Conspiracies Against Wellness Radio Broadcast


Hello Luvs,

I was recently a guest on a radio show, “Conspiracies Against Wellness “. I was interviewed by Jonelle Elgaway and I spoke about the Opioid crisis. Please listen and answer my “call to action” plea at the end.

Please feel free to share this. I encourage you to share it so as many people as possible will learn about all that the chronic pain community is going through.

Here’s the link:

Thank you!

https://youtu.be/N8cBhUStCnA

Invisible Disabilities Week 10-15 Through 10-21-2017, You Are “Invisible No More”


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Several years ago I was approached by a YouTube channel called “Invisible No More TV”. They had seen some of my advocacy videos for patients, chronic pain, RSD/CRPS and “invisible disabilities/illnesses”.  They asked me if I would like to be featured on their channel in a short video describing “invisible disabilities” and being “invisible no more’.  I agreed and I’ve been featured on that channel ever since 2012.  I later found out that this YouTube channel is a part of a much bigger organization called the “Invisible Disabilities Association”.  The reason that I’m telling you this today is because this week is “Invisible Disabilities Awareness week”.  I’ve always been a team player for IDA and have always supported them and they have always supported me, since we met in 2012.

First of all, let me explain that an “invisible disability”, according to the IDA website, which you can find by visiting: Invisibledisabili.org, is “a physical, mental or neurological condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities that is invisible to the onlooker.  Unfortunatley the very fact that these symptoms are invisible, can lead to misunderstandings, false perceptions and judgements.”  The Invisible Disabilities organization works tirelessly throughout the year to bring awareness to illnesses, diseases and disabilities that often times seem to go unnoticed.  One week during the year, the third week of October is the time to share your journey with invisible disabilities.  This year, that week is October 15th through the 21st, is “Invisible Disabilities awareness week”.  During this wek, we will be posing many interactive posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  These are where you can share your personal stories, advocacy, favorite people, places, pets and anything else like this that you wish to share. This is YOUR week to meet new friends, post a video or share  stories with others.  The reason for this is that we want to show you that you are “INVISIBLE NO MORE” and just because people say “but you look good”; doesn’t mean that nothing is wrong on the inside.

This is how this week will play out:  On Monday we want you to “share your story”.  You can post as much or as little as you wish. You can post a photo collage with a story underneath, or you can make a *short and sweet video (about 2 minutes is best). Please note that you can post your story throughout the week, but Monday is the starting date for this activity.  On Tuesday we will be sharing stories of why invisible disabilities awareness is important in your life. You can make a video or a photo collage about your life and the millions of others who live with illness and pain that goes unseen sometimes. If you have the Invisible Disabilites glow-in-dark wristband, t-shirt or lapel pin; please wear it (you can buy them at the IDA website at:  www.InvisibleDisabilities.org).  If you have none or some of these, you can just choose a blue hat, scarf and/or a blue shirt. Invisible Disabilities Association wants to “turn the internet blue for millions living with Invisible Disabilities.  IDA is on  Instagram at: http://www.Instagram.com/invisibledisabilities, on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/InvDisabilities and on Facebook at:  www.Facebook.com/InvisibleDisabilities. You can use the tag #InvisibleDisabilitiesWeek.

Just to give you a little bit of background about I.D.A.; they were founded in 1996. Their mission is to “encourage, educate and connect people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe”.  They believe that “together we can make a difference in our communities and around the world.”

But now I just want to tell you a little bit about my friend Sherri Connell was an actress, dancer and loved to dance and sing. When she was 27 years old she lost the ability to take care of herself. She was diagnosed with progressive Multiple Sclerosis and she was in a wheelchair paralyzed.  At first friends and family were understanding and supportive.  She has been able to regain some use of her legs with a lot of work and effort. She still finds it difficult to stand and walk around.  But because suddenly the other people in her life could no longer “see” how the MS was disabling, they stopped being as understanding. It was not the wheelchair that kept her from her career, but the disabling fatigue, cognitive dysfunctions, horrible pain and dizziness too.  She could not care for her own daily needs.

Sherri’s husband Wayne, decided to try and tell people; help to educate their friends and family about her disabilities and illness.  He published a few writings from her daily journals onto a website. They thought long and hard and then decided on the name “Invisible Disabilities Association”.  Sherri quickly found out that she was not the only one, because she received numerous emails from people all over the world.  These people reiterated that they too, had felt alone and felt like nobody understood what they were going through because sometimes it was or is “invisible”. Then it became Wayne and Sherri’s passion to help others with disabling conditions by first believing them, and then by being compassionate, supportive and hopeful.

