Never Judge By Outward Appearances 




During this September 2017, we have been urged by the U.S. Pain Foundation, to share our story on social media.  I was reluctant to do this, but then I decided to share after a mini documentary that my husband & I were involved in was released.  Let me explain:

I was recently involved in a video on Social media, called “Becoming Incurable”, directed & produced by Victoria Suan.  I’ve had several people see that video, which shows only a minuscule piece, of one very small illness that I live with.  People saw me with a nebulizer and now think I have only Asthma.  Asthma isn’t fun even on its own. But between this and seeing me involved with the U.S. Pain Foundation during Pain Awareness Month especially;  many people are assuming things that shouldn’t be assumed.  None of us like being assessed by what we look like on the outside; with regards to Invisible illnesses.  Several persons have told me that they “wish they only had what I have”.  Others have said that “they wish they could do more & be involved more, like I am able to do “. 

My name is Suzanne and I have been disabled since 1999; 1st from PTSD and stage two chronic Kidney disease. In August 2002, I was in a motor vehicle accident which caused multiple injuries,including:   a Traumatic brain injury, hearing loss (I acquired 2 hearing aids), vision lessened & eye issues, many (approximately 8) surgeries, & 3 years of TBI rehab. I still suffer with short term memory loss and other effects from the TBI.  In 2003, I had to have a dual chamber pacemaker placed for “Sick Sinus Syndrome”  (it is a Bradycardia/Tachycardia Arrythmia), along with Dysautonomia/POTS.  After seven or eight surgeries and a pacemaker, I was diagnosed with” Complex Regional
Pain Syndrome”, in 2007. It started in my right foot after surgery and it spread over the years to both feet & knees.

 In 2005, I had an M. I. or heart attack. In 2006 after the heart attack, I was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation and was put on Blood thinners. But, I suffered a CVA/stroke in 2006. I have Mitral valve prolapse, Tricuspid valve prolapse, mild Pulmonary Valve Hypertension, 

In 2013, I had to have pacemaker replacement surgery (my first pacemaker was placed in 2003). When the Heart Surgeon got inside of my chest, they found that the entire pectoral muscle had to be totally rebuilt. The old pacemaker had been placed in the muscle instead of inside of a bag near the muscle. Over 10 years, It wore a hole right through my pectoral muscle and then had to be rebuilt during a long surgery, which was a very painful recovery afterwards. The Dr. informed me that aside from the Systemic CRPS, the continuing post surgical pain and Lymphedema in my left arm, is similar to the pain that occurs after a mastectomy.  Though, I did not have a Mastectomy.  

 The surgeon, a Neurocardiologist, had researched RSD/CRPS & did an internal surgical wash of Bipvucaine to try and “head off”systemic CRPS, & prevent it from spreading. It ended up being unsuccessful and the CRPS progressed into “Severe, Systemic/Full body CRPS”. It’s spread everywhere including my eyes and my mouth.  

 I have a few other chronic pain illnesses, including: CKDII, Arnold Chiari Malformation I (with Chiari Migraines),
Degenerative Disc Disease, RA, OA, Gastroparesis, S.I.B.O., Chronic Erosive Gastritis, Autonomic Neuropathy, Polyneuropathy in Collagen Vascular Disease (EDS-4/vascular), multiple herniated & bulging discs (with L4-5 Radiculopathy) at L4,L5& S1 + C5,C6 & C7. CID (Combined Immunodeficiency Disease/an Autoimmune disease), Eczema, Prinzmetal Angina (aka “Coronary Spasms”), Lymphedema, Scoliosis, Asthma, CAD, Right Long Thoracic Nerve Neuropathy, Severe Dry Eye, and just too much to mention here today! But you get the idea!  

I’m not the only one! There are so many chronic pain warriors with a list as long or longer!  I’m not a candidate for a Spinal cord Stimulator or an Intrathecal pain pump, because of my “Combined Immune Deficiency Disease”. It could cause paralysis and/or infection in my Spinal cord. So I’m limited in what I can do for my chronic pain. I’m one in a group of chronic pain patients, who has had to resort to taking pain medications. But in doing this, I can have some semblance of a life outside of my bed or the sofa. Believe me, since 2002, I’ve tried many, many medications starting with Lyrica & Gabapentin. I went through 8 years of physical therapy. I had to go to TBI rehabilitation for 3 years. I’ve had many braces, therapies, tests, TENS unit (prior to the CRPS) and more! Depending on the day & how much I need to do; I have:  hand braces, arm sleeve covers, 2 knee braces,     2 AFO’s, a wheelchair, Motorized scooter, walker and a cane. Right now the pain medications are what give me the ability to do some activities outside of my home, bed or sofa.  

