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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What You See Is Not What You Get!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opioids Kill Pain, Not People


Hello Luvs,

This writing turned into an article for the Health News Magazine that I author for, and have since November 2016! I love it and am enjoying this so much! I wanted to make sure to send you the link to the edited version of my blog post, which is the article of the same name. It is here: http://NationalPainReport.com/Opioids-kill-pain-not-people-8833207.html ….

I wanted to write something to enlighten the non-pain community as well as those who are in pain but are either new to the pain or have not had much of a relationship or experience with Opioids. Opioids can cause “dependence” just the same as many anti-depressants, blood pressure meds and Beta blockers.  Dependence is not the same as addiction and I will try to explain that in this writing. People who take opioids for chronic pain illnesses that carry a # of 43 on the McGill pain scale, for example:  CRPS or Complex Regional pain syndrome (and many others); do not get a “HIGH” from taking them.  When you have very extreme chronic daily pain, the Opioids just relieve the pain and do not give a Euphoric feeling whatsoever.  Of course, I am writing from my own experience and from the experience of being a patient health advocate since 2007 and a patient leader, as well as an administrator for several chronic pain illness groups.

Opioids do not kill people, but they do kill the pain for awhile. If you ask a person with chronic pain, if they enjoy taking these medications; they will all tell you “NO”! We do not like that we need or depend on these meds for relieving our daily high pain. We wish that we did not need the Opioids and we would prefer to just live pain free.  Many people that do not experience daily chronic pain, have the notion that Opioids are killing people.  This may be partially true, but not so, for the true chronic pain patients and the pain community. Those who die from taking Opioids are usually mixing it with other things from the “streets”.  They mix it with Heroin or crack cocaine or other “street” drugs; sometimes alcohol too.  Others, for example, celebrities who have passed away from taking Opioids, have mixed it with other substances. The news shows us that “another celebrity has died from an Opioid overdose”.  That’s not the whole truth, because that person had other substances in their bodies, we would later find out; after getting the coroner’s report.

In my research, I found an article on the website for RSDHOPE.org and it says this: In an article written by WebMD in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic states, “Some medications used to treat pain can be addictive.Addiction is different from physical dependence or tolerance, however. In cases of physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms occur when a substance suddenly is stopped. Tolerance occurs when the initial dose of a substance loses its effectiveness over time. Addiction and physical dependence often occur together.” People who take a class of drugs called opioids for a long period of time may develop tolerance and even physical dependence. This does not mean, however, that a person is addicted. In general, the chance of addiction is very small when narcotics are used under proper medical supervision.” The article goes on to say, “Most people who take their pain medicine as directed by their doctor do not become addicted, even if they take the medicine for a long time.” You can read the original article in its’ entirety. (this was found on the RSDHOPE.org Website here: @http://www.rsdhope.org/addiction-dependence-or-tolerance-to-opiods.html). In that same article at RSDHOPE.org, they go on to explain that: “Another article, written by Leanna Skarnulis, states, “Chronic pain patients often confuse tolerance with addiction. They become fearful when the dosage of a narcotic has to be increased, but it’s normal for the body to build up tolerance over time, says Simmonds, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society. “Patients don’t get a high, and they don’t get addicted.

I was researching for this article and I read about Elvis Presley, Prince, Michael Jackson and others who died from what was called  or labeled “Opioid overdose”.  But if you read more and dig deeper, you will find that the larger percentage of these people and others, die because they have mixed a prescription Opioid with other medications, drugs, street drugs and/or alcohol. I’m not saying that nobody died from taking Opioids in an overdose.  I will defend my cause by stating that the every single person that I’ve come across within my own pain community (*which is a large number of people because of my being a patient health advocate, Ambassador for US Pain Foundation, mentor for newly diagnosed CRPS patients and a patient leader for WEGO Health and founder/admin. for 4 different kinds of chronic pain support groups) has told me that they do not take more than what is prescribed, therefore they are not “addicted”.  I will also state from my own experience, that people living with daily high pain illnesses, do not “crave” their pain medication. I have never craved my medicines, nor do I seek them out or think about them every day or continuously.

The chronic pain community has been talking about the Opioids more lately and we have been afraid and worried.  This is happening because there are “people” with power who are trying to take away our small semblance of a “normal” life with lowered amounts of pain. I understand that there are parents who’ve lost children and Children who’ve lost parents due to drug overdoses. I realize that people who are uninformed or misinformed regarding chronic pain; think they are taking on a cause or “helping”others because of their loss. I feel deeply sad for anyone who’s lost someone that they love from a drug overdose or for any reason, for that matter.  It’s a bit similar to what used to happen when we were children in a classroom at school.  The teachers would punish the entire class for something that one child did and he would not confess to doing it.  The entire pain community should not be punished because of the actions of some.

