Freak Accident Changed Her Life
“I was 24, an engineer, married, and on the go. One freak accident took all that away. Suicide seemed like my only option. Thanks to my faith in God, and DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, I have a second chance,” says Danielle Howland.
Danielle was pulling a sweater out of her trunk when she hit her elbow on the latch.
"I couldn't believe the immediate pain, swelling and hypersensitivity in my arm. I was diagnosed with a bruised bone and nerve damage, a month or two recovery time.”
But, Danielle's pain and hypersensitivity were so severe she couldn't sleep, move her arm, and even the lightest touch caused her pain. Because of this she lost her job.
"Four months after my accident, I was diagnosed with (RSD) Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or CRPS. It spread to all four extremities, and both shoulders. It also affected my skin, nails, hair, eyes, stomach, and bladder. Ice packs all over my body was my only way to stop the burning pain."
Danielle tried therapy, nerve blocks, and infusions. But ended up in a wheelchair and became completely dependent on others for her basic needs.
"I was like a quadriplegic without being a quad. When I got to DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. I couldn't dress myself, brush my teeth, or walk. I knew if I stopped fighting, that was it."
Danielle credits occupational and physical therapy and her faith in God for her recovery.
"The only therapy I received before RIM was someone rubbing my arm trying to desensitize it. Here they came up with adaptive devices for my brush, fork, and dressing myself. By showing me how to work with my pain, I've turned the corner."
Danielle still lives with chronic pain but no longer uses a wheelchair. She started an RSD non-profit organization and is a motivational speaker. Danielle is also pursuing a nursing degree so she can help patients with pain management.
"I had persistence and drive. My therapists and doctors had the same spirit. We really did it together and today they are my family!"