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Dawn Marie battles to help ailing sister-in-law
By KENAI ANDREWS - SLAM! Wrestling


Dawn Marie, her sister-in-law Carrie Deussing, Christy Hemme, and Nikolai Volkoff at Wizard World in May 2008.


Former WWE personality Dawn Marie Psaltis is looking to raise $50,000 with a Red Carpet benefit dinner to help sister-in-law Carrie Deussing, who is currently afflicted with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), undergo treatment. RSD is a progressive nerve disorder that attacks the central nervous system.

The benefit is scheduled for September 14 at the Holiday Inn in Edison, New Jersey, featuring many guest appearances from the wrestling community.

"I'm really looking forward to doing the RSD foundation because I've been so far removed for so long," Dawn Marie told SLAM! Wrestling in a phone interview from her home in Edison. "I'm actually looking forward to hanging out with them and just having some fun, and also thanking them."

RSD produces chronic and extreme amounts of sharp burning pain which feels like standing in the middle of a raging inferno. An extreme sensitivity to touch, a condition called Allodynia is usually present as well, which makes the slightest touch, sharp sound, clothing or breeze trigger the pain sensations.

It is why Deussing calls the process of recovery "taming the flame."

The symptoms can include inflammation, spasm in the blood vessels and muscles of the extremities, back or torso, and insomnia or emotional disturbance.

There is no known cure for RSD.

Speaking with SLAM! Wrestling on the phone from her home in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, the personable Deussing, 31, explained how her life was turned upside down after returning from an Aruba vacation in July 2007. "I started experiencing some symptoms on the left side of my body, in my torso area. We weren't really sure what they were, and they looked me up for kidney stones and that came up negative and the symptoms spread down my left leg. The symptoms were a burning ravishing pain which felt like being stung by thousands of bees at the same time. Then it went up my left arm and then my co-workers decided to take me to the hospital.


Carrie Deussing before being afflicted with RSD.
"I'm progressively getting worse every day. I cannot walk without assistance," she continued. "I have a wheelchair; I'm waiting to get a motorized one and just cannot do the things I used to do around the house.

"I was a workaholic. I loved my job and worked all the time. Probably too much. I worked for a medical management company. I was always connected to the office through my laptop."

Deussing was diagnosed initially by Dr. Philip Getson and confirmed by Dr. Robert Schwartzman, Professor and Chairman of Drexel University College of Medicine, Department of Neurology in September of 2007. Upon further evaluation, he recommended an experimental treatment called the Ketamine coma. The patient, in a coma state, is administered a high dosage of Ketamine, a horse tranquilizer. The most advanced cases are referred to Germany because Ketamine is a class-3 drug in the U.S., with only low dosages legally allowed.

However even in Germany, there is a waiting list for treatment that extends to 2010.

Deussing plans to travel to Monterrey, Mexico to undergo an alternative treatment program pioneered by Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick.

According to information on Deussing's RSD Foundation website, the treatment "resets the link between the pain sensory neurons and the brain. The coma calms the nervous system and 'reboots' the patient, much like a computer. After the fifth day, they slowly wake me up. The goal is to wake up pain free."

Fortunately in Deussing's case, the disease was caught early, significantly increasing her chances for recovery. The tentative day for treatment is July 17.

"My expected length of stay should be about 2-1/2 weeks if there are no major complications," Deussing said.


Carrie and husband Arthur in December 2006.
After some physical therapy and the occasional IV Ketamine infusion, Deussing can resume living a life that many people take for granted.

"I'm going to find some hobbies," she said confidently. "I'm going to continue this foundation and when I don't need the funds, I plan on giving it to other people that need the funds, raising awareness because this disease is not well known. People need to learn about it, and there are a lot of people out there that have it that need funds."

"I've had fans that have donated $500 and fans that donated $1," Dawn Marie said. "Not one is more exciting to receive than the other. Just to have someone care enough about my family and help us is just wonderful. If every fan donated just 50 cents, we would be so much closer to our goal. It doesn't have to be a large donation. People feel, 'I can only donate a dollar; I can only donate two dollars.' Trust me, it's sorely needed.

"If I had the money, I would give it to her, but I have been out of work for so long now it's impossible," said the former ECW and WWE Diva. "I mean I've given her a few bucks, but nowhere near what she needs. This is all I can do to contribute at this point."


Dawn Marie in May 2008.
Along with Deussing's resolve, RSD has failed to conquer her love of professional wrestling. "Back in Dawn's days is when I was really into it," she said with a laugh. "It's kind of addictive. You put it on, you start watching it, and you want to watch the next episode. Now I watch it every so often."

Asked to comment on her sister-in law's efforts, Deussing was unable to suppress the emotion in her voice. "Dawn has been absolutely amazing," she gushed. "She has been so helpful through all of this.

She also acknowledged TNA's Christy Hemme who was at the May 2008 Wizard World convention. "Christy was in the booth next to us; she was so nice and assisted with crowd control and made sure that no one bumped my wheelchair when it got crowded since something as simple as that causes me severe pain. She gave me an autographed picture and was just great," said Deussing. As of this week, approximately $31,000 has been raised so far through donations and previous fundraising events.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to help Carrie Deussing, tax-deductible donations can be made to: The Carrie Deussing RSD Foundation, Commerce Bank, 601 College Drive, Blackwood, NJ, 08012

Donations can also be made through the Carrie Deussing RSD Foundation website

RELATED LINKS

  • November 16, 2007: Dawn Marie & Francine heading down different paths
  • April 10, 2002: Dawn Marie lives and learns
  • www.dawnmarieonline.com
  • Carrie Deussing's MySpace
  • Dawn Marie's MySpace

    Kenai Andrews would like to thank Joey B of the Red Headz Society for his efforts to inform him of Carrie's situation. Email Kenai at kenai.andrews@gmail.com.