There are some other reasons for The Opioid Debacle that’s happening right now around us.  There are those “persons” who make money off of our chronic pain and suffering.  People who make a fortune doing invasive and dangerous surgeries on the pain community.  Also the many different therapies and treatment modalities that insurance doesn’t cover, for the most part. There are PROP physicians and others who say that Opioids don’t help chronic pain! The latter is an untrue statement because I’m here today as a chronic pain patient who does NOT and has not gone up in dosage in many years. I have experience being with many persons in the chronic pain community who will testify that taking a routine and regular dosage of Opioids, does help relieve their chronic pain.  We are not addicted, we do not seek out or crave the Opioids and we deserve to be able to just “take a pill” that has little or no side effects, for many.

Lastly, I would like to say that there are advocates in physicians and others who truly want to help those with chronic pain.  One of our biggest advocates, is a physician named, Dr. Lynn Webster (www.LynnWbsterMD.com). He is someone who has been trying to help our community. Dr. L. Webster, M.D., has a book out called “The Painful Truth” (www.thepainfultruthbook.com) and now there is a movie  with the same name on PBS also. For anyone who is interested in learning more about chronic pain and how medications like Opioids can help; here is the link to the PBS broadcasting :  The Painful Truth .

**HEY, Please follow me on TWITTTER at these two Handles: @RASEforCRPS and @ Ppl_InPainUnite …(RASE stands for “Research,Awareness,Support and Educate)

Illness Doesn’t Equal Lack of Faith


 

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

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

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

If The Appt. Is Not Going Your Way, Be On Your Way!


Are your medical conditions/illnesses very complicated? Do you have more than the average person’s share of visit’s to medical specialists’? If you are anything like me, with a variety of high pain illnesses, then the answer to these questions is a definite “YES”.  Most of us who are “complicated cases” have had experiences that most healthy people wouldn’t be able to fathom. It feels as though I’ve been treated with less respect, since I’ve become a chronic pain patient. I know this because I was once a healthy person. I was listened to and given treatments or tests to find answers.  I went to a specialist several years ago, who should have known what “RSD/CRPS” is all about. A Dr. who should have known what the letters represent.  He took my husband and I into his office and sat us down in small chairs in front of his huge desk.  He barely glanced at the packet of information that I’d given to him. I bring it to each new Dr. appointment. The idea is to make it easier for them and for me. I don’t have to continuously re-write answers on every new patient questionnaire. The physician can flip through very clear descriptions of my medical history. This Dr. looked down at the packet of information for just a couple of short seconds. He looked up at me and said “So what is R.D.S.”?  Really…. What is “R.D.S.”?  I looked at my husband, gave him the signal and we got up and left.  But not before I explained to that Dr. that “It is not called R.D.S., it is R.S.D. and also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and/or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”.

I went to another specialist who told me that even though I have legitimate high pain illnesses, including systemic CRPS, my “pain meds are way out of his league”, and “there is no reason for me to do P.T. or O.T.” Then he told me if I “wanted a Cortisone injection I could have one”, but otherwise nothing he could do because “everyone over 50 has a torn meniscus”.  It was so strange because the first few times I’d seen this Dr., it was right after my car accident. He did the appropriate tests and then he did surgery on my 2 torn meniscus’. But some time had passed and now I was a “chronic pain patient” with several illnesses. I felt like a Pariah, as if now I was not to be taken seriously. Next, he entered the room with a large needle. I knew what it was because I’d already had Cortisone injections to my knees s/p my MVA in 2002. I started to cry.  I’d done this 7 times before, but never with a diagnosis of “severe full body/systemic CRPS”. I’d always been stoic and therefore felt respected by this particular specialist. He told me “I’ll come back when you’re not hysterical anymore”.  I told him that injections can make CRPS worse. In between tears I reminded him that it hurt me very much to even blow air on or touch my knee.  I just couldn’t imagine that kind of injection with this kind of pain.  He left the room and came back a few minutes later.  I was afraid that he wouldn’t help me again if I didn’t comply.  I should have listened to my heart. But fear of a person in a position of “power” over me (or so I felt at the time), allowed me to let him hurt me even more. He had the nurse spray the Lidocaine skin numbing spray, continuously, as he put the Cortisone injection into my already burning, aching, freezing, sensitive left knee. In the end, my pain worsened and the swelling was more than when I started.

