Chronic Pain In A Culture of Intolerance

Chronic Pain In A Culture of Intolerance

download-stopthepainTwitter-opioids-e1448411435798

Being a Health advocate/activist” for people like myself, who live with chronic pain; is becoming more of a challenge.  I’m feeling both proactive and protective.  I want to help change the way society and the government thinks about chronic pain and the persons living with the daily struggles from it. I also want to help put a more positive spin on something that is very difficult to stay positive about.  While Governor Chris Christie is becoming the “drug Czar”; he is talking about changing  many lives in a negative way.  Our President is putting persons in charge of what he has only heard of as “the Opioid Epidemic”.  He listens to what others tell him and he reads about statistics or numbers of deaths; not the number of “people who have died”.   Those are people who have passed away not numbers on a screen. These people each have or had their own story to tell and nobody was listening.  I’m trying to get someone to listen to us.   As a chronic pain patient myself, I can say that we feel like the rules of the “game” are being changed, without talking to any of the real players.  When you only are only told one side of a story over and over again; you are not going to get the whole truth or the entire story.  When the President or the Governor talks with people who have lost someone that they love due to a “drug overdose”; then that is the way the story is going to spin.  There are journalists who have lost someone they love, to a drug overdose and they are writing over and over again about the “horrors of the Opioid epidemic”. There are reporters who are speaking against Opioids on the Television and producers making short films about “The Oxycontin Express”.  I can only say that if I was misinformed and heartbroken, that I might do the same thing. But I’m not misinformed and I honestly feel that if I lost someone to an overdose, I would still try not to hurt anyone else while I was in mourning. I wouldn’t try to “punish the whole class for the behavior of one”. I would not want to go on a mission to try and “save everyone else” (while hurting so many and possibly not even knowing) to make myself feel better.

I turned on the TV the other night and one of the news stations had a week long special about “the Opioid Epidemic”. I was yelling at the screen and telling them that they hadn’t a clue! The person they had on as a guest, was someone who had broken his leg, had surgery and had become an Opioid addict! That is not the same thing as someone living with daily chronic pain and knowing that  life will always be this way.  Persons like me who live with chronic pain day in and day out, do need to try physical therapy, and other first choice treatments available.  We realize that we need to give different options a chance.  But when a patient with several high pain illnesses has tried many alternatives; and is not a candidate for other options;  then they/we need reassurance.  We need to know that the medications that many of us have taken for several years and that give some semblance of a life; are going to remain available and nobody will rip the rug out from under us!

I am in a group of people called “chronic pain patients”. We are not drug addicts! The definition of an addict, according to the Dictionary (on Definitions.com) is this:  “to devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively”.  I can speak for myself and the hundreds of chronic pain support group members that I mentor.  We  take only the medications prescribed to us by our physicians and/or Pain Management Physicians.  To clarify, I will explain further the difference between the addict and the pain patient.  The majority of chronic pain patients take their prescription pain medications (or Opioids) responsibly.  The medications for pain are taken per the instructions of a legitimate pain management physician or well known doctor.  Long time pain patients continue on a steady dose of pain medications and do not crave more than that. In fact, the truth is that just about all chronic pain patients, myself included, don’t want to be on the medications that we are taking.  On the other hand, an addict has thoughts about their medications/drugs constantly and overwhelmingly.  They can’t function because they’re thinking about their next dose all day long.

I read an article awhile back called “The Word is Credibility-Not Stigma-in the Prescription Opioid/Heroin Epidemic”; that really hit a nerve with me.  It upset me because the writer puts down the responsible chronic pain patients and “lumps” us together in the same category as heroin addicts.  She wrote about the deaths of people who have overdosed.  But how many of those deaths were people who took only their prescribed dosage of pain medications?  I read another article in which the writer (*Denise Molohon, a guest columnist for PNN January-2016)) stated that “the CDC even admits to giving out skewed data”.  The CDC has qualifiers for their “Morbidity and Mortality weekly report.  She researched the information that she was given and found that those qualifiers are as follows:

  • “approximately 1/5 of drug overdose deaths lack information on the specific drugs involved. Some of these deaths might involve opioids.”
  • “Heroin deaths might be misclassified as morphine because morphine and heroin are metabolized similarly, which might result in an underreporting of heroin overdose deaths”

The writer also stated that “if heroin deaths are being misclassified as morphine, which results in the “underreporting” of heroin overdose deaths, then wouldn’t the opposite also be true? That there is “over-reporting” of morphine deaths, which are then misclassified as prescription Opioid deaths?”  Also, when we are reading or hearing reports about fentanyl overdose deaths; most of those deaths are from street drugs fentanyl and not the prescription pain medication.  We just can’t lump medications and street drugs together, that is irresponsible.  Only “5% of people who are prescribed Opioid pain medications, go on to become addicted”,  according to our own National Pain Report in November 2015.  As a legitimate chronic pain patient, I can verify that we only take pain medications to be relieved of horrible daily chronic pain, nerve pain and the pain from such illnesses as CRPS plus many others.  We don’t become “addicted” to our prescription pain medications.  Our bodies may become tolerant or “dependent”, but  we are not addicts.

There are support systems such as the U.S. Pain Foundation and RSDSA who encourage the chronic pain patients to not be hopeless.  They empower us and encourage us to do whatever we can do but never more than that.  We have a voice and it needs to be heard.  Anyone who hasn’t experienced chronic pain first hand or even as a caregiver, hasn’t any idea what it’s like to be in horrible pain 24/7/365.  When you are finally given something to alleviate that pain somewhat (but never 100%), it is a relief.  But then because of the people or groups who are working very hard to take our pain medications away, we become fearful each month that goes by.  We fear that one method that helps us to get out of bed each morning without writhing in pain, crying and screaming out in horrible nerve pain; could be taken away at any moment.

I feel that people who are doing this are doing it for the wrong reasons.  People need to be educated regarding Opioids instead of being afraid of them.  There are some chronic pain patients who are not candidates for other types of pain control, such as the pain pump or the spinal cord stimulater (SCS).  Taking a medication away that helps so many pain patients to just put their feet on the ground in the morning, seems cruel.  Hurting someone because you have felt “wronged”, is just terrible. There needs to be some kind of shelter from the world of intolerance.

 

 

 

 

 

Helpful Insights on CRPS

Helpful Insights on CRPS


Hello Luvs,

Here are some ideas for mostly helping with CRPS-Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. I’m sure you could use this advice for any chronic pain illness. The ideas are those from Dr. Pradeep Chopra, MD. A friend of mine went to a seminar where he spoke. She gave me this info and I put it into list form for you to have and keep. I hope these help some of you!     (from Chantal Granger): 

1. Have all blood work from all your doctors at once

 2. Have them numb spot for IV before they do it

 3. Take pictures of both limbs to take to doc during flare ups

 4. Make a took kit for when you have flares it comforts you like scent word search books special blanket, Pictures etc

 5. Lower nerve blocks are useless if the first few don’t work and it’s not at the start of CRPS

 6. Magnesium is very important 

 7.  Pills don’t work as well as rubs oils or salt water made with magnesium salt. 

 8. Always be honest with doctors. Bring all meds to appt and try to have them all work together or exchange info. Bring list for treatment plans and anything new to all doctors

 9. SCS (Spinal Cord Stimulator) will not help pain as much a few years after. No real way to see if the test is right the wires can move while scare tissue moves or when implanted 

 10. Ketamine- make sure they keep you awake so you can tell them when it’s working so you get lowest dose you need. They should start at 100 and go up too 500. 100 an hour. 

 11. Don’t see a doc you don’t feel comfortable with or one that has No clue what CRPS is. Ask for referral to one that does.

 12. Never say yes to a test or treatment you don’t know about or feel comfortable. 

 13. Bring as much medical information about your case as possible, if you go to ER

 14. Building up brain cells and body nerves with different vitamins will help a lot.

 15. Exercise if you can’t physically if you look at something and imagine your hand reaching for it and imagine picking it up and work at hard at it your brain will start to believe it and that will make that part of your brain stronger.

