The Survivors Club

Before his car accident in February of 2005, Robert Hinton was a family man and a devoted dad. Working as a firefighter, EMT and medical sales representative, Robert took pride in his job. He had married his high school sweetheart and had two young daughters. He was happy, in love and planning for his future. Life seemed blissful, and Robert felt blessed.

Sadly, Robert lost the great life he had worked so hard to create following his accident. Hit from behind, Robert experienced severe pain in his right shoulder, neck, back and chest. A few months later Robert needed surgery to repair a labral socket tear in his right shoulder. Twelve nights after surgery, he awoke screaming in agony. It felt as if someone had poured gas on his shoulder and then lit a match.

Robert immediately scheduled a doctor's appointment but the blood work, X-rays and MRI's all came back normal. His doctor was perplexed as Robert's symptoms worsened. His entire right side burned as his right foot became cold to the touch. Soon it began turning shades of blue, red and dark purple. Unable to work or collect disability, Robert was living a nightmare.

Finally, in June 2006, his doctor diagnosed him with widespread reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). RSD is a neurological and chronic pain disorder that affects the skin, muscles, joints and bones. It causes the nerves in the body to misfire sending constant pain signals to the brain. As of today, there is no cure for this condition.

Robert's pain is ongoing and torturous. The burning pain leaves him feeling as if a blowtorch is scorching his skin, eyes and internal organs. He suffers from horrific tremors. RSD has affected his ability to swallow, damaged his lungs and left him with a high resting heart rate. Robert now spends much of the day. There are even days when he cannot even use his walker so his mother-in-law has to watch his daughters. It devastates Robert to watch his girls grow up so fast because of his illness.

Throughout the years, Robert has tried various procedures and medications in order to obtain relief. He underwent weekly epidural nerve blocks for over fourteen months. Nothing helped.

Pain has taken a toll on Robert physically and emotionally. Losing his independence and ability to provide for his family has destroyed his self-esteem. He misses going on bike rides, seeing movies in the theatre or attending his daughters' school events. Just being able to sit outside in the sun is a challenge. While Robert worries that he is a burden, he continues to push forward understanding that giving up is never an option.

Recently, Robert began ketamine infusions and boosters in Philadelphia. Ketamine infusions are a controversial new therapy for RSD patients where a ketamine IV is administered at an escalating dose while monitoring the patient's vital signs and level of consciousness. While it is difficult for him to travel the five-hour train ride from Rhode Island for his treatments, he has noticed a decrease in pain. For the first time since his pain journey began, Robert believes he has found a treatment that helps. As the ketamine has given him a small part of his life back, Robert goes once a month for a two-day ketamine infusion booster.

Robert has learned a lot through his pain. He understands the importance of living every day to the fullest, and appreciates the small joys in life such as coloring with his daughters. Robert has discovered his strength in the midst of pain. He knows he is not alone on his journey and still has faith that answers will be found. Robert is a courageous chronic pain survivor.

"I take life one day at a time, and sometimes, minute by minute. Even on my worst days, I know I will make it because I am strong and have the love of my family."

Robert has created a RSD Fundraising and Awareness website, To offer support or learn more about Robert's story, please contact him at his website or email him at


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For More Information:

To learn more about reflex sympathetic dystrophy, visit

Pain Survivors:

Robert Hinton
Julie Hawkins