Please Help This Blog Win?


Hello Luvs!

This year for the WEGO HEALTH awards, my blog/this blog……our Blog; “Tears of Truth”, has been nominated “Best in Show””-Blog”! It was nominated through the WEGO Health awards website! We are so excited! Please just take a moment of your time and endorse my nomination by visiting the ensure below and just click on “endorse Suzanne Stewart”. I need your help to walk with me through this every step of the way, if you’d do me the honor? I did not participate last year when I felt that I couldn’t beg people to vote for me. But this year I feel like this blog deserves the award and “it” has been nominated. It’s not so much “ME”, but this Blog, that deserves the nomination and maybe, hopefully the award for “Best in Show-Blog”… here’s the link to endorse this blog! Thank you! So much! Please also “share this link”….thank you so very much, from the bottom of my heart!

 Here’s the link:

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/562

It’s WEGO Health awards Time Again!


Hello Luvs,

I’ve missed writing to you with that salutation! I’ve been writing so many of my posts as articles for the Ntl. Pain Report, that I’ve not had much chance to get close and personal with you!

I posted my newest American Sign Language video for you because June is PTSD Awareness Month.  This is the last day of June 2017, and I wanted the song “Concrete Angel” done in ASL to be posted for you.  It was to honor the time of year for PTSD Awareness and all of the abused children and people of the world! I don’t know if you’ve read any of my private posts or more posts towards the beginning of this blog? That’s where I have my posts about me being abused.  If you’d like to read about my journey and possibly the parts that are private, please just comment or message me and I’ll send you the password so that you can read all of the private posts!

I also want to let you know that this year once again, I’ve been nominated for a WEGO health award. I’m always very honored to be nominated. The only reason that I didn’t participate last year was due to the rule of having to ask people to vote for me daily on Social media. This year that’s not a requirement, so I will possibly ask you just a couple of times, to vote for me this year. Mostly I’m asking and very excited that We’ve been nominated for “Best in Show BLOG”!! I’m so excited about this because it’s about this blog and being nominated for an award! I’ve posted the link to vote for me on the menu to the right and I’ll post it here now again.  If you could find it in your heart and if you have a moment to vote; also if you enjoy this blog, please vote for this blog at:  https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees and you may look for me by photo, name “Suzanne Stewart” or my Twitter handle @RASEforCRPS.  Thank you so much !! Also please feel free to share my nomination so that others may also vote for this blog! 

I won’t ask you again to vote for us, on my blog. I may post on twitter or Facebook and ask people to vote a couple of times. I’m grateful for anything! Again I bow to you and say “thank you!” 

Sincerely,

Suzanne Stewart 

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees

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 that was hosted by RSDSA (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Association),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.

Support Groups,Chronic Pain, And Why Kindness Matters


 

01-675

When we are in pain, it sometimes can be hard to see another persons pain as well.  I have founded and am Administrator for several Support groups online. Some are for chronic illnesses & pain. While others are for fun and socializing. I’ve noticed that my group for people who love Cats,”The Scratching Post”; is very different than my other groups that are in support of people living with different kinds of pain. The reason that they are so different is because people who are just there to hang out and talk about the silliness of Cats  are usually thinking more positive thoughts and they’re in their happy place. Those of us who struggle with pain, may feel a various number of emotions. We bring those emotions into the group setting. Luckily, in the support groups that I run; I have not had any trouble with drama, in-fighting or bullying whatsoever.  I tend to think that it is because I have been the sole administrator and I take care of anything and everything Before it happens. I always check the “new requests” very thoroughly. I try to keep my groups safe from harm or any kind of researchers that want to “study” us/them. I have had people pretend to be someone who is in pain and they request to join my support group online. A long while back, I had a few interns from various countries, who wished to “study” the persons with CRPS or Invisible illnesses, so they tried to join one of my support groups. I have not ever asked their reasons because they don’t even get that far. I just don’t let them join my groups.