ASL Cover “Something Just Like This” By The Chainsmokers

ASL Cover “Something Just Like This” By The Chainsmokers

This is an ASL Cover song of a song by the Chainsmokers called “Something Just Like This”. I am hearing Impaired due to a Car Accident in 2002 and have vision loss and 2 hearing aids. I also live with several High pain Chronic illnesses, especially severe Systemic /Full Body CRPS or “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”. I do this for enjoyment and Entertainment. It takes a lot out of me, but to me, it makes me happy. Please subscribe to my You Tube Page at ASL Suzy Q,…if you cannot find it, please Google ASLSuzyQ. I don’t have enough subscribers yet and once I do, then I”ll get to keep my name as my URL..Thank you so much!

What Is A Chiari Migraine?

What Is A Chiari Migraine?

Arnold Chiari Malformation is definitely a tongue twister. The other name that it goes by, is “Syringomyelia”, and that’s not any easier. It is also something that I was likely born with. Sometimes type I or II are an intra-uterine abnormality in which the tonsils of the brain become herniated and the “foramen magnum is enlarged. The defect that happens during fetal development can be genetic or lack of proper vitamins/nutrients in the maternal diet.
CM occurs in as many as 1 in every 1,000 births. That number is even a little higher now, due to technology and more MRI’s that are being done. In many cases it is “sleeping” and the person doesn’t know that they have it. Sometimes here are no symptoms until adulthood and other people usually just go along with their life in a normal fashion with no problems at all. Although if you were in an auto accident or have had extreme whiplash; these things can “awaken” the Chiari Malformation. Babies that are born with it, may have trouble feeding, swallowing and gaining weight. There are four different kinds of Chiari, but type I and II are seen most often. The other types are diagnosed when an infant is born normally, because they are so much more serious. Type I is the one that I live with and it’s the more mild form. Type I sometimes never causes any symptoms unless or until a person is either injured or reaches adulthood. 

In 1983, I was struck from behind by a drunk driver, while stopped at a red light. I suffered a forceful whiplash and had many headaches after that injury. I was a person who hadn’t complained of headaches prior to that whiplash. Later, in 2002, my husband and I were driving and a man ran through a red light. Our car was totaled; and I suffered a TBI, a forceful whiplash and multiple injuries followed by many surgeries.

In all of the Chiari’s there are changes or malformations with the “tonsils of the brain” and where the neck and spinal cord meet. Any kind of injuries to the head and/or neck can bring about symptoms of Chiari I malformation. The part of the brain called the “tonsils” or “hindbrain” can become swollen and then they don’t fit well into the spinal cord. In my case, this causes what is called “Chiari Migraines”. What also happens sometimes is that the Cerebellum, which is the “balance center” of the brain, pushes itself into the spinal cord and this “pushing” of the cerebellum can cause headaches and other neck pain and compression to nerves. The problems come when part of your skull is abnormally small or misshapen, pressing on your brain and forcing it downward.

The kind of headaches that occur from Chiari are various and may be only sometimes “on/off” or they can be often and persistent. My pain is in the back of my lower head and top of my neck. Others have pain anywhere from the forehead, the neck and/or the back of head. The pain from CM can become worse when you move your neck too much by way of coughing or straining. I am unable to hold my head up for long periods of time without terrible pain and weakness.

In some cases, with this medical issue, there may be other problems that are found. In conjunction with the head/neck pain and weakness; a patient may have a lack of coordination, a hard time swallowing, Nystagmus or Impaired eye movements, sensory sensitivities and other issues. Arnold Chiari Malformation can only be diagnosed by an MRI to the brain and spinal cord. A CT scan cannot see it and therefore is not used as a diagnostic test for Chiari.

If the Malformation to the “tonsils” of the brain is severe, or if the pain is very intense and debilitating; surgery is needed to relieve some of the pressure and relieve the symptoms.

If you have Chairi I and you don’t need surgery, then treatment is usually just to relieve symptoms as they occur. Physicians like to keep the pressure under control and they use medications for that. Genetics testing has been researched and they have found that in some families there is genetic factor present. Researchers are still continuing to search for the genes that cause this Chiari Malformation.

