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.

 

 

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

The USPainSummit 2016, An Experience To Remember


Photo Aug 12, 5 18 28 PMPhoto Aug 05, 8 08 19 PM (1)Photo Aug 08, 6 44 25 PMPhoto Aug 06, 11 08 50 AMPhoto Aug 04, 8 41 19 PMPhoto Aug 06, 11 49 02 AMPhoto Aug 05, 10 38 37 AM (1)Photo Aug 05, 6 22 53 PM (1)      We arrived at the University of New England in Biddeford, ME on Thursday evening, just as people were sitting down to dinner.  Due to some special health needs that I have, we had driven for 2 days to get there. It was during the final phase of our drive, that there was a terrible truck accident on the 495. Traffic was halted for 2 hours on both sides of the highway and people were getting out of their cars to see what going on. We turned on the Am radio to find out about the reason(s) for the fact that both sides of the freeway were cleared and stopped.  Then we saw a medical helicopter come and touch down on the other side to pick up hurt passengers and drivers possibly. We were praying with other drivers that the people would be all right. I was a bit worried about getting to UNE, but not as worried as I was for those poor people who were injured or worse. We were talking with other people who’d gotten out of their cars and we even prayed with them for the safety of those involved.

We finally were traveling again and arrived at the University safely. Instantly, I started looking for the friends that I’d longed to see for so many years. Frantically texting them, I was wondering where they were and what they were doing?  These girls and I had started group texting along the journey to keep our spirits up, take care of each other and keep tabs on our friends. Flora and others came to my rescue! They took my husband and me to the dining hall so that we would not miss dinner. I first found Christa, the one I call my “adopted daughter”. She has called me “Mama” for many years and we have become very close over time. Christa and Flora made sure that I had a place to sit with them as Heather came up and gave me a gentle yet wonderful hug. I got to meet Jaclyn, who I’d been excited to meet and get to know better. I was so happy to see all of them,  I could barely hold back the tears of excitement that the moment had finally arrived. I met Barbara, Crystal, Melanie and her mom, Laurie. I finally got to meet Casey, and then Paul and saw so many other familiar faces that I would get to know throughout this most awesome weekend. We went to the hospitality suite after dinner and that’s where we got checked in, and collected the shirts that USPain gave us to wear during each day of the Summit. There was a feeling of comaraderie like no other as I met each new person, whose names I mostly knew. All of these people were fighting their pain, to come together on this first night.  Most of us were running on Adrenalin & excitement after having traveled far and wide to arrive at this retreat. We then went to bed and tried to recover a bit before the weekend ahead.

Friday morning couldn’t come fast enough for me. We all arrived and were sat in a big theater/lecture room. First of all, I thought it was great that they gave us all water bottles in our USPain “bag of goodies” as we checked in. There was concern for us staying hydrated because water, coffee, lemonade and teas were readily available outside the lecture hall door. There was also a variety of fruits, cookies and some Nutri-grain bars. While walking in, you could see that this group was set up to “look out” for us and each other. The first day there was a couch to provide for the special needs of one of the chronic pain patients. Blankets were available to us because it was very chilly in the lecture hall.  After the first day, Paul Gileno, Casey and others made sure that more blankets were available.  Then additional couches, and chairs were brought in for others who also needed some extra comfort. This was done so that we could all be  able to stay and listen, rather than have to get up and rest someplace else. They saw a need and they took great care of us.

Up first, Paul Gileno spoke as he Welcomed us as a “family” and introduced himself. He spoke about his own journey with chronic pain.  Paul explained the meaning behind the color “blue” for the USPain Foundation and why he started it. We were waiting for some deep meaning behind the color, but Paul told us as he chuckled, that it was “just because he likes the color blue”. Next he was awarded a beautiful hand carved Cane with Blue accents on it. There are no words to describe the beauty of this cane; also the love and inspiration it took to create. I am in awe of the talent and Artistry of a fellow Chronic pain patient named “Ernie”. Paul said that the cane will be everywhere USPain Foundation goes, to remind everyone that #peoplewithpainmatter. I can’t remember everything that was said, but he said something about how people with pain are so creative and still useful persons in society with aspirations, talents and dreams. Either way I know he is very proud of that cane and he did positively say that it would be taken with him to every USPain function.

Next up was Shaina and she spoke of compassion and respect for each other. She explained that advocates need to continue to write letters to lawmakers.  She told us “take care of yourself first”;  and added that our caregivers support us and they also need support.  We need to work with and continue to network with fellow pain warriors.  We started after this, talking about “mind, body and spirit”….What we do to get our mind off of the pain?

Then another pain warrior came up to speak and it was Cindy Steinberg. She spoke about advocacy. She said that like Ghandi once said “We need to be the change we want to see in the world”. She explained that one way to make change is to be the changing force. Use Social Media, Public speaking, meetings, rallies, Television and public hearings. There have been successes in these kinds of advocacy outreaches. One of which is the Bill in Massachusetts regarding Opioids.  The Bill stated at first that persons with pain were “only allowed 3 days of Opioids no matter what!!!  “They pulled people together; groups rallied behind each other and they said “that’s nuts”! They got the Bill to have an “exception for Chronic pain, Cancer and Post Operative pain!” It was a victory in the corner of people suffering with chronic pain.  We next spoke about “Step Therapy” and that CT 2014 hurts patients. Step therapy is in my understanding, where you start at the bottom and they try everything cheap and you have to “fail” that in order to get to try something else that might cost insurers more money. Essentially it is used by insurers to control cost. Next Cindy spoke about the “National Pain Strategy”, it’s a comprehensive plan to help pain patients.

Next, Tiffany introduced our panel of 3 lovely women, that I could really relate to. These women were: Ellen, Juliana and Wendy.  They spoke about advocacy and “What makes for successful advocacy?” They went on to say “Why do you think your story is important? When you  speak say that, be authentic and keep it real. They said that in being an advocate, one good way to start a conversation is to start out by stating something that everyone has felt or is familiar with. You can start with saying “just imagine you wake up every day feeling like you have the flu”? The three of them also explained that advocates need to get the media to know us.  Other tips were:  “Tell your story because that’s how you make a personal connection. Your story does make a difference.  Along with helping others in pain, you are helping yourself”.  They went on to explain the best way to talk to a Senator or state Representative. “Let your story grab them, if not visible make them visible”. They coached us to write letters, explain and allow Dr.’s to know how we feel.

Next up was a representative from the Pfizer drug company, Barbara Phillips. She discussed how “Opioid prescriptions have tripled”. (*Side note:  In my opinion, the amount of Dr.’s treating chronic pain has gone up. The use of Opioids, I believe has risen due to the fact that more people seek treatment for chronic pain, the medications have low side effects and are more readily available; or they were before this pandemonium. For example in the 50’s and 60’s, the use of antibiotics went way up. It’s because they were more readily available to help people.  We are getting “lumped together” with people who are “addicted” and not medically dependent on the Opioids for relief of chronic pain). Ms. Phillips says that the education regarding chronic pain, for Primary care Dr’s is almost non existent. The Medical Dr.s only get approximately 9 hours of education and training with helping chronic pain. But the Canadian Veterinary Dr’s get a whopping 87 hours of training with chronic pain for animals. She explained chronic pain as being “the 5th vital sign”. She talked about the differences between acute and chronic pain and said that PCP’s don’t understand chronic pain.

Later, Ms. Phillips went on to discuss the different kinds of pain, which are: Nociceptive Pain (bone fractures, sprains, burns, bumps and infectious or arthritic disorders), Neuropathic Pain (Post shingles nerve pain, RSD/CRPS/Causalgia, cancer pain, phantom limb pain and Peripheral Neuropathy, which is widespread nerve pain such as Diabetics live with).  Then there is a third type of pain called “Mixed Pain”, which is similar to Fibromyalgia etc. She says that assessing and managing pain is easier after identifying which kind of pain you have. She talked about why she feels that “Opioids are over prescribed”. Ms. Phillips believes that Opioids were an “easy script for Dr.’s to write, and they underestimated the risk to patients taking them”.  It is difficult to asses patient risk (use, misuse, diversion). In Misuse she explains that she meant “taking more than the prescribed amount”. In Abuse, she referred to “using it only for euphoria” and by Diversion, she explains “removing the Opioids by sharing of them with family members etc.” She also talked a bit about Abuse deterrent Opioids with the agonist/antagonist approach; and there was some educational information regarding Opioid use. She ended with her fact “that 50-80% of Opioid deaths come from chronic pain”.

