Ashley Marie MacDonald competed in NAM from 2004-2009. Through her years with NAM she won the Ohio State Teen Cover Girl title in 2006 and went on to Nationals to win the National Cover Girl title. She was also a city queen (Miss Cincinnati) in 2009 competing at Nationals with city queen (Miss Worcester) Cara Haig that fall. This story isn’t about Nationals; it’s about what happened after Nationals.
In January 2011, Ashley went to school and work like any normal day. But that night at work, during a stock check Ashley had an accident. A 72 inch unassembled bookcase had fallen on her foot. She informed the manager of the accident but tried to walk it off. Within a half hour, her foot was so swollen it was bursting out of her shoe and was bruising. A report was filed and Ashley was on her way to the Emergency Room.
There, doctors x-rayed her foot and thought it was a bone chip fracture. They fiber-glassed her foot into a boot and sent her home with instructions to follow up with Mercy Health Solutions in 2 weeks.
During the follow up, the doctor there confirmed to her that the x-rays appeared to show a bone chip fracture and to treat it as such, and to follow up with them again in 2 weeks.
2 weeks later, Ashley came back, but to a different doctor. This doctor told her there was nothing wrong with her at all. All the while, Ashley is feeling excruciating pain and was noticing changes in her foot. An approval to see an orthopedic specialist had still not come in from Workman’s Compensation. At this point she was frustrated and made the appointment anyway. If her foot was indeed broken, she was already halfway through the healing process with it being now 4 weeks after the initial injury.
Upon seeing her orthopedic, all the signs were clear and the xrays clearly showed no break. In fact, Dr. Devine had seen this before but needed an MRI for proof. When that approval came in, the test clearly showed what Dr. Devine had suspected; Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. (RSD)
The diagnosis devastated her. She even wanted to drop out of her upcoming National Pageant in St. Louis.
“It took me a few months, but I finally came to realize why this had to happen to me. I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason and God never gives you anything you cannot handle. I was dealt this card to help others with it. I even changed my major from pharmacology to physical therapy so that I can help someone else with this disorder. I am also working so hard to create more awareness for the RSD disorder.” –Ashley Marie
RSD/CRPS is considered a rare nerve disorder that affects anywhere from 200,000-1.2 million Americans. It develops after any injury or any medical procedure that the body would see as traumatic. An injury that would seem as simple as a sprain can result in an incurable nerve disorder that is often unrecognized and untreated.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy that is now also referred to as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can be prevented all together. By taking Vitamin C immediately following an injury and over the course of 50 days, the chances of one developing this disorder reduces by 76%. That is incredible for a disorder that appears after 5% of all injuries.
There is no cure for RSD. The disorder is treated the best it can be. Through medications, physical therapy, sympathetic nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, tens units, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and ketamine infusions, patients learn to live their life in pain. But it never had to be this way.
Ashley isn’t taking this diagnosis lying down and has now teamed up with Cara who also now suffers from this disorder. She decided to take a stand against this disorder that has changed their lives. Ashley has started a petition on change.org to make it mandatory for hospitals, outpatients, urgent cares, etc to provide vitamin c and inform the patients of the possibility of this disorder developing. Just as flu shots are given in hospitals to prevent the spread of the virus, the precautions should be made to prevent a nerve disorder from developing. Too many people are unaware of the disorder and it’s time to make it known and prevent one more person from receiving this debilitating and incurable diagnosis.
In addition to the petition, Ashley and Cara have been asking those that they know to write to Ellen Degeneres. They are in great hopes that Ellen will take notice and back their efforts, promote the awareness, and the petition. In the past, Ellen has done many things to promote awareness for other efforts and they are praying for her help.
November is RSD awareness month, how will you spread the awareness? Please sign the petition to help Ashley and Cara help others. It only takes one minute and you can change someone’s life.
Please help put out the flame by signing your name.