A few of the the ways that I keep my groups safe are by doing a few simple tasks before allowing someone to  join. I look for “signs” on their pages and I ask them several questions via private message. If their page is bare, without even a cover photo or profile picture; I don’t even pursue their request to join. If it just looks a bit “private” but they’ve been on Facebook for several years, then I ask them the questions that I will post below for you. If they have a few friends in my support group(s), or if they are referred by someone in the group; I usually just welcome them to the group and don’t check much more. I will ask the person who referred them or the people they have as their “friends”, if they know them well or if they are just an acquaintance?  Here are a few of the questions that I ask a prospective new member in one of my online support groups:

  • First I will make a statement something like : “Hello, my name is Suzanne and I’m the founder/admin. for the group that you have asked to join (then I name the group)”.  Then I’ll say, “Please don’t feel singled out, because I ask all prospective members the same questions. I like to just get to know you a little bit to make sure that you are in the right group for what you want/need.”
  • Secondly, I will ask them How did you find this group? What were you searching for?(Because my groups are mostly private, which means they can be seen in name only but the posts are private)….this also helps both of us make sure that they’re in the right place.
  • Then I might ask, What makes you want to join this type of group? Do you live with __ or __? (*Chronic illness, invisible illnesses and/or RSD/CRPS), or are you a Caregiver?
  • Next, I will say “When were you diagnosed? Where do you live?”
  • Then I will check everything out and usually allow them to join
  • If they don’t or won’t answer any of the questions, I don’t allow them into my groups. There are many other groups out there and I just want my members to feel safe.
  • If their page has zero information, zero photos and nothing that you can see whatsoever, that is a bad sign and I just usually “ignore” that request to join.

Some ideas for Administrators and moderators of groups already ongoing are:

  • Check the group regularly and just look over the new posts as they come in. Respond as soon as possible.
  • Look for abusive language &/or aggressive behaviors
  • Watch for a person that may be “picked on” or who has the anger of the group “dumped” on them. Act accordingly to figure out and fix the problem.
  • If you have spoken to someone a couple of times and they are rude to you or other members, it’s time to take them out of your group for the members’ sake
  • Ask for help, as I just recently started doing. I just couldn’t be everywhere and do it all. I asked for volunteers, for people who wanted to do some of the things that I cannot keep up with. Such as checking out all of the new members. Watching for any abusive, nasty or negative language or posts; and then telling me about them. Then I can decide whether to delete the post or talk to the person. Either way I will speak to the writer of those kinds of posts; it’s just a matter of before or after I delete it. My new moderators have the choice if it is a very abusive post to just delete it and tell me who and what, later.
  • Make sure that if you do ask for help, you choose people that you relate well with. Also persons who you have known for quite a while and you trust them and their judgement.

Unfortunately, many of us with Chronic pain issues and illness,  don’t always have the most supportive families or friends. These types of people also try to show up in groups to find out information for the “family”. That is another article in and of itself about Malignant Narcissist’s or abusers. If you have a supportive family, that is half the battle; it’s wonderful for you and that alone can help with your healing.

Whether you are a founder/administrator, a moderator or a member of an online support group.  Try to think first before you write, or at least before  you hit the “send” button. Remember that in Facebook support groups, you have the chance to go back and delete what you have written. Just in case you were terribly upset (we all can feel that way sometimes) and you want to get rid of your post before another person’s feelings get hurt or worse. Never carry private or specific information from one group to another. If in doubt, always ask the administrator(s). If you want to re-post an article or something similar, then go to the original Website  where that article was posted and share straight from there. This way you aren’t taking a post from one group and sharing with others. Usually  it is impossible to “share” between private groups anyways; but just in case.