Another series of unfortunate events was when I visited several specialists for my shoulder injuries after the car accident. I kept getting told that I had a “torn Rotator cuff” time after time. But I knew that something else had to be wrong because they were saying that I had a torn Rotator cuff in both shoulders. But my left arm had a nerve pain that went down my inner arm whenever I moved a certain way. I went through this pain for over a year and through at least 5 physicians of the same specialty. I didn’t give up, not even after one of the Dr’s said to me “What part of -“I can’t fix it, don’t you understand? Is it your Brain injury?” I quickly left in tears that day (*because I do have a TBI from the MVA)  and never looked back. I finally found a Dr. who listened to me and I was finally diagnosed with a ruptured biceps tendon, that required surgery with 2 screws to repair it. Someone finally listened to me and my inner feelings were correct.

Several similar  incidents have happened to me and I know they’ve happened to many of you. I’d like to share one more experience; the most dangerous one for me. There was a time when I was passing out again and again. I was vomiting from all of the different medications they’d been giving me to “help” with the various pains s/p the MVA. I was in a “Six months and out” rehabilitation center. Meaning whether you get better or not, you are “kicked out after 6 months”. It was a terrible program and it is a story for another day. But what they did to me was unforgivable. Nobody was listening and no one was helping me. They forced me to swim in a pool & get dressed when I could barely button or unbutton anything for myself. They tried to blame it all on the fact that “I’d been abused”. They truly thought I was “faking” or manufacturing the fainting spells! This was the one and only time I’ve ever been accused of anything like that. They strapped onto an exercise bike while I was suffering from 2 torn rotator cuffs & 2 torn meniscus’. I tried to yell out to two physical therapists who were talking to each other.  I yelled to them that I felt faint and thought I might pass out. I did faint while still strapped onto that bike. They had to call an ambulance and as I lay there waiting, there was fear in their faces. A shakiness in their voices as they told me to “lie very still”. My heart rate was only 24 bpm and my blood pressure was only 70/40. I was later told that I could have had a stroke with my stats this low. I was hospitalized and that’s when I received my first permanent dual chamber pacemaker. I was watched all night and then diagnosed with “Sick Sinus Syndrome”, a bradycardia/tachycardia arrythmia in my heart. I was also diagnosed with Prinzmetal Angina or Cornonary spasms, Long QT syndrome, Atrial fibrillation and more. After my recovery, I found a great specialist in Autonomic system failure, POTS, pacemakers and EPS. I’ve been treated by him ever since 2003. He is the best Dr. I’ve ever known and I feel very lucky to have him.

But do you see how we are not listened to or believed at times? We are sometimes not taken seriously because we are “too complicated” or just because we have many illnesses.  Some Dr’s don’t want to get involved in more than earaches and sore throats. Things they can “fix”. They can’t “fix” us and so some don’t want us as patients. Many pain patients have been through bad experiences such as car accidents etc. We deserve to be respected the same as anyone else, if not, just a bit more!

If you go to a Dr. and:

  • he/she stands by the door and cannot wait for you to finish speaking, before telling you “Ok, we’ll see you in 6 months, nice to meet you”.
  • If you go to a physician who acts like you have “too many things wrong with you”.
  • If you can tell that they think you are just too complicated and they don’t want to be involved.
  • If you bring your records and all of your information and they go against your other physicians diagnosis’
  • If you get put down, made fun of or called names
  • If the Physician doesn’t have a clue about your illness(es), for ex: “RDS or RSD”
  • If They want to ignore your other Dr’s treatments and start all over again
  • If they act like you’re just too much trouble and they don’t want to be bothered

LEAVE….DO NOT PASS GO! Don’t feel that you have to finish your appointment! Many times I give my husband our secret “nod” and we just leave before the appointment is over. There’s no reason that you need to stay anyplace that you do not feel comfortable. You don’t owe any Physician your time or money, if they aren’t treating you respectfully. Remember that you’re paying for their services.  If you aren’t being listened to or taken seriously, please be on your way. It doesn’t matter how many Dr’s you visit until you find the one that finally “clicks”. Don’t give up; there will be one that finally “gets it” and understands your issues. There will be that one to finally help you

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Christmas “Present”


