This month is “Nervember” also usually known by non-RSD/CRPS’ers as “November”! Actually the reason that “we RSD/CRPS’ers” call it “NERVEMBER” is because this horribly, painful, burning, fire-like feeling disease is a Nerve & Auto-immune disorder and November is “RSD/CRPS Awareness Month”! I know some of you may have never heard of RSD/CRPS or “Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome” *aka Disease now instead of Syndrome. Why should you know what it is? I had never heard of it until 2007 when I originally was diagnosed with it. But you see, I promised that during this month of RSD/CRPS (*”they” cannot decide what to actually call it?) that I would try to reach out EACH and EVERY day to at least one person, to spread awareness and get support for this painful nerve disease. So far, I’m being true to the CAUSE and I’ve been posting or speaking to people every day about it; along with asking people to then tell others about it. It’s sort of like a school “fan out”….when you tell one person and then ask them to tell another and then another and people tell more people and it spreads like “wildfire”…not to make an assimilation or anything…or maybe so? …LOL..
I’m not going to write about things that I’m doing this month to bore you, but I do want to at least get the “word” out about this disease and I do want to tell you about my fundraiser(s). I have so much more to tell you, so I will definitely make this part short. Than maybe…just maybe…I can “wow” you with some fantastic words of wisdom…well…OK…maybe not…but at least I’m friendly? I have a fundraiser going this month and it is a bit like 2 in 1!! I have several stretchy braided type of orange and white bracelets that someone has made for just this fundraiser, for me. I am a jewelry maker, but with the RSD/CRPS in my hands as well as OA and RA, I could not make these this time. Have no fear, I have 10 of them and if you send in just 1$ or $1.00 or “one dollar”, it gets you “ONE” chance to win one of these nice RSD/CRPS support/awareness bracelets! If you send in more than $1.00, you get that many # of chances = to the # of dollars that you send in to me for this fundraiser. Then, if you send in $5.00 or more, you get your name in that drawing still, for the number of chances that = the number of dollars you send in…AND you get into the drawing for…and get one chance to win the handmade (by me!!) Swarovski Crystal bracelet. It is made with the finest Swarovski crystals in the color rightly named “fire” and it is an orange with a bit of red and tiny bit of yellow. It does look like a flame, or I think so. It also has the handpainted glass or ceramic awareness beads in clear with orange ribbon or white bead with orange ribbon painted on it. I usually put on a very tight or strong magnetic closure /clasp so you can put it on yourself if you are disabled. I usually put a “HOPE” word bead on it , embedded in it and/or an angel with wings and a halo etc…It really is pretty and no two are exactly the same. So you might win that if you send if $5.00 or more! Then 2nd prize for the $5.00 or more, drawing, is a pair of RSD/CRPS awareness earrings (that match pretty close to the bracelet)OR if you are a man and you win, if you don’t want the earrings for your wife or girlfriend or daughter or friend, then you can choose an RSD/CRPS key chain for awareness instead….Lastly, 3rd prize will be what is left after 2nd prize…either an RSD/CRPS awareness keychain or a pair of awareness earrings! If you would like to participate, you can just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and please think about helping…
OK so…if you skipped reading about the fundraiser, I totally understand…but…will you please go back and read it for me??? Ha ha…just kidding…
I thought that I’ve never told you exactly how my story started with the RSD/CRPS. I believe that Awareness month would be a good time to tell you a little bit more about my own struggles and pain with this and a few other “Invisible Diseases”. ***OH …OH…I almost forgot to tell you…Guess what??? I was nominated again this year for a “WEGO HEALTH” Activist Award…this year it is for the “Best Kept Secret”…ha ha…I’m not quite sure that someone with 3 blogs, a private blog, a photo blog (= 5 blogs total), an “ABOUT ME” page, Several Pinterest Health Boards * for Dysautonomia/POTS, RSD/CRPS, RA, PAIN etc.., 2 support groups-one on Facebook with 820 people and 1 on Google + with 100 people, You Tube @Suzydukettes channel with a ton of information about pain, Invisible illnesses and RSD/CRPS, a Stumble Upon site, A Facebook “support In Jewelry” page, a Tumblr blog “Support IN Jewelry” or tumblr.com/supportinjewelry, and more…can be a “secret”…LOL…I just think it’s funny but also I’m honored and tickled to death!