After Barbara Phillips from Pfizer was finished speaking, we got to meet Senator Hill from Maine. She was delightful in that she got my attention and my admiration right away when she spoke of her love for animals. I love animals and feel the same way, so it got to my heart right away. Sen. Hill discussed the importance of advocacy and how its “scary” to campaign and go to the Capitol. She said that while legislators are “scary”, they’re just “regular people”.  We need to “get up front, don’t be afraid to talk and go tell your story”. She also said that if you are “up against the clock, have your testimony in writing”. In giving us some good advice, she told us that they prefer to have the testimonies be about one page. Make bullet points and try not to or DON’T say the same things as others have said! They want to hear true, real, honest stories. She stressed that we should try really hard not to repeat. I’m talking about if you are going to lobby, you should be a real person and tell your real story; push the point.

Some people got up and asked questions and spoke out. The chronic pain patients said “What do we do to teach lawmakers about the importance of Opioids when needed?” In my opinion, they are all right to be used sometimes. She said she would want to hear “how we really need it but give suggestions on how we’d not allow others to misuse it.  Come and tell her how it helps you but how to regulate it for those who misuse it.” I am thinking, why is it up to the chronic pain patient to figure out how to make other persons not misuse the Opiods? We talked about “splitting it into two issues”.  It’s not only one issue and we are being put in the same group together with those who are abusing the medications. Senator Hills’ eyes became widened and she spoke out and said “Nobody’s ever said that before”, and we do need to split it into two groups! I’m saying that we aren’t “addicted” but physically dependent! We don’t get a “high” from the Opioids. If you ask 99% of the chronic pain patients, we will tell you that we do NOT want to take this medication. We wish that we did not need it to help with our pain. But the fact remains, that it DOES help some of us! She instructed us to meet in and start with our own districts’ Health and Human services community. Her information was very invaluable in that she gave bullet points to us in how to be a better advocate. Here are a few of them:

  • Pick an issue and narrow it down….prepare and build from that!
  • Go to your own house and federal people in your own state
  • ADVOCACY:  step #1 is to impact change- know your basics and bullet points (know the different parts of the govt. such as: the local and state and then the federal government; which is: Legislative, executive and judicial
  • Congress is responsible for passing legislation. Each state has 2 senators and you should get acquainted with them. You can visit: congress.org and house.gov or senate.gov
  • Take advantage of short meetings.  Be ready and be direct! For example: go to candidate meetings, town meetings.  Call and make yourself available and use Social Media whenever possible

Then after Senator Hill was finished, Shaina came back up and told us to learn about issues on USPainfoundation.org. Take what you know and what you have learned and try to make a difference.  Share your story in that you can write a letter to the editor of your town’s Newspaper (to go to the correct person, look on UsPain.org). Shaina made us all laugh and giggle when she told us that “she wants to help” and it’s OK to “bug her”!

After lunch, we came back to an afternoon discussing “how to tell your story”.    We must remember that so many of us, those with chronic pain can still do some beautiful and productive things. For example there were people there who’d made beautiful jewelry, and how about that gorgeous hand carved cane that Ernie gave to Paul at the beginning? We do have something to give!  Also as far as getting our story out there, it was reiterated that when Public speaking to lawmakers or while testifying; write down short ideas ahead of time. You don’t need to memorize because they want to hear from your heart. You usually only have about 2 minutes to talk, so make sure you know what the US Pain foundation is, and bring copies with you. Did you know that US Pain foundation has 100,000 members?  Get resources from US Pain Foundation and “BUG” Shaina! LOL….

Regarding the Federal government, for example the FDA, you’ll have a more “polished” audience and only 2 minutes to speak. You’ll get a warning sound when your time is almost up and then they just cut you off! You need to have paper and write down what you want to say.  Get it down to 2 minutes! Your story is very important!! If you do use facts, please make sure they are correct, accurate. Regarding the State government, you’re testifying in a less formal manner. You’ll more or less be in front of a committee.  Keep eye contact, keep to your personal story and your bullet points! Try to explain your disability and always arrive early when you testify.

After all of these discussions were finished, we heard from Dr. Edward Bilsky, a professor at University of New England.  He had a Pharmacological approach and a scientists approach to the Opioid misuse. He was in agreement and supports the National Pain strategy.  He discussed that he feels that “Opioids don’t help chronic pain”. In talking about some of the Abuse deterrent drugs, he said that “Naltrexone stops cravings”. He feels that “the problem is not one of  addiction so much as it is of a misuse issue.” He went on to say that 2.5 million Americans meet the criteria for Opioid misuse. He called Opioids, “Heroin”.  I really admired Dr. Bilsky and he made some very good points. He’s a very intelligent professor and I got the impression that he was a “family man” and “trying to help”.  But I must give my opinion here, right? This is my blog and I have a right to my opinion in a respectful manner. My opinion is that Opioids have helped me over the past 14 years. I’ve actually gone down in my amount of medications, because I wanted to partly, and then because I was forced to later on. The medications do lessen my pain, though as my Pain Management physician says, “he cannot take the pain away, but only help to make is less”. I don’t feel that Opioids are “Heroin”. I feel that my Opioids, lessen my pain and I have never “craved” them. If someone asked me, I would tell them that I do NOT want to take this medicine. I have done all that has been asked of me and not much has helped my multiple, real pain issues and diagnosis’.

The part that was the most fun, was Friday night. We had a Lobster bake out by the beach and the ocean! It was an awesome sight and the man cooking the lobsters opened up the foil coverings to show me the display of many many lobsters cooking over a fire grill! We ate together with 50 other US Pain Foundation ambassadors from across the country. People were laughing, having fun and taking lots of photos.  Dr Bilsky was there and was a part of it all with us. I did not have to agree with all that he said, because I look up to him as a Mentor who knows different things about this than I do. I can only say what is in my heart and my head, and how I feel. I think he would respect that too.

We went down towards the beach after eating Lobster, corn on the cob, potatoes and some wonderful strawberry shortcake for dessert (with real whipped cream on top!).  My husband, my friends and I laughed, talked, cried and took action shots.  We pretended to be “US Pain Angel’s” in parody with “Charlies’ Angels” (*well, not my husband….LOL, he took the photos). It was good for our hearts, minds and souls; to be around people whom we have known for so many years, but never have had the chance to meet in person. I felt a quote from the “Grinch” book come to mind in that “my heart grew 3 sizes” that night. My heart did grow on this trip. I felt love, friendship and comradeship with these people who were like me in so many ways.  We may be from different sides of the Country, but we all took care of each other and watched out for each other. We made lasting friendships with the new persons that we met. It was an awesome sight to see people exchanging social media names with each other, phone numbers and contact info.

Day #2 of the pain Summit was about getting people to sign and support the Ntl. Pain Strategy. Cindy Steinberg spoke about this and then spoke about CARA- comprehensive addiction and recovery act of 2016.  We learned about the Federal Pain Research Strategy- a systemic plan for future pain research.  We found out that if you want to learn more about this “Non medical switching”, you can watch You Tube videos about it.  Research shows that Non medical switching leads to worsening side effects and conditions.  When the insurance payers just decide to switch medicine on people, it’s usually without the knowledge of the persons attending physician! There are 42% more E.R. visits with a 12% higher rate of outpatient visits as well. Shaina was explaining that “Biosimilars can have bad side effects versus Biomedics”.  They want to give us cheaper and less effective drugs. “They” meaning insurance companies.  We need to speak out and restrict “Biosimilar drugs”

We discussed “Step therapy” and how it is terrible for 67% of patients. They end up waiting for help as they get more sick and go through withdrawals sometimes. There is a recent article in the American Journal of Medicine about “Step Therapy”.  Then we moved on to “Abuse deterrent therapies”. It is an interesting new technology, in that the drug companies make the medications impossible to crush, chew or melt; in order to get a “high”.  This also deters people from using it for the wrong reasons or selling it on the streets. A place to get information is: WWW.Painconnection.org and their phone number is: 1-800-920-0664.  Their FAX # is:  1-800-910-6951.

