The Happy Challenge


The suffering of the chronic pain patient can be mostly silent, somewhat invisible.  People will sometimes ask “where are the bruises, the medical machines or the marks on your body”?  Let me explain about the “hidden bruises”, the “quiet bleeding inside” and the sporadic silence.  The “silent screams” are more often quiet because we are seen as complaining if we are too vocal.  When we don’t say anything or we look “fine”; then we must be Okay because we appear to be fine on the outside and we are not complaining. We may verbalize that we are tired and then they say “Oh yes, I’m tired too! I know what you mean. It’s normal to be tired at our ages. You just have to work through it!” They don’t realize that we have to “ration our spoons” throughout the day (see the “spoon theory” by Christine Miserandino, at http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com).  There’s no sense trying to explain it to them because it is not a battle of words that we have the energy to argue about.  Most people who do not live with and deal with daily chronic pain, just cannot understand or fathom the idea that just taking a shower and getting ready for our day, can use up so many of our “spoons” or so much of our energy.

We may agree to attend an event or a family outing if at all possible.  We don’t intend to break a “promise” but when we go against our own best judgement; we may then suffer.  Sometimes we go, but cannot stay very long; they say we are “phony”.  We try to hide how we are feeling, but sometimes even with our greatest strength, we have to submit to the pain and fatigue. We need to listen to what our bodies are telling us.  That’s when we start losing friends and family members. We start getting invited to social events less often. Though we really wish to be invited and truly want to go, if we possibly can.

Next, we have the other chronic pain patients who have knowledge of the “Spoon Theory” and some of the similar feelings that we all experience daily.  Then for one reason or another, maybe because we are not all at the “same place at the same time”; we may be judged again by our peers. It hurts, because we all experience the chronic pain and fatigue, but we may each handle it differently. I try not to judge anyone for doing what they need to do to take care of themselves. When you only “know” someone through social media, you don’t really know them or their daily struggles. You only know what they choose to share.  It hurts when someone judges me for appearing to be active on social media. It’s true that I am an Ambassador for the U.S. Pain foundation, I’m a freelance writer, a blogger, a mentor, a patient leader for WEGO health and I am a health advocate. But I don’t have to do anything on any day or days, if I don’t choose to. I may be in my recliner for 20 out of 24 hours some days. But that doesn’t mean that I cannot encourage, counsel, connect or give TLC to others.

If I do an event, then I am literally “down” for several days afterwards. It is worth it to me, just to stay as positive, helpful and useful as I possibly can be.  I also don’t admonish others who are not in the same place as me.  I remember times when I didn’t feel as happy inside and I still have periods like that. The ups and downs are pretty normal within the lives of chronic pain patients.  Sometimes when in horrible pain physically and/or mentally; people generally think that others should be able to see or feel things the same way as they do.

Now, I have a different strategy for dealing with the pain. I utilize every possible venue to express my own pain and my reaction to the changes that it has made in my life and our lives. I am not always positive, nor am I constantly happy and upbeat. But I do try to be positive as often as possible on Social media. Sometimes people’s lives depend on it. Naturally, we all have our darker times; but I try to rarely share those publicly.  I’m not saying that I’m right or this is right for everyone. I’m just sharing how I deal with my own personal pain.

