The new year is often thought of as a new beginning and nowhere is that more evident than for Prosper resident Kathy Nelms. Her new lease on life is dramatic — and some might even call it miraculous.
Nelms is responsible for technical support at Prosper High School. She keeps the computers running and so much more. Her services are so much in demand that it’s hard for her to walk from one point to another without getting called in to look at someones computer. She also helps with audio programs and basically all things technical at the high school.
Popular with the students, much concern was shown among the school for Nelms’ welfare when she was hospitalized last spring. Then when she returned to school she had to use a walker to get around. But today, Nelms walks without aid and even looks forward to participating in aerobics.
Nelms said she’s had over her lifetime 30 surgeries, 20 of which were on her joints, for rheumatoid arthritis. During a flair up last March, Nelms was given a treatment that caused her seizure-like reactions. It started with getting treatment on her knees and she was told to expect some discomfort over the next few days. But the pain became unbearable, and when she woke up five days later unable to move her condition had surpassed the discomfort level and she was in serious trouble.
A series of hospital visits followed with no answers as her condition grew worse until she woke up six days later and couldn’t move. Nelms was terrified. She was conscious but her muscles were drawn up and she couldn’t move. Her husband helped her take a muscle relaxer and in time she was able to begin talking and had some movement.
She said she learned later, in addition to rheumatoid, she has Stiff Person Syndrome, a rare neurologic condition affecting approximately one in a million people. There is very little known about the condition. but Nelms’ doctor believes her situation in March was triggered by the injections she received to help her knees.
Ultimately, Nelms went to a hospital in McKinney. Nelms said she had big knots on the backs of her hands and knees and elbows and a rheumatoid specialist was called in with an eight-day hospital stay to follow. When she went back to work, Nelms was using that walker and still dealing with severe pain that lasted until the end of September.
A friend at work told Nelms about a new therapy she had tried, explaining it to be cryotherapy, a procedure in which the client gets into a tube and experiences temperatures of 130 degrees below zero from liquid nitrogen. Nelms said she grew up in Montana where the priority was to avoid extreme temperatures, so her first instinct was to avoid cryotherapy. However, when her pain spread to her back and hip Nelms finally was ready to try something new. Still filled with skepticism, she called Holly Potts.
"I told her what was going on and she listened to me," Nelms said. "Then she told me she can’t promise anything, but wanted me to go in for a treatment. She said she thought it might help me."
So Nelms went in to try a three-minute session of Cryotherapy the next morning before going to work.
"It was awesome," she said. "I didn’t realize how great it was until she texted me later that afternoon several hours later. In her text she said, ‘Please tell me you have a little pep in your step.’ And I thought about it and texted her back. I said, ‘As a matter of fact, I haven’t been limping and I don’t know where my walker is.’ I had walked away from it and left it somewhere in the building."
Potts encouraged Nelms to return for a second treatment, which she did. Nelms said she later slept the whole night, something that hasn’t happened for several years. Nelms has been dealing with chronic pain for years and it has kept her from being able to sleep well. At this point, after a couple of months of almost daily treatments, Nelms has a new lease on life and hope for the future of her well-being that she hasn’t had in years.
So, what makes Cryotherapy work? Potts explains that when the body experiences severe cold the blood moves to protect the body’s core. That causes the inflammation to leave the joints and you often experience a burst of energy similar to the experiences of runners.
According to a report found in "Forbes Magazine," health professionals have used cryotherapy to relieve pain from inflammation caused by arthritis, joint pain and fibromyalgia, to name just a few ailments. Professional athletes have used it for general well being and to relieve the pain from athletic endeavors for years, but without the required scientific evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved cryotherapy as a medical treatment. (Editor’s Note: For more information on this report go to http://onforb.es/1MDgra3.)
Nelms said this treatment has been life-changing for her.
"Pain is caused by inflammation," she explained. "The pain comes from swelling on your tissues. So, in the freezing, all that swelling and pressure goes away. It hasn’t done a thing for my osteoarthritis in my knees. My knees still need to be replaced, but the rheumatoid isn’t hammering my knees now and it’s not aching in my hips and my hands aren’t swollen."
Nelms admits she doesn’t totally understand the process, but it’s enough for her that she feels better. Nelms said she was at the point where she was willing to try anything.
"It was bad," she said. "I haven’t felt this good in a very, very long time. I did not know that rheumatoid is something that, when you have it, you have it for your whole life and things cause it to flair up."
Nelms describes cryotherapy as phenomenal and stated that she has been able to discontinue her pain medications.
"Because of this I don’t want to renew my muscle-relaxer prescription and all the others," she said. "I’m down to one prescription and it’s a third of what it was before. This [cryotherapy] has been a godsend for me. I don’t take any of those rheumatoid prescriptions anymore. They were making me sick and I was losing my hair. I feel human again and I feel good."
Nelms said she is a new person, her life is beginning to be more normal and she thinks anyone who suffers from chronic pain should give Cryotherapy a try. Potts’ Cryotherapy business operates inside Family Focused Care at 301 North Preston Road. The business name is Collin County Cryo. For more information she may be reached by phone at 214-457-3272 or at http://collincountycryo.com.