At the end of the day, we got some useful information on Bill tracking/legislative tracking.  We use this to find legislation on a certain issue; to learn about and track it.  You can visit WWW.uspainfoundation.org, and go to “Bill Tracking” and track by state and /or by issue.  The top right corner of the page tell us how many bills are going through right now.  You can go there to find the Bill title, Bill sponsor and the status of the Bill.

As you can probably see, by the second day, I was in more pain and could not focus quite as much. I tried to take notes as best I could. I was so impressed by the actions of Paul, Casey, Shaina and whoever else helped us.  Many of us, the pain patients who were in attendance, were very cold and very much suffering with a lot of pain, due to the extra traveling, unfamiliar surroundings for sleeping and having to be up and listening intently for such long periods of time. I know for myself, I’m on Disability and just not able to do things for very long periods of time.  They took the time to listen to us and got more blankets.  They brought in extra couches & chairs to give more people a place to rest and still take part in the conference.

All it takes is a kind gesture from someone else sometimes to make us feel cared about, and our pain acknowledged.  Just the fact that someone notices our needs or takes care of our wants  at times, really makes us feel good or at least better, even if it is feeling better inside of our own skin. There was a time during the conference when I was starting to fade. I was not feeling good and my pain was higher than usual.  I was so grateful to Paul, Casey, Shaina and the others who got the extra chairs etc., so that I could spread out a bit. At one point, Casey was in front of the room and she looked over at me. She could tell that I was not feeling very good. Mostly, you can see it my face when my skin turns more pale and I stop being the animated person that I usually am. Casey gave me a certain nod and smile; a glance to let me know that she knew and she cared. It meant the world to me!  Then Christa,(my “adopted daughter ” all of these years, whom I finally got to meet at this conference) who was sitting next to me in another chair with her legs also up on a different chair, took hold of my hand.  It was a feeling of friendship and deep feelings that one can only share with someone else who truly understands.  Then my husband and caregiver, Craig took my hand and I felt a rush of relief go through my body knowing that I had someone there with me who was in this with me for the long haul. As Ellen, another chronic pain patient, told me “we are lucky that we know a true connection and deep love, that others don’t get that lucky to experience”. I felt it again when Craig stood up to speak about care giving, after Stu had done such  a great speech on it. My husband got up in front of 50 Ambassadors, many other care givers and the administration of the US Pain Foundation, and professed his love for me. He spoke of how it is for him, on the other side feeling helpless sometimes. How he can only be there for me and how he “loves me so much”. It made me tear up and a rush of emotions ran through me as someone handed me a tissue.

That night we had a campfire, made S’mores and got to hang out with the neatest 13 year old boy I’ve ever met. He was “Ty” and he was the best.  How many 13 year old boys, would get up and get things so many times for all of these different people with pain? Ty did that and more. He brought me more soda and more cookies! He made me laugh at the fire pit and cry when I heard his mom read off all of his accomplishments to help children with pain. What a neat kid and one that any parent would be so proud to have.  I know that Casey is very proud of him. I am proud to know him and I know where he gets his strength and tenacity, we all do. I could see it in their interaction together, the mother/son bond is strong. Casey is someone who I was excited to meet and who became a close friend that weekend.

So many people that I felt a bond with that weekend. For about 54 hours, I had the pleasure of feeling a closeness in knowing that no one judged me and we all stood up for and looked out for each other. Nobody was left out and when I wanted to do a meaningful song in sign language, they found a way to let me do it in the hospitality suite on Saturday night.  The employee that was giving us soda and other drinks, had a blue tooth speaker. She hooked my iphone6 up to it and my song suddenly was loud enough for everyone to hear.  I used to be an Interpreter for the Deaf. Now, due to a MVA in 2002, I am Hearing impaired and have 2 hearing aids.  I don’t need to hear the words with the song together, because I learn the lyrics first and try to go with the music.  I got to do my “thing” that I CAN do. I am no longer able to Interpret, but I can do some artistic interpreting for a short period of time. I signed an ASL cover of the song “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith from the “Voice”. Sure, the music stopped a few times and it wasn’t perfect, but nobody cared. I got a round of applause and people told me it was “beautiful”. It made me feel so good. I remember, April came up and suggested that it be “the song” for the US Pain Foundation. How cool is that? I got to “do my thing”, but it was not for me alone; I wanted to give a “gift” to these people, these special friends that I had gotten to meet. To show my love for them and to express that we should still “be who we are, be true to ourselves; to stand in the light and be seen as we are”.

Thank you US Pain Foundation, for a beautiful, wonderful and memorable weekend. I got to make so many new friends and more whom I wish to get to know better. Craig and I made good friends with another couple who we felt bonded with, Stu and Ellen. I can’t wait for next year and I hope to be behind the scenes helping more, because I would love to be able to do more for those who are doing so much for us…thank you Paul,Casey, Shaina, Nicole, Lori and everyone at US Pain and everyone who was there…thank you so much!Photo Aug 04, 9 23 36 PM

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Withdrawals And One Week Fentanyl Lollipop Free !!


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Hello Luvs,

Wow…One week has passed….and I have been free of the Fentanyl Lollipops for 7 days now!

I would say that growing up in an abusive home was horrendous. Being robbed at gunpoint at the age of 11 years; in a shoe store with my family, was just terrifying. I also think that  getting married, being abused and getting remarried all the while being abused even worse, was pretty challenging. I didn’t know what “challenging” was though, until I had to flee the marital home with my two baby girls; along with help from the domestic violence shelters. My little girls  were only 3 and 5 1/2 and I was 30 years old. Later I was diagnosed with PTSD and “Battered Woman’s Syndrome” and found some solace in trusted Psychologist whom I still know to this day. I had felt that battling Anorexia & depression on and off since the age of 17 until I cured myself following a horrible motor vehicle accident in 2002; was brave and courageous. Having gone through Acute renal failure, being robbed again in 2013 and being involved in 2 Motor vehicle accidents, through no fault of my own, I thought I didn’t exactly have such an “easy” life. The second MVA in 2002, I suffered numerous injuries and multiple surgeries; including several pieces of hardware placed in a few different parts of my body. I’m on my second pacemaker, the first being “a piece of cake”. Meaning that the second pacemaker surgery in 2013, did not go quite as planned. After getting into my chest, the Neuro-Cardiologist found out that the 1st pacemaker had worn a hole right through my pectoral muscle. Then not only did I need a new pacemaker, but the 45 minute to an hour surgery turned into a 3 hour ordeal in which my whole left pectoral muscle had to be rebuilt. The team was smart and did research on RSD/CRPS, a Neuro-autoimmune disease that I ended up getting after my 7th surgery.  It was the surgery on my right foot in 2007, in which the horribly painful nerve disease started. It spread and it spread until it went systemic following that major open surgery in 2013. I even endured a CVA and a mild heart attack in between the 10 surgeries following that MVA in 2002. I suffer from an MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) and went through 3 years of TBI rehabilitation to learn how to cope with:  not being able to cook when nobody is home (because I may leave burners on and hurt my family or myself), not being able to comprehend what I read anymore after having been a College graduate with a 3.9 GPA! I had to learn how to live with leg braces, hearing aids, special prism glasses, balance issues, much less concentration capabilities and just about zero short term memory!  The worst of these being the chronic nerve pain and all of the pain following those years and still to this day.

