Silent World


September marks the beginning of Deaf Awareness Month 2019. In light of this, I will be bringing you a few blog posts during this month, about the subjects of deafness, Deaf vs. deaf, ASL, Deaf history & Deaf culture, etc.

Today, I want to take a moment to truly introduce another part of my “story” to all of you. Most of you know much about me already. You also know a lot about my pain journey already, if you’ve been following this blog at all. But you may not know much information about some other aspects of my journey. You might have seen my songs done in ASL (American Sign Language) at my YouTube channel: ASLSuzyQ .

I’ve been married for 23.5 years to my soul-mate & the Love of my life, Craig. He’s been an Elementary school teacher for 40 years now & is retired as of June 2018. We have 2 daughters who are married and 3 granddaughters & 1 grandson: Olivia-6yrs, McKenzie-5yrs. & Kiera-3 yrs & Bryce-9 months. I am high Moderate Hard of Hearing (on left) & (mostly) Deaf (on right). I had been mild HoH (Hard of Hearing) since childhood but didn’t get my 1st hearing aids until 2002. But in May 2019, I was diagnosed with an auditory tumor, called “Cholesteatoma”. Which turned out to actually be a rare disease because it often times comes back (50%/50% chance). It has caused pretty much total silence in my right ear. The Cholesteatoma (More information about Cholesteatoma ) had diseased my eardrum, hearing bones & mastoid by the time it was discovered & removed surgically on 7-26-19.

In short, I will tell you that I started out in life, totally hearing. By age 11, I had so much scar tissue in my ears L>R, from multiple ruptured eardrums, that I had a mild hearing loss. I babysat for a Deaf family with 6 Deaf children. My friend, Judy W. & I babysat as a team. I was fascinated to be able to talk without speaking. I was excited about learning ASL. These kids went to a residential school & they taught me colors, numbers, finger-spelling and everyday conversational signs. We played games like “Monopoly” and we played “school” & “house” etc.

I received ASL books for each holiday and I learned all that I could on my own. I went to college, then it was the only 4-year Sign Language studies/Interpreting program. After my 3rd year, my Aunt (who lived in AZ) called to tell me that she saw a job opening for an “Assistant Teacher” at a Deaf preschool. The requirements stated that a “college degree was required”. But I’d tested out of my first two college ASL classes & I practically lived in the dorm with 16 Deaf friends. We did everything together and I was just accepted lovingly by them. I’d been already Interpreting for the college classes at my own College, & I was doing Deaf/Blind medical Interpreting. So I flew 2,000 miles and applied for the job. I was so very excited to get the job, over others who had their degrees already. I worked at the Deaf school and I found a wonderful church youth group where I was involved in Interpreting for weekly church services. I also got involved in a an ASL drama (with choreography) group, called “Silent Impressions Productions”. We put on beautiful productions of ASL /choreographed songs & dances with gorgeous costumes. People paid $10 each, to come to our production at ASU. I was in “Nights on Broadway”, “One”(from Chorus Line) & “Hello Dolly”! It was such great fun! I was also in an ASL & Interpretive dance Christian group, called “Silent Praise”!

I had the best 2 years of my younger life ! It was such fun! I did miss home & my friends. I also needed & wanted to go back & finish my degree!

I came back home & finished college. Afterwards I was so excited to land a job as a school district Interpreter by day and as a University, “night classes” Interpreter, at my Alma Mater. I later married and had two children. At that time, with 2 small young children, I just Interpreted the night classes for several years. I continued with the medical Interpreting for Deaf/Blind.

I was in An abusive marriage and after 8 years, I got the courage to get my 2 baby girls & myself out! We went to a domestic violence shelter. I was so proud that My babies & I left on a Saturday early evening; & by Monday afternoon I had a full time job as a professional Interpreter for a school district. I Interpreted for the High school, Middle school & Elementary school.

So to speed things up a bit…. I divorced & re-married 7 or 8 years later. In the meantime I was offered a job with much more money & great medical benefits. I would be a Secretarial “float” (meaning that I had to learn everyone’s jobs so that I could cover for them). I had to learn 500 Drs schedules. I was also assigned to be the research secretary for a well known lung transplant doctor. I wore a pager and was paged multiple times weekly; if not daily, to interpret for Deaf patients who came into the hospital for either an appointment or to the ER.

One night that I particularly remember, I got called from home after I’d already gone home; to interpret for a Deaf patient. He was in the emergency room having a heart attack. I had to be precise in telling the doctors exactly how the patient was feeling. It was then, that I realized Just how very important an Interpreters job really is.

