Monthly Archives: November 2008

Support group helps girl deal with painful condition

Support group helps girl deal with painful condition

Lacey Berardi was 10 years old when the pain began in her back. Within days she was bedridden and could not stand to be touched or eat because of the pain.

Her frantic family began a journey to find her help.

Little did they know that three years later, they would still be battling public ignorance and a lack of medical knowledge about her condition.

The Johnstown native was a typical girl, active in school and cheerleading, her mother Vicki Walker said.

But as her pain increased, doctors could do little more than prescribe high doses of Ibuprofen and question whether there was a psychological component to her symptoms.

It took a visit to Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh to find out Berardi had reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), which is commonly called complex regional pain syndrome.

“Physicians are not in tune with RSD,” said Walker. “That’s a huge problem.”

Conventional testing does not work with RSD. Blood tests, CT scans and MRIs will not reveal the problem, said Lori Murphy, a physical therapy clinician and research associate at the John P. Murtha Neuroscience Institute.

“Sometimes there’s nothing on the outside to say that they have RSD,” she said. Taking a thorough medical history and having a familiarity with the syndrome are the keys to diagnosing, she said.

“The more we can do to educate the public and health care providers, the better off we are,” Murphy said.

Diagnosing the problem was only the first step in a long road back for the girl, who got much worse before she began the treatments that would eventually restore her quality of life.

The syndrome, which affects up to 1.5 million people in the United States, became so bad that Berardi couldn’t even bathe, her mother said.

“The feel of water on her back was torture,” Walker said.

The medical community has few answers to what causes the syndrome or how to effectively treat it, said Murphy.

Scientists believe RSD can occur after physical trauma, repetitive movement and can strike almost anyone at any age, she said.

“Still, some folks have no idea what brought it on,” she said.

The symptoms can start with burning pain, inflammation, sensitivity to touch and skin discoloration, she said.

Unchecked, the pain can worsen and often creates intense emotional problems for sufferers, she said.

Currently doctors treat the affliction with physical therapy and pharmaceuticals that effectively reboot the overly sensitive sympathetic nerves creating the sensation of constant pain, Murphy said.

For Berardi, it took months of painful treatment to break the pain cycle, Walker said.

Morphine and methadone, some of the strongest pain-mitigating opiates used in medicine, did little for Berardi.

In fact, it took courses of nerve-blocking and aggressive physical therapy to break the cycle, Walker said.

Now, the cheerleader is in remission and has resumed the normal life of a 13-year-old. Freedom from pain does not mean freedom from worry, however.

“We know that it can come back at any time,” Walker said.

That’s one of the main reasons a local support group for RSD sufferers was formed in April, Walker said.

“There is no cure. You have to learn how to manage,” she said. “We have to be advocates for ourselves.”

Many of those with RSD never stop taking drugs or receiving treatment for the pain. Spending time on Web sites like, shows the stories of many who seek just days of relief as opposed to complete remission.

Since 1997, the site has been visited more than 10 million times, according to their estimates.

Patients and families can use the site to meet others with RSD, learn treatments, contribute to research and find local support groups like the one in Johnstown.

The Johnstown group, which meets the second Monday of each month in the institute, has around 20 members, Walker said.

The goal is to bring those with RSD and their families together to learn about the latest research, treatments and educational efforts.

“There’s not enough education. So many people are misdiagnosed,” Walker said.

“We’re like a big secret. If we can just increase awareness, we can help many, many more people,” she said.

For more information on the support group, please call (814) 269-5238.

(Dan DiPaolo can be contacted at Comment on the story at

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$16.5 million awarded in fatal drug overdose

$16.5 million awarded in fatal drug overdose

A Cook County jury awarded more than $16.5 million Monday to the estate of a 38-year-old woman who died after using a pain patch prescribed by her doctor.

Janice DiCosolo, the wife of a Cicero police sergeant and a mother of three, died Feb. 15, 2004, after she used a Duragesic pain patch manufactured and distributed by Alza Corp. and Janssen Pharmaceutical Products LP.

DiCosolo’s doctor prescribed the patch to treat complex regional pain syndrome, according to her lawyer, F. John Cushing.

Instead of releasing medication slowly over a period of three days, the patch delivered a lethal level of fentanyl into her blood stream, 16 times higher than it should have, Cushing said. The patch was recalled a day after DiCosolo died, according to a news release.