A Day in The Life of A Brain Injury

A Day in The Life of A Brain Injury

           A Day In The Life of A Brain Injury

One day during the Summer of 2002, the sun was shining and my husband and I were walking hand in hand, sipping lemonade at an outdoor Art Fair. We were enjoying the warm air and each other’s company as we walked hand in hand. Afterwards, we’d decided to go into town for dinner because our two teenage daughters were busy with friends for the day. 

We were driving on our way to dinner when suddenly, I heard my husband shout out “OH NO!” I looked and saw a car coming straight at us. Instinctively, I pulled my legs up to my chin into the fetal position and screamed. What happened afterwards is a blur, but I do remember hearing a very loud noise upon impact and then the smell of smoke. Next, there was only a dead silence. I remember wondering if we were dead for about a nano second. Suddenly everything went dark and silent. That’s all I remember about that day, except short little pictures in my mind of the ambulance ride, hospital & ER..

Once I was admitted to the hospital, I do recall being very upset because I could not walk. No one would come to help me when I tried to call for the nurses. It was hard to use the “nurse call” button because my rotator cuffs were torn in both shoulders. Both of my knees had torn Meniscus’ and I had a ruptured Biceps tendon. There were just too many injuries and then the multiple surgeries that followed for many years. I have Degenerative Disc Disease and suffered multiple herniated and bulging discs at C4/5/6 and L4-5/S-1 with Radiculopathy. I had an MRI which showed that I was most likely born with Arnold Chiari Malformation I. It must have been “sleeping” all of those years, the Dr.’s told me. They explained that between the severe whiplash from that MVA & a whiplash that I suffered from a previous car accident; my Chiari had been awakened. I could not hold my head up at all. The pain was horrible and intense. My husband says that when they were doing my X-rays back in the ER; I was screaming because it was so painful. He said that I was crying out so loudly, that people standing in the hallway left; because they could not handle listening to the painful screams. I mostly remember my back and neck hurting so badly that I could think of nothing else.

My husband also told me that he kept trying to tell the Dr.’s that “something was not right” about me. He thought that I was acting very different from my “normal” personality. He said that when he told them I was acting “not myself”, they sent up a Psych consult. Then they told him that “I couldn’t handle the pain because of the abuse I suffered growing up and in my past marriage”. He didn’t know what to say although he knew that could not be true because I hadn’t been “different” just before the accident? After only 5 days in the hospital, and after their lack of being proactive to help me with my pain and injuries; my husband signed me out against medical advice. He took me to the Neurologist who had known me for 3 years at that point.

The Neurologist really got the “ball rolling” and had me tested for anything and everything that could have been wrong. At that point I was in a wheelchair, could not hold my head up and needed a yardstick behind my head/neck with a pillow on it. My husband rigged up a way to help me have something to rest my head upon. I could not dress myself, go to the bathroom alone or even cut my own food.

We finally found out what was truly wrong. Our questions were answered when I was diagnosed with a TBI or “Traumatic Brain Injury”. I went through 6 months of intense PT, OT and speech therapy. After that, I was in Physical therapy for 8 more years and brain injury rehabilitation for 3 full years. The brain injury rehabilitation was done after I’d done poorly on the Neuro-psych testing. Over the next 3 years, I was in a brain injury rehabilitation program. I was there Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. I had to have a driving company take me to and from the rehab center daily because I was unable to drive due to pain and nerve injuries.

I could not comprehend what I was reading and had a hard time finding the right words to use while speaking. I was more than forgetful and couldn’t remember my phone number, social security number or my own address. The tests showed that my short term memory was terribly low. I went to speech therapy, Physical and occupational therapy and had to re-learn how to drive via Drivers Rehab training. I did pass in the end, but can only drive a few miles for personal errands. They told me they were afraid that I might get someplace and not be able to find my car in the parking lot. Also, the nerve injuries in my legs, knees, lower back and neck; make driving terribly difficult and fatiguing.