All was going well until the end of Summer in 2002. I was with my husband at a Summer art fair on a lazy Weekend day. During the drive home, we were going through a green light when another person, a man, went through a red light and crashed into our minivan. We were “T-boned”! It was classified as a “catastrophic” accident. My kids were not in the car! I thank God for that always! My husband was not hurt, but he was bruised up a bit.

Unfortunately, I was unconscious and ended up having multiple injuries and many surgeries. All in all, I also acquired several high impact chronic pain illnesses. Some of these include: Systemic RSD/CRPS, Polyneuropathy in Collagen Vascular Disease (aka EDS Type 4/heart & vascular), Degenerative Disc, Disease with multiple herniated & bulging discs at C5,6,7 & L4,5 & S-1 (along with spinal stenosis), Chronic Kidney Disease stage 2, Dysautonomia/POTs, a Pacemaker/AFib/Long QT syndrome, RA, Gastroparesis & more, including Cholesteatoma now as well. There’s more but I won’t bore you with all of that! I will add that I suffered a TBI that gave me lowered vision (prisms & convergence insufficiency) & hearing loss (I acquired 2 hearing aids in 2002-3 after the MVA). The TBI was such that I required brain injury rehab for 3 years.

After the Cholesteatoma & Surgery, I now identify as “Deaf/HoH”. The reason for this change (from HoH), is because now I can hear pretty much nothing in my right ear. The left ear is hugh moderate/severe hearing loss. I’ve received two new Signia hearing aids & I’ll be re-tested again each year.

I’ve stayed a strong advocate for Deaf/HoH. I fight oppression, audism & ableism alongside the Deaf community. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram ASLSuzyQ Instagram , Twitter ASLSuzyQ Twitter, Facebook My ASLSuzyQ Facebook Artist/video creator page and my Facebook group ASL Express Facebook group and YouTube My ASLSuzyQ YouTube channel . My ASL group on Facebook is called “ASL Express”. We express ourselves using ASL & with this group, I try to bridge the gap between Hearing, Deaf & Hard of Hearing worlds. I try to expose beginners to Deaf history, Deaf culture & Deaf community. For the more advanced and/or native and/or ASL fluent; we have a comfortable place to share & hang out online!

September is Deaf Awareness Month (short 2 1/2 min video)

Strength Lies In Numbers


Let me introduce you to our newest family member. This is our first & only grandson, “Baby Bryce” aka “Bubba”. He was taken by ambulance from the pediatricians office on Friday morning (11-30-18). He was de-stating during feeding. He’d turned blue and his oxygen went as low as 40%. I received a phone call from my very frightened youngest daughter (his Mommy) & then I was sent the photo above, of my sweet newborn grandson in an ambulance. He looked so small and so helpless and that is exactly his his mommy & daddy felt. It is precisely how I felt as a mother and a grandmother. It’s been 5 days……

I want to update you on baby Bryce; but first I want to say what amazing daughters, their in-laws & son in laws we have! When they say “it takes a village to raise a child” I now know the true meaning of this. I also know the true meaning of “strength lies numbers”….. it’s been a difficult time seeing my daughter struggle, weep and see her newborn baby, our sweet Baby, Bryce struggle to breathe and watch his oxygen go down to 40%. Our usual jolly son in law has become serious over these last 5 days. They are living in a nightmare of fear. We all are. But as parents, it’s the #1 fear to feel & be helpless while doing all that you can to be there for your child. All the while, Drs & nurses at Motts Children’s Hospital, are life savers and thank God for their healing skills.

But we have banned together as a family and I admire the love and strength that I’m seeing. We got the sheer joy & chance just a few weeks ago to have a couple of “sleepovers” with our dear, sweet Kiera when her baby brother was born. We went back twice on the last day (we have a kitty at home who’s afraid of most everything & everyone so we chose to make the drive back home to check on her for a few hours) to make sure we had the pleasure of being there when they brought baby Bryce home and to make sure Kiera always felt safe & loved while Mommy & Daddy were at the hospital. We went back for several days to be there for the happiness, joy and to do whatever is needed to keep “my own baby” feeling safe and loved and to help keep her firstborn baby, Kiera, in some sort of routine.

