Atlanta, GA,
10:47 AM

Returning to the Skies

A year ago, Lesley Douglas was in the worst pain she’d ever been in. Now, she’s returning to work and sees life as “getting back to normal.”

Lesley Douglas, a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines, was used to traversing the country and working long hours. As a former personal trainer, she saw the value of keeping fit and working out every day.

That all changed in November 2022 when Lesley fell down some stairs and fractured her ankle. Her doctor put her foot in a boot and prescribed physical therapy.

But things didn’t improve – they got progressively worse.

“I was in the worst pain I’ve ever been in,” Lesley recalls. “My foot would shift from blue, swollen, and ice cold, like I was losing circulation, to red hot, prickly pain. It felt like someone was burning my foot.”     

Not only that, but she could not exercise, drive, or work. Sleeping was also difficult.

Lesley sought a second opinion and was told she had complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). The second doctor referred her to the Dean Stroud Spine and Pain Institute at Shepherd Center.

In February 2023 – three months after her fall – Lesley met with the Institute’s Medical Director, Erik Shaw, D.O., who gave her a sympathetic nerve block and prescribed medication to relieve her symptoms. Within two weeks, she could stand on her foot – something she hadn’t done in months. After the second nerve block, Lesley says her pain continued to subside — from level 10 to level four. She was standing for longer periods and was sleeping better.

Lesley also worked with Shepherd physical therapist Chris Nesbitt, PT, who specializes in CRPS.

In mid-November, with Dr. Shaw’s blessing, Lesley called Delta and told them she was ready to come back. Since she had been gone for a year, she was required to undergo extensive training, including evacuation, fire, and medical drills. She passed them all with flying colors and returned to the skies in mid-December.

“When I got to Shepherd Center, I couldn’t do anything,” Lesley says. “And now I’m going back to work — which is a game changer. I’m so grateful to everyone there. I felt so valued and taken care of. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”


Written by Sara Baxter


About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.