what a breath of fresh air. It was incredible compared to dealing with other people and other places.”

With a support system at home, a responsive pharmacy and a creative outlet, Deborah was able to keep a positive disposition about the future and her condition.

“I always try to keep hope that someday there will be a cure for this or we’ll borrow a cure from some other disease. … You know that old saying, ‘As long as there’s life, there’s hope’? I think it’s true. I really do. I’m a lot more open and positive than I would have been otherwise.”

Stories like Deborah’s are why Diplomat strives to provide the high-touch care for which we are known.

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