Last Friday morning I heard the fear in my youngest daughters voice. I saw the photo of our beautiful, yet fragile 2 1/2 week old newborn baby, Bryce, being put into an ambulance. My heart was in my throat, my stomach was in knots & tears filled my eyes. This is where I asked God to please make me as strong as I’ve ever been. *(side note: since the majority of my pain medication has been taken away, I’ve literally been sitting in my recliner the majority of every day). I asked for strength so that I could do whatever was needed to keep my youngest daughter, Amy & her little family feeling as safe & good as possible.

I’m so thankful that our son in law, Grant (who is such a great father), has been able to come back at night and wake up with Kiera in the mornings. He’s been able to juggle all of this with great valor! He’s been there for my daughter, his daughter & his son. Daddy’s there when Kiera to wakes up. He’s been there to give her breakfast & 6:30 am lunch at 11:30 am. He puts her down for a nap at 12-12:15 pm.. He then goes back to hospital to be there as well. We’ve been getting there during nap time and we have had the pleasure of having dinner with our darling Kiera. We’ve had the extra special joy of putting her to bed and watching over her as she sleeps soundly.

Grants parents have been there with him and Kiera most every morning and they’ve spent many hours, being there with us and with Kiera, in the evenings. They are awesome people and Kiera adores her Grandma & PawPaw. The past couple of evenings, Grants mom, Kiera & I have hunkered down to watch the “Holiday Trolls” movie. Kiera wanted to be between her Grandma and me, with the blanket over each of us. If Grandma or I had to get up for some reason, she would quickly tell us to “come back” and hunker down with her. She’s so adorable. She’s always saying “huggin” when she wants or needs extra cuddles or reassurance. On Sunday, there was not much going on with a skeleton crew at the hospital and so Grant and his parents were there with Kiera. While we stayed at home & did a few errands & went to a little extended family dinner outing.

Amy has been a champion throughout this ordeal. She’s missing her sweet Kiera and her heart is torn in two places, as only a mother or father knows. So Grant took Kiera Sunday afternoon & is taking her today to see her baby brother and her Mommy. Amy has not left her sons side for even a moment! My eldest daughter, Jessy is a very thoughtful person and she went up to the hospital Saturday and brought Amy an entire brand new outfit so she could shower & change clothes in Bryce’s room at the hospital. She was there several hours with Amy & Bryce during some testing. She had dinner from Panera, delivered to the hospital for Amy, Kiera & Grant. Jessy even brought a unicorn headband for little Kiera. She’s juggling her own family of 4, but she’s been calling Amy several times daily.

Amy’s friend, Sara, went to the hospital & brought Amy and Grant some food & stayed there several hours too.

We are blessed to have the best son in laws and all of their parents as well.

All of us are working together to make sure that Amy, Grant and Kiera are as settled as they can be. We are trying to pull together as one family, while the Drs figure out what’s going in with our dear little Baby Bryce.

Nothing else matters right ggnow, except that this little guy and his Mommy get back home and the “Fab 4” is back at home together again.

Now, I have to add that my soul-mate, My darling husband, Craig, has also been a champ!! He’s been driving the 1 hour drive there in midday and home late at night. He’s offered to get groceries and do laundry (which Grant has already taken care of!). He’s carted our home accessories, my favorite food & drinks back & forth and he’s played and read with Kiera. They adore eachother and his playfulness makes her giggle. He is my rock! I thank God for him every day.

Tragedy can bring out the best or the worst in people. In this case, the best in everyone has been shining through. To my daughters, their husbands & our grandchildren; “We are here for you all, through thick and thin. We will be here for you always. As long as humanly possible.

Tonight when Grant takes Kiera back home and puts her to bed, we will be going to see Bryce and Amy. I can’t wait to hold them both in my arms. We don’t know what is wrong with little Bryce yet. We are hoping it’s some kind of sucking, breathing & swallowing issue that will get better with some Occupational therapy. The Dr.’s are still contemplating a lung issue and test. We will know more soon, I pray.

For now please keep this little guy in your prayers. Please keep his big sister and his Mommy and Daddy in your prayers as well. God made families for a reason. It’s so clear to me that nothing matters as much as the lives that he gives us & that we help bring into this world. Strength truly does lie in numbers. I’m so thankful for those who’ve been surrounding us with love, kind words & positive energy. I’m thankful for the families God has blessed my daughters with in this life.