I felt the need or the urge to write about this because I received a private note from someone. It really hurt at first and I was crying. I participated and usually do participate in the various online events and “photo challenges”. It may be for U.S Pain foundation, for WEGO health or for RSDSA etc.  It’s just therapeutic for me and I enjoy being a part of these online events. If I can cheer up one person then it is worth it for me.  If I can show one person, a light at the end of the tunnel, then I have given them hope.   Someone sent me this private message and it said;   “Not to start anything but….why do you devote so much time and trouble to your blog, your websites, groups and writings?  Why don’t you just deal with the pain, like the rest of us? YOUR “Happy challenge” was yours not mine…. I guess we don’t see it the same way. I just try to get thru the day w/the least amount of pain possible and thank God when I awaken the next day.  No drugs, no docs, just PT and pain shrink….”.  Like I said, at first I cried and I was hurt by these words. For a few moments, I felt like it was and has been all for nothing.  But it’s not for nothing. We are not all in the same place at the same time.  There are stages of chronic pain, just as there are stages of grief; they are pretty similar. But one thing for sure, I don’t put others down for taking or not taking medications or if they choose to use an SCS or a pain pump (for which I’m not a candidate, due to an Immune deficiency disease). I feel strongly about doing whatever is necessary to achieve the best quality of life that I can possibly have.  I don’t choose to go to as many Dr’s as I once did. I try to just visit the specialists that my life depends on.  I don’t just “wait for the next day to arrive”.  Though I do thank God every day, for giving me life. I also don’t do PT after 9 years of doing it and I don’t go to a “pain shrink”.  But that is my choice.  I do take a normal dose of Opioid pain medication, of which my life “depends on” now.  I’m not “addicted”, but “dependent” on this medication. But guess what? I was able to attend my youngest granddaughters’ first birthday party because of this.  I GOT the pleasure of attending a U.S. pain conference this past weekend.  I got to do it and got through it, because I am able to take a pill that helps me get through these events.  Yes, of course I suffer still, for a few days afterwards, but I have the memories and so do the “little ones” and the other people who I got to spend time with. I also got to experience other persons like myself, who want to make a difference and try to help in the world of chronic pain.  It’s not for everybody and that’s OK.  We are all different, it’s supposed to be that way.  I don’t particularly enjoy things like gardening or cooking. Some people couldn’t imagine life without those things. I am me and that is OK.  I cannot please everyone and it’s alright.  I’m not crying any longer about the message. Instead I feel badly for the person who wrote it.  They are in a darker or more sad place than me. I will be there for them if or when they are ready.

It’s a difficult kind of life to explain when you look fine on the outside, your photos look like everything is “normal” on the outside; but my body burns and aches even through the smiles. I’m just like some of the other chronic pain patients, but I choose to outlet my pain in different ways. Nobody says that my way is the right way, but it’s the right way for me to express my pain and try to help others in the process.

 

 

A note About Hyperalgesia from Dr. Forrest Tennant MD



I run several support groups for various Chronic Pain illnesses. This was posted in a couple of my groups by Dr. Red Lawhern, PhD. He got a note from Dr. Forrest Tenant; who is a legitimate and well known pain specialist. An M.D., Dr. Tennant is a supporter for the appropriate use of opioids.  Here’s a copy of the note from Dr. Tennant to patients, caregivers and advocates for people with chronic pain:

The following is by Dr Forrest Tennant, MD, who is board certified in both pain medicine and addiction medicine. I have his permission to pass it on to pain patients and their families.

5/30/17

HYPERALGESIA: NO REASON TO STOP OR REDUCE OPIOIDS

By

Forest Tennant M.D., Dr. P.H.

Please circulate to patients and families who need guidance on this subject.

One of the excuses that some health practitioners are using to stop opioids is to claim a patient has hyperalgesia (HA). This is a most dishonest, devious, and dangerous ploy.

First, the definition of hyperalgesia is simply that a stimulus such as hitting your thumb with a hammer is more painful than usual. Second, there is no way to measure or quantify the presence of HA in a chronic pain patient who takes opioids. Practitioners who claim that a chronic pain patient has HA usually do so because they don’t like the dosage that a patient must take to relieve pain or they have a bias against opioids. Some practitioners are actually telling patients that HA is harming them, and that their pain will improve or even go away if they stop opioids!! This dishonesty and deviousness may go further. Once off opioids, the practitioner may recommend that a patient have expensive, invasive or unneeded procedures. Danger may come with abrupt cessation of opioids in a severe chronic pain patient. There may be a combined or dual result of a severe pain flare along with severe opioid withdrawal symptoms. This combined effect may result in a stroke, heart attack, psychosis, or adrenal failure. Some patients may commit suicide.

All who read this need to know that many expert pain specialists either do not believe that HA even exists or that it is irrelevant to clinical practice. In other words, if a certain dosage of opioids is effective, continue treatment with opioids. There is no reason to stop or reduce opioids just based on HA.

Any time a patient is told they have HA and should stop or reduce opioids, they and their family or advocate should ask the following questions of the prescribing practitioner:

1. What test or evaluation did you do to determine that I have HA?

2. If I do have HA, what damage is it doing? (Show me some studies!!)

3. When did I get HA? (Nothing has change in some time!)

4. I’ve heard that HA may be the result of too much neuroinflammation or hormone deficiencies? Don’t I need to be tested for these?

