Monthly Archives: July 2008

News: RSD The Worst Kind of Pain


Posted: Friday, July 25, 2008 12:00 am

By RITA ANNAN-BRADY, Staff Writer | 0 comments

Editors note: This is the first in a two part series on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, also known as complex regional pain syndrome.

ESSEX FELLS – A seemingly routine sports injury suffered during a high school softball game last year turned out to be just the beginning of the pain for Rosie Savino of Roseland Avenue.

Like many high school athletes everywhere, Savino, who just turned 17 in June, suffered what was first thought to be a minor injury while at bat in the Essex County semi-finals at West Essex Regional High School in the spring of 2007.

She didn’t think too much about it at the time, although it was very painful. It was much like the kind of injuries suffered by athletes and others all the time. She played on through the pain.

Initial X-rays failed to show a fracture but a second set of X-rays about two weeks later revealed a fracture of her left thumb.

That was in May 2007. In August, Savino was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) otherwise known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Her life since has changed.

A relatively unknown disease to most people, RSD/CRPS can affect anyone. Although it is more common between the ages of 40 and 60, it is becoming increasingly prevalent in children. Described as a progressive disease of the autonomic nervous system, it often follows a simple trauma like a fall or sprain, a broken bone, a sharp force injury such as a knife or bullet wound, or even heart problems, infections or surgery. But in about 30 percent of cases, there is no specific injury.

According to the American Society for CRPS, symptoms include intense burning, aching, tingling or crushing pain, which can affect one, two or even all four extremities. It can also manifest in the face, shoulders, neck eyes or other areas of the body.

In 70 percent of cases, the pain spreads to another part of the body from where it originated. Symptoms, often much more than one would expect from the specific injury, can occur a few hours or a few days after the trauma.

Savino is just one of four local people with the condition The Progress spoke to in the past few weeks.

In Savino’s case, though fairly localized initially to the left hand and wrist, by November it had spread to her knees, ankle, feet and shoulder. She has also experienced blurred vision in the left eye and sporadic loss of hearing and a tremor.

The Savinos think themselves fortunate to have found good and effective medical treatment through the help of a neighbor and friend, Michelle Horvath of Runnymede Road who also has RSD.

“We were very lucky that through the help of [Horvath] we got to some of the top RSD doctors in the country, if not the world,” said Savino’s mother, Amy Savino, said.

“With aggressive treatment s, he (Rosie) has attained some remission of her condition and is fighting to retain it and return to school.”

Through Horvath, who has had RSD for three years, the Savinos were able to learn more about the condition and, they say, were prepared for some of the things to come. They were also able to get to some of the best doctors.

Rosie’s Treatment

After starting out treatment in Morristown with medications and nerve blocks that had virtually no effect, Rosie Savino ended up in November seeing Dr. Robert Schwartzman in Philadelphia who specializes in ketamine treatment for RSD patients.

After being on a waiting list until Jan. 28, she was admitted for a five-day in-hospital ketamine treatment at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City with Dr. Daniel Richman who collaborates with Schwartzman, who only treats adults.

That made a huge difference Savino said.

“It [her body] stopped moving and it was able to be touched and I could walk normally,” she said. Her eyes have been fine since she said.

Ketamine therapy is a controversial treatment considered experimental by the Food and Drug Administration. The strong anesthetic, known on the streets as Special K, is administered to RSD patients in one of two ways. One consists of a low dose infusion over several days of hospital or out-patient treatment. The other, which is not approved for use in the United States yet, consists of high doses of ketamine to put the patient in a medically-induced coma followed by the continuous infusion of the drug for several days. The latter is performed in Germany and Mexico.

According to the theory of Dr. Schwartzman and researchers in Germany, the ketamine manipulates N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors which permit the transfer of electrical signals between neurons in the brain and the spinal column. Studies show that RSD results when these receptors malfunction causing pain to be magnified. Ketamine, it is believed, might reboot aberrant brain activity and thus normalize the pain messages.

Rosie Savino has had four outpatient treatments at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York which consists of four to five hours of ketamine treatment for two days in a row.

She was able to stay in school until November when the RSD started spreading to other areas of the body. According to research, the condition does spread in about 70 percent of cases, eventually going to the spinal cord then the brain which is why it can manifest in other areas.