So then, in 1996, Wayne founded the Invisible Disabilities Association (a 501(c)3); with a mision to “Encourage, Educate and Connect People, Organizations Touched by Illness, Pain and Disability Around the  Globe”!  If you have any questions, you can reach out to Sherri Mitchell Connell or Wayne Connell on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also find them through the IDA website listed above.  Let’s all have a great week of spreading the awareness of Invisible Disabilities, Invisible Pain and Illnesses that go unnoticed to others at times, but never to those of us who live with it on a daily basis.

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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 & RSD/CRPS.  I’m also 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


From Mini Van to Wheelchair In 10 Seconds!


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I awaken each day; the first thing that I do is cry. I cry because I’m in pain and it is as though someone stepped on my back in the night and feels “broken”.  My husband hears my cries and he goes and gets my pain medication. Medication that I’ve taken since 2005; and never more but sometimes less. He proceeds to start making breakfast, coffee and give tap water to our Cat. It’s her favorite thing in the morning aside from running up the stairs to get me after about 20-30 minutes. My husband says “Luna, go and get Momma”!  She bolts up the stairs and “Meows” at me to get up. She doesn’t stop until I am upright and together we go down the stairs. It’s almost 7:00 am, and most likely I just went to bed at 4:00 am. I have some tea and toast. We chat a bit and he goes to work.

I have choices to make and they are not easy ones. My oldest daughter only lives 2 or 3 blocks away, with her husband and our two eldest granddaughters, ages 4 and 2 1/2.  We see each other often but it’s so hard for me to fight the deep, deep fatigue and pain to do  a lot of outings and I just am not able to babysit alone, without my husband there.  I think it upsets her and I feel so bad inside because I cannot do what I wish I could do. The first year and a half that we were reunited (**my daughter left home at age 18 and was away for 10 years. This is not a story about those very sad times. This is about the reuniting of a family that was broken because of a car accident.  My daughters were used to me being and doing everything and suddenly I could not do anything, not even dress myself. My eldest ran from the pain and surgeries), I think I ran on adrenaline.  I saw her/them daily and then afterwards, I came home and crashed. Was that fair to my husband? No, it wasn’t! Did he say one word about it to me? No, because he was so happy to see my heart whole again. It was broken for 10 years!

So now it’s been about 3 years and so much has happened. I lost my Dr. of 12 years and the old pain medications that made easier for me to do more, it seemed.  My pain Dr. is much better now and the regimen that I’m on is safer.  But I’m unable to do the activities that I wish to do with them.  If I was the person that I had been, I would be making snow angels with them in the snow.  I’d be baking cookies and running around playing tag and “Duck, Duck Goose”. I do play some “sit down” (for me) games with them and we have tea parties. We watch Disney movies and I love it when they sit close to me and play with my hair. I used to take my walker to the zoo or on daily outings. I sat down when I was tired and I just was happy to be together.  I’m still so very happy to have everyone together. I could never have had a happy life without both of my daughters and my grandchildren it.

Time has changed me and now I am tired and in pain much faster;  more deep than before. In 2013, my CRPS changed from being in my feet and knees; to “severe systemic and disseminated”.  It happened after what was supposed to be a 45 minute surgery but turned out to be a 3 hour heart and pectoral muscle rebuild surgery.  I’ve never recovered and have felt a deep deep fatigue since then. If I do something for 2 hours one day, then I’m in my recliner for the rest of the day. I don’t want it to be this way, I don’t like it at all.  I want to spend a whole day at the zoo with my granddaughters.  I feel that my oldest daughter gets so frustrated when I cannot do the things I pushed myself to do at the beginning.  Nobody understands “Invisible Illnesses”, not even our own families or friends. We used to go to dinner each Friday with my best friend and her husband. I’ve cancelled a few times in this past year and now I can feel a difference.  Things that I wish I could do, I no longer am able to do.  I love and look forward to babysitting when my husband is home and he is with me.  He is there so that when I start to be too tired and in too much pain, he takes over.

But I lose friends and have lost people related to me. My own family cousin, who’d been my best friend for years; stopped talking with us after the car accident.  My husband had called and asked her to come over because I could not be left alone at the beginning. I couldn’t dress or undress myself.  I couldn’t even go to the rest room without help.  My cousin and another person who was a good friend of ours, told Craig “No, I just can’t help because it’s too sad.  When I get sad, then my family is sad and I cannot do that to them.” She took herself out of my life and so did the rest of my cousins, and family.  I called my own brother after the accident from the hospital. I had been unconscious and when I finally got to a room, I tried to reach for the phone and missed. I hit my cheek instead.  I called the only number that stuck in my head due to the TBI, it was my oldest brother. He answered the phone and I told him I ‘d been in a car accident, a bad one. I told him I was in the hospital and he answered back by saying, “Oh…you need someone? …..CLICK” and he hung up on me. Craig is my hero and the only person who’s ever truly loved me unconditionally. He’s there when I need him and when I think I don’t think I need him so much.