Fentanyl is a powerful opiate used in prescription pain medication.

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One final shot for Illini’s Turner

One final shot for Illini’s Turner

By Anthony Zilis

Posted: 11/20/08 Section: Sports

Excitement rippled through the Huff Hall crowd on Halloween night as Kayani Turner jogged onto the court, her team down a set to No. 18 Michigan.

After being out for three weeks with yet another injury, she was finally back on the court.

Turner felt nerves, something she wasn’t expecting in her fifth year at Illinois. She had a bandage wrapped around her right hand, evidence of a dislocated finger she suffered in practice a few days before.

At a position that relies heavily on blocking, the injury was problematic, but she wasn’t going to let it stop her – not after everything she had been through to get to this point.

With the Illini up 20-17, Turner was given the opportunity to shine on her first play. Michigan set their left outside hitter Juliana Paz. Turner, along with teammate Johannah Bangert, blocked the attempt, jump starting the Illini who went on to win the set and later the match.

The end result was momentary, but the significance of the game-changing block was three years in the making.

The injury

The year was 2005, and Turner was playing in her first season with the Illini after redshirting the year before with a knee injury.

Turner burst onto the scene, piling up at least 10 kills in 13 different matches while she suffered from what she thought was shin splints. But her season came to an end in November when she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left tibia.

After about six weeks, the bone finally healed, but Turner still felt the pain.

“I thought I was kind of crazy, and the doctors thought I was kind of crazy,” she said.

After ruling out almost every logical injury, doctors eventually decided by process of elimination that Turner was suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), more commonly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), in her left leg.

A chronic pain disorder, CRPS can make pain from injuries feel worse as time progresses, rather than better. Even though Turner’s stress fracture was healed, the pain was worse than ever.

“One of the hard things is we didn’t know much about (CRPS); it’s not something that is common in volleyball players,” assistant coach Kevin Hambly said. “None of us had ever dealt with it, so a lot of our first conversations were, ‘We’ve got to figure out what this is, what’s going on, we know nothing about this.'”

But Turner played through the pain, practicing throughout the spring and summer.

Even with the pain, Turner was having a breakout season in 2006. Teaming with star middle blocker Vicki Brown, the 6-foot-2 front liners formed a formidable duo.

She received treatments, from medication to patches, acupuncture to epidurals, but nothing seemed to ease the pain.

So she just played through it.

While ranking fifth in the Big Ten in kills per set, Turner quickly became an emotional leader of the team.

But the pain became too much to bear, keeping her up at night and affecting her work off the court and in the classroom.

“Sometimes you just get pushed to a limit. My pain threshold is pretty high, but the pain level was exceeding that threshold,” she said. “First and foremost, I’ve got to live my life, and it was affecting the routines of that.”

So it came to light that she wouldn’t be back on the court any time soon, if ever.

After resting for the final few months of the season, Turner’s doctors and coaches advised her to shut down all physical activity, outside of walking to and from class.

Another tough blow came during the spring of 2007 when Hambly and head coach Don Hardin told her to take a step back from the team, which was too emotionally attached to its leader. Turner did not attend practice or workouts all through the spring.

But she was still heavily involved with the coaching staff as a student assistant, something that eased the pain of not being able to play. Giving up the game she loved was something Turner couldn’t deal with.

“My parents always tell me I was a little stubborn as a kid, I just … ” Turner trailed off. “I can’t ever just give up. That’s the main reason I tried to come back a fifth year because I wanted to see if I could do it … and if I didn’t even try it, I’d be wondering for the rest of my life whether I’d be able to even practice or do the elliptical or anything.”

Her final chance

So in January 2008, Turner gave volleyball one final shot. After the pain had subsided for a few weeks, she started her training.

Her first step was riding the stationary bike. After the bike, Turner moved on to the elliptical and slowly progressed until she could participate in volleyball related activities.

In May, Turner finally returned to practice with the team.

New beginnings

This season has featured setbacks, though none as severe as Turner’s 2006 injury.

Still, she was determined to play against Michigan – the match when she recorded that unforgettable block.

“I don’t think we could’ve written it any better,” Hambly said.

As for the rest of this season, Turner just wants to do what’s best for the Illini. Despite her success in the past, the right outside hitter knows she’ll have to earn back her spot.