We all continue to learn and grow in our lives each day. I’ve made mistakes before and I try to make amends or change whatever I can, so that I don’t repeat the error of my ways. I do my best to think first before I react or say something to another person, whether they are a friend or foe. Regardless if they are online in a group or out in the world in some kind of group setting. We are all humans and everyone feels hurt when someone is downright rude or is treating us badly. I want to add that if you are going to comment either way about something that someone has said, written or done; always be sure that you know all of the facts first. Don’t just read one line of something that someone has written, and then make a rude or cutting remark.  Don’t try to guess what someone means when they write a sentence or two in a group post online.  Sometimes the short or hastily written words cannot depict the true feelings, ideas or thoughts of a group member.  Keep in mind that some people are better at expressing themselves with spoken words and others are better at writing. Try to not get bothered by the small things, and think about what the “tone” of the words feel like to you; even if you might’ve said it differently.

When all is said and done, remember that we all inhabit this internet world together. We need to be as kind, loving and gentle as possible. There are always times when we say or do the wrong things. What we do afterwards, or the next time; is what matters most. Be kind and remember that the person you are upset with may have a whole mountain of issues, illnesses or problems that you don’t even know about.  That doesn’t give them the right to abuse or hurt you or others in any way. But just get away & remove yourself from the situation whenever possible. It never hurts to explain yourself, if  you feel that someone has gotten it wrong or judged you wrongly.

Lastly, please remember in the support groups for chronic pain, illness, grief, abuse survivors etc….these people are hurting a bit more than the average amount.  Try to be understanding and be a good listener, especially in a support group.  Give hurting members; those who are in much pain either physically or emotionally, a little leeway. Remember to be gentle and kind.  If you felt hurt by the actions or words of another member in your support group, step back for a moment and think. If you forget and then  realize that you retaliated against someone in a group, because you felt angry or hurt; try to make amends. Try to put yourself in someone Else’s situation, if you know it. If not, then try to just be thoughtful of others feelings. Treat them how you would like to be treated.  Remember that Kindness matters!

Living Through Betrayal & Withdrawals


I’d gone to a pain Dr for 3-4 yrs s/p a MVA . I had multiple injuries/surgeries. They forced me to take opioids! I was afraid of them. Not for any reason; because I have no history of smoking or drinking or taking any kind of meds! I have a letter that the pain psychologist wrote, stating that I “don’t have an addictive personality.”…..so then I did all of the injections etc. & all of the PT-OT, Biofeedback etc. They wanted to give me an Intrathecal pain pump. Then we found that I am not a candidate due to Combined Immune deficiency disease. Soooo then the pain Dr “dumped” me off back to my GP for pain meds only! He said the the “Govt. looks at him through a microscope” so he wanted my GP to do the meds. So that was 2005 and in 2014-Dec., my GP had Feds at his office & he was removed from that office & sent to an urgent care! I was stuck because nobody wanted to prescribe the fentanyl losenges and patches for me (with Dilauded for emergency). I went back to my old pain Dr and he refused to see me! He said that “he didn’t want any part of that other Dr.’s (the GP) mess”! He wanted to send me to his “pain Dr. friend!” I researched the guy to find out that he was or is actually an addiction specialist. There was no way I was going there! I’ve never even smoked cigarettes! There’s no way I was allowing “that” to follow me around in my medical records. So I did it on my own! The partner GP offered to help me for a few months but asap I was told to find another pain Dr. But I wasn’t just told that, I was badgered over & over again to go to that specialist. I lowered my doseages myself. When I finally found a kind pain Dr. who was respectful towards me; he told me that even though I’ve had a CVA and an MI, I was to “stop the Fentanyl losenges cold turkey!” I had gotten myself down to half of the amount of the patch. I stopped the losenges on my own, on the day that the new pain Dr. told me to. He told me that I never should’ve been on them in the first place. They’re for terminal cancer patients and even he’s not fond of them! He was visibly upset that I’d been on them for about 10 years! So I got down to half of the patch amount and to zero losenges! I was very very ill! The new pain Dr. told me that my body would be “fooled” because he gave me a smaller amount of opioids & I was still on half of the amount of the patch! Well, I’m here to tell you that my body was not fooled! Nothing was fooled and I was sweating, nauseated, had diarrhea and got very high fevers and blood pressures! I started researching withdrawals myself. Nobody was helping me, except my poor husband, who was feeling helpless. Nobody felt as alone and helpless as me during those dark days! I was so happy to have my loving husband to take me by the hands & walk with me through it all. It was a horrible 1st week; like the flu, but worse because the pain was so much higher. After about 6 weeks, things got better. But I must tell you that I never once craved the medication! I was happy to be rid of those losenges, actually. I’m very proud of myself for what I did all on my own, for the most part. I now have a wonderful pain Dr. Who cared enough about me to let me go and not treat me if I couldn’t do what needed to be done. I did it and I’ve done it and now I’m on about half as much medicine as I was on during those 10 years. I also feel like my pain Dr and I mutually respect each other. I did something by myself, that many or most people couldn’t do even with help!

