Breaking the Chain of Pain

 In Success Stories, Success Stories: Hyperbaric Oxygen

It was supposed to be a small surgery. Simple. In and out. In May of 2009 Kevin had what was supposed to be minor outpatient surgery to relieve pain in his left big toe brought about by years of arthritis. Unfortunately for Kevin, his healing process turned out to be anything but minor.

Following his surgery, Kevin began to experience an intense, burning pain in his left calf muscle. His doctor suggested that he get an ultrasound of his left leg. The ultrasound revealed that Kevin had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his leg. He was immediately hospitalized for treatment. Over the next three years, Kevin was placed a variety of blood thinners to treat recurring blood clots in his left leg. In the spring of 2012 Kevin traveled to the Cleveland Clinic in hopes of determining why he kept having these painful blood clots and unexplained weight loss.

Specialists at the Cleveland Clinic were not able to determine why Kevin was experiencing this ongoing pain in his left leg. However, they assured him it was definitely not from blood clots. Kevin was referred to a pain management consultant who began treating his growing leg pain. He went through months of physical therapy, more than a dozen sympathetic nerve blocks, an implanted spinal cord stimulator and a radio frequency neurotomy to cauterize the nerves to his left leg. Sadly, none of these treatments gave Kevin any lasting relief. He continued to suffer from chronic, debilitating pain on a daily basis.

Doctors ultimately diagnosed Kevin with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). RSD is a rare disorder of the sympathetic nervous system that is characterized by one of the most severe levels of pain on the McGill Pain Index. This continuous and intense pain is out of proportion and beyond the severity of the original injury, and gets worse rather than better over time.

A good day for Kevin was when he simply had a burning sensation in his leg that felt like the most severe sunburn he had ever experienced. On his worst days it felt like someone had a piece of sandpaper and was constantly rubbing it up and down his leg. There were times that he couldn’t even put bed sheets on top of his legs because of the intense pain they caused. Kevin struggled to get a good night’s sleep as any movement during the night was extremely agonizing.

At work, Kevin depended on a motorized cart to get around the department store he managed. The fog of his every day pain made it difficult for him to remember anything, including client’s and staff member’s names. Every bit of energy or focus Kevin had was devoted to coping with the pain. There was little left for him to function. There were times that Kevin had to call someone to pick him up because he was in too much to even drive himself home.

Kevin’s situation became so dire that he started working with a psychologist in order to help him deal with the loss of normal, everyday life. He needed painkillers and sympathetic nerve blocks just to cope with the constant, intense pain. Ultimately, Kevin’s condition forced him to alter his career path. He had to take a step back and begin managing a much smaller store, considerably farther from home, just so that he could make it through the week.

Doctors had no answers for Kevin’s condition. They merely suggested increasing the dosages of his prescriptions. Sadly, the medications just left him feeling drowsy and lethargic… yet still in constant misery. Nothing was working to control the pain. Thankfully for Kevin, he had family members who personally experienced healing and relief from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. They worked on him for over a year, encouraging him to look into HBOT because of the success they had with the treatments.

Five weeks before coming to Sara’s Garden, Kevin’s pain had become so unmanageable that he was no longer even able to work. All of his time was spent at home resting or at his various treatments. He had absolutely no energy and did not even feel well enough to perform simple household tasks. His family was at a loss, feeling that they were losing Kevin as he retreated farther into solitude and despair.

When Kevin finally arrived at Sara’s Garden for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments he was guardedly optimistic that it would be able to provide him any long lasting relief. The mask of pain on Kevin’s face was very evident. Initially his pain would gradually subside while he was inside the chamber and then return shortly after finishing treatments. As Kevin progressed through his round of treatments, his relief became more and more sustained. A smile began appearing on Kevin’s face each day… before, during and after treatments.

Not only was Kevin getting better personally. He was also connecting with all of the other people he was receiving treatment with, his new chamber family. For the first time in years, Kevin began experiencing an overwhelming and emotional sense of hope. This was also a very emotional time for his family. They commented on more than one occasion that they felt they were finally getting their dad back.

Thanks to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Sara’s Garden, Kevin has his life back. He states that without a doubt HBOT has saved his life. Kevin has been able to reduce his pain medications and is in the process of eliminating them altogether. He has shared countless hugs and tears with family, friends and co-workers who are thrilled to finally have the old Kevin back again. No matter what you’ve been told, there is hope… for this and many other conditions. HBOT is treatment without drugs… without surgery… without pain.

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