And with the team ranked No. 16 and third in the Big Ten, Turner doesn’t know if, or when, her role on the team will return to what it once was.

“The team’s doing great, we’re playing well, the chemistry’s great. You can’t ask for anything more than that,” Turner said.

Hambly said that the goal is to have her back in the rotation by the end of the season, but, as Turner knows, nothing is guaranteed.

And if she’s not part of her team’s plans, Turner is ready to embrace the role of a leader off the court rather than on it.

Looking toward the future

But Turner knows her Illini career is swiftly coming to an end. Even though she will move on next year, her future just wouldn’t be right without the game she loves. That’s why the 22-year-old communications major is making the trip to the Final Four – even if her Illini don’t qualify. She has the intention of making valuable contacts in hopes of pursuing her dream of becoming a coach.

In some ways, watching from the sidelines for a year and a half has helped Turner see the game in a different light, in packages rather than individual moments.

That’s how Turner views her entire career: one single play, by itself, doesn’t seem so special. But placed in the context of a career that has been filled with hardship and struggle, that play signifies something much more meaningful.

“All those things, most kids would quit,” Hambly said. “But I don’t think that she wanted to look back on her life, at her volleyball career, and say, ‘You know, I should have gave it just one more shot,’ and that shows a lot about her character and her resiliency. She’s a pretty incredible person; I think anyone who’s spent any time with Kay would say that she’s one of the most amazing people that they’ve ever been around.”

So even if she never played another minute, would it all be worth it?

“I wouldn’t take anything back for a second,” Turner said. “I’ve been injured a lot, more than anyone would want to be, but the other experiences that I have gotten from it are incredible. I’ve learned so much about myself, about my teammates, the game itself; I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

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‘I don’t know if she can take much more’

‘I don’t know if she can take much more’

Jordan Keen is eager to put the pain away

By Sean Dalton , Staff Writer

PUBLISHED: November 13, 2008

Jordan Keen is a remarkable 17-year-old teenage girl in an equally remarkable amount of pain.

On Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m. a benefit spaghetti dinner will be held at St. Mary Catholic Church to raise money for what is cost-wise a daunting financial obligation for the Keen family. Each plate will bring the Dexter family closer to the $10,000 mark, which is a down-payment on what the family hopes will be the final solution to her ailment.

But it will be worth every penny to give a budding girl a shot at a bright future beyond the constant pain she finds herself in.

It all began when Jordan fell during a skiing accident at Mount Brighton in January 2004. She wrenched her knee, which led to a great deal of pain.

“We went to the emergency room,” said Jordan’s mother, Sue. They told the Keen family it was just a sprain, but after two weeks of doing what the doctor ordered to help the healing process along, the pain was not vacating Jordan’s body.

“We went to doctor after doctor, and they said it was nothing … here’s some crutches,” Sue recalled with a frustrated sigh.

After six weeks on crutches didn’t help either, the Keen’s felt that there had to be something else going on.

Sue and Jordan both recall seeing many more doctors, most of which brushed the Keen’s off ruling that there was “nothing wrong” after taking some x-rays.

It wasn’t until 2005 that a referral from the University of Michigan Hospital sent Jordan to the Cleveland Clinic, where doctors Jack Andrish, an pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and Michael Stanton-Hicks, a pain management specialist, Anesthesiology and researcher, put their finger on the cause that had eluded so many of their medical peers.

“Dr. Andrish sent us to his buddy, Dr. Stanton-Hicks and they finally diagnosed the problem in June 2005,” Sue said.

The diagnosis was Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), which is also called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

The cause and battle

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describe CRPS as a chronic pain condition, which is chiefly characterized by continuous, intense pain that is disproportional to the injury that causes it. The pain gets worse instead of better, which has bared itself out in Jordan’s case.

CRPS often affects arms, legs, hands and/or feet, often engulfing the entire affected limb with an intense burning pain, accompanied by a change in the tone and temperature of the flesh. Skin sensitivity, sweating and nausea can also occur.

Doctors aren’t really sure what causes the condition, while the Keens are getting a lesson in its affects the hard way. They have heard theories about the sympathetic nervous system, immune system responses and other ideas thrown against the wall. There’s no cure, but there is a way of treating the pain, including various medications, physical therapy and nerve/spinal cord stimulation.