“In trying to explain it to people,” Mrs. Savino said, “we say it’s like having MS, muscular dystrophy, fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s all rolled into one.”

Savino was out of school solidly for about three months but there were many other days when she could not go because of the pain and because often she was only getting about an hour’s sleep a night. Insomnia often goes along with RSD/CRPS.

“Sometimes I’d be going to school with no sleep at all,” Savino said.

In all she probably missed about four and one half months of school, her mother said, noting that the school was wonderful in helping her keep up with work through its home instruction program.

She’s not sure yet if she will be able to return to softball.

“I’ve not been given a definitive answer,” she said. “I was still planning on helping the softball team this year but that didn’t work out,” she said.

Previously she had worked with players on their hitting. Not only was she the catcher for the team, she also had the highest batting average and number of home runs.

“She was a force,” her mom said wistfully.

Rosie Savino attributes her stubbornness with getting her through as well as she has.

“I’m more stubborn than a mule,” she said.

“I don’t mind pain that much. I really don’t,” Savino said. “Writing was one of the worst parts. But some people, if they don’t understand it, some of them try really hard but others they just start ignoring you.”

She expressed disappointment that some individuals at school seemed to abandon her. On the other hand, she said, others had been very supportive, especially English teacher Ann Baney and some other teachers.

Now considered in remission, although she has a lingering related knee injury, Rosie Savino was able to finish 11th grade and do well in most of her classes through a combination of home instruction and return to school in April.

Another Patient

For 15-year-old Chris Lee, also of Essex Fells, the problems began early this year after surgery on Dec. 26 for a cyst in his heel, followed by bone grafts. Shortly after he was diagnosed with RSD his mother, Linda Lee, said. He has been out of school since Christmas.

Her son had sprained his ankle and had been on crutches since Halloween, Mrs. Lee explained. It was this that led to the discovery of the cyst. She theorized that he had perhaps been in an air cast too long from Halloween till Christmas without physical therapy and that was how RSD set in.

The pain of RSD has been excruciating for Chris Lee, his mother said.

“No medication worked on him,” She said. He never found any relief.

“It’s been a nightmare,” she said. “The pain has been so excruciating, he’d black out.”

What has helped and given her hope has been the physical therapy treatment he’s been receiving at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., where the program is intensive physical therapy which desensitizes the nerves and helps them to start recovery. He’s on the waiting list now to be admitted to the hospital for five hours a day of physical, occupational and psychological therapy.

“We’re hoping that by the time they have space he won’t need it,” she said.

Mrs. Lee says the prognosis is good for her son to return to school.

“He was a freshman at West Essex during his illness where he received wonderful support from his guidance counselor and tutors,” she said. In September, he will be a sophomore at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange.

“He’s been amazing,” she said, noting he plays guitar and writes music. “He’s written six songs and a lot of it is about the pain and about his experience,” she said.

Increasing Awareness

One of the concerns the Savinos and the Lees have is to educate not only the public about this condition, but also the coaches and teachers. Too often, they say, coaches and even parents, push student athletes to “play through pain,” ignoring the warning signs of a possible serious injury or, as in the case of RSD/CRPS, a devastating condition that can result in lifelong disability.

Mrs. Lee said athletic departments especially need to be aware of the condition and know what to look for. She speculated that keeping an injury in a cast for too long might lead to developing RSD.

While Amy Savino does not expect to be able to play any sports for the foreseeable future, her mother says “With aggressive treatment and her rugged determination, hopefully, she’ll return to some of the activities that she loves.”

Near-term plans are for her to return to school on a consistent basis and to attend college.

In January, this year Gov. Jon Corzine signed a bill mandating increase awareness and education of RSD/CRPS within the medical community. The condition is now being recognized and diagnosed more frequently, the first step in its effective management.

Because RSD or CRSP affects different people in different ways it’s hard to tell people what to be on the look out for, Rosie Savino says.

“But if you have a sprain or something and it lasts a long time or if the doctor says it hurts more than it should, get it checked out, or if you start twitching,” she said.

It’s important to ask doctors to consider the possibility of RSD and check it out, Mrs. Savino says.

“The worst that can happen is you’re wrong.”

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Starlight wishes in Whistler


Starlight wishes in Whistler
By
Reporter
Brigitte Mah
bmah@whistlerquestion.com

Looking at Briana Butcher, one wouldn’t know that she has a serious illness. She has a beautiful shy smile, and a soft demeanour that most 10-year-old girls on the cusp of adolescence have.