Why I Wish To Be An Ambassador for U.S. Pain Foundation? My Pain Journey…


 

**I RECEIVED THIS RESOLUTION FROM MY TOWN OF CANTON, MICHIGAN,  FOR “PAIN AWARENESS MONTH” -SEPTEMBER 2016

photo-sep-14-4-22-11-pm

***I RECEIVED THIS PROCLAMATION FROM THE GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN, RICK SNYDER FOR “RSDS/CRPS AWARENESS MONTH -NOVEMBER 2016 AND COLOR THE WORLD ORANGE DAY FOR NOVEMBER 7, 2016”

photo-sep-19-12-54-05-pm

Finding HOPE With Chronic Pain



At first, I had been off of work for awhile and on SSDI for PTSD and CKDII. This was after years of living with abuse, domestic violence and more abuse. I got the help that I needed and was going to try and return back to my job in the Fall of 2002. A man ran through a red light one August day in 2002 which changed all of my plans, hopes and dreams. At first I lived with Chronic Intractable Pain s/p the M.V.A. I suffered multiple injuries. Some of these included: a TBI with 3 years of brain injury rehabilitation (and whiplash), multiple herniated/bulging discs, nerve hearing loss, balance/vision loss/issues, a ruptured biceps tendon, 2 torn meniscus’ along with ankle and wrist injuries. I had 4 CT Arthrograms, which are grueling and painful tests rarely used today. They aren’t often done now because all of the new technology and MRI machines. But I had a pacemaker placed 3 months after the accident and can’t have anymore MRI’s (luckily I had the brain, neck, spine & shoulder ones done right away after the MVA). I endured 8 surgeries with 2 titanium screws in my left shoulder, and I’m on my 2nd pacemaker. In 2007, following right foot surgery, I was diagnosed with RSD/CRPS in my right foot. Later in 2013, I was diagnosed with “severe systemic/full body RSD/CRPS disseminated” with Lymphedema in my left arm, chest, breast. This occurred after what was supposed to be a simple pacemaker replacement surgery. Instead, when the Neuro-Cardiologist surgeon got inside of my chest, he found that my pectoral muscle had a hole worn right through it from the first pacemaker placement. What was supposed to be an easy 45 minute procedure turned out to be a major reconstruction of my entire pectoral muscle and more.

Pain has affected my life tremendously because I had been a full-time working single mother with two daughters for 9 years. I was an Interpreter for the Deaf at a major University hospital and for several school systems magnet hearing impaired programs. I had gone to College for Sign Language Studies/Interpreting and had received honors. Finally I found my soul-mate, fell in love and re-married. We had only been married 5 years when the car accident occurred, which changed my life forever. We used to win medals in “racewalking” together. For several years I had been an Aerobics instructor. At my daughters school and other elementary schools I volunteered by teaching children about Deaf culture and American Sign Language. For four years I taught Sign language class to the 4th and 5th grade children at my daughters’ school. The kids learned several songs in Sign Language and we finished off the end of the year by performing them for the whole school and the parents. Lastly, I volunteered to chaperone whenever possible and I was the jump rope team coach for several years. Receiving the honor of the “VIP” (*Volunteer In Public Schools) award from our school systems’ Superintendent was an awesome feeling. The award was given to me because of my work with the children and for volunteering my time to Interpret for Deaf parents with hearing students during IEP’s and Parent/teacher conferences. I was thrilled to be honored in our town Newspaper!

