Anthony's StoryJun 6, 2019
Children's Hospital of Michigan gives teen his life back, after years of hopelessness and pain
Anthony Moran of Warren was only 13 when his mother Kimberly noticed a red bump that swelled up in his leg in the fall of 2007.
Not sure what had caused it, Kimberly washed the area with hydrogen peroxide and watched the area for further complications. Kimberly did not know at the time that it was the beginning of an excruciating journey leaving Anthony unable to go to school due to such debilitating pain that it would change his life in many ways but with important lessons along the way.
The pain in the leg started to get more significant so Kimberly took Anthony to a local doctor who thought it was a spider bite and he was treated with antibiotics. The pain, however, did not subside. A dermatologist was next on the list to see. That doctor determined it was probably not a spider bite. It was probably a staph infection although she could not determine the particular type of infection since it had not been cultured, according to Kimberly. Without getting specific answers as to why Anthony was suffering from so much pain, the family went from doctor to doctor and countless emergency rooms over the next several months.
“During this time, doctors did not offer us any hope or potential explanation but they all said we should go to Children’s Hospital of Michigan because of their unique expertise in treating children,” says Kimberly. “I just knew that I had to get Anthony into Children’s because when your child is screaming and suffering in constant pain, and at the time there is no viable solution being given to you, you will go to all ends of the Earth to keep trying to help your child.”
After a particularly painful episode, Kimberly and her husband Jeff took Anthony to the Emergency Room at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “When the ER doctor gave Anthony morphine and it did not ease the pain or calm him down, the doctor knew it was a very unusual and complicated situation and he immediately referred Anthony to the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for further evaluation.
LDoctor’s at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan diagnosed Anthony with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), it is a syndrome that causes extreme pain in a particular body part due to miscommunication of the nervous system. Nerves misfire sending constant pain signals to the brain. According to the RSD Association, the syndrome is a misunderstood disorder. Experts are not sure what causes CRPS, or how to get rid of it.
A number of medications and rehabilitation treatments were used on Anthony to see if any would be successful but no treatment at the time was making any significant impact.
While Anthony was undergoing treatment, the Moran’s made a decision to move out of state, but after one year ended up moving back to Michigan because of Anthony’s deteriorating condition. “Although we still did not have success with treatment, it became evident that with Anthony’s situation it would be crucial for him to continue at Children’s Hospital of Michigan where they were familiar with the complex condition. Although a cure had not been found, there was no other place that I felt confident with,” says Kimberly.
Since no other conventional treatment had been successful, they consulted with Suresh Thomas, MD, medical director of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The clinic is the only one of its kind in the state exclusively dedicated to helping bring relief to children and adolescents suffering with chronic pain.
“Chronic pain in children is rarely straightforward with a simple solution. These complex and multifactorial pain problems often cause great distress for a child and his or her family. It is very important for families to be open to a multidisciplinary approach to treatment,” says Dr. Thomas. The multidisciplinary team consists of medical experts that are board certified in both pediatric pain management and anesthesiology, pain psychologists, pharmacists, physical therapists, complimentary and alternative medicine specialists, physician assistants and nurses.
After much thought and consultation with Dr. Thomas and the medical team, the Moran family gave the go ahead to have Dr. Thomas perform a nerve block.
Since sensory signals travel from the brain, through the spinal cord to the site of pain through the nerves, it seemed a nerve block may be the only other way to try to block Anthony’s pain according to Dr. Thomas.
“When Anthony came out of the procedure, for the first time in more than two years, he told me he did not have pain. Words cannot describe the gratitude I have for Children’s and the staff who would not give up on Anthony,” says Kimberly.
Doctor’s are cautiously optimistic but did stress to the family that they don’t know if the pain may come back again. Stress, it seems, can sometimes trigger the condition to return. A unique component of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Children’s Hospital is it offers expertise with a team of specialists including a pediatric pain psychologist. This can be a crucial component in helping to manage the condition long term.
Fortunately for Anthony, after several months since the nerve block, he is now virtually pain free. The Moran family has decided to ease him back into day to day activities and for now he is excelling in online private schooling and hopes to return to his local high school in the near future. He is also now able to run, ride his bike and play like other kids his age.
“They took a chance and never gave up trying different procedures. In the end, their persistence paid off. Children’s gave Anthony his life back. I believe they are not just doctor’s they are miracle workers.”