 This is my story…. it’s  the “Readers Digest” short version.. It’s a long arduous and continuing saga of chronic pain and surgeries. But I just don’t give up HOPE. I make it a Verb and try to change negatives
into positives. Rather than do nothing, I try to do something. For fun, I make You Tube Videos of my favorite songs or stories translated into American Sign Language (@ASLSuzyQ).

 I’m an Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation. I write in my blog, “Tears of Truth” @tearsoftruth.com. I am a writer
for the National Pain Report.  I also founded & run a few support groups for chronic pain and I’m a chemo-angel. I am part of a collaboration group to help with the Opioid crisis (the crisis being the lack of Opioids now & the government taking pain meds away from legitimate chronic pain patients).  I am a patient leader for WEGO Health and a mentor for newly DX CRPS patients for RSDSA.  Setting all of this aside, just as one of my previous blog posts/ news articles states: “There are no competitions and no winners!”  (Can be read in this blog or here at the Ntl. pain Report: http://nationalpainreport.com/no-competition-no-winners-8833089.html)

In July 2017, I was certified by the U. S. Pain Foundation, to lead an “in-person” Support Group. Without having my wonderful, loving husband/caregiver, Craig; my loving U.S. Pain Foundation Family, my WEGO health friends, my friends, family and my writing, I’d be lost in all of this. 

Here’s the link to my Facebook page for this blog. This link takes you directly to the video called “The Incurables”:  https://www.facebook.com/TearsofTruth.SuzanneStewart/posts/1943805715875595


Dear Editor 


Dear Editor,

Do you remember the last time that you fell & you were bruised? Do you remember how badly it hurt, how distracting it was, how you couldn’t get your mind off of the pain? But after awhile you were feeling better and you were glad that the pain went away. You could get on with your life. 

Now imagine if that pain, but worse, never went away. 

That’s what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I have lived with chronic pain since 2002, after a man ran through a red light and “T-boned” our car. I’m not alone, because 100 million Americans live with chronic daily pain. That’s more than the number of Americans living with heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. In terms of impact, chronic pain is the leading cause of long term disability and its cost (including lost productivity and treatment expenses) is higher than $635 billion annually. 

Pain has affected every aspect of my and my family’s life. I’ve not been able to work, and a large part of our expenses goes towards my healthcare. Also, the number of office visits has now doubled because of these new CDC guidelines. That means double co-pays, double the amount of time driving and having my husband leave work to take me to the Dr. appointments. My husband is retiring and instead of taking it easy, he takes care of all the household responsibilities. Therefore, I miss out in spending that time with him. I also cannot do the things that I used to love, like going shopping with my friends. Going out to lunch with the girls, and going for long walks. I’ll most likely never be able to actually walk on a beach while being barefoot in the sand.

Despite the prevalence and consequence of chronic pain, people with pain are very much overlooked and under treated. People who live with daily chronic pain are often labeled as “lazy” or over dramatic and not taken seriously. Very few treatments such as physical therapy and even most durable medical equipment are not fully covered by insurance. As of today, less than 1% of the National Institute of Health’s budget goes towards pain research.

It’s no surprise that those living with daily pain are suffering-and not just physically. In one survey, more than half of the respondents felt that they had little or no control over their pain and more than ¾ reported feeling depressed. In fact, research has shown that Chronic Pain patients are twice as likely to commit suicide as the average person. Many chronic pain patients feel alone with their pain and they become cut-off from society and friendships that they once cherished. I can speak from experience when discussing the feelings of aloneness. You can have loving people in your immediate household, but still feel alone with the pain. I speak of this from experience because I was feeling isolated and as though no one was listening to my pleas. That was until I got connected to and started volunteering for the U.S. Pain Foundation.

People with pain, like me deserve better. My family deserves better. Imagine if we took that $635 billion in lost productivity and health care costs and invested it in preventative care, new treatments, research and emotional support for pain patients? In honor of September as Pain Awareness Month, I encourage all Michiganders to join me in advocating for positive change for the pain community. Our Governor, Rick Snyder and the Supervisor of Canton Twp. Michigan have joined me in helping to raise awareness this month. They’ve each signed a Proclamation & a Resolution proclaiming that in Canton Twp.and in all of our great state of Michigan, they are recognizing September as “Pain Awareness Month” for 2017! To learn more or to become involved, visit: http://www.uspainawarenessmonth.org ,

Sincerely,

Suzanne Stewart 

Canton, MI

Pain Awareness Month, Take Our Hand!



