RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) is a nervous system disorder that causes agonizing pain, burning, swelling in the joints, and may result in a progressive softening of the bones, muscles, and tendons. Dustin Mackie was a high-powered, Harvard-trained health industry executive who was afflicted with RSD in her late forties. As the illness progressed, she was advised by five different doctors in five different specialties that a spinal morphine pump was the only intervention available to help manage the pain and that there was no way to stop the bone and muscle deterioration.
Within months of her RSD diagnosis, she had been forced to abandon her highly successful career and was in a wheel chair, primarily homebound, and facing unyielding pain, involuntary contractions of her tendons, and marked muscle atrophy. Sometimes the pain would become so intense that she would need to call an ambulance to be brought to the emergency room for epidural anesthesia, although she said, at some of those times it would be so excruciating that she couldn’t even dial 911.
She was brought, in her wheel chair, to one of our Conference Works weekend classes. She purchased Donna’s book and 6-hour DVD program and went to work on herself. Within two months of beginning the basic exercises found in the Five Minute Daily Energy Routine, her pain was substantially reduced in frequency and severity. She was no longer homebound and resumed modest social activities. She was able to begin to use her arms for activities of daily living such as opening doors. Three years later, she is in Year 2 of our Certification Program. She says, "This has been a miracle for me." While she still uses her wheel chair, she is able to walk short distances. She can drive short distances. She says, "From two to four days a week, I can have a fairly normal life. I could have done none of this before."
Because the RSD spread from Dustin’s arms to her lower extremities, she has had a series of surgeries on her right foot. During one of them, her surgeon found that the bone in a two inch by three inch area at the top of her foot had "turned into mush." A steel plate was inserted into the area. At the CP class held in January 2008, Dustin asked Donna if there was anything she could do to strengthen bone growth. She was given a very basic exercise by Donna and one of the EEM faculty members, Julie Lapin. Dustin said, "It seemed simple and silly, but I did it, though not religiously." Three months later, she was scheduled for another foot surgery, this time to replace the metal screws that were holding down the steel plate with fasteners made of cadaver bone. When her foot was opened, the surgeon was shocked. She now had strong healthy bone growing in the area. Not only was the cadaver bone not needed, the steel plate was no longer necessary and was removed. That "simple and silly exercise," she noted, "was the only thing that had changed."
Another incident followed that surgery. It typically takes a person with RSD two to three times as long to recover from surgery as would normally be expected. Her first physical therapy visit, a couple of months after surgery, showed almost no range of motion in her foot. Four hours later, one of her colleagues from the Certification Program came and did the Brazilian Toe Technique for her (taught in the CP and other basic energy medicine classes). By the end of this half-hour procedure, Dustin was able to move her foot in circles and up and down. Her foot had gone from twice its normal size to 1-1/4 its normal size. Subsequently her surgeon informed her she was a full month ahead of her expected schedule in terms of her healing process.
Given Dustin’s background in the health field, she has been amazed. "I have been given such hope. At my doctors’ offices I keep running into patients I knew three years ago. It is so sad to see them, doped up on opiates but still in terrible pain, barely able to move or function mentally. I am grateful beyond words to Donna Eden and the wonderful teachers in the Certification Program."
(Compiled by David Feinstein, Ph.D., May 2008)