Take Our Hand – The US Pain Foundation


Take our Hand- The US Pain Foundation

It’s the New Year of 2018 and I’m reflecting on this past year, 2017. Many people ask me about the US Pain Foundation. They ask me “what does the US Pain Foundation do? What are they doing to help with the Opioid crisis?” I thought I’d explain what they are doing and what kinds of things that I do, as an Ambassador for US Pain.

The first thing to know is that they are not about accolades nor do they have a need to be in the spotlight. They do so much for those of us who live with chronic pain. They rarely ask for anything. I have noticed that when I do fundraisers; they’re more interested in how many people were helped with “Awareness”?

But for right now, I’d really like to inform you of some of the different projects that are going on within this non profit organization. Right now there are so many people being affected by issue of chronic pain patients being under or untreated. They are also being quickly tapered off of their life saving and life giving pain medications. US Pain Foundation saw a need and heard the cries of the pain community and they responded. I also want you to know that they are not all about “rescuing” people; but rather, teaching and giving the tools so that people can help themselves. If you visit USPainfoundation.org; you’ll see a myriad of resources to help.

One of the many things they are doing for the chronic pain community is that they and 31 other patient & professional organizations/groups have submitted a letter to Congress. In December 2017, these groups sent a letter urging Congress not to repeal the Ensuring Patient Access & Effective Drug Enforcement Of 2016. If it is repealed, this would hurt protections for chronic pain patients. This law would stop the DEA from limiting controlled substance pain medication distribution in a transparent way; also lacking due process and/or safety! (see this article: https://USPainfoundation.org/news/-31-organizations-speak-repeal-Patient-access-act/ )

The entire move to repeal was ignited by the “60 Minutes”story”EX-DEA agent: Opioid Crisis-fueled by Drug Industry and Congress”, which was on TV in October 2017. The persons at US Pain who deal with many of these kinds of issues, are: Shaina Smith, the Director of state Advocacy & Alliance Development.and Cindy Steinberg, the National Director of state Advocacy.

The US Pain Foundation is being very proactive for patients during this time of unrest and uncertainty. They have devised a plan for patients.. This plan can be printed out and used by patients during an emergent situation; such as being dropped from their pain physician or if they feel desperate and/or suicidal. There’s an article and resource here: The US Pain Foundation is here to help. Here’s a plan to print out & use if you’re denied pain treatment .

Lastly, I wanted to end with this quote from this article: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2017/11/05/when-Patients-have-give-up-their-pain-medicine-Opioids/776067001 , that I truly was inspired by, “Legitimate patients with chronic pain are being forgotten,” said Paul Gileno president and founder of the US pain foundation. “The disease of addiction is taking over the disease of pain and everyone is forgetting about the Pain Patient.” It is the truth and the US Pain Foundation is trying to give Chronic pain patients the tools needed to feel more empowered. They also have designed a new app called “Ouchie”, where you can keep a log of your pain journey. Then there is Ellen Smith who is helping with another alternative to Opioids, which is medical marijuana. Ellen is a Board Member and she does webinars and teaches people about the correct use of medical marijuana.

There is a whole Myriad of options for programs and resources found on the US Pain Foundation website. We have Awareness programs, Educational programs, Support programs and fundraising programs. So please go and have a look around at www.uspainfoundation.org . You are welcome to always ask me anything, but please know that the US Pain Foundation is there for all of us!

(These views are my own & not necessarily the views of the US Pain Foundation)

Becoming Incurable Magazine Feature


Hello Luvs

I’m really excited to share this with you today! The US Pain Foundation has teamed with Victoria Suan, the producer, creator & Director of her Documentary “Becoming Incurable “. I’d written to you about 6 weeks ago regarding the feature film etc. But today I want to share this online magazine that she’s made to compliment the video compilations and her Documentary!

I am the middle of 3 persons being featured in this online magazine. I’m being featured for the illness of CRPS. This is thrilling and just so very exciting to be a part of this beautiful project to spread awareness of chronic pain and illness.