I was in the car with my husband and we were going to go out to dinner in Plymouth, MI to the “Box Bar”; after spending the day at the “Milford Memory Daze” festival of artists, food and fun! We had just been walking together, holding hands while sipping on a lemonade together. Within what seemed a few moments time, we were “hit” by a man who had driven right through a red light, as we were going through the same intersection on a green light! Time seemed to go in slow motion as I look back on that day. Somehow I knew just a second or so before impact, that “if” I made it through this, my/our life/lives were going to be different. My life did not flash before my eyes and I saw no angels or bright lights…until I awoke on the ground ???how many minutes afterwards! I awoke to lying on the ground but on a back board, with my neck in a brace and my body tied down to the board. I could not see, except for the bright sun and some “blue”, which happened to be the Policemen and Paramedics trying to help us/me. I was scared because I couldn’t see anything really, it was all blurry except what I’ve mentioned. I was calling for my husband and asking for him and yelling out his name. I had to know that he was OK. I heard the Policemen telling him to “get away from her, Sir, please”. I guess they told him that I was better off not having him there near me? I’m unsure why they thought that, but he said that I was being worked on and thrashing a little bit; to where I cut my chin and was bleeding from the neck brace. I hate that “tied down” feeling and was starting to get hysterical because I was afraid and couldn’t move and I wanted my husband.
I don’t remember the ambulance ride, but then I do remember as I went “in and Out” of consciousness in the E.R. at St. Joe’s hospital here in Ann Arbor, MI. I remember a really nice male nurse who told off a Dr. who was in a hurry to get home and who was going to just sent me home like that! The nurse was yelling at him and saying that “she cannot remember or think or anything, she is in so much pain that she cannot even get up, we cannot send her home! So just in a knick of time, a trauma Dr. came in and started everything rolling! She did more X-rays and CT scan and my husband said that people were leaving the hallways near the X-ray room because I was screaming as they moved my body around a bit. I was admitted to the general medicine floor and was there for almost a week. I couldn’t even get up by myself to go to the restroom. I was on IV’s and it was a horrible experience. Since then, I must say that I’ve had a couple of my surgeries at St. Joes, and everyone has been better than kind to me. But that week it was horrible. I wasn’t myself, I couldn’t think right. I then spent the next 3 years in TBI *traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. I went daily until about 3:00-3:30 pm, from 9 am. I did this from about 2003 (*because I tried the DMC rehab for both physical and brain injuries first. It was a place from HELL. The administrator pretended to be nice until I went into their program. I was trying new meds and getting ill daily and they thought I was “faking” or something? I was hanging over the toilet bowl, sick…so very sick and vomiting. They wanted me to make cookies to try and help my 2 frozen shoulders and all of my other injuries. Little did I know that the program they had was a “6 months and you’re OUT whether you are better or not !!! They don’t care and didn’t care if I got better at all. According to them, I wasn’t getting better FAST enough! They strapped me on an exercise bike and left me as I was asking for help and nobody came, I passed out and hit the floor; giving me more pain than I started with. The P.T. “Polly” was famous for being a P.T. for one of the Detroit Red Wings, NHL players. She was rigorous and grueling and pushed me much more than was good for me and I got worse instead of better. I couldn’t even put my clothes on and off by myself due to pain in : both shoulders, a long thoracic 8″ nerve injury, both knees, lower lumbar spine w/herniated and bulging discs, cervical spine the same thing and right wrist, right ankle, neck , eyes, ears and to top it off, I was having little seizures for the first 6 months! I had so many tests once I got out of that awful program, I found a good nurse manager who helped me get help, answers and the surgeries and brain injury therapy I needed.
This writing does no justice for the absolute “hell” that I feel I went through going from the awful hospital stay, the terrible DMC program and the many many Physicians that I had to see, until I realized that “YOU aren’t stuck with the first Dr’s you see!! YOU HAVE TO BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE! YOU KNOW YOURSELF AND HOW YOU FEEL….YOU know how you were before and how you are now! You never have to “settle” for some Dr. who thinks that because he spent several years in Medical school, that he’s better than most but has not one ounce of empathy in his demeanor!! I was feeling like giving up…I had been to so many Dr’s, to Cleveland clinic and just too many hospitals. Did I ever tell you that I’d been to several big Medical centers for my left shoulder, just one of my injuries. I complained about a ‘shock’ running down my arm when I straightened it. One shoulder Dr., about the 3rd or 4th one that I went to (because I knew something was not right, but I felt so disbelieved…)…he was an Orthopedic specialist…he looked me in the eye and while I was crying softly because he’d just told me that he thought it was “nothing”; he said to me “What part of “I CANT FIX IT” don’t you understand?…Is IT YOUR BRAIN INJURY???” Oh My Gosh!…that was about the nastiest thing that a Dr.’s ever said to me…I wasn’t going to try again, but decided ONE MORE TIME, and I was done!! I went to Providence in Novi, MI. I saw a Dr. J. M. and he was the nicest Dr. and he took my left shoulder and touched it in a certain way and said “does this hurt?” I shouted out a bit, because it hurt very much! He knew right away that I had had a ruptured biceps tendon!! I’d had it for over a year before someone finally listened to me and was willing to help me. I think that I just had so many, too many injuries and so much going on with my brain injury, forgetting things, balance and falling issues, heart issues, loads of nerve issues, discs bulging and herniated and so much more; that the medical professionals, or MOST of them just looked at me and wanted to “run”!!