The latter is what the Keens’ are hoping for now, after years of trying everything else and the stimulation method working, prior to Jordan’s relapse.

“She was on crutches for a year and a half, while we tried a bunch of different things for Jordan – drugs, physical therapy, water aerobics and a bunch of other stuff to get her knee back,” Sue said.

A year later Stanton-Hicks tried stimulating the nerves in Jordan’s knee and her spine, “and Jordan tossed her crutches away,” Sue said.

Jordan had missed much of seventh and eighth grade, lost some friends and had to set aside her life on the soccer field and softball diamond, but she was better … for awhile.

“She was great for about a year,” Sue said. During the pain’s all too brief repose, nerve medications were used as follow ups to the doctor’s nerve stimulation.

But a case of food poisoning stemming from a seemingly harmless meal at a local bowling alley sent the Keens’ back into their nightmare.

“I remember Jordan violently vomiting, and then she started complaining that a spot in the upper quadrant of her chest was hurting,” Sue recalled.

More doctor visits happened over the summer and fall of last year. At this point Jordan was suffering terrible pain in her stomach, which persists to this day and limits what she can eat and drink and the amounts.

She was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital last December, where she spent a month for dehydration and the stomach pain. Jordan’s caretakers at the Cleveland Clinic took her in for five weeks of care and kept the pain at bay for five weeks in a controlled environment, according to Sue.

“They put in a temporary stimulator implant into Jordan’s back to get rid of the pain around her stomach,” Sue said.

And it worked for five weeks, until Jordan’s back began suffering spasms, and the stimulator had to be removed prematurely last June.

Again, Jordan had been given a fleeting taste of the normalcy we all take for granted, only to have it pulled out from under her. Arm and leg pain have since joined the rest.

Going it alone

The Keen family’s insurance company is withholding approval of a permanent stimulator, pending convincing evidence that it is “required.”

In the mean time, the Keens have burned through much of their own assets paying deductibles, uncovered fees and other expenses.

Husband and father Doug Keen is a Spirit Airlines pilot and Sue teaches at St. Mary’s in Pinckney – careers that should have promising retirements on the horizon, but no longer, says Sue. “I don’t think that’s around anymore … we just tanked out the 401K that my husband had at his office and another $3,000 retirement account.”

Sue has only been teaching at St. Mary’s for three years, so she hasn’t accrued enough benefits to similarly leverage.

“While we went to doctors all summer – that’s basically what we did all summer – they said they didn’t believe that the stimulator would be helpful,” Sue said.

Weekly hospital visits at $2,000 a visit to keep Jordan’s fluid levels staple and monitor her health, among other costs, including the other stimulators, which cost $30,000 each paid for out of pocket.

The permanent stimulator that the Keens are seeking now costs $75,000 – a daunting sum to a family that has leveraged a beautiful Dexter home and other assets far beyond what they would like.

“Because we already remortgaged our home and sold everything we have we have no money to pay for the permanent one,” Sue said. “The $10,000 is just a down payment. We’ll have to pay for it for the rest of our life.

In the meantime, the Keens are taking action and not merely waiting for a final denial from their insurance company, which has already paid for all sorts of screening tests and doctor visits that ultimately were more distraction than meaningful treatment, or were interim treatments to keep Jordan healthy on a temporary basis while she could have been permanently helped.

“I don’t know if she can take much more,” Sue said, nearly crying. “If only they had done the right thing back in April.”

Remarkable girl

Jordan sounds a lot like her mother Sue, and despite her predicament is a very cheery sounding girl.

“I definitely try and stay positive and hold onto hope with both hands,” she says. “If I lost that I truly lose everything that I have and it’s pretty much surrendering to this.

“I never want to be a victim.”

She even holds back describing her pain, saying “I don’t feel great.”

Emotionally she is fighting to just “keep breathing” and hold onto that spirit of perseverance that surfaces in some special people when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds.

She couldn’t hold back the anger at the family’s insurance company; however, saying that it was frustrating knowing that the only thing standing between her finally getting on with the normal life of a teenage girl is a $75,000 claim teetering on the precipice of denial by a white collar worker she will never meet or even talk to.

“I feel like there’s so much power that I can have with my real life, it seems like we’re just sitting around waiting for now,” Jordan said. “It’s irritating to feel so close.”

