After several excruciatingly painful and profoundly frightening years of undiagnosed symptoms, I was diagnosed with a "progressive and incurable" neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS), which is characterized by unrelenting pain that is disproportionate to the inciting event, usually an injury or trauma. 

It started in my lower legs, and over time, the burning pain spread to every inch of all four limbs and beyond, coupled with other alarming symptoms, including uncontrollable muscle spasms and drastic skin color and temperature changes. I spent years fighting and struggling with dis-ease before I realized there had to be a better way. I found that better way by going within and searching my soul for the beautiful lessons hidden within the ugliness that can often acompany disease.

Inspired by Marianne Williamson’sA Return to Love, where she shares letters written by individuals with AIDS during one of her many workshops, I decided to start a conversation. This is a conversation with disease. A few years ago, it would have read VERY differently. Something like, “I hate you, stupid disease. The only good thing about you is that my parents gave me a puppy to make me feel better.” I’m sure RSD/CRPS’s response would have gone something like this, “I’m ruining your life, and it is hilarious. I’ve taken so much away from you already, and when I’m done, there will be nothing left.” Seven years later, the dialogue has changed.
Dear RSD/CRPS, 
It took me seven years to see your beauty. It took me 27 years to see my own. They are intertwined. I used to hate you for the way you blew into my little world unexpectedly like a tornado changing the landscape of my life, but then I realized that the fears and beliefs that created you and have kept you alive were present way before you ever emerged. I thought you ruined my life, but you gave me a reason and passion for living. I thought you were my greatest burden, but you have been my greatest gift. Because of you, I love deeply, live passionately, and fear nothing. I watch ordinary miracles unfolding each day, and I perform miracles within myself that shine outward touching those around me. I no longer "fight" you, or "struggle" with you, or "hate" you because if I do, I am only fighting, struggling with, and hating myself. We've become a team, and I know once you've served your full purpose, when I've learned from you all that I can, you will go in peace and peace within me will be restored. Thank you for being my most consistent teacher and my most important lesson. I love you.
Love,  
Maria
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Dear Maria,
I never meant to hurt you like you like I did, but you wouldn't listen. What else was I to do? I started quiet and small, but when you continued to ignore me, I was forced to become louder and larger so that you would pay attention , so that you would stop looking outside and start looking within. I just wanted you to see your divine, unwavering  perfection through the eyes of God and not through the fickle eyes of others or yourself. To see love instead of fear and to spread love by serving others in all that you do. You're almost there. It's magnificent to watch you grow and to watch you spread the wings of the angels and soar to new heights of love and divine service. Keep your heart open, but most of all, have more fun. You've been chained by your own beliefs for far too long, and it's time that joy set you free. I love you, too.
Love,   
RSD/CRPS 
What does your conversation sound like? 


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