Why I Resigned From USPF


Hello Luvs,

It is with sadness that I write this blog post today. I would never intentionally hurt anyone. But I wanted my followers/friends in the pain community to know that this was the most difficult thing that I’ve ever had to do. I loved doing this volunteer work for USPF. They always told me that we were a “family”. Yet, the very day that I lost my Long acting/Extended release pain medication, I opened an email that was just the opposite of everything I thought we stood for. Since that email, I have contemplated resigning, but did not want to “hurt” anyone or do anything to leave them without enough board members etc. But from that day on, things just went down hill. Next, I saw a trailer for a movie that stars actress Karen Duffy and our Interim CEO, called “Balancing the Pain Scale”, that I found out has been in production for 2-3 years. As a Board member, I knew nothing about this movie until someone else alerted me. I went to the trailer and was saddened when I saw the words get “beyond the pill bottle” as I was losing the one thing that had given me some semblance of a life; and so are so many of you.

Lastly, I must add that in the past, I was sent copies of kind emails that pain patients would send in about me. I was also sent emails about patients who needed my help. I never received any emails/letters such as these since becoming a Board member. Not until a disgruntled pain patient who was removed from one of my groups for being disrespectful and unkind sent the interim CEO an email. This person spelled my name incorrectly as “Susan Stuart”, she obviously does not know me and did not know me at all. I felt belittled and reprimanded by being sent the code of ethics. Especially when the issues had nothing to do with USPF and I did not use my role in any conversations with that person. I did not receive a personal phone call, nor did anyone request any information or clarification regarding the absurd complaint; after my years of loyalty to USPF. Therefore, you can read the end result in my recent letter to the Board members below:

Dear Nicole, Wendy, Ellen, Leah & Bruce,

When I was initially asked to join the Board of Directors of the USPF, I was pleased and excited to be joining a group that I feel is  doing wonderful things and representing the interests of the pain community.

Very quickly, (due to Paul’s behaviors+)I discovered that this perception was not true. However, I decided to help shoulder the burden of guiding USPF through the trauma of the aftermath of of Paul’s mishandling of funds & more. Also to stay & help with USPF losing its founder and CEO. As time went on, shocking details of misuse of funds & other inappropriate behaviors kept adding up.kept adding up. I decided that it was my duty to stick by Nicole  & the other Board members & our legal team, to help clean up this mess & help to guide US Pain Foundation in the right direction.

I have become increasingly frustrated because everything that was promised to me upon becoming a Board member has not happened. I was told that I could represent US pain foundation at Pain week in Las Vegas 2018. I was also told that I would be put on an advisory board and be given a program of my own to run and see through to the end. I have been told repeatedly that as a Board member I cannot officially run any programs, but others do. I feel that those things I’m most passionate about are marginalized. I feel that somehow I was inadvertently sought out & appointed to the Board, because somehow, some person(s) thought that I would just agree and not ever express my own voice and opinions. But I do have opinions and a voice. I’m sad that as a board member I don’t know who any of our donors are and I didn’t find out about the movie that’s been in production for three years, I was told? There’s so many things I don’t know but then Leah told me that “there’s no one higher than the board”? It’s a bit confusing in all honesty. I feel “kept in the dark” about many things.

One big reason or probably the that I feel the need to resign from the board of directors of the US Pain foundation starting immediately, is due to the lack of  insurance for Board members & support group members. I don’t feel “safe” being involved with voting on big decisions yet being “left in the dark” much of the time. I don’t really know where money is going or where n it comes from in all  honesty. All the things that I used to love I’m not able to do anymore because “I am a board member“.

Last of all & sadly, I received an email today with a copy of the code of ethics from Nicole. A disgruntled pain patient from Canada, sent her note full of horrible lies & accusations. I was not consulted privately via a phone call or even given the benefit of the doubt. I have never had any trouble with not one person since I joined this or any organizations. I don’t speak or claim to speak for the USPF in any of my groups that I run. I only give facts with links to back up what I say as chronic pain patient.

For all of the above reasons and due to the fact that I don’t feel respected, I must tender my resignation from the Board of Directors  of the US Pain Foundation immediately.

Sadly,

Peace & Hope,

Suzanne B. Stewart

about.me/suzydukettes

Recipient of USPF’s Pain Ambassador of the Year Award‘16, Mentor & Social Media Assistant RSDSA, Staff Columnist/Ntl. Pain Report, Blog-“Tears Of Truth” @tearsoftruth.com, Patient leader WEGO Health, HoH/ASL, patient advocate for Deaf/HoH

“Out of suffering have emerged the most massive characters are seared with scars” ~Khalil Gibran~

Thank you for taking the time to let me share with you. I feel a deep sadness and broken at this time.