She was also tired when she got on the phone for this interview, admitting that all she had done was “put up a poster for this dinner.”

Jordan loves to write as an outlet, and currently submits articles to magazines and The Detroit News.

She feels like there has been a reason for what she has gone through for the last five years and is ready to embrace her future with open arms.

“I feel like a rocket ready to launch from my wheelchair and finally be tall again,” Jordan said, after reflecting on how different it has been seeing the world from that vantage point, which has her seeing things as a girl of 5 feet 10 inches tall from a shorter perspective than her 10-year-old brother.

Jordan hopes to one day become a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitative medicine, working her way through medical school as a physical therapist. Positive experiences with the doctors in Cleveland and some of the successful programs she has been through pushed her in that direction.

Whether or not she will go to homecoming this school year or drive a car or return to sports is unclear, but one thing is certain.

“All that I’ve gone through has really inspired me to make a change,” Jordan said.

The Keens are also holding a rally benefit for Jordan on Nov. 23 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Creekside School Cafeteria at 2615 Baker Road. The cost is $10 per person. For more information contact Sue Keen at 1-734-223-2006.

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Sigman served as U.S. Army ranger

Sigman served as U.S. Army ranger

November 11, 2008

MOUNT VERNON — In August 1997, Jason Sigman began his venture in the U.S. Army. It was a chance to see the world, help his country and enjoy the great outdoors. He trained at Fort Benning, Ga., in the Alpha 1-50 Infantry 4th Platoon, and graduated in 1998.

A couple of years later, he started training to be a ranger. That was when his life changed.

One of his training exercises required him and his partner to follow a mapped course in the middle of the night with no flashlights. Sigman said he became distracted and when he resumed his course, he met with the edge of a cliff.

“I went off a cliff about 100 feet. It wasn’t that steep, but I know when I went down, they said if you fall like that to ride like you are skiing— have your back against the wall at an angle like you are skiing down the wall. My left foot got caught, which caused my body to jump off and twist, and it was at that point that my foot snapped,” he said.

His partner found him as Sigman was crawling out of the hole. Although he was hurt, he was determined to finish the course, no matter the pain he felt in his foot. The next day he was sent to a medical facility about two hours away. When he got there, he waited about an hour before they examined his foot and determined it was a sprain.

“If it was just sprained I would deal with it, but they started to give me extra tests,” said Sigman. “I went back [to training] so I wouldn’t get into trouble. I made it back 20 minutes before disqualification.”

Sigman knew the rules of his training, which were that he couldn’t be away from training for more than six hours; and with time limited, he didn’t want to lose his chance to graduate from the program.

“It hurt doing the rest of the time while I was in ranger school, but I made it,” said Sigman. “They still gave me my certificate of graduation, although I got hurt.”

But after nine months of missions and training exercises the pain in his left foot didn’t go away, it got worse.

“They did more tests on it and said it was broke; and it healed perfectly, except there was a bone splinter that got broken off into my nerve, and every time I walked it would splinter into my nerve,” he said.

Within a month he had surgery to remove the splinter, but so much nerve damage caused severe swelling in his foot.

“The doctor said it looked like [the scar tissue from the foot being so swollen], because the nerves were so swollen for being damaged so much, my skin actually healed through my nerves,” said Sigman.

After the first surgery, he felt much better.

In 2002, he left the military and was honorably discharged. He came home to Ohio to civilian life, and started working for a security company. But when the pain came back, working became hard, because his job required him to constantly patrol the facility.

“With the security company we had to do a lot of rounds where we had to walk, and it was hurting to walk too much. I ended up seeing the doctor a couple of times, and getting let go from my job because I couldn’t stand the walking,” he said.

During a second surgery, doctors removed 3 inches of damaged nerve in his foot.

“Every year it seems to be progressing, getting worse,” said Sigman.

For eight years he has suffered with the problem in his foot. Now he faces the worst — the possiblity of having his left leg removed, or trying other measures for help.

“First it was my foot, and now the doctors say the nerve damage is between my knee and my ankle; they say it is closer to my knee,” said Sigman.

As the nerve damage spreads, there is the possibility of reaching his spinal cord, he explained.

“One doctor says they can move my leg, which is looking more possible. I am just scared that if the nerve damage moves to my back — they say it is a possibility — it could paralyze me.”

