Have you ever been witness to someone in a coma? If so, you know it’s not a pleasant experience. Simply not knowing if that person will ever wake up again is extremely difficult to deal with. So why would anyone intentionally want to be put into a coma? Well, Heather Kennedy-Redmond did – and was. Let’s take a closer look at her unbelievable medical story.
Have you ever been witness to someone in a coma? If so, you know it’s not a pleasant experience – not for person in the coma, nor for his or her friends and family members. Simply not knowing if that person will ever wake up again is extremely difficult to deal with.
So why would anyone intentionally want to be put into a coma? While this practice is sometimes used in dire life-and-death medical situations, it’s not too often you hear of someone of sound mind agreeing to it.
However, the parents and husband of Heather Kennedy-Redmond of Mooretown, Ontario, Canada, were faced with making the decision of whether to continue seeing their daughter and wife go through intense, excruciating pain or to try an alternative medical solution that is not quite on the traditional side of things.
Let’s take a closer look at this unbelievable medical story.
Heather was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD in July 2000. She had just had her tonsils removed and the inter-muscular shot they gave her in her right leg hurt for days. The pain spread throughout her body and became very intense. And nothing could ease it.
"We went to so many doctors. They were telling me I was crazy and it was all in my head," Heather said. "Within two years it had spread across my body, from my scalp to my toes."
Heather loved sports and spent her free time training for 10K races. Not being able to perform these activities any longer was devastating. And so, the extreme pain had a dramatic affect on Heather emotionally, as well as physically.
What is RSD?
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), is a chronic progressive neurological condition that affects skin, muscles, joints, and bones. The syndrome usually develops in an injured limb, such as a broken leg or broken foot. However, many cases of RSD involve only a minor injury, such as a sprain. And, there are cases where an injury cannot even be identified.
In Heather’s case, they tried every type of traditional medicine possible to overcome the symptoms she was experiencing. Heather’s body would simply not accept any of these medicines. After finding out she had RSD, she had to travel a long distance to Hamilton, Ontario every three weeks for nerve blocks and epidurals. This added 30 needles to her daily schedule of 17 pills. If she kept these treatments up, however, she could do irreversible harm to her body. And the worst thing was that her pain kept increasing rather than subsiding.
That is when her parents and husband decided to make the trip to Mexico to watch their daughter and wife go through the very scary unknown.
The treatment Heather was about to undergo was controversial and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not approved it (and still have not to this day). However, a doctor in Mexico was able to secure the drug from German physicians. This drug, used to induce the coma, is ketamine - a powerful human and veterinary anesthetic.
The treatment came with a hefty price - $50,000. And, because this was an alternative method not yet approved, insurance was not a factor in helping to pay for the cost. Luckily, family and friends and strangers were able to raise $20,000 to help pay for the procedure.
The actual treatment involved flooding Heather’s body for five days with ketamine. Her parents and husband waited five days for her to wake up and were hopeful to see her pain free. When Heather awoke, she remembered a special time in the hospital that was one of the first signs of the treatment working. She recalls, "I remember holding my dad's hand and it didn't hurt."
Last March, Heather Kennedy-Redmond was in extreme pain with a grim future. Now, a year later, she is 60% better and has a positive outlook for a future without suffering. Heather realizes that this treatment will not always work for everyone, but knows it did work for her. She also accepts the fact that there is no cure for RDS, but she is looking at life one day at a time and considers every day that she is pain-free as a blessing.
*While Heather found relief from this treatment, it may not be meant for everyone. It has not been approved by the U.S. FDA at this time. Please consult your doctor with any health questions or concerns you may have regarding this treatment before taking any action.