In seeking treatments, I was in brain injury rehab for 3 years outpatient and had found a pain management physician. He started out with the usual Epidural nerve blocks, trigger point injections, Pain Psychologist with biofeedback and 8 years of PT and OT. Multiple specialists were visited and it was a different one for each injury. I’d gone to at least 5 different shoulder Orthopedic Dr’s and none of them helped me. It was always more grueling Physical therapy and more pain. One of them even said to me “What part of I can’t fix your shoulder, don’t you understand? Is it the brain injury?” Feeling devastated, embarrassed and defeated at that moment, my driver took me home. (*I had a driving company take me to most of my appointments for several years because my husband couldn’t get the time off needed for everything). I had several experiences with physicians, that were just appalling. One G.I. Dr., said to my husband “Wow, you got way more than you bargained for, marrying this one, and you even stayed?” A knee Dr. told me that “everyone my age has a torn meniscus”. I think I could write a book just on terrible experiences I’ve had with physicians. But you know what? I didn’t give up! I continued to go to 5 different shoulder physicians, until finally one touched my arm in such a way that I screamed instantly. He knew then that my biceps tendon had ruptured a whole year prior! He said it had ruptured and then during all of that year while I was visiting shoulder Dr. after shoulder Dr.; the tendon had been trying to repair itself by reattaching wrongly to the bone. I had to have open shoulder surgery to detach that tendon from the bone and then reattach it with 2 titanium screws.

I feel that part of the barrier to my getting the care that I needed was that I “looked fine”. I suppose that because I tried to brush my hair, put on a bit of makeup and wear clean clothes, that meant that I was “fine”. Though I was prescribed per the PMR physician: 2 AFO’s (ankle/foot Orthotic braces for foot drop), knee braces, a shoulder brace, a wheelchair, motorized scooter, a walker, forearm crutches and a cane; I supposed I still “looked fine”!?? Along with the fact that I’d been prescribed prisms for my glasses (which I’d not worn prior to the MVA) and 2 hearing aids for the moderate hearing loss. My husband and friends, or for that matter anyone who knew me could see that I was in horrible pain. It seemed that many of the Dr.’s were oblivious. Luckily, my GP of many years, the PMR brain injury specialist and the pain management physician knew, understood and helped me and that is what mattered most at the time. I even had one person put a nasty note on my car windshield when I went into the grocery store. I had put the HC placard on my rear view mirror and put my cane into a nearby cart. I went into the store for just something small and came back out to a note that I’ll never forget. It was written on a napkin with purple ink and it said “You don’t look Handicapped or sick. It must be a MENTAL thing! I hope you become handicapped for the rest of your life so you know what it is like to really need this spot to park your car”! I was in shock and devastated. I cried all the way home. Then after composing myself, I wrote a letter to the editor of my town and told him all about my experience. I was hoping to help others to know they weren’t alone. I was also hoping that the person who wrote the note, maybe lived in this town and hopefully saw my “letter to the editor” and maybe they would feel some remorse?