Do you know that according to the Institute of Medicine, there are approximately 100 million chronic pain patients in the U.S.A.? Also, 20% of children in America have chronic pain. “Chronic pain” is described as pain that has continued for longer than 3 months. Those of us who live with pain know how much it impacts our lives and the lives of our families/friends. It affects every aspect of our lives including the ability to work, sleep and go out and have social interactions and activities. Did you know also that chronic pain costs  our nation an estimated 560 to 630 billion dollars annually in medical expenses, lost wages and productivity?

Well, my friends, as an Ambassador for Michigan, of the U.S. Pain Foundation, I’m here as a chronic pain patient myself to tell you that you can make a difference.  As Margaret Mead, a famous anthropologist, once said, “Never Doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.  The U.S. pain foundation which started out as one person’s dream, has turned into a mission. One which is to  inform, empower and advocate on behalf of the over 90,000 members throughout the country and all those who live with chronic pain. The U.S. Pain foundation also provides education on pain management skills and constructive ways to cope with pain and find fulfillment in life.

We can find fulfillment in life and we can be “taken by the hand” of a beautiful non profit organization, such as this.  They help us find that fulfillment, by providing chronic pain patients with increased awareness about the effects of chronic pain.  This in turn, helps result in increase access to quality pain care and empowerment for those living in pain. So, please take our hand and join together, starting this September 1st, 2017.  This is the beginning of “PAIN AWARENESS MONTH”.  Instead of running through those Facebook, Twitter and Instagram messages from other pain warriors who are participating in “Pain Awareness Month”; why don’t you take our hand and join us?

Throughout the month there are a number of things that you can become involved with. We have many awareness events and projects that you can be a part of, right from the comfort of your own home.  If you can not get out, then join in the awareness of chronic pain online. Post Memes, stories and even your story to help make others aware of our chronic situations.  Take the negative out and add some positivity and then you will get “HOPE”. You can “Beautify in Blue”; by getting permission and then putting up ribbons and signs around your community.  Another choice, if you live near something special and beautiful, such as: Mackinaw Bridge in MI, Niagara Falls in NY, or any landmark; you can get permission and ask the city to “Light Up the Landmarks” for Pain Awareness Month. Turn the lights blue on those landmarks and shout to the rooftops that “We are a part of the 100 million chronic pain patients in the USA and we want to be seen and heard”! There are also many other things that are very easy to do. Please feel free to ask me about the awareness events and fundraisers for the U.S. Pain Foundation during Pain Awareness month and/or any other time throughout the year.  You can do something as easy, like I mentioned above; like posting about your pain and Pain Awareness month on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more. The list and the possibilities are endless when you just try to make HOPE a verb and DO something about it.

Pain Awareness month will start on September 1st, 2017.  It continues throughout the entire month of September each year. It doesn’t stop for us, after the month of September has ended.  We continue to support and empower you throughout the months and years. Consider being a part of something bigger and better. Think about joining a wonderful “family” of pain warriors who all help each other and help others as well.  My hero, Helen Keller, once said “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.  So starting with this September, let’s all join forces and let the rest of America and the world know who we are and what chronic pain is all about.  We need you and who doesn’t like to be needed? (For information about PAM please contact me at: @PeopleInPainUnite or @RASEforCRPS on Twitter or my email at: RASEforCRPS@yahoo.com. You may also contact the U.S. Pain Foundation at:  www.uspainfoundation.org).photo sep 01, 3 13 51 am.jpg

 