5. If I stop or reduce opioids and still have some pain, what are my alternatives? (Will you return me to my original opioid dosage?)

The author’s personal recommendations are: (1) If your opioids don’t seem to be as effective as they once were, get a hormone panel blood test. I’ve seen many patients boost their opioid effect by replenishing pregnenolone, testosterone, estradiol, or another hormone that has diminished.; (2) If you wish to reduce or stop your opioids, reduce your dosage about 5% a month. By slowly tapering you may be able to greatly reduce or even stop opioids.

Please inform all parties that HA is not, per se, a reason to stop or reduce opioids. More important, if you reduce or stop opioids, what is your alternative, and, if the alternative doesn’t work, what will you do?

What You See Is Not What You Get!


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Having Chronic Pain is unlike the pain following a surgery or even the pain after an injury. Many things about Chronic pain are not seen with our eyes. There are so many “invisible diseases” that involve living with exhaustion, illness and pain.  Many people think they know about these issues. If they’ve not witnessed life with a chronic pain patient, then they truly cannot understand or know what we live with on a daily basis. People are misinformed and sometimes quick to judge persons living with pain day after day.  Some think we are lazy, anti-social or just rude.  We cancel appointments, shopping trips and dinner dates with our friends and family. But we are not any of the above. We are people who have hopes, dreams and inspirations; just as anyone else. The issue is that our futures don’t include many of those same things after we become chronic pain patients.  We must grieve our losses and find new hopes and dreams.  This is the price that we pay for living with chronic pain 24/7/365.

I am still “me” underneath the chronic fatigue and pain.  I still want to talk with you and hear about your day, family and dreams.  In between the days of staying in my PJ’s and lying in my bed or on the sofa, I try hard to be a part of your “normal” world.  Some days I may even look “normal” to you. In fact, most of the time, I probably appear to be “just like everybody else.  I try to wear nice pants, cute dresses and sometimes I put on make up, just like you do! If you visit my Social Media photo feeds, you’ll see someone who “looks normal”, holding onto her grandchildren’s hands, smiling and actually joyful underneath the pain somewhere.  Sometimes even sitting on the floor with them.  You may read about me “babysitting” for our grandchildren; or going out to dinner with our friends.  You may even want to “judge” me by saying to yourself “How can she be that sick or in that much pain, if she’s doing all of these things?”  If you think like that, I can’t blame you because I once thought those same misinformed thoughts.  What you don’t see, is how I get to the floor or how long I am actually down there.  You don’t see my husband helping me (and doing most of the work) to get me up and off of the floor.  You don’t actually know how long I am down there or how many pillows may be behind my back. You also don’t know that I most likely stayed home in my pajama’s all day until 4:00 pm when we had dinner plans at 5:15 pm.  You also aren’t privy to the information of how long I might’ve stayed at dinner and “if” I was able to even eat anything that night.  Not only do I have several chronic pain illnesses, but many of them are invisible to you. They are very much visible to me. I can “see” them with each new line on my face and each new grey hair that gets covered up each month. I can’t only “see” the pain, but I feel it with every part of my being. It doesn’t go away, not ever.  Though some days are better or worse than others; the chronic pain of “Invisible Disabilities” and “Invisible Illness” is apparent to me every minute of every day.  Often I fight with myself about going to sleep at night.  Do I try to go to bed at a more normal time and maybe get 4 -5 hours rest? Or do I stay up until I drop; then fall asleep quickly and wake up in just 2 or 3 hours?  If I sleep more than 2 or 3 hours, I will awaken and cry.  Whether it be inner tears or outward ones, I will cry from feeling as though someone set my body on fire due to the CRPS. I will have tears from feeling like my neck and back are broken from the Degenerative Disc disease, Spondylosis, Scoliosis and/or multiple herniated/bulging discs in both my cervical and lumbar spine; not to mention the Chiari malformation I in my neck. Yes, if I move or get up before I’m ready, I definitely will cry.  It’ a routine that we have, you know?  My husband gets up at 6:00 am every day to give me my medicine; just so that I will be able to get up with him a couple of hours after that. He is my hero.