One wouldn’t know that underneath that smile is a ripple of pain that constantly throbs throughout the lower half of her body.

A year ago Briana was just like every other girl in her class at school. She played soccer, ran around, and had fun. Then a hockey injury sent her to the hospital with her mother, Kathryn, believing she had broken her leg. What Kathryn learned was that her daughter had a rare condition called complex regional pain syndrome.

Briana’s soccer days came to a grinding halt. Within two weeks of entering the hospital she was crawling and bound to a wheelchair. Just putting on socks was extraordinarily painful. Blankets hurt as well.

Kathryn had to quit her job to take care of Briana, who spent the months of August to November at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Fortunately the Squamish community stepped in, with the firefighters putting on a fundraiser for the Butcher family, and the Valleycliffe Elementary School raising $2,000 in a penny drive.

It was at the hospital that the Butchers met Heather Burnett, publicist and coordinator for the non-profit charity called Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation.

Every year, the foundation takes a group of children on a complementary day of “life brightening” adventure on the Rocky Mountaineer train, from Vancouver to Whistler.

This year Briana was among the 13 children who, along with their families, made the journey on the train up to Whistler.

The train ride was not an ordinary train ride.

“The kids had a blast on the way up,” said Burnett. “We had entertainers — there was a cartoonist who drew each kid at least twice, and Fannie who sang, did a magic show, and made animals out of balloons.”

Once the train reached Whistler, the face-painted children deboarded, and headed for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some ice cream. From there, it was all smiles as the group loaded onto a gondola and went to the top of Whistler mountain for a scavenger hunt.

For Briana, the trip offered her a chance to forget about the pain, therapy and medication she has to take every day. “It was the most fun we’ve had in a long time,” said Kathryn. “It was a nice break and nice not to think about anything but that.”


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Stewart thinking big on her way to the Games

Stewart thinking big on her way to the Games

Will Swanton
July 13, 2008

AN ANKLE injury led Sarah Stewart to reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The muscle-wasting condition led her to a wheelchair. The wheelchair led her to disabled basketball. Basketball led her to Athens and a bittersweet silver medal. An irrepressibly active mind led her to a PhD in philosophy. Her sport and studies led her to the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Academic and Sporting Achievement at Sydney University. A big old jet airliner will lead her to the Beijing Paralympics. Her plate is full.

“I did philosophy of mind as an undergrad thinking about minds in human beings, artificial intelligence and animals, all the similarities and differences, working out what makes up a mind,” Stewart said in the quiet of the main quadrangle of Sydney University on a Friday afternoon.

“You probably think a little bit outside the square, and think pretty quickly on the go when you’re a philosopher. It helps in life, it helps in sport.”

Australia lost the final at Athens to the US. The 32-year-old’s thoughts keep reverting to the night before the decider. She wants to be in the exact same position in Beijing as “there’s nothing like the night before a gold medal match”. She’s bright-eyed and jovial, overflowing with laughter. The words don’t seem to spill fast enough from her mouth.

“We have a running joke in the team that I’m like those telephone numbers you call when you have a question,” she said. ” ‘Sarah, why is the grass green? Sarah, where do polar bears come from?’ They’re the kind of questions I get. I just find everything pretty interesting. Beijing — fascinating … All the different athletes, the different cultures, the different disabilities. People eating with their legs. The whole thing will be awesome.”

Stewart, from Maroubra, teaches philosophy and maths and plays the saxophone in a band.

“When I was 17, I missed a step going down some stairs, injured my right ankle and it set off a dystrophy in my nervous system,” she said.

“While I was struggling with that leg, I fractured a bone in the other leg, and the same thing was set off in that leg. Stupid, hey? I went from crutches into a chair. I can move them a bit but they’re not very useful, these legs of mine. I get a lot of pain.”

Why, then is the grass green?

“To photosynthesise, plants take in the energy that is emitted on the red light wavelength,” she says. “The red light on the spectrum is absorbed. That means the green light reflects off and hence we see it as green. These crazy bits of info just stick in my brain.”

Nobody likes a smart alec. Except this one.






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The RIDE TO CONQUER CRPS has begun!

The RIDE TO CONQUER CRPS has begun!

