Reflex sympathetic Dystrophy
I have had Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy for ten years. Having contracted this condition from a serious and bizarre accident in 1991, I have had every treatment available. I was diagnosed a year after the accident and because I also had ruptured discs (L-4 and 5) in my lumbar spine, no one was quite sure at first, why my left foot was behaving such an odd way. The pain was unrelenting and almost unbearable. I know now that I had all the classic symtomology of RSD. I didn't begin the typical treatments for this condition for a year after onset, hence the stubbornness and difficulty with remission or success.
After about four years, I was hit by another driver, and the RSD spread to my right appendage. This foot was not injured in any way. Actually, I had no injuries, just a trauma to my nervous system. This second insult and spread of the RSD was even worse than the first. The pain was extreme and the RSD came with a vengeance. Now I had both appendages involved and I was getting sicker every day. My systems were shutting down and I had problems throughout my body created by the RSD and many drugs, along with epidurals, lidacaine drips, phentolamine drips, spinals and steroids. The last treatment offered was an implant, in my hip, which would slowly, make me into a morphine addict. Those years, at the pain center, were in all honesty, healing emotionally for me. My Mother was dying and they did the best they knew how, each visit, I was treated specially and prayed with by the staff. However, this wasn't the way to deal with RSD. I had been using both alternative and traditional medicine. Now it became clearer that I needed to research more natural methods of dealing with this potentially devastating disease. I found that a physician came up with a diet for people with RSD. No preservatives or chemicals of any kind. Fresh food, with, at first, no sugar, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate or red meat. I stayed on this diet and lost the steroid weight gain and the pain became more manageable. I had been prescribed Wellbutrin and Klonopin, routinely given for RSD. I was on top doses. Nothing for pain, because everything made me sick and nothing, not even morphine was touching the pain.
My life was greatly influenced by the RSD, everything revolved around this condition. I was highly functional previous to the accident, then almost nothing. What little energy I had was spent on researching what would make me well. My granddaughter was born five months before the accident and I couldn't enjoy her, nor could I work, even minimally. I had a business, which I lost and financially we were practically bankrupt. Finances are drained by this illness. I came across some information on hyperbaric oxygen about two years ago. I researched on the internet and came across Rapid Recovery Hyperbarics in San Bernardino. I began corresponding with Susan Rodriquez, and she was willing to try to help me with the hyperbaric treatments. She (And this treatment) became my hope. Susan shared a great deal of valuable information about the treatments. There wasn't really a protocol, at that time for RSD. My insurance said that if I paid for two treatments, to see if there was improvement, they would review and after many doctors' letters documenting my improvements, the HBO was approved. I was very lucky. Initially, when I went into the chamber, I was really afraid. Susan constantly reassured me and put up (graciously) with my laustrophobia. Patrick also was extremely nice and both emanated trust, which I needed.
I cannot express the difference after just one treatment! I had energy! My hair stopped falling out, right away the pain was 80% better and I knew this was what I needed. My answer to prayer. I won't talk about the alternative to not having this treatment. It is unacceptable to live my life as a crippled, pain wracked patient. And I learned a thing or two about what is needed for RSD. This disease is as individual as the person who has it. You have to have a hood or mask. I went to other chambers (because of logistics or whatever, at the time) and to not have the hood or mask is useless for this condition. Stress is a huge factor so you must believe that the chamber operator is caring and well trained. I learned that Susan knew what to do and what to tell me to increase the efficacy of my treatments. This disease has a mind of it's own, a minute change in ata (Atmosphere) breathing or stress will affect treatment outcome.
I still am on the RSD diet, nutrition is tremendously important. (But not as rigorous, because I can handle more) and I still use chiropractic and acupuncture. I believe I need these adjunctive therapies because I have had RSD for so long. But I have been able to greatly reduce the medication and my goal is to be completely off it, shortly. HBOT has been the only solution for RSD. I also had fibromyalgia, but that was the first to go, I rarely have a problem with it now. Rapid Recovery Hyperbarics was willing to take a chance on me. I also learned that you have to be committed. It isn't easy to go into the chamber for the protocol, (Being claustrophobic) but I have my life back. I got to know my sweet granddaughter and we have a valuable, close relationship. I love being a grandmother! I am working a little again, (I have just started making and designing dolls) I have many interests and I am growing emotionally, all the time. I am gaining back my independence. And my life has expanded incredibly since the accident, which gave me RSD. I have total faith in Rapid Recovery Hyperbarics.
Thank you, Susan and Pat! Without you, I would still be in a wheelchair . . . my life would be over.
Samantha V. H.