You cannot feel Gastroparesis, but if I eat one wrong food at dinner time; I will be up all night and very sick. My husband, who is also my soul-mate and my caregiver; knows all too well about these long nights.  I have worries, though he continues to tell me that they are unfounded; that he will get tired of all of this one day. It’s not much fun to be with someone who is constantly complaining about pain, so I try to keep it to a minimum.  But even to him, my pain is not invisible.  He knows the grimace of  CRPS and the fidgeting of the intensifying pain on an outing.  He knows that when I start rocking back and forth, it’s his cue to step in and say “time to go home”.  I know that my own family gets frustrated with me because I’m not able to babysit “alone” or have kids dropped off on the spur of the moment.  I cannot commit to babysitting for the little ones under school age for a week.  I’m not able to help take the load off of my children and their spouses, so that they can go on a trip. There are many things that I cannot do but there’s so much that I still have to give.

Please don’t judge what you do not understand. If you think you know, then go and read some more about chronic illnesses and pain. Spend time with someone like me and see how impaired the activities of daily living have become.  I’m probably not always much fun to hang out with, but I’m still “me” inside.  Digging through the pain and exhaustion, there’s a real person inside, who still has a heart and feelings that can be hurt.  Feelings that are probably more fragile than most because of the judgements, stares and hurtful words that come from some people who are misjudging and misinformed.  I’ve had nasty notes put on my windshield, that would make anyone cry.  One note said this “How dare you take this HC parking space! It must be a “mental thing”! I hope you become handicapped for the rest of your life, so you know how it feels to have someone take your parking spot”! Yes, indeed; that was the note left on my car at a little market right across the street from my house.  I had my cane in the grocery cart and the little blue HC parking permit on my rear view mirror.  But I was still judged and torn to shreds because of the way I look.

Please know the difference between being able to stand for 20 minutes and being able to stand all day.  The difference between having the flu and feeling that same way for many many years! Try and understand that what I might be able to do today, I probably won’t be able to do tomorrow.  Don’t say “Oh you look happy and healthy” or tell me that I’m looking or sounding “better”.  I’m just trying to cope with the life that I have been dealt. Please don’t judge me if I try to do awareness events or fundraisers for the causes of my illnesses and those of my friends.  Though I may “do” these things; I definitely know that I will “pay” for it later.  I will rest for days in between and sometimes weeks.  But I deserve to do things and to try and be happy; even if it is in between the pain at its worst and best.  Please know that getting out and doing things doesn’t make me feel better, it actually makes me feel worse for days at a time.

Chronic pain is hard for you to understand. It wreaks havoc on the body and the mind.
It is exhausting and exasperating.  I’m doing my best to cope and live my life to the best of my ability.  I ask you to bear with me, and accept me as I am.

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Chronic Pain In A Culture of Intolerance


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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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)

Illness Doesn’t Equal Lack of Faith


 

I have heard  that my tragedies, illnesses, abuse etc. are cast upon me because maybe I am not virtuous enough?  I’ve even heard that maybe I am cursed because I do not have enough faith?  A friend of mine had someone in a local market say that they were going to “cast away the devil in her” because she carries a cane. I have had people say that they want to “lay hands upon me and pray upon me, because I am afflicted”, they feel that their prayers will “cast out evil spirits, or evilness that has caused my afflictions”.  There was  another who  told me that I don’t “have enough God in my life” and therefore I have “so many tragedies” and it is because I “have not forgiven my abusers in this life”…..Sometimes I feel that over zealous, “fundamentalists”, who are excited about God’s miracles, try to “play God” in peoples lives. For instance, I heard about an 18 year old girl who went to a Christian camp and was told that her younger brother need not have died from Cancer, if only the family had more faith! WHAT?  You NEVER know who is going to be stricken with an affliction, an illness, disease or grief.  Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you say.  I am a “Chemo Angel”.  I get assigned a person who’s going through chemo therapy and I send them small gifts & cards of cheer. Right now I have a small, 3 year old girl, with “Langerhans cell Histiocytosis (LCH) “, a form of childhood cancer. Could anyone say that she is ill because she doesn’t have enough Faith or that she’s done something to wrong God and he is “disappointed” in her? Can you say that she has had cancer for 3 out of her 4 years of life, because her family doesn’t have enough faith? NO, that would be cruel and judgemental!

