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Physical therapy, faith helps former law enforcement officer walk again

Paul Nicholson served half of his 16 years with the Wichita Police Department as a narcotics detective.
 
His career came to a halt in 2006 when he injured his right ankle while executing a search warrant.
 
“My peroneal nerve ended up on the outside of my muscles and it was extremely painful,” he says, effectively ending his career and beginning years of pain so severe that “even a cold breeze from the wind could feel like a slash to my ankle.”
 
Initially baffled as to the source of his unrelenting pain, Paul was eventually diagnosed with Type 2 complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS.
 
Because it wasn’t caught early, his doctors told him, it wasn’t curable. They could only try to alleviate the pain by snipping, relocating and repairing the nerve.
 
When those didn’t work, the only other option was to amputate his leg at the ankle, which could result in the pain traveling to his leg, hip or spine or even paralysis.
 
So instead, Paul used crutches to get around when he was able to be out of bed at all and tried to control the pain with ever-increasing doses of narcotic pain medications, muscle relaxers, sleeping pills and a desensitizing cream. He also participated in pain management trials, but to no avail.
 
For his four daughters, being careful not to bump Paul’s ankle and send him into excruciating pain became a way of life until April 1, 2019.
 
“I was about to take another morphine pill when I heard a voice in my chest,” he says. “The Lord told me that I didn’t need those pills and that I would walk someday.
 
“I know it sounds crazy, but I have so much faith and trust in the Lord that I knew I’d be alright somehow,” he says, despite having been told he would likely never be able to walk again without assistance.
 
He never took another morphine pill.

On April 23, he says God spoke to him again, leading him to discontinue all other pain medications and see his primary care physician to request a referral for physical therapy.
 
He was referred to Ascension Via Christi Physical Therapy Center on Socora, where on July 18, 2019, he took steps unassisted on his second visit.
 
“I didn’t meet with Paul until his second or third appointment, but he covered three months’ worth of skills in the first appointment alone,” says physical therapist Theresa Hallacy, who worked with Paul to achieve the goals he set for himself.
 
By September, Paul was going up and down stairs unassisted with a normal gait and by the end of November he was discharged from physical therapy with a regimen of exercises he can do on his own.
 
“CRPS treatments can vary from every patient and some can take weeks, months or years to break the pain cycle,” says Theresa. “So it was pretty extraordinary that Paul was discharged from therapy in just four months.”
 
While she attributes that to his determination and commitment, Paul says Theresa played a major role in his rapid recovery
 
“She didn’t doubt me, she made sure I could safely attempt new things and just knew her stuff,” he says. "I really enjoyed working with Theresa and the rest of the Socora clinic staff."
 
This spring, after having a bone density scan to make sure his bones could tolerate it, Paul ran his first mile -- exactly one year after taking his first step.
 
“Obviously I was out of shape not having done cardio in 13 years, but it was complete and total freedom,” says Paul, who has since remedied that by working out three times a week and running on the treadmill with his youngest daughter.
 
He now also helps run the Meeting House, a non-profit coffee shop in Sedgwick, Kansas. A former youth pastor, he hopes his story will encourage others to trust in God and continue leaning on faith.
 
“I think He would’ve healed me sooner, but I’m a slow learner,” he says. “I couldn’t have done it without Theresa or her knowledge of healing from the inside out.”
 
To request a free phone consultation or physical therapy appointment, or to learn more, call 316-719-3030.
About Taylor Valdez

Curly hair with straight priorities. Dedicated workaholic and weekend adventurer. When I'm not writing or working, I'm shopping, chowing down on local bites or binging Netflix.