Theresa, The Chronic Pain Ninja

Over the past few weeks there have been awesome and touching videos of people participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS.

What is ALS?  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.  You can read more about ALS from their website : What is ALS.

ALS National Red logo

I’m actually aware of ALS because I have a dear friend who is recently going through the stages of this disease and currently taking tests  to rule out what the doctors believe is Lou Gehrig’s/ALS.  So when I was called out by my friend Joanie to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I was happy to do so in honor of my friend, Theresa who suffers from not only the symptoms of ALS but from RSD too.

RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) is a chronic pain condition.  It’s a malfunction of the central nervous systems, which causes pain and additional symptoms.  You can read more about RSD from their website : What is RSD.


Theresa Wade and I have been friends for over 10 years.  We actually would run 5K races together.  She was diagnosed with RSD 3 years ago.  Recently she has shown symptoms of ALS and is taking tests to rule out this disease.

Here is her story…

September 2013


“I used to be a 5K runner, active, and always moving!  I was originally diagnosed with RSD in 2011.  Through determination, I walked 5Ks I wound up in a wheelchair in September due to tremors they thought were caused by ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease although not 100% certain.  I started some medicine.  I continued to do therapy and battle never being one to give up.  Here it is almost one year later after medicine and therapy and I’m walking.  I have tremors on occasion controlled by meds and stay positive using my faith, my family, and friends.  This year I have a challenge.  While y’all are icing it, I’m training for the hot chocolate 15K in February!  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, never give up on yourself, and always stay positive!!  You can do it!!  I have RSD and ALS but it doesn’t own me!”  Theresa Wade

Theresa is a fighter.  She came in first at Triumph Over Pain 5K last year in her wheelchair!

Wheelchair Race

Pain may begin in one area or limb and then spread to other limbs with RSD.  It can also include: dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected body part, intense burning pain, sweating, and swelling.  Chronic pain is the invisible disability, so don’t assume that someone is in more or less pain simply by the way they look.  While it may seem they are not hurting at all they could be screaming in pain by the time they get home.

good days bad days

Yesterday was a good day for Theresa!  She was so excited when I told her I was doing this challenge in her honor that she joined me and dumped the ice water on top of me!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I am glad I had the opportunity to honor my friend and help raise awareness about ALS and RSD.  She is a beautiful person with a strong spirit and an inspiration to others who are fighting this disease.  I hope and pray that the tests she has to take will rule out ALS.  If you would like to follow Theresa and her progress please join her on her Facebook group Chronic Pain Support Group or you can watch her pain journal on YouTube.