It was and is very frustrating to go from graduating with honors and having a “photographic memory” to not be able to read a full book any longer. I had read the first 4 “Harry Potter” books and was in the middle of the 5th book, when the accident happened. I still cannot and have not been able to finish the rest of the books in that series. Whenever I’ve tried to read any books since that time; I end up reading, reading again and then re-reading. Every time I put the book down and then try to return to pick up where I had left off; I cannot remember most of what happened before that point. I’ve tried audio books and it is just the same. I try to listen and whenever I stop and try to go back to it; I’ve forgotten the whole beginning again. This brain injury has changed my life because I have issues with: double vision, severe dry eye, incomplete blinks, prisms in my glasses and continued worsening lowered vision. I have a moderate hearing loss and have 2 hearing aids now; when ironically, I was an Interpreter for the Deaf before that car accident. I worked at a major University hospital, Interpreting for Deaf patients and also at a school for the Deaf with Deaf children. My life was and is changed forever because someone was distracted and then ran through a red light. My husband’s life and the lives of my daughters were also changed forever in the blink of an eye. I had been a very involved mother who cooked, cleaned, did laundry and drove a mini van full of teenagers. I still made sure that I went in my wheelchair to every swim meet and dance competition. I didn’t want them to think my love or support for them had changed in any way.

I wanted to mention that I still have bad migraines, usually they are “Chiari” migraines. I have balance issues and my personality changed in that I get very emotional now, when I wasn’t like that before the TBI. I also have a hard time making decisions; along with having the same issues that I’ve had since the MVA. If you have had a closed head injury, a TBI or an MTBI, please contact Brain Injury Association for information.

ASL Cover of “Closer” By The Chainsmokers

ASL Cover of “Closer” By The Chainsmokers

 

I used to be an Interpreter for the Deaf. I worked at a University hospital interpreting for Deaf patients and also I worked at a school for Deaf children in AZ. In 2002, I was in a horrible car accident. A man ran through a red light and I now live with several High pain chronic illnesses (CRPS is just one of them). I also live with the effects of a TBI and was in brain injury rehab for 3 years. I do the best I can now; as I cannot hear the song and lyrics very well together. I do this for entertainment/enjoyment and for fun. I do this to bring myself HOPE on a bad day. I am hearing impaired and I do this for enjoyment and entertainment. I do this for myself as much as I do it for you. I claim no copyright to the song or the band the chainsmokers.

Opioids Kill Pain, Not People

Opioids Kill Pain, Not People

Hello Luvs,

This writing turned into an article for the Health News Magazine that I author for, and have since November 2016! I love it and am enjoying this so much! I wanted to make sure to send you the link to the edited version of my blog post, which is the article of the same name. It is here: http://NationalPainReport.com/Opioids-kill-pain-not-people-8833207.html ….

I wanted to write something to enlighten the non-pain community as well as those who are in pain but are either new to the pain or have not had much of a relationship or experience with Opioids. Opioids can cause “dependence” just the same as many anti-depressants, blood pressure meds and Beta blockers.  Dependence is not the same as addiction and I will try to explain that in this writing. People who take opioids for chronic pain illnesses that carry a # of 43 on the McGill pain scale, for example:  CRPS or Complex Regional pain syndrome (and many others); do not get a “HIGH” from taking them.  When you have very extreme chronic daily pain, the Opioids just relieve the pain and do not give a Euphoric feeling whatsoever.  Of course, I am writing from my own experience and from the experience of being a patient health advocate since 2007 and a patient leader, as well as an administrator for several chronic pain illness groups.

Opioids do not kill people, but they do kill the pain for awhile. If you ask a person with chronic pain, if they enjoy taking these medications; they will all tell you “NO”! We do not like that we need or depend on these meds for relieving our daily high pain. We wish that we did not need the Opioids and we would prefer to just live pain free.  Many people that do not experience daily chronic pain, have the notion that Opioids are killing people.  This may be partially true, but not so, for the true chronic pain patients and the pain community. Those who die from taking Opioids are usually mixing it with other things from the “streets”.  They mix it with Heroin or crack cocaine or other “street” drugs; sometimes alcohol too.  Others, for example, celebrities who have passed away from taking Opioids, have mixed it with other substances. The news shows us that “another celebrity has died from an Opioid overdose”.  That’s not the whole truth, because that person had other substances in their bodies, we would later find out; after getting the coroner’s report.