I finally had a great “team” in place, with my primary care Dr., my pain Dr., Orthopedic shoulder, hand & knee Dr’s, Cardiologist, Neurologist, Neuro Cardiologist and more. Things started going wonderfully as soon as I had them in my “corner”! In these years since that first day in the E.R. with my MVA, I’ve had 10 surgeries, going on my 11th tomorrow! Yes, tomorrow, November 11, 2013, I’m going in for a screw in my upper jaw. The oral surgeon didn’t feel comfortable doing surgery on me in his office due to my having had a heart attack in ’05, a CVA or stroke in ’06 and having “Long QT syndrome”,(which there are no symptoms for, but can cause sudden cardiac death). So I have to have this done in the main hospital, under general anesthesia and I have to have two anesthesiologists present!
I will end this post in just a moment, but before I finish today’s thoughts, I wanted to just tell someone…maybe even someone who might care…..*I guess I say that because my oldest daughter, who left home 9 years ago, estranged herself from me/us to be in the company of all of my abusers –because they didn’t love her enough to care about her doing illegal/immoral things and I DID!! But one time …a few years later, she called my voicemail and left a message that was heartless and bone chilling when I heard the words of my little girl, my eldest girl, who was my best friend and daughter and my everything (as is her younger sister)..she said “SUZANNE (she didn’t call me “mom”)…Why do you think people care about you? THEY DON’T”….It was heartbreaking after I’d carried her 9 mos, had a C-section, took her to “mommy N me classes”, took her to pre-school and helped, took forgotten homework to school and had to leave my own job 35-40 minutes away and drive to our apt. to get it and then drive to her school, so she wouldnt’ get in trouble! I went to every baseball game, swim meet (even in a wheelchair after that car accident!!), chorus concert etc…I never missed anything because she means everything to me…she always will ……and my heart still aches and my heart attack was considered to be from “broken heart syndrome”. It was still very much a heart attack but now I know that people can truly die from a “broken Heart”!! I’m glad I didn’t die because I’m here with my soul-mate, my husband, Craig and Im able to still be there for my other daugther, my baby girl. We are still BFF’s and though she lives a little far from home, we talk on facetime and see each other as much as possible. WE are even planning a beautiful wedding for her shortly. She found a wonderful young man and they are going to be so happy . I can see that they are soul-mates! I’m so very happy that they’ve found each other and they share God in their lives.***……
…..But I just wanted to tell someone that I do try not to feel sorry for myself, I try to help others, do fundraisers for my invisible diseases and I don’t give up …not ever! When I think about all of the things that have happened just since the MVA in 2002, it makes me just want to cry. Let alone the abuse and pain I endured at the hands of my abusive family, and my ex’s, for all of those
years prior to meeting Craig, my husband & soul-mate of 17 years almost. I just feel that I’ve been through way too much for one person and though I try not to wallow in it…I can’t help but think about it the night before yet another surgery. I mean….I had abusive family growing up (the SSDI people AND my Psychologist have told me that I’m the “worst childhood case of trauma/abuse that they’ve seen in 36 years!), I married when I was 20 yrs old only to move in with another abuser. I got taken in quickly by the church..they told me that “God wouldn’t want me to stay with someone who hurts me like that”! I then moved to AZ and lived with my aunt and uncle there, while working at a school for the Deaf. I came home after a year or so because my brother was marrying my best friend. I then remarried at age 22 and I was with my daughters’ father for 8 years, while being abused, mistreated, cheated on and horrified for almost all of those years! I left with my 2 daughters and was a single mother, working full time for several years. I went to part time for awhile just to have Fridays off, to be able to help out in their school or with their classrooms. I had so wanted to always be a “stay at home mom”. All I ever wanted in life was to be a mother and a sign language interpreter…I got to do both! But they both got taken away too early. I had to go to work full time and I couldn’t do interpreting due to lack of insurance etc. Then after the brain injury, I could and can still remember the signs, but I am totally unable to interpret any longer due to the lack of concentration and inability to listen, **(hearing loss with my ears), have the language go into my brain, translate it into ASL and have it come out of my hands. MY oldest got taken away from me due to her own choice, at age 18. She’s now 28 years old almost; and I miss her every day . Not a day goes by that she isn’t in my heart, mind and soul. Then I lost my mom to colon cancer in 2002, she was 71 years old. She had been abusive to me, but I still loved her and love her. She was still the only mom that I had. There were some times that were good, but few and far between. After my mother died, my father and brothers proceeded to be even more horrible and evil towards me. They treated me inhumanely and succeeded in turning all the rest or most of the rest, of my Aunts, Uncles and cousins; especially on my mother’s side, against me! They…or my dad didn’t want or doesn’t want them to talk to me because he’s afraid that I might “talk” or tell them the truth about stuff that happened in our home! What better way than to turn them against me?
