Medical Student Keeps Pursuing Her Dream with CIDP and CRPS

According to a story from National Pain Report, Jill Konowich was well on her way to becoming a medical doctor. She was studying at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. It was during this time that Jill experienced a sharp pain shooting up her right leg. It was so severe that she couldn’t even walk. Her plans to run a half marathon with her fiance would have to be scrapped. After her marriage in September of 2013, she was relegated to a wheelchair. Six months later, she was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In 2016, she was hit with another rare diagnosis: chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP).

About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a disorder that usually begins in a limb and is characterized by brutal, extreme pain. The pain is so severe that it is ranked above childbirth and amputation. Risk factors include nerve injury, hemiplegia, and smoking; the direct cause remains unknown. Other symptoms include changes to the skin and bones, reduced range of motion, and swelling. Treatment may include certain therapies, surgical procedures, and medications (primarily to relieve pain). To learn more about complex regional pain syndrome, click here.

About Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a disorder which is most characterized by inflammation of the peripheral nervous system. Symptoms of the disorder include difficulty walking, tingling or numbness, nerve pain, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, loss of reflexes, and poor balance.Treatment for the disease often includes corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, plasmapharesis, or other drugs that can suppress the immune system. To learn more about chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, click here.

Jill’s Story

Even one of these diagnoses is enough to change a person’s life forever, but Jill refused to give up. Regardless, Jill chose to take a year off from med school so that she could have a chance to recover. But the appearance of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and Lyme disease meant that she had to take another year off. Nevertheless, Jill ultimately completed medical school twelve years after she started. 

Jill says that her time as a rare disease patient is giving her a unique insight into what it means to rely on the medical system and doctors such as herself. Such experience will undoubtedly inform her performance in the medical field. Jill says that the support of both her husband and father were critical in allowing her to fulfill her dream of being a doctor.

Share this post