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What Is A Chiari Migraine?


Arnold Chiari Malformation is definitely a tongue twister. The other name that it goes by, is “Syringomyelia”, and that’s not any easier. It is also something that I was likely born with. Sometimes type I or II are an intra-uterine abnormality in which the tonsils of the brain become herniated and the “foramen magnum is enlarged. The defect that happens during fetal development can be genetic or lack of proper vitamins/nutrients in the maternal diet.
CM occurs in as many as 1 in every 1,000 births. That number is even a little higher now, due to technology and more MRI’s that are being done. In many cases it is “sleeping” and the person doesn’t know that they have it. Sometimes here are no symptoms until adulthood and other people usually just go along with their life in a normal fashion with no problems at all. Although if you were in an auto accident or have had extreme whiplash; these things can “awaken” the Chiari Malformation. Babies that are born with it, may have trouble feeding, swallowing and gaining weight. There are four different kinds of Chiari, but type I and II are seen most often. The other types are diagnosed when an infant is born normally, because they are so much more serious. Type I is the one that I live with and it’s the more mild form. Type I sometimes never causes any symptoms unless or until a person is either injured or reaches adulthood. 

In 1983, I was struck from behind by a drunk driver, while stopped at a red light. I suffered a forceful whiplash and had many headaches after that injury. I was a person who hadn’t complained of headaches prior to that whiplash. Later, in 2002, my husband and I were driving and a man ran through a red light. Our car was totaled; and I suffered a TBI, a forceful whiplash and multiple injuries followed by many surgeries.

In all of the Chiari’s there are changes or malformations with the “tonsils of the brain” and where the neck and spinal cord meet. Any kind of injuries to the head and/or neck can bring about symptoms of Chiari I malformation. The part of the brain called the “tonsils” or “hindbrain” can become swollen and then they don’t fit well into the spinal cord. In my case, this causes what is called “Chiari Migraines”. What also happens sometimes is that the Cerebellum, which is the “balance center” of the brain, pushes itself into the spinal cord and this “pushing” of the cerebellum can cause headaches and other neck pain and compression to nerves. The problems come when part of your skull is abnormally small or misshapen, pressing on your brain and forcing it downward.

The kind of headaches that occur from Chiari are various and may be only sometimes “on/off” or they can be often and persistent. My pain is in the back of my lower head and top of my neck. Others have pain anywhere from the forehead, the neck and/or the back of head. The pain from CM can become worse when you move your neck too much by way of coughing or straining. I am unable to hold my head up for long periods of time without terrible pain and weakness.

In some cases, with this medical issue, there may be other problems that are found. In conjunction with the head/neck pain and weakness; a patient may have a lack of coordination, a hard time swallowing, Nystagmus or Impaired eye movements, sensory sensitivities and other issues. Arnold Chiari Malformation can only be diagnosed by an MRI to the brain and spinal cord. A CT scan cannot see it and therefore is not used as a diagnostic test for Chiari.

If the Malformation to the “tonsils” of the brain is severe, or if the pain is very intense and debilitating; surgery is needed to relieve some of the pressure and relieve the symptoms.

If you have Chairi I and you don’t need surgery, then treatment is usually just to relieve symptoms as they occur. Physicians like to keep the pressure under control and they use medications for that. Genetics testing has been researched and they have found that in some families there is genetic factor present. Researchers are still continuing to search for the genes that cause this Chiari Malformation.

A Day in The Life of A Brain Injury


           A Day In The Life of A Brain Injury

One day during the Summer of 2002, the sun was shining and my husband and I were walking hand in hand, sipping lemonade at an outdoor Art Fair. We were enjoying the warm air and each other’s company as we walked hand in hand. Afterwards, we’d decided to go into town for dinner because our two teenage daughters were busy with friends for the day. 

We were driving on our way to dinner when suddenly, I heard my husband shout out “OH NO!” I looked and saw a car coming straight at us. Instinctively, I pulled my legs up to my chin into the fetal position and screamed. What happened afterwards is a blur, but I do remember hearing a very loud noise upon impact and then the smell of smoke. Next, there was only a dead silence. I remember wondering if we were dead for about a nano second. Suddenly everything went dark and silent. That’s all I remember about that day, except short little pictures in my mind of the ambulance ride, hospital & ER..