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Hello Luvs,
It’s been a rough few months but now it’s time to get to the “present” and think about the holidays. Even though Christmas day is done it’s still a great time to think about the “true” meaning of the holidays.
We had a wonderful “pre-Christmas” family get-together this year.  It was at our house last weekend before Christmas! It was a wonderful and awesome family time together. I got to have both of my daughters, their husbands and our 3 granddaughters all together under one roof! It was awesome! I got to sit out in my rocking chair, in the living room; while rocking our youngest granddaughter to sleep. She was so quiet, serene and held onto my finger. While rocking her to sleep, it was wonderful listening to the chatter throughout the house. Everyone was happy, talking and laughing.  It’s times like these and occasions like this that are the foundation for building the memories we wish for ourselves and our families.
Now…I know the word “family” can hit a nerve with some people, especially during the Holiday season. But you know that you don’t have to force yourself to sit in a room filled with people who: put you down, denigrate you, degrade you, call you names, hurt you and don’t love you the way they should. YOU are worth more than this! Why people do this and complain about it, I will never understand?  A “family” doesn’t have to be biological. Your family might be a group of your chosen friends.
I’ve come to the conclusion that we put too many expectations on the Christmas season. This is why so many people get more depressed, stressed and the suicide rate is even higher at this time of year.
If you have read any of this blog from the beginning, then you KNOW that I have some reasons to NOT like Christmas time and/or the holiday season. My mother died on December 22, 2002~and my grandmother died on December 30, 1986! I’ve got health issues and most of all chronic intractable pain! I have a progressive, most painful Neurological and autoimmune disease called “RSD/CRPS”. It is also known as “Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”. Mine is systemic/full body, disseminated and severe. I have Dysautonomia/POTS/NCS and you can just *Google any of those if you wish.(If you have any questions, please message me because I can send you in the right direction if you are suffering from any of these illnesses and I may be able to help with some others too!)
My message to you this holiday season, is to try and NOT go if you don’t HAVE TO GO!~ Don’t spend time with people who don’t deserve you. Concentrate on those that are there for you all of the times, good and bad. If you must be alone, you can turn on music that is calming. You can watch Holiday movies or even drama, adventure films or comedies. If you feel like you want to get out of the house, it is OK to go to the movies by yourself. They are open on Christmas and New Years day.
Spoil yourself and sit with a comfy blanket, read a good book or play with your IPAD, laptop or your smart phone. You may choose to color with markers, crayons or chunky crayons (if your hands hurt badly) in those great new adult type of coloring books.  You may choose to bake,  do crafts or make a scrapbook.
The other thing is this….if you really have someone that you love and you want to be with them but you can’t possibly be there. That’s what SKYPE and /or FACETIME are for! We have friends in Scotland, Australia and Singapore and on Christmas sometimes we turn on the Face time or Skype and we open our pressies from each other IN FRONT OF EACH OTHER! Isn’t that way cool? Technology has become a life saver for many people.
If you are full of bad memories and they are clogging up your mind. Try to think of at least one or two good memories that you have?? I remember our church program one year when they had videotaped children seeing their Military parents come home for Christmas! These kids were in awe with their mouths as open as I’ve never seen before. They were genuinely excited and totally surprised to see their father or mother. They hadn’t thought they’d be seeing them and suddenly that parent walked into their classroom or someplace where they could surprise them well! The looks on their faces were precious and priceless!
I have a GOOD memory,that I want to share with you today. Much of my blog is about some of the bad things that have happened and seems to continue to happen to me throughout my life. But today, I want to share a happy memory and I hope it will help you through your holidays that sometimes can feel “empty” and /or “hopeless” when you are not celebrating as the rest of the population “appears” to be celebrating. Just remember, you have to make your own atmosphere and do what you can to stay “afloat” and not get too sad. There are some suggestions above, that I’ve given you. There are others in books and blogs and websites, you just have to go and look for the help you need.
Here is my happy memory:  When I was about 12 years old, I had made friends with a “grandma” type lady down the street from us. Her name was “Mrs. Usitis” and she invited me to tag along with her to Pennsylvania from Michigan where we lived. My parents allowed me to go because I was going with her and she was taking me to visit with her grand niece who was just one year older than me.
We arrived and I stayed with the young niece and her parents and Mrs. U. stayed with her sister and brother in law. I had a wonderful time and they treated me very well. But I just didn’t know them well, yet..at the time. I had never been away from home or even really never spent the night anywhere before that. I was homesick. I missed my bed and my mom and dad.*( I don’t have a ton of bad memories as a very very young child. I have some and some that I thought were “normal” and I’ve since found out that they are not “normal” and they were downright abusive even then, when I thought my family was “normal” and that I was the “bad one”.)
My mom got my phone calls and I couldn’t sleep or eat and I felt really far away from anything I knew.  She spoke to a cousin of hers in Pennsylvania and they said that the friends who I was staying with could bring me to their home. They thought if I was with “COUSINS”(even though I’d never even met them), that it might help me feel more comfortable. I still felt homesick and was crying and wanted to go home, because I didn’t know them either. They were as nice as they could be to me!
As I was walking around their house one day, eating a Popsicle, I heard the doorbell ring. She opened the door and there standing in the doorway, I saw my “DADDY”!!!(My brothers came too, but I didn’t care so much about them being there, as they drove with dad to keep him company…ha ha…). Back in those days, I felt that my dad and my oldest brother were my “protectors”. At the age of 12, in my head, I thought that I was “bad” and that everything that happened at our house was my fault. At that time, I felt that my mom was the more abusive person in the household. As you grow older and get the “help” or much needed therapy; you find that reality is not what you once thought.
I saw the door open and my dad was standing on the front porch. At the same time, I threw my Popsicle out into the abyss of “wherever?” and I ran as fast as possible and jumped up into my dads arms! OH….oh how I love that memory!  He came to rescue me from nothing whatsoever that was “bad”, but just my being homesick for familiar surroundings. I had led and have really led a very sheltered life especially back then. We didn’t go on vacations, I didn’t go out to dinner with my parents or family; rarely even on special occasions. We pretty much went to school and stayed home. So you can imagine what a “culture shock” it would have been for me at that age and after never being out of my state OF Michigan. I mean…I went on my first airplane ride, with a neighbor lady, not someone I knew REALLY well.(But they were the nicest people…they even fed me when they knew I was hungry because I wasn’t allowed to eat much at home, at all.), and was going to stay maybe 10 days to 2 weeks? I cannot remember all of those details, but the best part of that story was when I threw my Popsicle wherever it went, we’ll never know!! LOL ….I ran and jumped up into my “daddy’s arms”.
Now THAT’s a good memory, huh?
I just wanted to reiterate that you don’t have to “choose” to be down, lonely ,sad etc during the holidays. I try to remember that life goes both ways.  There are people who have it much better than me, and there are also those who have a much more difficult existence than I do.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice because we can get into a “rut”. When pain is all you know and you feel it day in and day out.  When you hurt no matter if you’re lying down, sitting in a chair or trying to walk a bit. It’s hard to not concentrate on the bad stuff. It’s sometimes difficult to see others who are not in pain doing the things that we want to do. But Life is only 10% what happens to you and 90% is the way you look at it, or your own attitude! Try to relax, breathe and enjoy whatever moments that you can and don’t expect anything and you won’t be let down!
Happy Holiday season to everyone. Please pray for our Soldiers who will not be able to be anywhere near home for the Holidays, with their own families. They are out fighting for our country and our lives, our children and grandchildren’s future and lives too!  Pray for them, for the young men and women who are fighting as I write this blog. My friend, “R”, has a son who is in Afghanistan right now. He left just a month ago or so? He is one that cannot make it home for Christmas. So let’s pray for “R” and her son, “S” and anyone else that you’d like to say a prayer for at this time and during this season of Jesus’ birth.