Becoming Incurable magazine feature

Introduction To: Inside Incurable Lives


We see so much in print these days about the “addicted”, the “overdoses”, the “bad guys” that are posting incorrect information all over the internet and about the opioid crisis.  Of course it seems as though only those of us living with daily chronic pain, truly understand that the “crisis” is indeed one of the pain patients “falling through the cracks”. Being-untreated or under treated and then committing suicide or having to spend the rest of their lives in agony.  This is the true “Opioid Crisis”.  But then I saw a short clip of a very well spoken, kind young woman named Victoria Suan.  She was asking for volunteers to help with an upcoming video compilation called “Inside Incurable Lives”, that she was doing for Social media.  She was going to follow a few stories of persons living with daily chronic pain and show how it affects their lives. I responded to her request and sent in some video clips; as did several other chronic pain patients. The first Social media video compilation called “Inside Incurable Lives, Episode 1”,  came out in September 2017.  In the second video compilation, Victoria was asking if chronic pain patients would be able to tell her “What one pain medication, would they not be able to live without?” Secondly, “If your Dr. Could no longer provide this, what would you do?”  The second video compilation project, “Inside Incurable Lives Episode 2”, focused on the voices of pain patients and their views regarding access or lack of access to opioid pain medications as well as medical marijuana. Episode  2  finished and posted in October. I was happy to be able to participate in both of these projects. I’m trying to help with this crisis in any way that I can. Later, I will be providing the links to these 2 video compilations for Social media. But first, I want you to introduce you to Victoria Suan, and her feature Documentary “Becoming Incurable”.

Victoria lives in California and since High school, she was interested in becoming a filmmaker. She graduated from Sacramento State with a Communications degree. She started creating short documentaries during college and then afterwards she decided that she wanted to make a feature documentary. She started researching blogs and video’s on YouTube. From there she discovered the chronic illness community. Victoria found through her research, what she describes as “a wonderful support network of people who are giving one another validation as they deal with the frustrations of chronic pain.”  She told me that she was thrilled by what she saw, and inspired. She decided to create a feature documentary about “chronic illness through intimate stories of real people living with chronic pain”. Starting out with her cousin who lives with Dystonia and a friend with another incurable condition, she then found her third featured person for the documentary. She describes the 8 or 9 months of filming as a “wonderful journey”.

The two video compilations on social media, that I participated in, were an extension of her feature documentary. Victoria then made a Facebook page and it became a platform for the chronic illness and pain communities.  She has become a “voice” for those of us who live with pain & chronic illnesses and she is showing our side of this painful journey.   She also wants to do whatever she can so people learn about her feature documentary. 

Before we get to the two video compilations in which the chronic pain communitiy on Facebook participated; I’d like to share some of Victoria Suan’s views about the opioid crisis.  I feel that it is very important to listen to the views of others who are neither patient, politician nor physician. Now that she has become close to several of us from the shorter video’s; I asked what her thoughts and feelings are, regarding what is happening to the chronic pain community? Her response was very heartfelt and thoughtful. Victoria told me that regarding the opioid crisis, she “really feels for the families and individuals that are dealing with addiction. Sadly, there aren’t enough ways to treat addiction without affecting the millions of chronic pain patients in our society.”  She told me that she’d read that Governor Chris Christie blames hospitals and physicians for starting this opioid epidemic. She wondered “how would a person dealing with chronic pain feel about this? How ignored and betrayed they must feel.  Is it wrong to eliminate a torturous level of pain by taking medication as prescribed by Dr.s?”  My own feelings are that politicians seem to not really care as long as it doesn’t touch them or their own families.  Victoria agrees that they just don’t want to listen to this. She feels that as chronic pain patients, we should not have to fight so hard just to be heard, really listened to.  But we are trying to fight because our very lives depend on it.

Victoria feels that it is “sad that one governors personal opinion can do more to influence legislation than the voices of millions of chronic pain patients.” She is happy that there are News outlets such as this and others, along with non profit organizations, such as the U.S. Pain Foundation; that are educating the public about chronic pain.  Victoria thinks that the film industry; especially a film called “Unrest” that is touring worldwide; and her documentary, “Becoming Incurable”, show that efforts are being made to educate and inform the general public about chronic pain.

Lastly, I wondered what she has learned from doing the 2 video compilations and the documentary film. She mentioned that she hadn’t realized before doing this, how difficult it is for people living with chronic pain to “do normal tasks, such as getting out of bed and/or going to the grocery store”.  I think that it taught her and hopefully will teach others about “Invisible Illnesses”.  She says that actually seeing these people in their pain, made her “truly acknowledge what life is like with chronic pain and illness”.  She feels that these projects taught her that each person has their own unique story to tell. She has figured out through these projects, that we are united in our pain yet each of our situations vary widely. I want to share with you in Victoria’s words, what she wants people to learn from watching “Becoming Incurable”. She hopes that people “will see these video compilations showcasing pain patients and stand with organizations that are fighting for the chronic illness community.  If our government continues on this path of neglect, I’m certain that chronic pain patients will be forced to fight a human rights issue.  I think this has already begun, as we are learning the numbers of chronic illness patients committing suicide.  It is important that we speak and act now in order to invalidate a campaign that deems anyone taking opioid medication as a suspect of the addiction problem.

Here are the links to the 2 video compilations of “Inside Incurable Lives” by film producer, Victoria Suan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjrJnriz6y8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CuFEgnz8yA

https://www.flipsnack.com/becomingincurable/inside-incurable-lives-issue-1.html?0=becomingincurable

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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A Body Of Hope



Hello Luvs,

I was reading my news feed today, feeling very much alone in my pain. I have a wonderful husband who does so much and he’s my soul-mate. I have two lovely daughters and 3 granddaughters, ages 1,3 & almost 5!

