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It all started in August 2004 during band camp where I got a stress fracture in my left heel. I didn't do anything about it because I assumed my foot was just sore from all the marching, and sure enough, it started to feel better. It wasn't until the end of September that the pain returned when I started running in gym class. The first weekend of October brought a trip to the emergency room and a walking cast. I was recovering nicely for the first 3 weeks, and then things took a turn for the worse. My foot became so sensitive that I couldn't have anything touch it, not even a sheet, without being in total agony and screaming out in extreme pain. Even a car driving down the street caused extreme discomfort because I had become so sensitive to vibrations. I was diagnosed with RSD in November and started physical therapy right away. I went from a busy high school student, taking part in color guard, school musicals, and social activities, to just barely making it through the school day.
I continued to go to physical therapy for several months, but the RSD started spreading in February 2005. Over the course of a few months it spread to my entire left side. As a result, I began an intense physical rehabilitation program at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children for 7 hours a day instead of going to school at the end of April. This seemed to greatly reduce my pain, and I was off crutches for the first time since the previous October. Things were going really well for a few months, but at the beginning of my senior year of high school, the RSD started spreading again to my right side. At the end of September 2005, I got a flu shot, and at the end of the month, my right arm was completely paralyzed. This forced me to leave my part-time job at the farmer’s market that I had just recently begun. A month after that, I was rushed to the emergency room paralyzed from the neck down. I was placed back in the intensive rehabilitation program and stayed there for the next few months.
For the next 4 months, I continued to recover from the paralysis even though the pain spread relentlessly to every part of my body, including internally. At the end of February 2006, when my school was testing the fire alarms, I became completely paralyzed again. I was able to finish out my high school career, despite all of this, and made my biggest accomplishment yet: I walked across the stage to receive my diploma! I continued to recover and live with the pain throughout my first year of college in handicapped accessible housing with a few complications and flare-ups.
In August 2007, I saw Dr. Robert Schwartzman at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia. He recommended me for out-patient low dose Ketamine Infusion Therapy as well as an in-patient high dose Ketamine Infusion. My dates for the out-patient treatments were set for January 2008, and I was put on the waiting list for the in-patient Ketamine Infusion. Before I could even get the out-patient treatments, I hit rock bottom. My joints started deteriorating causing a subluxed knee cap; I was having trouble breathing with my limited lung capacity; and I was fainting almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, because my body couldn't adjust my blood pressure. My memory was also affected when I would faint: I couldn't remember where I was, what I was doing, and even things from a few hours before I fainted.
Finally, my Ketamine Treatments started, but because of the fainting, they were put on hold for a few weeks. I saw a cardiologist, and he put me on a blood pressure medication that completely changed my life! I didn't have to worry anymore about making a short trip out to the grocery store that could potentially set me back for the rest of the day. I was able to resume my treatments, and I was no longer on crutches or in a wheelchair. I started my second semester of my sophomore year of college a few weeks late, but I made it through the rest of the school year with continuing booster treatments.
It was during one of these booster treatments in early 2008 that Dr. Schwartzman recommended me for the Ketamine Coma Treatment. He told me that he no longer thought that the in-patient treatment here in the United States would be enough. I’ve been on the waiting list ever since while continuing the low dose treatments in Philadelphia. I started getting migraines and received a cervical nerve block. This only seemed to make the situation worse.
I have continued to go to school, even though it became more and more difficult, not only to get to my classes, but to concentrate and do well in them. I’ve become more dependent on others to just do daily activities and can rarely go out anymore. I need to use my wheelchair to go out the majority of the time. I knew that the Fall 2009 semester would probably be my last until I could go for the Ketamine Coma. It was after I finished up that semester that I went down to Florida to see Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick. He said that I was a candidate to be part of the Ketamine Coma study. Finally I have some hope that things are turning around and my situation could get better!
January 1, 2010
The International Research Foundation for RSD / CRPS is a