WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Complex regional pain syndrome or “suicide disease” is extremely painful, and crippled a Forsyth County girl at age 11.
Four years after her diagnosis, she’s out of a wheelchair and getting to know what life is like without living in pain.
When Salem Collins boarded the plane to Arkansas in December for treatment, she was in a wheelchair, unable to walk.
After 13 weeks at a specialized clinic, Collins is headed home to North Carolina standing and able to walk. She took a risk with the treatment she doubted. Now, she’s back to her favorite activities, which she hasn’t been able to do for years.
Collins is a 15-year-old, who loves to play piano. Looking at her, you can’t tell everything she’s been through.
“A lot, but in a good way,” she said.
Less than four months ago, she re-learned how to walk. The road to get to the moment wasn’t easy.
When Collins first arrived at the Spero Clinic in Fayetteville, Arkansas, she couldn’t move most of her body. The 15-year-old endured hours of therapies and treatments on a daily basis, which took a toll on her and her family.
“Seeing your daughter in that much pain every day knowing you were taking her to a place that inevitably for eight hours a day, something was going to make it worse before it made it better,” said Audra Adams, Collins’ mother.
Slowly but surely, things did get better. First, Collins moved her hand without pain. Then, she stood up.
The most incredible moment came weeks later when she finally took her first steps.
“It really hit me, my child will walk again and this is possible,” said Audra.
Walking is now easy, and Collins is able to lace up her rollerblades.
“I skated for the first time in like two years,” she said. “That was great.”
Normal, everyday activities most people take for granted, like cooking dinner with family, are special for Collins.
“I don’t have a lot of stamina yet, but I’m building that back,” she said.
Collins and her parents are thanking the people who donated thousands of dollars to help get her to Arkansas for these milestone moments.
“In today’s world, everybody thinks that nobody’s there for each other,” said Jonathan Adams, Collins’ dad. “What I want to say is thanks for being there for us. In our time of need, you were there.”
This family wants to take the love and generosity they’ve felt and give it to others struggling, whether it be physically or mentally. Collins wants people to keep fighting.
“Don’t give up because it’s not worth it,” she said.
Collins’ journey is not over. Every day, she does treatments at home. For the next two years, she has to go back to the clinic every six months to keep up with her progress. The family will make its next trip in September.