After seeing several physicians, it was determined that Sigman suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, also known as complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic progressive disease characterized by severe pain, swelling and changes in the skin.

He has tried many forms of therapy to help with the pain, including a massage therapist and a chiropractor, and has seen several doctors.

Sigman said that throughout his troubles he has tried to keep a positive attitude and has not given up. He sent a letter to President George W. Bush in 2004 asking for further assistance. The White House office responded by sending his concern to the Department of Veteran Affairs, which has allowed him to attend classes at a local college. Those have been postponed for a time until further testing can be done on his foot, and a decision made as to a possible third surgery.

Through all of his troubles, he said, the hardest part has been getting enough help from the Veteran Association.

Last year, after being told by the Veterans Hospital that it could do nothing more for him, he called Congressman Zack Space’s office and spoke with the veteran coordinator.

“[The coordinator] called the V.A. Hospital and within two days they had me transferred to OSU medical facility,” said Sigman. “I’ve worked with the V.A. since 2003 after my last surgery; after that they have been giving me hassle after hassle.”

Sigman said he felt like something needed to be done, because of the severe pain in his foot and leg — with much activity he can’t stand for a period of time or walk for long without his foot swelling and causing pain — and because he hasn’t been able to work. He said it has been hard to balance his bills, uncovered medical costs and personal care on a small income of about $500 a month. Not being able to work has caused him financial debt, and he had to file for bankruptcy last year.

“It’s not that I don’t want to work,” Sigman explained, but because of the pain and the liability, no company is willing to hire him. “I have been let go from several jobs, before I was told that I couldn’t work anymore.”

Since 2005, as the pain progressed and it became harder and harder to work, a doctor at the veteran hospital rendered him “unable to perform any activity” because of his chronic foot condition. More recently, OSU Medical Center classified him as disabled.

“It took OSU Medical Center to say I was actually disabled. They said ‘able to return to work and school unknown. He remains totally disabled at this time,’” said Sigman.

But the V.A. is only paying for 40 percent of Sigman’s disability, and no more, even though he suffers from post-tramatic stress disorder and thyroid problems.

For the past couple of years he has applied and reapplied for further aid from the Veterans Association. His mother and father have been most supportive in this time of crisis and have assisted him in expenses.

Other than the accident that caused his injury, Sigman said he enjoyed his time in the Armed Forces, and particularly his time in ranger school.

“In ranger school I learned more than just taking orders,” he said. “Ranger school was really hard — you get four months of schooling, six months of pre-ranger school, and you get one meal a day and 30 minutes of sleep at night.”

He takes with him many memories of his experiences from his travels around the world. After 9/11 he was sent to Iraq; Sigman remembers his short time there, just south of Baghdad, working at a military airport loading and unloading military vehicles.


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Federal prisoner claims prison employee assaulted him during meal

Federal prisoner claims prison employee assaulted him during meal

10/27/2008 9:30 AM
By Kelly Holleran -Kanawha Bureau

CLARKSBURG – A Gilmer County suit in which a prisoner has claimed abuse by a prison employee has been moved to federal court.

Gregory Davis, an inmate at Federal Correctional Institution in Gilmer, claims Eric Feltz, an employee of the prison, assaulted him during his noon meal on June 12.

Davis was wearing a glove on his right hand after he sought medical treatment for an injury to his right arm, according to the complaint filed Aug. 11 in Gilmer Circuit Court.

Even though Davis told Feltz why he was wearing the glove, Feltz repeatedly thrust his finger into Davis’s hand, telling Davis he had never seen a glove like that, the suit states.

Davis claims Feltz jabbed him with his finger three times before Davis told him to stop.

The incident, which was recorded and performed in front of more than 100 inmates, caused Davis to experience shooting pains in his right hand and nerve dysfunction throughout his right arm, according to the complaint.

Davis went to the medical staff at the prison on June 12 and had an appointment on June 16 with clinical director E. Mace, according to the complaint.

“She explained that plaintiff was having shooting pains due to him having CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome),” the suit states. “The nerves in the plaintiff’s right arm are severely damage due to numerous gunshot wounds to the right side of his body.”

Davis claims he continued to experience the shooting pain for two days after his treatment.

Because of the incident, Davis, who already had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, suffered emotional distress, according to the complaint.

