Fighting through the pain: Jarrett Seck’s battle with CRPS

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Seck can no longer move most of his body. He has lost function in both of his legs and his left arm, leaving him bedridden.

Unable to move, Jarrett Seck lies in darkness.

The small amount of light in his room comes from a TV mounted on a wall and a rock-shaped lamp that emits a dim, green light.

The room is decorated with sports memorabilia. An autographed Roughriders t-shirt hangs on a wall, and a University of Calgary Dinos football helmet rests on a shelf — testaments to Seck’s unwavering passion for a sport he can no longer play.

Dave Seck remembers never having to cajole his son into attending football practice. The family had tried getting their kids involved in different activities. Football was the one that stuck.

“He just went whole hog into it,” says Dave.

Seck started off in Regina Minor Football when he was around 10, and then played for the Miller Marauders in high school.

“There’s nothing more exciting suiting up putting the pads on,” says Seck, recalling the excitement game day used to give him.

After high school in 2013, Jarrett became a member of the Regina Thunder, joining the team as it tried to win back-to-back Canadian junior championships.

In a photo of him during his playing days with the Thunder, Seck wears an intense expression on his face. He’s in good shape, which is not surprising given his passion for conditioning and athletics.

Jarrett Seck when he was still playing for the Regina Thunder. Seck developed a rare chronic condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome after being injured during a football game in September of 2015. PHOTO COURTESY REGINA THUNDER

During his second season in a game against the rival Saskatoon Hilltops on Sept. 5, 2015, Seck dove to make a tackle but was met by an offensive lineman.

Seck’ s left leg was crushed into his chest.

He didn’t give the injury much thought at first. He even played through the rest of that game. The next day, he could tell something was wrong when there was pain in his leg.

Seck spent the summer of 2016 getting MRIs and seeing specialists. His pain only increased. It got to the point where he couldn’t stand more than 15 or 20 minutes at his summer job. By September, he was in and out of the hospital because he couldn’t take the pain anymore.

Last December, he was diagnosed with a rare chronic pain condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Or “Crips” as Seck refers to it.

CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to the peripheral and central nervous system from trauma such as an injury. CRPS is an abnormal response by the nervous system that amplifies the effects of that injury.  There is no known cure. It’s often difficult to detect, and in many cases it goes undiagnosed. In Seck’s case, he didn’t learn he had CRPS until just over a year after his football injury.

Seck can no longer move most of his body. He has lost function in both of his legs and his left arm, leaving him bedridden at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.

In addition to being paralyzed, Seck is constantly in the throws of excruciating pain.  He describes the feeling as something like a grease burn that coats 60 to 70 per cent of his body. At other times it feels as if his bones are being crushed, or his ligaments are being torn.

“It’s the worst, most painful thing you could probably experience,” says Seck.

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