I went to a pain Dr. for 3 years and he did everything from epidural nerve blocks to trigger point injections and biofeedback along with pain Psychology appointments. I was so happy when I read the notes from the pain Psychologist’s because they wrote that I was not an “addictive personality”. I never drank, smoked, did any drugs….prescription or otherwise! I was one of those “good girls” who had always tried to be “teachers pet” and get a 4.0 GPA and still try to get “extra credit”. Of course I’m a “type A” personality person who likes to do things the right way the first time if at all possible. I always did my best at everything I endeavored. I made alot of mistakes but always came back and tried again, while pulling up myself by the “bootstraps”.

The chronic intractable pain that has gone along with all of my injuries and surgeries since 2002 and then the diagnosis of CRPS in 2007; and later the shock of getting the “full body/systemic CRPS” has been traumatic to say the least. I was always very cooperative and followed whatever the Dr’s told me to do. I trusted again and again and again; when most people would’ve given up long ago, I just kept believing in the “goodness” of people or at least trying to find some good in all people. If you’ve been following along at all, you’ll know that I met Dr. Bullach, my GP for 12 years, in 2002 during a hospital stay following that MVA.  I was in there for pain control and met the pain Dr at the same time. I trusted him right away and thought he was a kind and “teddy bear-ish” type of personality.  He told me that I “could trust him” and that “he would be the eye in the middle of my storm”. He said he would help me and cooridinate specialists and take care of all of my medications etc. He told me “not to worry”.  We tried every medication under the sun, it seemed.  Everything either made me deathly ill, very sick or I was allergic to it! By the time we were finished and had found one thing that finally worked for my kind of pain, there was something of a “book” of all the meds that I had tried and which had failed for me.

Finally, I tried the Fentanyl patches and they made me nauseous and really “loopy”. I went ahead and tried them again because I just felt that a patch was so easy and you didn’t have to think about it all the time, many times per day etc. It finally helped to relieve my pain. I had a hospital bed in my home because I couldn’t even get in and out of bed or get any sleep due to the amount of pain I was living with at the time. I had been offered a “pain pump” that they fill with morphine, by the pain Dr. ….but the auto insurance was fighting me so much and I just didn’t have a whole lot of “fight” left at that time. I also already had 2 screws in my right shoulder, a jaw implant and had a pacemaker! I didn’t want anymore “things” put into my body. Especially not something with a catheter that would’ve been stuck into my spine that had multiple herniates and bulging disks, degenerative disk disease and Scoliosis.  Luckily I didn’t get the pain pump because later we found out that I suffer from Hypogammaglobulinemia, a blood disease that means I have an immune deficiency in my IGG, IGA subsets of white blood cells. I could have become paralyzed and could have gotten numerous infections had I allowed that pump to be placed. I made the right decision for me and today I’m so glad that I did.

So I had been in a “pain pump” support group, just to find out information for myself about the pumps and to make friends with the same kind of pain issues that I suffer from. Everyone was so kind and many were knowledgeable. Some of the people mentioned these “pain lollipops”. They said that they helped a lot and very quickly for the terrible nerve pain. I checked in with my GP, Dr. Bullach about them and he started me on them right away. That was in 2005, after I’d finished treatment with the pain Dr.and he’d put me back in the hands of my GP.  He told me that because I didn’t want a pain pump and I was going to go the medication route for my pain, that it’d be better for me to be in the care of my GP. He agreed that Dr. Bullach would prescribe the pain meds. He told me that my Dr. could consult with him at any time and he would help.  He also agreed that it was better for him this way because he was “looked at under a microscope” and didn’t like prescribing pain meds.

These experiences were all difficult, painful, scarey and life altering; but nothing prepared me for what I’ve gone through this past week with the withdrawals from the Fentanyl lollipops.  I’d been prescribed them and had been taking these for the past 10 or 11 years! Time just kept passing and the regimen was working; although I asked many many times over especially the past 3 years to get taken “way down” from the amount I’d been taking of the pain suckers. Dr. Bullach just kept on telling me to “trust him” and that he “was the eye in the middle of my storm”.  He told me that he’d “gotten me out of that hospital bed in my home”!  He reminded me that I was able to at least get out and do a little bit more than I had been before the lollipops. So I trusted him; though I still continued to ask him to slowly take me down because I felt that I was falling so often (6 times in 2014 and 6 concussions!!!) and though I have balance issues, I thought in the back of my head that maybe it was partially the fault of the meds? I never even took an Aspirin for headaches in the past, prior to this car accident and the injuries from it. Now I was wearing 2 patches of Fentanyl and taking sometimes approximately up to 20 or + lollipops daily to control my CRPS and the other pain issues. I had even woken a “sleeping monster” in that MVA in 2002! I had been born with “Arnold Chiari I malformation”. It showed up on the MRI after the MVA. It is a congenital defect in which the tonsils at the base of my brain stem get swollen and do not fit correctly into the spinal cord column, causing great pain for some people and others never know they have it! It all depends on many issues and variations. The horrible whiplash being my 2nd one and then the MTBI, “woke up” the sleeping congenital defect. Hence, another horrible pain issue to where I cannot even hold my head up for long periods of time without causing great pain.

So as you’ve probably been reading my past few posts, you know that my GP just abruptly left in December 2014. Without any feeling, caring or the tenderness I’d seen before in his eyes; he just told me he was leaving and that that appointment would be my last one with him. He promised he’d talk to the pain Dr. that knew me. He assured me that my treatment would be and stay the same as it had been because it was working! He promised also to send my records to the pain Dr and to personally talk to him on my behalf. I had received a letter from my health insurance company, stating that they “would no longer pay for the Fentanyl lollipops for pain after March 11, 2015, unless a pain Dr. agreed with Dr. Bullach’s treatment plan.” He told me not to worry about a thing and again to “trust him”. Well, as you know, none of that ever happened and the Dr. who took over for Dr. Bullach’s patients got left with a “mess”. He could not handle the volume of patients on top of his own, especially the amount of “pain patients” that Dr. B. had accumulated!! Luckily for me, I’d been a patient in that office since 1986, and had a history with that other Dr. as well. He reluctantly helped me get the pain lollipops and patches, but was swift to inform me that he was not going to be prescribing the amount that I’d been taking under the other Dr.

I was afraid, but I was motivated. I have been through so much, but it has made me a strong woman and a survivor. I took myself down from 20+ suckers daily down to only 8 in just a couple of months time. I cut my amount of the patches in half as well. I went through some hyperalgesia and some misery, but I did it! I was taking less and less as I was looking for a pain Dr. to help because the other physician in that practice didn’t feel comfortable prescribing the kind of pain meds that I needed to survive now, with all of the pain that I live with on a daily basis.

Finally, I found a nice pain Dr. and luckily I carry my records with me when I go to a new specialist. I had everything in order and I felt “safe” with him right away. He told me to finish up the pack of pain lollipops that I was taking and then  go to sleep on July 12th taking one last sucker. Then I was to wake up on the 13th of July, and never take another Fentanyl lollipop again; after 10 or 11 years of taking them, it was over! I was starting a new pain management regimen and I was fearful, but knew I could do it!  The first day was not so bad until the night time. I did crave the mental picture of having something that my brain associated with immediate pain relief!  I felt nauseous, achy all over and I was so hot, I thought I was going to spontaneously combust!! Then I’d get chills, diarrhea and started to vomit. I felt jittery and anxious and didn’t want to do anything but cry and sleep and lay on the couch! I made a video of how I was feeling at 5:00am on the 2nd day. The second day was more of the same and the third day was the worst! I did manage to go with my husband, daughter,& my 2 granddaughters to an hour or so of the kids “music in the park Wednesdays” Summer program.on the third day.  I returned home sicker than ever afterwards!  Finally, I started researching on forums and “You Tube” etc. I learned that if I took a medication called “Clonadine” aka “Catapress”, it can sometimes help with the withdrawals. I called the GP and within an hour an half, I had the Catapress in my body. It was the first thing that actually took a little bit of the edge off from the withdrawal symptoms.