First of all, none of the statements about “illness being due to a lack of Faith”, are accurate. Look at Job and all that he went through!  Job was persecuted because of his faith in God.  Job was given an “affliction”, not because he was “cursed” and certainly not by his own fault.  Three of Job’s friends came to comfort him at the beginning of his worst pain and loss! They were sure that Job was sick and suffering because of the sins he had committed during his life. They told him that “righteous people don’t suffer”. Job always continued to say that he had done nothing sinful or wrong.  In the Bible it does not say that a lack of healing is equal to a lack of faith! God can choose not to heal the faithful, but it is not connected to a lack of faith.

It is cruel, unloving, unkind and just wrong, to say that someone has a lack of faith and is ill, or stricken with loss and tragedy in life because they don’t have enough prayer, faith or enough love of Jesus Christ.  To accost anyone in such a judgemental way does not help but only makes them feel marginalized and more alone.  There are many different faiths in our society. Each Religion has its own set of beliefs, rules and rituals. I’m not here to judge any of these Faiths or  beliefs, but I am here to say that nobody is sick because of their belief system or lack of faith.  People don’t live with chronic pain day in and day out due to any Religious affiliations or lack thereof. We don’t use a cane, a wheelchair or a walker because we do not pray enough.  It does not help a person with chronic pain and illness, to approach them and say any of the words that I’ve stated above. If you choose to pray for someone, then you can do that. But don’t try to push guilt and more pain onto anyone who’s already suffering. That doesn’t help, it only hurts and makes things much worse. Please try to remember to treat others as you would wish to be treated.

With Gratitude From A Pain Ambassador


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Hello Luvs,

I have an exciting story to tell you. So here we go:

As I sat in my “Lazy Boy”chair with a pillow under my knees and a soft blanket over my body, I flipped through my smartphone. I was checking my email on a cold Winter’s night and suddenly I was filled with a feeling of friendship and a special kind of love and appreciation. I received an email stating that I was “nominated by a group of my peers, for the U.S. Pain Foundation’s 2016, Joselynn Badman, Pain Ambassador of the Year Award”! I was surprised, happy and filled with a feeling of being appreciated. No matter if I win or not, I thought; how nice was it to be nominated by my peers.

I don’t participate in competitions or contests where I have to ask people to vote for me. I had at one time done that, in the beginning; several years ago.  But it didn’t give me a good feeling inside. It felt like a popularity contest. It felt as though others might think that I was doing good things in order to get something.  This was a nomination that i had known nothing about and didn’t ask anyone for anything. It was awesome to be nominated.

I filled out the questionnaire that I received from the U.S. Pain Foundation and waited for the results to be announced in the New Year of 2017. Then one day in January, I opened up an email message from my dear friend, Ellen Lennox-Smith; in which she was congratulating me on “winning the Joselynn Badman Ambassador of the Year Award” for 2016.  I had no idea and I got so excited that I think I would have jumped up and down if I could have! My husband was sitting next to me and I told him about it. He was so happy and then we furiously looked to find out more information. I hadn’t read my earlier email yet and there inside of an email from earlier in the day, was the U.S. Pain Foundation’s Monthly Newsletter. I opened it up and the first item on it, was a photo of me holding my “special tribute” from the Governor and a House Rep. in Michigan. Then I saw the words, “2016 Ambassador of the Year:  Suzanne Stewart”.  I looked to my earlier emails for that day, and there was a beautiful note from Lori Monarca, the Executive Office Director of U.S.Pain Foundation.  It reads ” Congratulations to  you Suzanne on your nomination and honor for the Ambassador of the Year Award!!  What a great honor to have you win this as you have put so much time and hard efforts in such an amazing way throughout the community during the year!  Your determination and dedication is unbelievable and you are so worthy of this award. Thank you so very much for being a part of our U.S. Pain Family!” I proceeded to get beautiful and loving notes, one after another from these persons who I call my U.S. Pain “family”.

I later got emails from Lori and from Paul Gileno, the President of the U.S. Pain Foundation.  Paul congratulated me and told me that he was going to fly all the way from his home in CT. to my home in Michigan, to give me my Award in person!  I was so thrilled and couldn’t and cannot even believe the love and kindness shown to me by this pain family.  This is the U.S. Pain Foundation, my “family” that is made up of many other persons who also live with pain issues.  They strive to advocate and try to always help others. A family of pain patients helping other pain patients.