In my research, I found an article on the website for RSDHOPE.org and it says this: In an article written by WebMD in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic states, “Some medications used to treat pain can be addictive.Addiction is different from physical dependence or tolerance, however. In cases of physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms occur when a substance suddenly is stopped. Tolerance occurs when the initial dose of a substance loses its effectiveness over time. Addiction and physical dependence often occur together.” People who take a class of drugs called opioids for a long period of time may develop tolerance and even physical dependence. This does not mean, however, that a person is addicted. In general, the chance of addiction is very small when narcotics are used under proper medical supervision.” The article goes on to say, “Most people who take their pain medicine as directed by their doctor do not become addicted, even if they take the medicine for a long time.” You can read the original article in its’ entirety. (this was found on the RSDHOPE.org Website here: @http://www.rsdhope.org/addiction-dependence-or-tolerance-to-opiods.html). In that same article at RSDHOPE.org, they go on to explain that: “Another article, written by Leanna Skarnulis, states, “Chronic pain patients often confuse tolerance with addiction. They become fearful when the dosage of a narcotic has to be increased, but it’s normal for the body to build up tolerance over time, says Simmonds, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society. “Patients don’t get a high, and they don’t get addicted.

I was researching for this article and I read about Elvis Presley, Prince, Michael Jackson and others who died from what was called  or labeled “Opioid overdose”.  But if you read more and dig deeper, you will find that the larger percentage of these people and others, die because they have mixed a prescription Opioid with other medications, drugs, street drugs and/or alcohol. I’m not saying that nobody died from taking Opioids in an overdose.  I will defend my cause by stating that the every single person that I’ve come across within my own pain community (*which is a large number of people because of my being a patient health advocate, Ambassador for US Pain Foundation, mentor for newly diagnosed CRPS patients and a patient leader for WEGO Health and founder/admin. for 4 different kinds of chronic pain support groups) has told me that they do not take more than what is prescribed, therefore they are not “addicted”.  I will also state from my own experience, that people living with daily high pain illnesses, do not “crave” their pain medication. I have never craved my medicines, nor do I seek them out or think about them every day or continuously.

The chronic pain community has been talking about the Opioids more lately and we have been afraid and worried.  This is happening because there are “people” with power who are trying to take away our small semblance of a “normal” life with lowered amounts of pain. I understand that there are parents who’ve lost children and Children who’ve lost parents due to drug overdoses. I realize that people who are uninformed or misinformed regarding chronic pain; think they are taking on a cause or “helping”others because of their loss. I feel deeply sad for anyone who’s lost someone that they love from a drug overdose or for any reason, for that matter.  It’s a bit similar to what used to happen when we were children in a classroom at school.  The teachers would punish the entire class for something that one child did and he would not confess to doing it.  The entire pain community should not be punished because of the actions of some.

There are some other reasons for The Opioid Debacle that’s happening right now around us.  There are those “persons” who make money off of our chronic pain and suffering.  People who make a fortune doing invasive and dangerous surgeries on the pain community.  Also the many different therapies and treatment modalities that insurance doesn’t cover, for the most part. There are PROP physicians and others who say that Opioids don’t help chronic pain! The latter is an untrue statement because I’m here today as a chronic pain patient who does NOT and has not gone up in dosage in many years. I have experience being with many persons in the chronic pain community who will testify that taking a routine and regular dosage of Opioids, does help relieve their chronic pain.  We are not addicted, we do not seek out or crave the Opioids and we deserve to be able to just “take a pill” that has little or no side effects, for many.

Lastly, I would like to say that there are advocates in physicians and others who truly want to help those with chronic pain.  One of our biggest advocates, is a physician named, Dr. Lynn Webster (www.LynnWbsterMD.com). He is someone who has been trying to help our community. Dr. L. Webster, M.D., has a book out called “The Painful Truth” (www.thepainfultruthbook.com) and now there is a movie  with the same name on PBS also. For anyone who is interested in learning more about chronic pain and how medications like Opioids can help; here is the link to the PBS broadcasting :  The Painful Truth .

**HEY, Please follow me on TWITTTER at these two Handles: @RASEforCRPS and @ Ppl_InPainUnite …(RASE stands for “Research,Awareness,Support and Educate)