DAY 1:
The ride has started. Ahouva and I were delighted to start our ride from Marathon today. We even had a little sunshine for the pictures and I set off across the Canadian shield into the land of granite and jack pines. The Trans Canada highway was under construction and presented some problems. After 54 kilometers I had my first flat of the ride. As I stopped to replace the tire I was eaten alive by black flies. I met Ahouva for lunch at White River. Then the rain started and was with me for the rest of the day. At one point there was a downpour with hail and high winds. Luckily I was able to find some shelter and wait it out. From there on it was a wet ride but great fun. I arrived in Wawa at 6 pm after a ride of 185 km. This is a bit longer than the Tour de France stage 15 that ran today at 183 kilometers. They may have finished their stage a little faster than I did.
I was able to overcome some obstacles and reach my objective. Obstacles are not new to people living with chronic pain and they also know how to persevere and overcome these. I am inspired by their perseverance and will continue this ride for them.
Wawa is named after the Ojibway word for wild goose. To emphasize this and prove that the town was not named by a toddler, the town has at least three gigantic goose statues. It is the jumping off point for trips to the “world’s largest game preserve” the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve. Just south of Wawa is an impressive waterfall where the Magpie River, 38 meters across, falls 23 meters before emptying into Lake Superior. Worth a visit.
Tomorrow we will ride to Sault Ste. Marie, 225 kilometers by Hwy 17. We considered riding down Hwy 129, but this turned out to be a ‘haunted highway’. More about that later.

Read more and check out the progress by clicking here:

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Spinal implant helps Marine deal with pain from Iraq injury


Spinal implant helps Marine deal with pain from Iraq injury

Comments 1 | Recommend 7

DAILY NEWS STAFF

Beep. Beep. Ahhh.

Bobby Joseph straightens his back, letting out a sigh of relief as electrical signals pulse through his leg, giving him respite from the piercing pain that has racked his body since Nov. 11, 2006.

“Oh, yeah,” he says, grinning.

Before the surgery, 27-year-old Joseph woke up in pain every morning. Every step with his left leg brought with it a “shocking, stabbing pain.” The drugs and the nerve blocks helped, but they didn’t make the pain go away. Still, when Dr. Rick Foltz first proposed implanting a device in Joseph’s spine to send pulses through his body, Joseph was skeptical.

“I’ve seen Robocop … I was like, I don’t want to be half man, half machine,” he said.

Then he did the seven-day trial.

“I felt like I was Superman,” he said. “I loved it. I wanted the real thing right then and there.”

In early July, Foltz and another surgeon put the device in Joseph’s spinal cord. Wires and electrodes send electric signals to his nerves, changing the way the pain is transmitted to the brain, Foltz said. Joseph controls the signals with a remote device, changing the pulses based on whether he is sitting, standing or walking.

“It is basically tricking your brain, so there’s no pain there,” Joseph said. “It is like a pulsing massage.”

From machine gunner to wounded warrior

Joseph was three months into his fourth deployment, patrolling a street in Anan, Iraq, when the bomb went off. The blast blew him from the road’s median, as shrapnel pierced his legs, his face, his arms.

“It ripped me apart,” he said, showing off the massive scars on his left thigh and calf.

Other injuries weren’t visible. In addition to the nerve damage, Joseph suffered a traumatic brain injury and has post-traumatic stress disorder.

At Bethesda Naval Hospital, Joseph didn’t remember much about what had happened. But he knew he didn’t want to stay. The hospital “had crappy food,” and he figured his mother could take care of him at home.

In late December he got a call, telling him he needed to report back to Camp Lejeune.

“They said they had a new thing that would take care of me,” he said.

He arrived at Wounded Warriors Battalion East still using crutches and occasionally an electric wheelchair. He couldn’t concentrate, he couldn’t sleep and he was always in pain. He rarely left his room.

“I was living miserably,” he said. “I would not talk to nobody.”

The only thing that made him smile was playing with his two sons. But even that was difficult.

“I (could) take them to the park, but I (was) crutching around,” he said.

Joseph met a lot of doctors, but they came and went. Then he met Dr. Foltz.

“He said he’d take care of me,” Joseph remembers. “I was like, ‘Yeah, right.’ But he did.”

