It’s been a long road for Garden City native Jessica Stevens and her family but their journey has been blessed with a happy ending.
Jessica, after three grueling years, has returned from Mexico where she opted to undergo two ketamine comas, an experimental treatment not available in the United States. Jessica was put into a medically induced coma and administered an extremely high dose of ketamine in 2009 and one more time the following year.
Jessica has been suffering from one of the most severe cases of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) doctors have ever seen. Doctors believe that Jessica’s RSD was triggered by a tick bite at summer camp. This debilitating neuromuscular disorder causes severe burning pain and swelling. Jessica’s symptoms were so severe that she ended up bedridden and described the pain as having acid burn on your body. Her arms were plagued with painful skin ulcers. Sensitive to light and sound, she had to wear sunglasses and earphones.
RSD often occurs after an injury; the brain still thinks the injury is there and continues to send pain signals. Ketamine is the only drug with chemical properties capable of shutting down receptors in the brain. The brain is reset and put back online like a computer.
The treatment was Jessica’s last chance for recovery. Jessica’s first coma treatment in 2009 did show initial improvement but she suffered many setbacks and infections. When Jessica woke from the coma she suffered from amnesia and hallucinations.
Suffering from a full relapse and cardiac arrest, Jessica's doctors viewed a second coma as her only chance. Miraculously Jessica woke up singing. David Stevens says she has never looked back though she still has to travel to Mexico periodically for high dose ketamine infusions unavailable in the United States.
She considers her recovery nothing short of a miracle.
It’s been a long road for the Stevens family, who has had to endure long periods of separation and financial hardship. They now reside in Florida. David Stevens was born and raised in Garden City.
“There is no place like the village,” Stevens shared. “My neighbors, the Lutheran Church, the fire department were an incredible support system.”
Jessica, now 24 years old, has a new outlook on life. In a news clip for Channel 7 news she says, "I'm feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. The breeze on my skin, the sun on my face, all these little things in life you take for granted I don't anymore, because I had them all taken away for five years."
She has a new mission now, bringing coma therapy to the United States to benefit others with chronic pain. Jessica already has plans to speak at an RSD Conference in Washington.
To learn more about Jessica Stevens' amazing story, visit her blog at http://hopeforjessica.blogspot.com/.