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How To Cope With Pain And The Holiday Grinch’s (Narcissists)



The holidays are hard for many people especially those in pain. Also for people with depression, chronic illnesses, invisible diseases and disabilities; the holidays are filled with exhaustion, exasperation, loss, loneliness, pain and so on. Everyone would love the perfect picture holiday with the warm fireplace, the loving family all around, the dog sleeping on the floor and the cat on the hearth. People wish for all kinds of things from true love to toy cars. But most of all, everyone pretty much wants the same thing: a quiet, peaceful home with a loving family all around to celebrate – and maybe even feel well for a few days. 
While others are out participating in the hustle and bustle of the holiday frenzy; those of us with chronic pain are still living and coping with our illnesses. We are still in pain while trying to do all of these “things” that are expected of us. Our children, our families and friends may indeed love us, but they all want Christmas to arrive in all of it’s glory, regardless of our pain and fatigue. The things that we live with on a daily basis do not go away for the holidays. We don’t get a “holiday vacation” like everyone else does. We must push on, endure and put a smile on our face. When we really feel like sleeping, wincing, sitting, resting and sometimes just crying. My advice for all of us living with chronic pain, invisible illnesses and unrelenting fatigue; is that we need to take “time outs”. Take a look at the large picture for a moment and break it down into small increments. Take on one task at a time and stop when you feel the need to stop. Don’t push yourself, as that’ll keep the pain cycle going. Please stop and rest; give your body a chance to mend for a few hours or take the day “off.” You are allowed to do this, no matter what your conscience tells you to do.