Road to recovery

Joseph has worked hard to recover. Sudoku and other puzzles, combined with speech therapy and cognitive therapy, have helped him get back much of the brain function he lost. The nightmares stopped in May, but he can’t watch gory movies and the crack of fireworks or boom of thunder still gives him a start. He’s closer, he said, but not where he’d like to be.

“You gotta crawl before you walk,” Joseph said. “I’m in the process of still crawling.”

Literal walking is a different challenge. Joseph suffers from complex regional pain syndrome, a syndrome in which a patient has pain that is disproportionate to the wounds. The syndrome is more common in patients with severe injuries, and Foltz said he sees more of it in wounded warriors because of their injuries.

In addition to the pain, patients may be so sensitive they can’t even stand to have a bed sheet brush their leg or arm, Foltz said.

“It’s very difficult to treat,” Foltz said. “If we don’t treat it right away, it can turn into a debilitating, long-term pain syndrome. So when the wounded warriors come back, we want to be very aggressive in the treatment, to get them better as fast as we can.”

Joseph tried a number of treatments – including nine nerve blocks. At one point, he was taking 12 types of medication every day.

“I hate pills,” he said. “You should only be on medication after surgery. That’s why I try to stick with the Marine Corps saying: Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

So Joseph tries to deal with the pain. If it becomes too much, he’ll take a Tylenol. Later, if he needs it, he’ll take one of the prescribed narcotics. He’s seen buddies get addicted, and he doesn’t want to be a “zombie.”

The medications can also be very expensive, Foltz said. Just one of the pills Joseph takes costs $8 a day – or $3,000 a year. So while the implant is pricey – $25,000 to install – it can pay for itself in two or three years.

The implant does have drawbacks. There is a higher-than-normal infection rate, and sometimes the device moves. Joseph also must be able to recharge the battery – so he couldn’t be deployed or out in the field for long periods of time – and can’t go through metal detectors or go SCUBA diving.

But he’s down to just five medications, most on an as-needed basis. And the device will allow him to use his leg more, which makes it less likely he will develop arthritis or bone loss, Foltz said, plus it will improve his quality of life.

“He will be able to play with his kids more, and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

Foltz came to the Naval Hospital in August to start the pain management clinic and work with wounded warriors. Joseph’s is the first such surgery at Camp Lejeune, but both men hope the success will encourage other warriors with chronic pain to consider the implant.

The procedure is a last resort, a way to treat the pain syndrome when nothing else works. Right now, about 1 in 4 patients with complex regional pain syndrome end up getting the implant, and it is about 70 to 80 percent effective, Foltz said, “for a pain syndrome that has been very, very resistant to good treatment.”

“It’s very helpful to see good results,” Foltz said. “It can be sort of scary, the treatments to these things.”

Joseph plans to re-enlist and tries to help other wounded warriors, many of whom he says are focused solely on getting out of the Corps. He wants to make sure guys know that they don’t have to be like he was, angry and holed up in his room.

“I’m trying to set the example,” he said. “There’s more choices than just hating life, trying to get out of the military.”

Contact interactive content editor Jennifer Hlad at jhlad@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8467.







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Missing Hudson resident found dead near Laurel Lake



Missing Hudson resident found dead near Laurel Lake


by Amadeus Smith

Reporter

Hudson — The body of a 74-year-old man was found near Laurel Lake Retirement Community three days after he was reported missing from Laurel Lake July 18.

Hudson Police found the body of William J. Brown, 74, a resident of Laurel Lake Retirement Community, in a wooded area along the north side of Boston Mills Road a little before 8 a.m. on July 21.

Mr. Brown’s body was identified using dental records, said Joe Orlando, chief investigator at the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.

As of July 21, a cause of death had not been determined. Investigators couldn’t determine if there was foul play involved, Orlando said. An autopsy was scheduled for July 22.

Mr. Brown was last seen at Laurel Lake Retirement Community July 18.

David Oster, Laurel Lake executive director, said residents and staff are “deeply saddened” by Mr. Brown’s death.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and close friends of Mr. Brown during this difficult time,” said Oster, who also thanked Hudson police and volunteers for helping to search for Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown’s daughter Laura, who lives in Alexandria, Va., said he was out for a walk while his house was being cleaned.

“No one saw him after that,” she said.

She said her stepmother, Patricia, who went into town that day for a meeting, said she had known Mr. Brown went for a walk because the clothes he wore during his walks were missing: sunglasses, a Tilley Hat, pants, a long-sleeve shirt and his walking shoes.