I had a pain management Dr. and after doing all that he asked, he wanted to give me a spinal pain pump. I was not a candidate because I have an immune disease called “CID” or Combined Immune Deficiency Disease. He said since I was going to be given only medications, that he wouldn’t see me anymore because “he is looked at under a microscope by the government”. Therefore he turned my pain care over to my GP and told me that the Dr. could call him any time with a consult or questions. The GP did not know what to do with me and gave me a higher dose of pain medicine after pain medicine, which most made me ill. Finally we found something that worked and helped the pain. I was on 2 medications from 2005 thru 2015. Then in January of that year I got a letter from our insurance company stating that they “would not pay for the pain meds anymore after March 11th, unless a certified pain management Dr. agreed with the regimen I was on.” I thought that would be easy, I would just visit my old pain management Dr. and all would be fine. That was not to happen! I went to my GP for my next visit to discuss this letter and what we would do, only to find out it was his last day! I spent the majority of the appointment crying. He promised me that he would speak to that pain Dr. I’d gone to before and send him all of my updated records. He also told me that he would personally speak to that Dr.! We went to the pain specialist that had been my prior pain specialist. I had always been a good, compliant patient. I did everything asked of me. I fought taking pain medications but was told that “it was OK” and to “trust him”. I even had a letter from his own pain Psychologist, stating that I do not have an “addictive personality”. Well, I was astonished to find that he turned me away and told me to “go to a treatment center”! I fell apart and started to cry! Then he told me that my GP had been “investigated by the feds and he was sent to work at an urgent care where he cannot write prescriptions for pain meds any longer”. Then he proceeded to tell my husband and me that “he didn’t want to be any part of that Dr’s MESS”. He told me he would not see me again. I begged him and told him I was a strong person. I reminded him about the letter from his own pain psych. Dr.! I reminded him that I’ve never smoked a cigarette, never drank nor have I ever done any drugs in my whole life! He told me to leave and come and see him “only after I visit and go to a treatment center”. What is wrong with this picture? The problem is that this man is supposed to be a legitimate pain physician. He should know the difference between “dependent” and “addicted”. I don’t get a “high” from my medicine, in fact I despise taking it. I don’t think about it or crave it. If I had a choice, I would never want to take it again!

I never went back to that Dr.! Needless to say, I never went to the treatment center. I didn’t want that following me around in my medical records for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be taken less seriously than I had been already, because I “look fine”. I went to about 4 or 5 different pain specialist’s who all looked at me dumbfounded or made rude comments to my husband and/or me! Some of them just stood by the door waiting for me to be done with my “story”, so they could say “Ok, well I’ll see you in 6 months”! A few of them said that I was “just too complicated” or had “too many pain issues to deal with”. Finally, I saw one Dr. that was kind, good and respectful towards me. That’s all it takes, folks! It only takes one kind Dr. to listen to you, believe in you and then you believe in him/her. He told me that I had to get off the medications that the other GP had me taking for 9 years. He gave me a different medicine and he told me that hopefully my brain would “be tricked” by the other pain medicine and the withdrawals wouldn’t be too bad. Even though I’d had seizures following the TBI, a heart attack and a CVA already; I wanted to do this at home with my husband’s love and help. I was told to take my last of the old meds on July 12, 2015 and start the new one. I was deathly ill for about 6 weeks. The first 3 weeks were the worst. It felt as though I had the worst flu in my entire life, on top of the flaring of the RSD/CRPS pain and other pain. Finally, I had done it! I had a few blood pressure spikes that were scary and we got some medication to help with that. I earned the respect of the new pain Dr. and I felt some sort of self strength from being able to do it all by myself, for the most part. Today, over a year has gone by and I don’t think about that other medication and I don’t want it. I never want it again actually. If someone offered it to me today, I would say “NO”! My quality of life has gone down a bit. I’m in my chair for most of the days, with about 4 “good hours” per day. But I still prefer this pain medicine regimen that I’m taking now! It works for me and it’s still pain medication but its more than half of what I’d been taking and I feel like my pain is semi-controlled as long as I don’t do too much for too long.