#WhyISign


This is my story for # Why I Sign? Transcript: Hello,, my name is Suzanne, last name Stewart. #Why I sign? I have a story: I was born Hearing & my family is hearing. I’m the past, I babysat for 6 Deaf kids, children. They lived next door. A Deaf family, full Deaf with 6 Deaf children. One day I was babysitting & something happened. But before that, we were playing games, learning signs for colors, numbers, Fingerspelling, days, months and family signs and different things. One day, one of the little girls, ohh about 9 years old was behaving badly. I said “come here… go to your room and stay there”. She was crying a little bit. She ran out and came to me bawling. She told me something but it went over my head and I understood nothing! I was thinking “hmmm… No, you need to go back to your room and stay there. She ran out to me again bawling, crying so hard. I said to her, “what’s wrong? What’s wrong? What happened? Whaaat? She started to slowly Fingerspell “b-e-e in my r-o-o-m”! Ah haa “Wonderful!!” I finally understood what was wrong! “Ohhh..Poor baby!” I felt awful! …..I said “I’m so sorry, I feel awful!”  I said “please forgive me”? She said it was Ok, she was fine! I became more fascinated in learning ASL/Sign language. I just love it so much! (*No English word exactly for “hand kiss”- but it kinda means I just love it so much” or “it’s my favorite”) … I got books and learned more signs on my own. I went to College and graduated 1985! Then I worked as a hospital Interpreter, a school Interpreter and I worked at a Deaf school in AZ. I flew to Arizona and lived there for 2 years! I worked there and enjoyed it and had so much fun! I missed my family so I went back home.Then in 2002, I was in a very bad car accident. I had so many injuries, it was bad. So many pain problems and 10 surgeries, they kept adding up! My hearing deteriorated! Isn’t it Strange for an Interpreter to get hearing loss? It’s true, I have two hearing aids. But it doesn’t matter,I’m fine. I don’t care. I’m happy and proud! I already know ASL/Sign language! THATS #WHYISIGN ….bye ..Love you!

Click here for video #Whyisign
Made with #VideoShow-https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1112850631

Living With Invisible Illnesses


 Showcasing what many of us live with and deal with on a daily basis:

Please Take 1 Minute


I am excited to announce that I have been nominated for the Wego health “Best in show-Blog” award category in the sixth annual Wego health awards.

Wego helped is a mission driven Company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills, and insight of patient leaders. They are the worlds largest network of patient leaders, working across virtually all health conditions and topics. Click here: to learn more about their patient leader network.

The WEGO Health Awards were created to celebrate those who tirelessly support the mission of Wego health: to empower the patient voice. The 16 award categories, the Wego health awards are the only awards across all conditions and platforms, that recognize the over 100,000 inspiring patient leaders who raise awareness, share information, and support their communities-but often without recognition.

First, I would like to say “thank you” to those who nominated me for this award. I appreciate the time, the kindness in your heart and thoughtfulness that it took to nominate me & this Blog, “Tears of Truth”. To be nominated for this award category “Best in Show-Blog” means so much to me. It means that I am reaching people and they enjoy reading what I write. I truly pray that I am helping people and reaching people who otherwise wouldn’t get some of the information that I offer and share. In being a patient leader I have gotten to work with many wonderful people, made new friends, and have had chances to do research on bio similar medications and other subjects to do with many aspects of various illnesses.

This year, the 16 Wego health award winners will be honored at the 5th annual patient advocacy summit in Washington, DC October 23 and 24th, 2017. I would love to be able to attend this advocacy event and collaborate with the industry leaders. If you’d like more information about the summit you can learn more if you Click here

I am now looking to my incredibly supportive network to help endorse me for this award. There is an easy way to endorse it only takes seconds of your time!  Click here to be taken to my Wego Health awards profile where you can click “Endorse” under my nominee photo.

If I had ever supported you, made you laugh, or inspired you to keep fighting-please consider endorsing me for this award? In advance, I would like to say once more “thank you so much”. Without you I wouldn’t have a popular blog and I wouldn’t be nominated for this honorable award.

@WEGOHealth

Strangers Among Us


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Hello Luvs,

I am writing today about a topic that I had hoped to never write about. But it has come to my attention and the attention of several support group leaders on Facebook; that there are imposters trying to infiltrate our support groups.  This is a sad story and one that should never happen.  Anyone who runs a support group for any illnesses, including and especially the chronic pain illnesses, needs to be aware of this situation.

I opened up Facebook a week or so ago, only to feel relieved in a way, that none of my support groups were affected by this “fake” person who pretended to have RSD/CRPS. This intruder into the CRPS community had befriended over 600 people on Facebook in over a period of just about 3 years.  She started her own support group and then the worst happened.  She gained  the trust of many people who are suffering with the horrible chronic nerve pain of CRPS.  She pretended to have the disease and pretended to have “cured herself”. This is unforgivable and preposterous to say the least.  I had no idea about any of this until last week when all of the news broke.  Her account was found out about and she disappeared.