I went through the whole car accident event and all of the surgeries and injuries that followed, even through to today; all by myself with no family there for me at all. Well, not any of my biological family. Lucky for me, I have my wonderful soul-mate and husband and my youngest daughter who has stood by my side. I thank God every day for having them in my life. I’ve turned the horrifying situations of my past and even the ongoing pain & fear of the events of today, into a bit more positive engery. I became a “chemo-angel”, card -angel, special assignment angel, and prayer angel for a non profit program for chemo therapy patients with Cancer. I became a Mentor for newly diagnosed RSD/CRPS patients. I help them get adjusted to their fears and new life with so much pain; the burning fire nerve pain of RSD/CRPS. I started a CAUSE to raise funds for finding a cure for this nasty disease. I started two support groups to help others deal with any and all “Invisible Diseases”. I have over 850 people in my Facebook support group and 100 people in my newer support group on Google +! I started trying my hand at making support and awareness jewelry and it grew into a website (that I started and designed by myself) “Support In Jewelry”, also a matching Facebook page of the same name and a Tumblr blog that is geared only for my “Support in Jewelry” items. I donate support jewelry to silent auctions and to other groups and people who ask me and who need it for helping people in pain. I try to use the social networks to get the information out to the people and to get empathy, caring and love to those who need it, along with support. I have :YOU TUBE informational videos and more videos of me doing or performing emotional /feeling songs in American Sign Language/ASL, that have a great meaning to me and ones that I feel would give good feelings to others as well. I do all of those things so that I will NOT focus on my past history of abuse, my pain, fear, broken heart, sadness, loss of being able to do everyday things etc. I am not trying to say that I don’t feel those things or think about them, but I really do try to be as positive as possible. I try to smile instead of whincing. I try to attempt things even if I can’t finish them. I try to get out of bed every single day and focus on the “HAVE’s” instead of the “HAVE NOTS”.
I guess I’d say the main thing is, if I had to give you one thing to think about as you leave this blog today, I would leave you with this: “Try to be as positive as possible. You may not always feel it, you may not feel it most of the time; but the more you try, the more it becomes real; at least some of the time! Try to help others, play with your animal(s) and your grandkids & your children as best you can, even just sitting, talking or playing in creative ways. Try to find something you are able to do to keep your mind as sharp as possible. Find something to do that not only makes others feel good, but makes you feel good. Being kind and helpful towards others in and of itself, will make you feel more positive. Complaining is OK when you just can’t take it anymore or when you need to vent, but just remember that everyone has their own “pain” in their own worlds and lives; we all need someone to listen to us at times, so be a good listener as well. Lastly, don’t give up…if I have lost so much in life and have gone through all of the things I’ve gone through and I’m still here, trying and not giving up….not today….then you can too! Together we can make it …not alone..but together…get through today…and tomorrow if you want to give up…then think about that tomorrow ….but for today…don’t give up or give in…”
With love, pain, fear and thoughts of you in my heart…Suzanne. (PS…it’s OK to have hours and days when you are not always positive, we cannot be that way all of the time. Just make sure you get yourself back up and on the right track…and please..please try not to bring others down, try not to get calloused and insensitive to others needs…keep your heart)