The pain Dr. didn’t seem to think I’d have too much or too many symptoms because he said we were “faking out my body” by switching to a different BT pain medication….something  more safe and not made for “end of life” and “terminal” patients.with Cancer.  He told me that the pain lollipops were/are dangerous, “very dangerous”. He said that I should never have had them. So I’m not sure why my body still went through horrible withdrawals, maybe because of my many bad pain issues?  But I felt like I just was going to die and really didn’t care if I had, at that point! I’m so lucky that my husband is a teacher and he was home for me. Also, my oldest daughter lives nearby and she was a great help and has been. She even was calling several times daily and was stopping over to bring me some “Gator aide” to help my electrolytes along with my favorite food, “french fries”, to get me to eat something substantial!

Well, today it is one week and I am Fentanyl lollipop free. I’m very proud of myself for doing this without having to go anyplace and get help elsewhere. I was afraid because I had a previous heart attack and stroke and I’d had seizures following the MVA for about 6 months. All of those things can happen when going through withdrawals. I’m so very lucky that these things didn’t happen again. I don’t feel good yet. I feel very tired, heavy and I still have stomach aches and diarrhea, along with nausea and depression on and off. I think I’m over the “hump” or the worst of it. I think I will get just a little bit better each day. It’s going to be very very hard because for over 10 years I had a “quick” relief when I was on an outing or needed quick breakthrough pain relief.I have to retrain my brain and myself to just plan ahead and take what the pain Dr has prescribed for me now, about 45 minutes before I may need it. That’s not going to be easy and the new meds are feeling like they’re ripping out my tummy. People tell me that is the withdrawals and not the meds. I’m willing to see this through and keep on keeping on!

Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you and I will certainly be keeping you posted. Thank you again…..Also, if you would like to watch my very dark (because it was middle of the night with no lights on and I was crying very much) “You Tube” videos, please email me for the link and I will give it to you. I have them not ‘private” but “unlisted” …so if you have the link from me, you will be able to watch them. There are three videos altogether right now for this experience thus far. Again, my email is: jewelrymkr@aol.com…..g’nite luvs….

willsTrue Colors:  Seeing Is Believing.....sins

My Chronic Pain Journey – Suzanne


I was 1st Dx with PTSD 1998. I was in a MVA in 2002, a guy ran a red light! I suffered multiple injuries (*including an MTBI with 3 yrs of MTBI rehabilitation) and surgeries. I had a pacemaker placed twice as the 1st one wore a hole through my pectoral muscle in 10 yrs! Then in 2007, after foot surgery I was Dx with RSD/CRPS OF RIGHT FOOT! I got 2nd opinion & it was confirmed by orthopedic foot Dr. Then after my 2nd pacemaker surgery in 2013, my RSD/CRPS spread to Systemic! I have Long QT, A-Fib, Chiari I Malformation, Dysautonomia/POTS, RA & OA & Immune deficiency disease! So much pain & my Dr helped me control it with pain med’s for 12 yrs! Little did I know I was being over medicated! So we’re many of his other pain patients! He got in trouble & federal marshals came & he ran to leave his practice & went to urgent care in Jackson, MI! Now I am being taken off of my pain med’s & ins co. Won’t pay & Drs don’t want to be bothered with all the paperwork & rules! I’m afraid that I’ll be stuck to my “lazy boy” chair &/or my bed again! I feel so betrayed by Dr Bullach as he promised to send my history/records to the pain Dr & he promised to call and he did nothing! He left the practice and did nothing!! He never called. He never sent any records as he promised that he would do. I feel so betrayed and so lied to by him….it’s been horrible.

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Trials of a Chronic Pain Patient…..


imagescanandwill  Hello Luvs,

Have you been betrayed by your Dr? Do you feel like a “common criminal” because you are a legitimate chronic pain patient? Then please read on:

So if you follow my blog at all, you know that my GP, or my General Dr. of the past 13 years just quickly left the practice he’d been working at for many many years. I had an appointment in October 2014. I showed him a letter that I’d rec’d from my insurance company stating that I must go to a pain specialist and that he/she must agree with my GP’s treatment plan; in order for them to continue paying for my pain medications. The letter also stated that If the pain specialist did not agree, they would stop paying for my pain medications on March 1st, 2015. My October 2014 appointment was only for the purpose of making sure my Dr. would help me arrange the pain specialist appointment, send him a letter & call him to explain my extensive and unusual situation. My GP, had been the one person I trusted other than my husband of 18 years and my Psychologist of 15 or more years. I don’t trust many people due to my longstanding history of being abused and being a survivor of domestic violence. That is a story for another day, but you need to know why I feel so betrayed!

Since my car accident in 2002, (*a man ran a red light and I was injured terribly), I have endured so many injuries, surgeries; including 2 pacemakers, along with suffering a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (3 yrs of TBI rehab), a stroke and a heart attack! Then to end up in 2007,after a foot surgery with CRPS type II. The CRPS II then spread and has been systemic since after my 2nd pacemaker surgery, when they found that my 1st pacemaker had worn a hole right through my pectoral muscle; which then had to be rebuilt.  My excellent Neuro Cardiologist researched RSD/CRPS and found that sometimes an inner surgical wash of “Bipvucaine” (*which he did do) may help stop the spread of the disease. At or about my 6 week post op checkup, I found out that my CRPSII did spread and it is systemic. My pain is very high and I have several other pain illnesses and auto-immune/Neuro autoimmune disease.

I had been to an excellent, well respected and kind pain Dr. He has a good bedside manner and is very intelligent. He tested me in every way possible. I followed through with whatever tests he wanted and I did all that he asked of me. I had several Epidural blocks, trigger point injections, Cortisone shots, Biofeedback and more. I was tested by the pain Dr’s own Psychologist and Psychiatrist. They concluded that I did NOT have an addictive personality. After trying many pain medications which either made me ill or that I was allergic to, we found one that actually worked well for about 2 years. When all else failed, I was offered an intrathecal pain pump; but refused it.  I am a smaller stature person and could not imagine something the size of a “hockey puck” inside of my gut & under my left rib cage forever!.  Finally, I was put on a pain patch for 24/7 relief and pain lozenges for breakthrough episodes. Because I was only receiving pain medicine and needed it in order to try to have any kind of quality of life whatsoever; the pain Dr. referred me back to my GP, who was Dr. Bullach. He  told me that he would be  “the eye in the middle of my storm”. He would prescribe all or most of my medications. I lived with those meds for the first 3 to 7 years. Finally, the pain stabilized and I stayed on the same dosage for the next 5 years.

I started out after the car accident, being in a hospital bed in my home or on my couch as well. I could not even move without excruciating pain. When I got to the point where I was put on the pain meds that Dr Bullach gave me for those 10 years, I was able to do a few things. I was able to get out of the house. Every time I would ask Dr B. to reduce my level of pain meds, he would tell me “No …you let me worry about it. You don’t want to end up back on that couch or hospital bed again.” He told me that “I should not worry and if/when the time came & I was able to reduce my pain medications, he would “put me into the ICU so that I wouldn’t have to go through anymore pain”. He told me that I would “wake up and it would be over without my having to go through feeling any of the withdrawals.” But every time I would ask him to let me reduce the amount, he just told me the same things. I trusted him and He told me that he was “the eye in the middle of my storm”. He told me not to worry about anything! I did trust him, but still I worried.Though I’m very naive, when it comes to medicine because I never drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes,pot, nor had I ever taken any prescription pain or street drugs in the past; prior to that car accident. I am a lay person and had no idea what a good amount or a right amount of pain medication is. I trusted my Doctor for that!  I wish to reiterate that I asked him over and over again, to let me reduce the pain meds.  I acquired RSD/CRPS in 2007, after surgery on my foot. I have it as well as the other car accident injuries and surgeries. Later, the RSD/CRPS II spread to my full body.

So….in going back to that letter that I received from the insurance company, I took it to my ex GP, Dr. Bullach in October 2014. I felt it inside of my heart and soul that very day, that something was not right! He looked me deep into my eyes and said “you need to just see a pain Dr and he will agree with my treatment and its just a formality.” I told him that I was afraid….scared and could I go back to the same pain Dr. that I had known, liked and been to for several years prior. He said I could go to that pain Dr and because I was crying and afraid, he absolutely promised me that he would  call and personally speak to the pain Dr. and send him everything and /or anything that he may need in order to help me get my medications continued and paid for; in order to keep my pain at least at the level it’s been at,so that I could continue to have some sort of a life outside of laying on the couch in pain all of the time.