Mr. Brown was not carrying a cell phone or identification, Laura said.

The city of Hudson issued a Silver Alert July 19. The alert, which Ohio introduced in late June as part of an existing emergency alert program for locating children, known as Amber Alerts, is used to help find missing persons who have mental impairment or are 65 years or older.

Mr. Brown had complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic condition that usually causes leg or arm pain, she said. For Mr. Brown, the pain occurred in his legs after walking too much.

Laura said the site where his body was found was a little farther than “people would figure he would walk.”

Laura said she last talked to her father a few weeks ago to plan a trip for him to visit her in Virginia.

“I love my dad and he was a great guy,” Laura said. “He was very intellectually curious.”

Mr. Brown and Patricia, his wife of 22 years, moved to Laurel Lake Retirement Community from Atlanta last October.

Mr. Brown, who loved to hike, was a retired economics professor. He had a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a doctorate degree from New York University.

He wrote finance textbooks for McGraw-Hill and worked as a professor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., among other schools. In addition, Brown worked for a year at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. There, he developed a formula to predict bank failures.

Funeral arrangements were not set as of press time.






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Pain doesn’t sideline determined animal lover

07/07/2008
Pain doesn’t sideline determined animal lover
By Pamela Mcloughlin , Register Staff


BETHANY — Judy Rettig’s name has long been synonymous with animal rescue and care, first as animal control officer in West Haven, then for the Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge animal control district.

But these days, although she still helps animals any way she can, Rettig’s name has been attached to something less cheerful – a nerve disease that causes such debilitating pain its sufferers can lose the will to live.

Rettig developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a chronic neurological syndrome which often appears after an injury or surgery, after she slipped on ice and broke a leg at the animal shelter.

The strongest painkillers available do little to dull the pain. Rettig wears a special boot on her affected leg because even a bed sheet brushing across it is excruciating. The vibrations from a loud sound can send her reeling.

“This disease is very complicated,” Rettig said. “Every minute of my life, it’s like my leg just broke. …You learn to make friends with your pain.”

At one point Rettig became so discouraged, she considered giving up the fight. But the same determination that made her crawl into sewer pipes to free trapped dogs or carry a 90-pound Labrador retriever down a rescue ladder kicked in, and she went into fighting mode.

On June 22, she joined the RSD team as part of the sixth annual Achilles Hope and Possibility 5-mile run/walk in New York City’s Central Park. The event raises money for the Reflex Sympathethic Dystrophy Syndrome Association, headquartered in Milford.

Unable to walk, Rettig made the journey in a wheelchair, pushed by her partner of 30 years, Christine Santoro, and other friends.

They named Rettig’s group, “Team Monk,” after television’s fictional detective, Adrian Monk. Monk’s character has obsessive compulsive disorder, which acts as both a curse and a blessing, because while it creates barriers, it also helps him solve cases.

Rettig is very organized, clean and particular, qualities revealed in the immaculate way she kept the shelters she managed, and her house at a time when she had more than a dozen dogs there.

“It was really wonderful,” Rettig said of the walk, noting that many participants were Iraq War vets with missing limbs. The event also included groups raising money for other causes.

“When I look at life around me, I still feel very lucky,” she said.

James W. Broatch, executive director of RSDSA, said they had more participants than ever in this year’s walk. Although the total has not yet been tallied, and donations are still coming in, Broatch said he hopes it raised at least $60,000, 90 percent of which will go directly to research. Participants, including RSD sufferers and their family and friends, came from as far away as Colorado and Florida.

“It was a day filled with hope,” Broatch said.

Hope is what gets many people through RSD, an “under recognized disease,” Broatch said.

RSD affects between 200,000 and 1.2 million Americans.

Rettig was replaced as animal control officer because there was no sign of her recovery, although RSD can go into remission. Because there is no cure for the disease, remission is her only hope. The disease or pain can travel to other limbs, and did in Rettig’s case.

Still young and driven to help animals as well as people, Rettig hopes someday to get a version of her old life back. There’s nothing she’d rather be doing than chasing dogs and cats or helping rebuild areas of the nation affected by hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters, Rettig said.

Donations for RSD research in Rettig’s name can be sent to: RSDSA, P.O. Box 502, Milford, CT. 06460 or made by visiting the website, http://www.RSDS.org.

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