There are many of us with chronic illness, who also have invisible illnesses, such as Dysautonomia/POTS, CFS/ME and/or PTSD. It feels as though these illnesses are rarely acknowledged. We need to make sure that we take care of ourselves first, especially during the holidays. This means that when we feel the fatigue coming on, STOP right away! Don’t keep going until it takes much longer to recuperate. There are those who may have MN’s in their family or group of closest friends. That stands for “Malignant Narcissists.” Those are the people who always put their needs ahead of yours. Stay away from them, keep your distance!! The MN’s use the holidays as a time to preach, cause hysteria, pain and grandstand. They are like vampires and will suck the life right out of you if you allow it. You “feel” as though you don’t have a choice, but you really do!! If you are trying to avoid conflict by pretending that it’s “OK” or “not that bad;” then you will end up with increasing pain, more fatigue, internal conflict and much more than what you bargained for. You’ll never get what you think you deserve out of those relationships. They won’t ever be “warm and fuzzy.” They will always put restrictions on you, rules for you to follow. It may be outward or it can be mind games that they play. If you cannot physically get away from them during the holidays, if you must be at the same gathering…..emotionally leave the room!! You need to do this for your own mental and physical well being.

We don’t all have families with the “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” kind of holiday. Some of us get “Jack Frost nipping at our noses!!” We may not have the “Halls decked with holly and people kissing under mistletoe.” Because in families with “MN’s” you will forever have “Grandma getting run over by a reindeer” and many, many games!! If you MUST spend the holidays with these kind of people, if this is your family tree, then the name of the game is “keeping sane and learning to survive.” It’s not about having fun and singing Christmas carols, it’s about surviving the “Big Chill” that you feel in their presence. Be there if you must, in your body, but make your mind be someplace happy and do not get into conversations with them. You must protect yourself and your children. Don’t say “Oh it’s not that bad,” or “they didn’t mean it that way,” or “you don’t understand them like I do.” Because YES I do! I’m trying to help you make it through the days when we are supposed to be “laughing all the way!!” Usually it is the narcissists, who are “Laughing all the way” and they definitely know what they’re doing. When you can stay away, then do it. When you can avoid inviting them into your life, please do so! But when all else fails,”leave the conversation” at least in your heart, mind and soul. Though your body may be there, you don’t have to be!!! Try to never have the party at your own house when you have MN’s for relatives – because then you are trapped and you cannot leave or get away. They will know they have you like a spider has a fly in his web. All you can do is squirm and squiggle but you cannot leave!

Try to take a step back during the holidays, make a personal space boundary. Keep your distance and stick by those who will not persecute you, make fun of you, be nasty or hurt you. The “MN’s” can get you upset, angry and crying; then fly to “save” you. Those who say the word “love” but never know how to really show it, except with unloving examples of unkindness; along with displays of abnormal affection; don’t truly know what “LOVE” is. They aren’t thinking of you, your pain, illness, or your feelings – and they don’t see what they are doing to you or your quality of life. The honest and only way to avoid the pain of the holidays with Malignant Narcissist’s, is to be with only those who truly love you back and with whom you trust. People who truly love you and won’t hurt you – at least not on purpose.

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Try to enjoy your holidays with a smaller amount of people in your circle. If you are living with chronic physical pain; the emotional pain and stress can take its toll on your body even at a higher rate than usual. There are loving, calm and quiet things that you can do with your own “little” family. You can look at lights in the neighborhoods, order pizza and watch holiday movies. But remember that life is not normally like those holiday movies filled with “perfect” families, etc. Unfortunately, we have to learn to survive and help teach our children not to be controlled by the MN’s of the family and friend pool. Life is so much more “choice” than you might think. You don’t “HAVE to” do much of anything that you don’t want to do, except to try to survive. Love those who are lovable and who love you back. But I don’t mean to stop loving the unlovable. I just mean to love them from a distance so that you cannot be “touched” by their damaged spirits or hurt by their abuse.

Good luck, and don’t lie to yourself, we all know that fruitcake really stinks! Just because it is a “holiday” thing….you don’t have to like it or eat it….so just because they are your “family,” you don’t have to like them or spend time with them unless you want to!! Enjoy your holidays as much as possible and take care of your family, your children, your fur babies; and most importantly, yourself!