Once I was admitted to the hospital, I do recall being very upset because I could not walk. No one would come to help me when I tried to call for the nurses. It was hard to use the “nurse call” button because my rotator cuffs were torn in both shoulders. Both of my knees had torn Meniscus’ and I had a ruptured Biceps tendon. There were just too many injuries and then the multiple surgeries that followed for many years. I have Degenerative Disc Disease and suffered multiple herniated and bulging discs at C4/5/6 and L4-5/S-1 with Radiculopathy. I had an MRI which showed that I was most likely born with Arnold Chiari Malformation I. It must have been “sleeping” all of those years, the Dr.’s told me. They explained that between the severe whiplash from that MVA & a whiplash that I suffered from a previous car accident; my Chiari had been awakened. I could not hold my head up at all. The pain was horrible and intense. My husband says that when they were doing my X-rays back in the ER; I was screaming because it was so painful. He said that I was crying out so loudly, that people standing in the hallway left; because they could not handle listening to the painful screams. I mostly remember my back and neck hurting so badly that I could think of nothing else.

My husband also told me that he kept trying to tell the Dr.’s that “something was not right” about me. He thought that I was acting very different from my “normal” personality. He said that when he told them I was acting “not myself”, they sent up a Psych consult. Then they told him that “I couldn’t handle the pain because of the abuse I suffered growing up and in my past marriage”. He didn’t know what to say although he knew that could not be true because I hadn’t been “different” just before the accident? After only 5 days in the hospital, and after their lack of being proactive to help me with my pain and injuries; my husband signed me out against medical advice. He took me to the Neurologist who had known me for 3 years at that point.

The Neurologist really got the “ball rolling” and had me tested for anything and everything that could have been wrong. At that point I was in a wheelchair, could not hold my head up and needed a yardstick behind my head/neck with a pillow on it. My husband rigged up a way to help me have something to rest my head upon. I could not dress myself, go to the bathroom alone or even cut my own food.

We finally found out what was truly wrong. Our questions were answered when I was diagnosed with a TBI or “Traumatic Brain Injury”. I went through 6 months of intense PT, OT and speech therapy. After that, I was in Physical therapy for 8 more years and brain injury rehabilitation for 3 full years. The brain injury rehabilitation was done after I’d done poorly on the Neuro-psych testing. Over the next 3 years, I was in a brain injury rehabilitation program. I was there Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. I had to have a driving company take me to and from the rehab center daily because I was unable to drive due to pain and nerve injuries.

I could not comprehend what I was reading and had a hard time finding the right words to use while speaking. I was more than forgetful and couldn’t remember my phone number, social security number or my own address. The tests showed that my short term memory was terribly low. I went to speech therapy, Physical and occupational therapy and had to re-learn how to drive via Drivers Rehab training. I did pass in the end, but can only drive a few miles for personal errands. They told me they were afraid that I might get someplace and not be able to find my car in the parking lot. Also, the nerve injuries in my legs, knees, lower back and neck; make driving terribly difficult and fatiguing.

It was and is very frustrating to go from graduating with honors and having a “photographic memory” to not be able to read a full book any longer. I had read the first 4 “Harry Potter” books and was in the middle of the 5th book, when the accident happened. I still cannot and have not been able to finish the rest of the books in that series. Whenever I’ve tried to read any books since that time; I end up reading, reading again and then re-reading. Every time I put the book down and then try to return to pick up where I had left off; I cannot remember most of what happened before that point. I’ve tried audio books and it is just the same. I try to listen and whenever I stop and try to go back to it; I’ve forgotten the whole beginning again. This brain injury has changed my life because I have issues with: double vision, severe dry eye, incomplete blinks, prisms in my glasses and continued worsening lowered vision. I have a moderate hearing loss and have 2 hearing aids now; when ironically, I was an Interpreter for the Deaf before that car accident. I worked at a major University hospital, Interpreting for Deaf patients and also at a school for the Deaf with Deaf children. My life was and is changed forever because someone was distracted and then ran through a red light. My husband’s life and the lives of my daughters were also changed forever in the blink of an eye. I had been a very involved mother who cooked, cleaned, did laundry and drove a mini van full of teenagers. I still made sure that I went in my wheelchair to every swim meet and dance competition. I didn’t want them to think my love or support for them had changed in any way.

I wanted to mention that I still have bad migraines, usually they are “Chiari” migraines. I have balance issues and my personality changed in that I get very emotional now, when I wasn’t like that before the TBI. I also have a hard time making decisions; along with having the same issues that I’ve had since the MVA. If you have had a closed head injury, a TBI or an MTBI, please contact Brain Injury Association for information.