“Defendant’s attack on plaintiff triggered painful flash backs of the plaintiff’s past injury which was another attack in the plaintiff mind that had hurt him in the past,” the suit states. “Defendant’s ‘assault’ on plaintiff makes this the second time in the life of plaintiff that he was ‘maliciously’ attacked by someone. Which opens up an unwelcome batch of tragical painful memories.”

Davis is seeking compensation damages in excess of $300,000, punitive damages in excess of $300,000, costs, attorney fees and other relief deemed proper by the court.

Davis is representing himself.

Feltz is being represented by Helen Campbell Altmeyer of Wheeling.

U.S. District Court case number: 1:08-CV-183

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‘Use of an indoor pool will relieve my agony’

10/24/2008 11:04:00 AM
‘Use of an indoor pool will relieve my agony’
Tonya Symonds has chronic pain syndrome and needs water therapy during the winter

Wheelchair bound Tonya Symonds is desperate to find an indoor swimming pool as she battles to achieve her dream of getting back on her feet.

The 23-year-old woman suffers from chronic pain syndrome and lost the ability to walk nearly eight years ago.

But Tonya believes the one thing that can help her to “get her life back” is to strengthen her muscles and joints with water therapy.

During the summer months she has seen “huge improvements” by doing exercises and stretches in a family friend’s outside pool. But now that the weather has turned she is trying to find an indoor swimming pool so she can continue with her therapy.

Tonya said she did not want to lose the progress she had gained over the summer.

She said: “Finding an indoor swimming pool that I can use will be a sure sign step to me getting back on my feet.

“I am able to move freely and my abilities greatly improve because of the gravity.

“And I find I get to do in the pool significantly improves what I can do on land.”

She added: “I’m hoping it will help me to get my life back.”

When Tonya was 12-year-old and in her first year at Berkeley Institute she suffered what she thought was flu, but the symptoms wouldn’t go away.

She said: “I’d been a normal, healthy child who got really sick and I thought it was flu, but I was in a lot of pain and the pain never went. My whole body just hurt, it was awful.”


She was referred to the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta where she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – a disorder classified by chronic widespread pain.

It is not known for sure but is believed that the disorder was triggered by a virus. Tonya was put on daily pain relief medication and her symptoms vary from day-to-day with periods of flares.

She missed a semester of school in 1997 as she was laid up in pain, but with the help of physio she started to walk again and was able to return to school.

For several years she suffered little pain, but in 2000 aged 15 she noticed the flare ups were becoming more frequent.

She said: “Everything just snowballed as I didn’t really have time to recuperate in-between.”

By November that same year Tonya found herself “paralysed in pain” throughout her body. She was bed-ridden for months, she couldn’t move her legs and she couldn’t even sit up.

She said: “It came as a complete shock, I was suffering every kind of pain imaginable. It wasn’t just muscular pain, it was serious joint pain.”

In January 2001 Tonya was admitted to King Edward Memorial Hospital for therapy – she was an in-patient for seven weeks and an out-patient until early 2002. It was at this time that Tonya started using a wheelchair.

She began to walk with parallel bars and stand upright with the aid of a standing walker but admitted she had a “hard time with the therapy.”

Tonya was re-admitted to King Edward in May, 2002, then went on to spend two months at New England Rehabilitation Hospital near Boston and a further nine months at the UCLA Hospital in Los Angeles. She was pleased to be able to walk with canes as maid of honour at her sister’s wedding in July 2003.

Tonya has since been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – another chronic progressive disease characterised by severe pain – and spent another stint at the New England Rehabilitation Hospital in late 2004.

Home therapy

For more than a year Tonya has been carrying out her own therapy at home and carries out a series exercises and stretches on a daily basis.

Tonya said: “My problem is trying to keep things up. Every time I seem to make some progress I seem to take a step backwards.

“I am doing the therapy myself as I realize I have to try something different to make this work. I know my own body, I know when to push it further and I know when to stop.

“Instead of doing it the fast and hard way, I’m going to go slow and steady.”

Tonya is currently studying an introduction to psychology course at home and hopes to study English at an overseas school next year.

But the one thing Tonya wants more than anything right now is an indoor swimming pool to continue with her therapy.

Describing what it’s like to be in the water, she said: “It just makes me so happy, I just can’t stop grinning.”

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