As far as distractions, that is what I want to talk about. There are so many good things that we can do to distract ourselves if we only give several things a chance. I started volunteering as a “chemo-angel”, a “card-angel”, “special assignment angel” and “prayer angel” for the “Chemo-Angels” program. What this essentially means is that I get assigned a “buddy”, someone compatible that I would work well with. It’s usually a child, because I love children and I’m a mom of 2 and grandmother of 3! The child is going through chemo therapy and I send them weekly letters, small gifts that are mail-able and cards. When I get assigned children, I use my kitty cat “Angel Kitty Luna” as the writer of the letters. The kids love to hear about Luna running through the house catching spiders in the basement or playing with her “baby” (her 1st toy). They end up loving my Luna so much, that I made her a Facebook “page” and many come to “visit” her there. There they can see videos of her and see that she is real. It’s good and therapeutic for me and it’s very good for the children or adults that I am assigned to be buddies with. I cannot say enough good about distractions. You are helping yourself when you help someone else. As far as the chemo-angel program, I’m never allowed to say a negative word in my letters and nothing about myself, unless its a fun story or something cheerful. I also took my love of Sign Language and changed it from Interpreting which I can no longer do, into signing songs that are uplifting and fun and posting them to You Tube (*@ASLSuzyQ), which I can do. It makes me hurt more sometimes and I must learn the lyrics first. It’s really very difficult for me but it’s a challenge too. You see, with the TBI it’s very hard to memorize and nearly impossible. With my pain levels, and lack of “range of motion”, it’s nearly impossible to actually DO the sign language. I go over and over and learn a song (because it’s very hard to hear words with music when you need 2 hearing aids). I sing it and learn it until it’s “2nd nature”. Then I videotape myself doing ASL covers of fun, meaningful and cheerful songs. I post them to You Tube and then send them to my few Twitter accounts, my 3 support groups on Facebook which I founded myself and admin. by myself (though the one group is pretty large and I have 2 helpers for that group). I also send them when appropriate, to my Facebook “Pages” which I started in order to help with different aspects of Advocacy and to cheer people up. Another one of my favorite “distractions” from my pain, is my blog and writing. I took journalism in College and I always wrote for my school newspapers. I even founded a newspaper at the University of Michigan hospital, where I worked before I got sick. I love writing and my blog called “Tears of Truth” ( @suzydukettes.wordpress.com), has become more recognized and noticed. It started out as a place for me to write about the abuse and an outlet for me, before I had physical pain to deal with. It has progressed and evolved into a place where I write everything from funny stories to informative articles and my opinions regarding them. “Tears of Truth” is also a place where I can have my own “soapbox” about certain issues that I want to challenge. I even have ways to cope and what to do when you are in a situation with a Narcissists! I write during the holidays about how to cope with pain, people and pumpkin pie! I used my bad experiences and my good ones to help others. I even wrote about the day that someone in Wal-mart stopped me in a public store and wanted to “pray over me because I needed a cane and therefore had demons inside of me”! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love God and I’m a Christian! But I don’t appreciate being told that I am in pain because I’m a “bad person”! I try to write about these and other experiences. I find ways to help others should they come across something like that. I just love writing, music and ASL and I use all of that to help distract me from my pain. I have another You Tube account (*www.youtube.com/suzydukettes), where I post videos sometimes about certain issues, such as that “Anderson Cooper’s CNN Town Hall meeting” and the proposed “Opioid Lifeboat tax” and the USPain Foundation’s “People With Pain Matter”. I helped a group of University students with a project they had to do. They had to find something unknown to most people and make others aware of it. They saw the “CRPS” logo sweatshirt I was wearing while in a coffee shop. They stopped and asked me if I would help them with their project. I had so much fun helping them. I made videos, slideshows and we raised awareness about not only CRPS, but all about Chronic Pain! By then I was in process of becoming an Ambassador in MI, for USPain Foundation. I brought my pamphlets and other resources sent to me by USPain and we spread awareness of both CRPS and Chronic Pain.

I do envision a better and lower pain future for myself and anyone else who wants to “come along for the ride”. I can envision that future even more now because though I started out “alone” or felt “alone” on this pain journey. I now have thousands of people who share their stories with me each day from all over the world. I have made so many wonderful, deep, meaningful and strong friendships along the way. We all have to start with “baby steps”. When things feel too big or too much to handle, not only do I turn to God, but I have my loving husband/caregiver and my dear friends from all around the Globe. I’ve learned so much and I pray that I will continue to learn every day. Today I am better equipped to handle this pain because I didn’t give up HOPE. You never know what “good” could be around the corner. So please don’t ever give up! I just try to distract myself, take my medicine responsibly and use the tools that I’ve learned. This is the way I hope to continue coping and to become a better person and health advocate.