When we left that appointment in October, I told my husband “something was not right today”….I said that it felt weird and different. I told him that Dr. B. looked at me so oddly as if he wanted to say something but instead he was robotic and went about his business. I took him at his word when he said he “PROMISED to call that pain Dr. and send him a letter with all of the info he might need, in order to help me.

I made my pain Dr. appointment for Jan. 2,2015. But prior to that appointment, I had one more appointment with Dr. B. and had no idea what was in store for me. Two days before the appointment, with no prior knowledge; I received a letter from the other Dr. in the practice, the one who actually owns it.  It was very short and just said something like “Dr Bullach will no longer be seeing patients in our office as he accepted another position at an Urgent Care in another community, Jackson, MI; about an hour away”!!! I was not only shocked and devastated, but afraid and just couldn’t stop crying. I trusted another human being and yet another human being broke that trust! All I could think of was “what is going to happen to me now?”

I went to my appointment, the last appointment with my Dr. Bullach. I spent the whole entire visit for about 40 minutes, just crying. They never examined me, nor even touched me. I didn’t get my blood pressure checked, my heart wasn’t listened to and I have Atrial fib, Long Q.T. and a pacemaker.  The Dr. did nothing that day (he did nothing the prior appointment as well, which I also thought was odd). It was as if he’d just given up on me and didn’t care anymore. He would not give me my prescriptions that he’d been giving me for the past 10 years (although no increase the past 5 yrs). He told me again, “not to worry because the other Dr. in the practice would take care of me just the same and he would prescribe the same meds and everything was going to be O.K”. The medical assistant, “C.” even told me those exact words. She even told me that “if the new Dr. didn’t write the scripts the same way Dr Bullach did, that she would take him into the hallway and explain to him what to do and how to do it”.  They all told me “not to worry” and “my treatment plan would stay the same”.

I went to my pain Dr. appointment on Jan 2nd, and he was surprised to see me. He had no idea why I was there. He had received ZERO information from Dr. Bullach !  There was no letter sent, no phone call absolutely NOTHING came from that office. Finally the pain Dr. decided to call that office and he spoke with the other Dr. there. He came back to tell me that the Dr. I’d trusted all of these years, had “over medicated me up to many many times the normal amount”!! I was in shock as was my husband.  I was angry and afraid!  I suffer from PTSD which is one of the health issues that has rendered me “disabled” since 1998! The pain Dr. and the other Doc at  my GP’s office spoke and  “THEY” decided that I should go to a brusk,  physician who doesn’t believe in pain medication except to detox people! He detoxes everyone and puts them on something else like Suboxone or Methadone as if all  legitimate pain patients with HUGE list of pain diagnosis’ like mine, are just equal to a common criminal. I researched that Dr. and we spoke to the Dr. who owns the practice where my GP had treated me for all of those years.  My research proved that the “detox” pain Dr. does NOT believe in Opiods, Narcotics even for legitimate pain issues, diseases etc. He has 16 horrible reviews on several “rate your Dr.” websites.

When my husband was on the phone with the Dr. who owns the practice where I’d been going all of these years, I could hear him yelling over the telephone while my husband was talking to him. He was angry and yelling loudly. He said that “Federal Marshals came into their practice, and that my Dr. B. over medicated many other patients, not only me! I’m furious to say the least. But I also heard him say that he could no longer see Dr Bullach’s regular patients or prescribe meds for them any longer.

I am feeling so betrayed and hurt and afraid. He left me on a high dose of medicine and gave me no choices except to go to a scary place and have all control taken from me. Let alone, all control taken from me by a brusk, angry type of Dr. (according to many many of the rate your Dr websites!).  My psychologist and everyone who truly knows me, says that is the very worst thing anyone could do to me. I suffer from PTSD and I’m very afraid of many people. I’ve been abused and assaulted and even sexually molested and I was absolutely NOT going into some unfamiliar place and lose all control!

Well, that was then, on January 2, 2015. Even though the pain Dr. wont see me yet, or have anything to do with me until or unless I’m down to a very low amount of medications for pain. I have done it myself and have tapered off of the meds all by myself. In the past I have had a stroke and a heart attack. I have a pacemaker and I have Long QT and A-fib. I have several, awful,terribly painful illnesses but I still am doing it myself!  My “stand in” GP, who sort of “took over” when the other guy got in trouble and left; and who is not happy that he got “stuck” with me as his patient, said that he “got stuck with a mess when Dr Bullach left him with all of these pain patients that the Dr. just kept giving meds to. How could a doctor do this without caring about “US” as real people? Why would he do this to me? I want to live a good life! I’m a mother, wife & grandma and I have a lot to live for. I have a loving and wonderful husband. I’ve not ever done anything illegal or immoral. I’ve never hurt anyone on purpose and I was always so afraid of dishonoring both God and my own father /parents; therefore I just was always a “good girl”. I stayed and grew into a “good woman/person”. I never even took an Aspirin for pain before that car accident, when I would get headaches in the past!  Would he have done this to his wife or his sister? I just will never understand and I truly feel so sad and betrayed by him.

I have been to the Neuro Cardiologist who said that while I was there for my appointment in January, I was diapheretic *(sweaty from tapering the medications), and my heart was in Atrial fibrillation.  Luckily I have a pacemaker. The Atrial fib is just annoying. I’m being paced with a dual chamber pacemaker. I have a cardiac monitor next to my bed which is watching my HR and BP  24/7/365. It’s connected to my pacemaker via some kind of air waves, making the A-fib a bit more safe.  I’m also on Coumadin, which  helps with the blood clots that Atrial fibrillation can cause. I am keeping track of my tapering and I’m doing this all by myself. My husband is awesome and he’s there for me. He’s helping me by reminding & writing it down with me. I will show everyone that I am strong and that I can do this.  If you are not an addict…if you are only taking what is prescribed by a legitimate Dr. and you are a good, person…then why not be able to take what helps you the most and gives you some semblance of a life? Why treat someone like that as though they are a “common criminal”??.  I only went to one Dr. for all of my medication. I’ve only gone to one pharmacy for the past 26 years! and I asked for the past 3 years, for help in reducing the amount I was taking. I am now down to 1/3 of what I had been taking and I will find someone to help me from now on. I will need something for pain for the rest of my life. I have REAL pain illnesses and real diagnosis’.

The above is just about me and my own story. Maybe some of you have been through it? Maybe you know of someone who has a real chronic pain illness? I’ve done some research online, if I refer directly to something specific that I’ve read, I will tell you where I found it….otherwise it is just general research and my opinion mixed together with my own experiences. If I can help just one person who is suffering, then I won’t be suffering in vain. It appears that Opioids can be a safe and good treatment for some people with non malignant chronic pain. From reading about research I’ve found that there are risks and benefits to the use of Opioids for chronic non malignant pain. The potential risks could be abuse and awful side effects. These can be tolerated and/or managed at least. I think if you have tried all of the things like I have tried, including trigger point injections, epidurals and nerve blocks, TENS, biofeedback, and you just get minimal improvement and only for a little while; then maybe it’s worth a try to be considered for long acting Opioids. I also have heard that if you have nerve pain and you are unable to take antidepressants or anticonvulsants, then Opioids are worth thinking about for these patients. They usually recommend that when someone is given these meds, they should be willing to start out with low doses and start out very slowly.  Hopefully their pain will be relieved if they can tolerate the side effects. People like me, who suffer from multiple chronic pain issues and horribly nerve pain illnesses, should be able to have access to any kind of treatment that has any possibility of improving their symptoms.