If you know anything about my life, you will know that things had never been easy growing up. Life just kept getting harder and more painful. Bad things kept happening to me, one after another.  I’ve never won anything and I never even thought about it.  Mostly because I’d always thought that “those kinds of things happen to other people”.  I’ve continued onward to be the best person that I can be. I try to think of others and treat people how I wish to be treated. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and I’ve had days when I didn’t behave or speak in a manner that I would prefer. But I get up each day and keep trying to move forward in a positive manner; to the best of my ability.

As time went on, there were emails exchanged and plans were made for Paul to come to my home and present me with the Award. I was so excited and then nervous to make sure that I made a good impression, of course. But then again, I’m not sure why I was nervous? I had spent several days “hanging out” with Paul and everyone from U.S. Pain, last Summer at the Pain Summit!  We ate lobster together and even wore those little bibs ..LOL.!  The day arrived and it was Thursday, February 2, 2017.  I think that I changed my outfit about ten times that day.  I didn’t want to be too dressed up or not dressed up enough. I wanted to be dressed appropriately but what is appropriate, to wear for receiving an award?  We were going to go out for dinner and my family and friends were invited. It was all very exciting and I think I emailed Lori more than a few times within that 24 hour period, asking many questions. I even asked if I should wear my U.S. Pain Foundation, collared shirt, with their Logo on it. She was so kind and told me to just be comfortable.

I had nothing to fear, because once I opened up the door and saw Paul standing there; all of my nervousness disappeared. I only felt calm, happy, excited and appreciated. He is one of the most kind men I’ve met in my lifetime.  He came into our home and my husband and I chatted, laughed and joked with him for quite awhile. I felt very comfortable  and then he gave me the most beautiful crystal award. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful and with such wonderful, kind words engraved on it, too. It says, “U.S. Pain Foundation” (and their Logo)…then it says: “AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR 2016–presented to SUZANNE STEWART, In Recognition for your Outstanding & Dedicated Services to the Pain Community”….I was in awe, my jaw dropped and my heart was beating quite fast. I feel so honored and humbled to receive such a beautiful award with words on it that are so meaningful.

I am quite humbled by this Award and by the entire experience.  I’ve never expected anything for what I do. I love people and helping persons with chronic pain illnesses, like myself. I simply do what I do because it honestly helps me to stay positive and gives me more of a “purpose”. Keeping other pain patients hopeful, positive and sharing information with them via my writing and support groups etc.; makes me feel happier. Like I always say “HOPE is a Verb. You must DO something in order to keep hopeful and positive”.  Helping  the U.S. Pain Foundation by holding Awareness events, being an Advocate and fundraising is another way that I get to help others living with Chronic Pain. It’s just in my blood because before I was disabled by chronic pain, I was an Interpreter for the Deaf. I worked with Deaf children doing speech, auditory training and taught American Sign Language. These days aside from being a chronic pain patient, ironically I have two hearing aids. I have hearing and vision issues since a car accident in 2002 left me with many health issues, several chronic pain illnesses and a Traumatic Brain Injury. But I’m always happiest when doing something for others.

A group of my peers anonymously nominated me for this award and the U.S. Pain Foundation gave it to me. To my peers,  I say “Thank you so much for the nomination. I have made some wonderful lifelong friendships by being an Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation.  I’d like to reiterate that I feel humbled and so honored to have been nominated for and to receive this special award.  But U.S. Pain Foundation are the ones who deserve something wonderful for all that they do for persons living with daily chronic pain. They go “to bat” for all of us when they visit the state and federal legislators. They not only fight for our rights but they teach us how to fight for ourselves. There are:  conferences, webinars, Twitter chats, Social media days for sending out love and Information regarding rare diseases, Invisible illnesses and more!  They hold the annual Pain Summit to educate us more about ways to help ourselves. One of the main things U.S. Pain likes to teach us is to “take care of ourselves first”.  I really want to reiterate my gratitude for Paul coming all the way to our home in Michigan, to give my award in person and in front of my family and best friends. With that gratitude I also want to add the wonderful dinner and conversations that we shared. A chronic pain patient himself, Paul Gileno, flew several hundred miles to personally give me a beautiful, meaningful experience along with a lovely award. Again, I say “Thank You  very much from the bottom of my heart. I only hope that I can follow Joselynn Badman’s example of a true Pain Ambassador and Pain Warrior. I will continue to learn, advocate, share awareness and speak about HOPE for persons living with chronic pain”.