We had the 2 older ones sleep over last night. So far we have only had the eldest spend the night. That was easy and awesome. I love them all the same! They are my little blessings. But now I’m in so much pain, that I read the following post with tears in my Eyes. I feel like I’m swimming against the current bcz I try so hard to be upbeat and as “good as I can be”! Today’s been really tough and I’m hard on myself ! This writing is beautiful and the writer is not only a long time friend & Facebook friend; but she’s a talented writer. I have reposted her writing here, to share with you her beautiful words. She has a blog called “A Body Of Hope”. I hope you’ll check it out! Without further hesitation, here’s Mary Mattio’s beautiful words:

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~If you’re having a bad day…this is for you
You have every right to feel overwhelmed, as though no one understands, maybe you feel afraid, or even hopeless. As far as I know, everyone living with long term illness understands these feelings. I know I do.

Illness, pain, long-suffering literally deprives the brain of the chemicals and hormones needed to feel happiness and at peace. It’s not pain or illness alone that causes depression, but the high levels of stress, constantly, over a long period of time that can inhibit the production of important nerve cells. The “optimistic” neurotransmitters like, serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine are no longer in balance to counter the feelings of uselnessness, loneliness, and hopelessness. What might be a passing thought, thanks to the rigors of chronic illness, becomes a spiraling pit of despair. Pain gets into your very soul, and exhausts every resource. 

This month is my 13 year anniversary with chronic pain (RSD/CRPS). When I became very ill 6 yrs ago, after several more illnesses struck suddenly, I felt as though I completely disappeared. Illness and pain swallowed me up.

If anyone is reading this and is being swallowed up, then you know it’s the loneliest feeling in the world to watch everyone go on and live happy lives while you fight for your own life in the shadows. Being drowned by an invisible adversary can seem like a practical joke. Everyone is in disbelief it could be “that bad.” But truly, aren’t we all in disbelief that it’s this bad?

I want to tell you what your brain would tell you if she were allowed to work at her full potential. I want to share what your soul is crying out for that pain has blocked. 

You have a purpose, you always have. Your purpose did not end when you were diagnosed. A calling is not just a job, purpose goes beyond the walls of a building. You are meant to be. 

You are enough. You are just as worthy and amazing as you always have been. Even though you might feel weak, you are gaining strength of character, wisdom, and you are learning things from this battle that no one can ever take from you. Please don’t accept the lie that you’re a failure, you are not. You are in the midst of the fight of your life. We can’t allow ourselves to believe we are losing. If your daughter, son, or grandparent were suffering from the very same condition as you, what would you want to tell them? 

You can do this. Though you may be exhausted and even fragile right now, you aren’t even sure how you’ll go on another day. The pain is pushing you over the edge of what you can bare…but somehow you have risen to meet every single day before this. Remember every treatment, surgery, and frustrating doctor appointment. Never forget how many miles you have walked already. You have overcome so many impossible days. Just get through this day. Tomorrow is not for today. 

You are beautiful. Sometimes we lose touch with our bodies, to separate and protect ourselves. Weight gain or weight loss, hair loss or teeth changes, swelling or skin changes…. we can look in the mirror and see a complete stranger staring back. You may not look or feel as you once did, but you can still get to know this amazing, lovely, and beautiful person. You are worthy of love. (PS. it’s ok to take selfies even if you don’t look like your old pictures!) People love you for all of you. You don’t have to appear perfect, no one is.

You are still the same person. Illness has a tricky way of detaching us from the longing of our past, splitting us apart from the face in the mirror, and isolating us from our loved ones. Who we were can float away, and illness begins to take us over. You are still her! You are still on your journey. Your path, your life, your experience is no less meaningful than anyone else’s. 

One last thing that I think your brain would want to remind you… Things won’t be this way forever. Chronic conditions change over time. Life changes. Our perspectives change. Yes, any day your condition could progress and worsen. Or any day, you could begin to improve or go into remission. The truth is that we hear about progression and complications 10x more (TEN TIMES MORE) than we hear about people regaining health and wellness. There is no doctor or article online that can assure you of what tomorrow will hold. As much as your body and mind yell words like “incurable, degenerative, progressive, comorbidities,” instead let HOPE be your weapon of choice. 

As illness continues to speak its lies to us, we must scream back truth to ourselves so loudly that every part of us can hear!

-Mary Mattio

@abodyofhope
“The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they may both lead to the same destination.”

-Marion Zimmer Bradley

How Great Thou Art -ASL


A beautiful song was in my soul today! I went to church and asked if I could use the chapel! So this is “How Great Thou Art” sung by Carrie Underwood! I hope you get chills like I do!