About 3 years ago, I started telling my GP that I wanted to reduce the dosage of the pain medications I’ve been taking since 2005. It seemed to me that no medication should be continually taken without having full benefits. I asked many times and each time he would tell me that I didn’t want to “end up on the couch in my living room again in horrible pain; or be in the hospital bed again, like I’d been the first 3 years following the MVA. He was the Dr. and I was the patient so I relented and just listened to him and trusted him. A person who is “addicted” psychologically does not ask to have their pain meds reduced because they are afraid of feeling “married” to it. I didn’t ever like that feeling of having to take something or else I would get sick or sicker! That frightens me and tapering the meds, is the best and safest way for ME to do it. I don’t suggest it for anyone else. You need to check with your own Dr’s and do what they tell you to do. But since the Dr. who knew me very well, turned out to be a bad man who betrayed me and lied to me….well…now I’m back to not trusting anyone again! I know that I do not “crave” the medication in my mind. Psychological dependance is confused quite often  with serious substance abuse and the literature is quite confusing. The Diagnostic and statistical manual, edition IV, (DSM-IV) defines substance dependance as a more serious form of substance abuse. This more serious kind of substance use is characterized by tolerance, withdrawal, overuse, craving, inability to cut down, and excessive preoccupation with respect to obtaining the substance. But substance abuse is characterized in the DSM-IV by use leading to failure to fulfill roles/responsibilities, use in hazardous situations, legal problems resulting from use and use despite negative consequences.  Other studies of chronic long term opioid therapy found that all patients who developed problems with opioid use had a “PRIOR HISTORY OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE”! (hence…NOT ME!)..

There is a lack of any true quantity of research regarding the data for long term opioid use. Many Dr’s prescribe opiates for their chronic non malignant pain patients. Mostly because the alternative treatments for long term management of pain most often fail!! From my readings and research lately, I have found that the opiates usually work for awhile but not always so great for long term use. Sometimes they seem to work in long term situations but I guess there needs to be more evidence and research on that idea. As for me, I feel like it worked for my pain, since I have so many places with nerve pain and so many issues with long term pain. I think it should’ve been reduced a long time ago, because I feel a difference already. I’ve tapered down to 1/3 already in 3 weeks and now when I take the meds, I can actually feel it working after just a few moments; the break through meds. Before I started tapering, it seemed as though I had a constant ongoing “everywhere” pain that felt firey. I just continued my prescribed regimen because that is what I was told to do and each time I asked to stop and /or reduce the amount or try something else, I was pretty much told to “shut up”. I wish Michigan, the state in which I live, could adapt the state of Washington’s patient assessment and care guidelines for the use of opioids for chronic non-malignant pain. You can find this at: http://www.agencymeddirectorswa.gov/Files/OpioidGdline.pdf.  In short, it explains how It includes limiting the dose and amount prescribed, using urine testing for illicit drug use and treatment compliance and asking about alchohol, tobacco and drug use history prior to starting any opioid treatments.

Everything I’ve learned and from my own experience tells me that there is a low risk of addiction in naive chronic pain patients. Someone like me who has never smoked anything nor been a drinker of alcohol, has a very low risk of addiction. I think it is downright hurtful and abusive in certain ways, to keep medication that can help someone’s pain, away from them. What about Dr’s who withhold opiate anelgesics? The problem again is that we just don’t know how long they are effective? In (Kalso et al, 2004)  it was proven that opiate analgesics  effectiveness can be sustained for up to 8 weeks. The problem is that I don’t find any studies that prove their effectiveness after the 8 weeks time period is finished. Also it was shown with lab animals that dependance and pain can possibly get worse with long term use of opioid analgesics. Another issue is tolerance, though this hasn’t been shown in a clinical setting. Increasing dosage to maintain pain control is very common. Many animals in studies do show tolerance (e.g. see Chan et al, 2007).

Sometimes something called “hyperalgesia”  can develop when long term use of opioids happens. This really can mess up and complicate things for the patient and the Dr as well. This was proven  and there is evidence suggesting that this may happen in pain patients on daily opiate therapy (Cohen et al, 2008).  Opiate drug addicts and true pain patients are very separate sets of people. I never touched drugs or alcohol and I’ve always striven to be a person “on the straight and narrow”. I’ve never had any trouble with addiction and I was tested during my time as a patient at the pain management clinic. I was tested by their Psychologist and Psychiatrist.  Their tests proved exactly the same as what I had always known to be true; that I do not have an addictive personality.  In the clinical studies referred to above proved also that opiate addiction due to appropriate medical management of pain is rare! Doctors have a hard time because they feel that it’s difficult to know who is faking pain just to get a prescription. However, the person who is lying to get the meds is already an addict, therefore the Dr is not creating one!

As I mentioned towards the beginning of my post today, more research is needed to decide which pain patients would benefit from treatment with Opiods.  I feel that anyone who is tested and proven to not have an “addictive personality” and who also has proven to be a true chronic, non malignant pain patient; with real HIGH pain health issues/conditions/diseases should be given a chance. I believe also if a patient is asking their Dr. to reduce their opioids because they are willing to try less, then the Dr. should listen to them. Maybe they will go through some tapering withdrawals, but nothing intolerable hopefully. In my case its not been fun but now I’m at the last third of the tapering process. I CAN do this and when I’m finished then I hope to find some respectable, reputable pain management specialist who will welcome me to their practice and help me stay on a maintenance dose. I’ve already notice and noted that I can now feel my “real” pain in the places where there are real problems. When I take a breakthrough medication, I can now truly feel the pain lessen; where before when I was over medicated, I felt a constant burning, nagging 6-7 out of 10 on the pain scale pretty much constantly. I was afraid to NOT take what my Dr. prescribed, thinking that maybe it would worsen to a 9 out of 10, which I didn’t want to tolerate. I can now feel as I’m tapering down on my own pain medications, that when I “over do” my activities a bit, then my pain goes up. When I’m laying “low”, the pain seems to be held at bay a bit.  This has always been true but when I was on higher dosage and over medicated by my Dr., I felt a constant, more steady nagging “all over” pain. I can feel a distinct difference in my pain now.  I know that I didn’t and don’t have hyperalgesia, because my dosage stopped going up 5 years ago but my pain did not increase until my RSD/CRPS II, spread to “systemic” in 2013, and I acquired Lymph edema in my left arm and pain/swelling in my left chest area as well.  My pain was semi controlled and I could do a little bit more on a good day just as I could do a little bit less or nothing much, on a bad day. But I still kept wanting to lower my dosage.

This has turned into a mess for me and for my life. I’m afraid that I’m going to be in horrible pain for the rest of my life? Please…anyone with any ideas (**other than “detox” for a me, a person with no history of abuse of any kind) on where I can go? What I can do? Please leave kind comments or email me if you like…thank you for reading my long post today. I hope I’ve helped someone today!

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Tears Of Truth…..My Story..


pie chart of causes of traumatic brain injury
pie chart of causes of traumatic brain injury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2013-07-01 09.23.57

      I am an Interpreter for the Deaf, that’s what I went to a 4 year university to become!  I worked at the University of  Michigan hospitals as a secretarial “float”.  I  was paged whenever a Deaf person came into the clinics, hospital or E.R. and  I  would go to them to aid communication between the Doctor and patient.  

    Then in 1998 my *(see below)*abusive family got worse when I confronted them!  Depression and anxiety set in, although,  I finally felt safe with my new husband.   I started having Flashbacks and nightmares.  I  was granted  SSDI for CKDII,& PTSD (Chronic Kidney Disease stage II and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  I was going to try and go back to work in Fall of 2002, but that plan changed abruptly on Aug 11th, 2002.   A man arguing with his wife, ran through a red light and totaled our van and  my body!   I suffered:  an MTBI *(mild traumatic brain injury) & 3 yrs of TBI *(traumatic brain injury) rehabilitation.  I was horribly injured and in so much pain!  I had been knocked unconscious for about 20-30 minutes.  I was hurt in so many places and weighing only 90 lbs didn’t help me at all!  Both of my knees and both of my shoulders were torn.   My right  biceps tendon tore right off of the bone on my  right side. My right ankle and my right foot were injured.  My ears suffered nerve hearing loss (*I now have 2 hearing aids) and my eyes suffered some nerve damage as well.  Many lower back & neck disks were/are herniated, ruptured and bulging.  As time went on I ended up with two frozen shoulders.  I went through 8 yrs of Physical therapy, 3 yrs of  TBI rehab, and underwent 9 surgeries; including  2 screws in my left shoulder and an intramuscular pacemaker, twice in 10 years now.  My first one was placed inside of my pectoral muscle because of its vulnerability inside of my chest at such a low weight.  But 10 yrs later they did plastic surgery to rebuild my pectoral muscle because the pacemaker had worn right through the muscle wall!   