She disappeared but not before taking with her dozens of trusted CRPS patients photos and videos.  She asked them to make videos and send them to her and photos as well. She wanted these videos to be showing how they “worked through their pain and pushed through it”.  She told several people in her support group that on the delicate and sensitive flaring areas of Skin that has been diagnosed with CRPS/RSD; they should rub sandpaper! She wanted photos and videos of them doing this.  Also, just to inform you that this practice is horribly wrong and could cause terrible pain, progression of illness and even worse, infections.  She told a person to “pull on their RSD/CRPS riddled fingers until the pain was excruciating” and told them that this would “help them cure their RSD/CRPS”.

This “fake” was a well known figure in the RSD/CRPS community for these past few years.  She had some telltale signs that I notice right away and thus the reason I vet my support groups very carefully.  She had no real photos on her Facebook page and no family pictures or friends.  Nothing “personal” stood out, from what I hear, on her page.  She never showed herself in a video or a Facebook chat or video either.  If anyone has ever watched the Television show called “Catfish”, that is one of the biggest clues to being a “fake” or a “Catfish” account. When you befriend someone on Facebook please be sure to check out their profile. Also, it doesn’t matter if they are friends with some of your friends, it can still be fake.  Look for the signs of “realness” and of being a true person online. Look for achievements, and milestones, family and other photos (as I stated above) and don’t befriend anyone that you don’t feel comfortable with.

Please understand that most of the support groups are wonderful on Facebook. They are run by loving and caring patients living in pain also.  Feel free to check out the group admins. pages also.  Look them up and see who they are and if they are shown as having a true Facebook account as well. Feel free to ask questions before you join a group, to see what the person believes about your illness(es).  Check to see  if you believe in the same ideas, or not?  The people living in the pain community have seemed to me to be so caring and always wanting to help a fellow sufferer.  I think this is where the story gets so dark, because this “fake” person tried to gain the trust of people who are kind and caring and suffering.  We are all trying to make sense of these illnesses and the pain that they bring, how could anyone “pretend” to have something and then hurt people who’s trust they’d been given freely?

These are questions that I cannot answer nor fathom.  This “fake” person was finally exposed and the authorities were called.  There’s not much else anyone can do because she/he or they, closed down their Facebook account, their support group and took all of the photos and videos with them. Wherever they’ve run off too, we will never know.  We don’t know if that person will show up again and now people will be afraid and looking around every corner for someone like this; wondering who to trust now?  But if you are requested to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing, don’t do it.  Unless you know someone online and have done a face chat video with them, or met them “in person”; don’t give away anything personal in the form of information, videos or photos. But please don’t give up on the support groups because there are many that are loving, kind and very helpful.  I am so thankful that this person did not make it into my support groups.  I remember the name and remember “her” asking to be in my groups and I felt hat something wasn’t quite right.  I declined her entry into my groups. I declined her friend request. I am just lucky in that respect, because many of my dear friends who are very careful; were still affected by this imposter into our RSD/CRPS community.

I’m concerned for the people who were hurt in my communities. This person was relentless in her “pushing” people to do things that were painful in order to give them false hope of a “cure”.  She said that she herself had been cured and that all of the things she told them to do, she had done and this is how she got well.  We all want hope and so these people were desperate for some kind of relief. With our pain medications being taken away weekly and more people being denied appropriate pain relief; I can see how this can happen.  But just be very careful and don’t give up on the support groups but be selective in your choices.

The CRPS communities are left now with a bigger wound to heal.  They feel vulnerable and duped. People are trying to wrap their heads around the idea that their photos and videos are out there somewhere and they don’t know where? Please know that if you were a part of this scam, it is not your fault.  The imposter was very “good” at what she was trying to achieve. She was sly and deceitful in her endeavors to trick a community of pain sufferers.  Please be assured that the Police have been alerted and Facebook security also has been told about this.  There is not a lot that they can do except to try and make sure this doesn’t happen again.  We all have to be a part of that! We all have to keep our eyes and ears open without getting too paranoid or hurting more people in the process.  Don’t accuse anyone if you are not sure, because that’s happened to some RSD/CRPS patients as well.  That has got to be a horrible feeling and it appeared that the people who were wrongly accused have regressed and so we have to be so careful not to be one way or another.  Just be on your guard but not overly suspicious of everyone due to this situation.

Here is a link to another article written by someone else regarding this subject:  http://www.blbchronicpain.co.uk/news/facebook-crps-faker-pretend/

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