   Sadly, in 2004, my 18 yr old daughter left home because of reasons I won’t write here. My heart was literally broken! I had a heart attack one week after Mother’s Day, in 2005.  The cardiologist said that I was “his first case of “Broken Heart Syndrome“…my daughters were my life and I raised them 98% on my own! I had left my ex-husband, the father of my two girls, after an 8 year abusive marriage, in which he also cheated on me  several times.  He was an abusive Sheriff’s Deputy who was fired for “hurting another girl besides me!” He was given a jury trial and found “Guilty” of “Obscene conduct” and “Indecent exposure” (which were truly lesser charges than what actually happened!) . His punishment ended up being that he can never be in law enforcement again.  He also couldn’t see our two daughters, then 31/2 & 6 years old, without a supervisor approved by the court. He was abusive towards me and to our Rottweiler, ‘Bully boy”. He pushed down our then 3 year old little girl, because she “wasn’t hurrying fast enough”.  He pounded my oldest daughter on the top of her head when she was in tears over him kicking our family dog in the head and neck, as she cried “daddy don’t hurt Bully Boy”! While hitting her on top of her head, he said “I’m the dad and I can do whatever I want”!! He left his service revolver out on top of the window sill and on the back of the toilet seat! When my youngest was 2 years old, she brought it to me saying “Mommy, what is this for?” Needless to say, they took his guns away from him and he was punished after that incident and then swearing to “shoot all of us and himself!” There’s so much more…too much to write here except for one thing that sticks out in my mind so sharply.  During the time when my ex-husband could still see our girls, before he was convicted and found “Guilty” and only allowed supervised visitation; he had taken them for the weekend. They came home and told me that “daddy had a girl in his bed”. They told me that my youngest who was then 3 years old, had vomited in the bed that they shared in the apartment he lived in, that was attached to his parents house. Our oldest, who was just 5 1/2 yrs old, went upstairs crying to him and knocking on his bedroom door. She was crying and saying that her little sister had thrown up in their bed. He told her to “shut up and leave him alone”!  She was 5 years old and had to try to take care of her sick 3-year-old sister, while trying to clean up vomit on her sister and the bed !  Needless to say, that was their last visit with him unsupervised. We had to go to the Domestic violence shelter and we had interviews with Child and Family Services. They sided with me and recommended “supervised visitation and anger management classes”.  The judge agreed with their recommendation. He was embarrassed and angry, therefore he moved 1,000 miles away barely ever seeing his daughters. He was angry and wanted “revenge” on me for “taking away his kids”.  I did not do that though;  he did it to himself and then the judge ordered it!

Atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  I was never ordered to do anything but I still sent him photos, invited him to public school and other events in their lives and his parents as well. I took the girls to visit his parents who lived about an hour from us, here in Michigan at least once every month and each Christmas day they went to see them from noon until 7:00pm! I even drove them to and from their home which was an hours drive from our apartment.

   Later,  in 2006, after my  heart attack, I acquired “Atrial Fibrillation” *(Atrial fibrillation is when the heart muscle quivers and shakes, spitting out little blood balls or clots which can cause strokes) and therefore ended up suffering  a CVA *(cerebellar Vascular accident) or “stroke” from the A-Fib! I had already been on blood thinners but apparently I needed a bigger dose!     It’s been since 2004, & my oldest daughter has never wanted to see me or speak to me.  In 2007, I texted her and said “I Love you and I’m thinking about you.” She called me back and asked me to meet her and we did. We met twice and had lunch, but it did not work out very well. Another time she texted my cell phone and it was 2008 or so….she texted “Suzanne, why do you think people care about you?  THEY DON’T!!”….I fell apart once again.      

    I recently had my 9th surgery this year in February 2013….a new pacemaker and a rebuild of my Pectoral muscle!  Then on August,the 5th, 2013, I’ll be having my 10th surgery, oral surgery!  I found out that my oldest daughter got married in Oct, 2009 and to the same boy she wanted to sleepover night with while still in High school.   That was the episode that led up to her leaving home, because I said “No” (that she could not have my permission to sleep over at a boy’s house while still in High School)! I also found out that I  am a Grandmother to a little girl born in Nov -2012! Her name is Olivia, and as of this month (July 2013), she is now almost 7 months old. Again….still…I am heart-broken!  All that I’ve ever wanted is to be a Momma & a Grandmother!  I was/am a good mom..my ex-husband ran away “to find himself” !  But I’m the one who stayed and raised our daughters alone.

    I’ve lost so much…but I thank God every day for what I do have : my youngest daughter, now 241/2 & living in her own appt. since August 2012!!! She graduated last Summer (’12),with her Master’s degree in”Library & Information Sciences”.  She has her own apartment. She also has a wonderful Academic Librarian job with a tenure track etc. I have had the most wonderful husband, for the past 16 years! He’s the love of my life and my soul-mate!!  He has been an elementary school teacher for 35 years and he is the best teacher and the best husband ever!

    This is my story..PTSD that continues and never seems to end because my father and brothers  still treat me in an abusive manner.   Add that  I’m in chronic intractable pain 24/7 since that MVA in 2002!  I acquired “full body” RSD/CRPS  a painful progressive Neuro-autoimmune disease, which causes burning nerve pain similar to the feeling of being “on fire”!  I have OA and 2 Rheumatologist’s have said that I have RA  *(one of them gave me an injection kit for “Humira” and wanted me to start taking injections.  Luckily I didn’t ever start taking them because I found out that I have an IGA deficiency and that RSD/CRPS is an autoimmune disease, therefore that medication could have made me much worse off!), but my PCP and I aren’t quite sure, or really don’t think so at this point! I have Myofascial Pain syndrome, Fibromyalgia (which I’ve denied for several years, but am finally coming to terms with it).  I have Dysautonomia which is  my Autonomic nervous system dysfunction or failure.  It means that all of those body systems and things that our bodies do without thinking about it, don’t work for me.  This includes: body temperature, respiration, blood pressure, digestion, sleep disturbances, memory problems, heart arrythmia’s and more.  My brain stopped telling my heart what to do, which is part of it also and one of the reasons for me needing a pacemaker!  I also suffer from POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) and NCS (Neuro-Cardiogenic Syncope), CKDII (chronic kidney disease stage II, due to tubular interstitial nephritis), Hypogammaglobulinemia ( an Immune deficiency), Sick Sinus Syndrome, Coronary Spasms, Atrial Fibrillation, MVP, TVP, (Mitral valve prolapse /tricuspid valve prolapse), Chondromalacia Patella and Patella Femoral pain syndrome, Asthma and  other diagnosis’ but just too much to keep writing for now.  

   All I pray for daily is that my oldest daughter will come back to me and to us.  I pray that one day I will get to hold and see my granddaughter, because I already love her! I am blessed with a wonderful and loving husband. Also, I have God who is my Lord and Savior and it’s because of his love that I can never give up.

**(from above…In another post, I will explain more about my life and growing up in an abusive and highly Narcissistic/abusive home, where I was starved, poisoned, weighed weekly and given punishment/reward dependent upon my weight.  I was also abused in just about every possible way by almost  everyone who was supposed to love me; and those who I was supposed to be able to trust!)

2013-06-08 02.35.10 2013-06-08 02.31.41 MY RSD/CRPSII 2013-07-01 08.42.51 2013-07-01 08.42.10

2013-06-25 02.19.13 2013-06-26 11.12.25