WEGO Health 2018 Awards


I am very excited to inform you that I have been nominated for two WEGO Health Awards in the 2018 WEGO Health Awards season. The two areas in which I’ve been nominated are: “Best In Show Blog” (for this Blog “Tears of Truth”) and also for “Best In Show Facebook” for my many facebook groups:

  • (International CRPS Support group, RASE for CRPS (research,awareness,support and education)
  • Dysautonomia Support Network
  • Michigan/Midwest & friends
  • Chronic Pain Support Group
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Living with Chronic Pain
  • People In Pain Unite
  • ASL Song and ASLSuzyQ (these last two are ASL, or American Sign Language groups).

Also for my Facebook Pages:

  • RASE for CRPS,
  • RASE for Invisible Diseases,
  • Dysautonomia Network,
  • Association for Ethical treatment of Pain Patients (AETOPP),
  • People In Pain Unite,
  • Gone But Not Forgotten Friends and Family
  • ASLSuzyQ)

WEGO Healt is a mission-driven company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills and insights of the patient leaders.  They are the worlds largest network of patient leaders, working across  virtualy all health conditions and topics. click here to learn more about their Patient Leader Network.

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

I want to thank those who nominated me and thought enough of my advocacy/awareness work to think of me for these awards. It means so much to be nominated because though I don’t do what I do in order to get anything from it; I appreciate being recognized for the work that I do. It means that the work that I do voluntarily to help the several communities that I am involved with, is not going unnoticed. Thank you so much for that.

I feel that I deserve the “Best in Show Blog” award because my blog, ‘Tears of Truth”, has become a large network and a plethora of information for patients who live with various illnesses that especially cause chronic pain. There are many resources and so much information here to address patients with various needs. I feel that I also deserve the “Best in Show Facebook” because I serve several different patient communities who live with chronic pain from various illnesses. I have created 6 chronic pain support groups and 2 ASL groups that support Deaf/Hard of Hearing community (including myself, as I am HoH). I try very hard to work closely with several different non-profits and I do not ask for anything in return. These awards, even just being nominated gives me that feeling of being appreciated.

This year, the 16 WEGO Health Award winners will be honored at an in-person celebration in Octoer, co-hosted by the Society of Participator Medicine at the Connected Health Conference. It is very important to me and I would really love to attentd this event to collaborate with industry leaders. Also, I would truly love to meet all of the people who I’ve been working with and talking with all of these years, since 2010 or so, when I first became a WEGO Patient Leader.

I’m now looking toward YOU, my incredibly supportive network to help endorse me for these two awards.  There are two easy ways to endorse me, (*Wordpress does not allow me to put a badge on this blog. Therefore the link is on the column to the upper right side of this blog (on a computer)…or you can easily choose the method below)….that will only take seconds of  your time, I promise! (I would love to be endorsed in both categories because they are equally important.

If I have ever supported you, made you laugh, given you inspiration  or cheered you on to keep fighting – please consider taking just a few seconds to endorse me for these awards. Thank you in advance, from my heart.

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New Year, Old Fear


The New Year always brings hope of a new beginning and fear of the unknown. Especially in this time of unrest and uncertainty; there is a panic in the pain community. I see it around me and I feel it each new day. People are starting to come apart and pull away instead of moving together as a community to fight the thing that we all fear most.

Nobody wants to be left to die. We don’t like feeling ignored and uncared about. Drs are running away and leaving in droves. There’s no one left to listen, care or treat those with horrible & high chronic pain conditions. There are groups sprouting up from other groups. It feels as though there are many who wish to be the one to “save the pain community “. But in reality we each can be our own hero. We need to depend on ourselves to get out of this mess.

Try your best and do whatever you are able to do. I’m sure you talk with your families on the telephone? So call up your Senators office and tell him your story! You’ll probably get a staffer, but that’s OK! Write emails much? Write an email to your state reps, Senators and your Governor. You don’t need to be eloquent. They need to see faces, hear stories and come to know us as a community of real persons. Ask them if they can remember a time when they had the worst pain ever? Tell them that this is how we feel most days! Let them know that our Drs need to do the Doctoring. The government has enough to deal with; and so allow the Drs to make informed decisions. After all, they went to school for 12-15 years, some of them. They do know what they’re doing.

Turn your fear into action and if you’re just too sick; see if someone will advocate on your behalf? If nothing else, we need to realize that we are worthwhile individuals. Each of us has something to offer in this life and we are not expendable. We deserve to have love, respect and caring. We have a right to be taken care of just like anyone else does.

We must remember that there are bad people in every walk if life and in each profession. There are the good and the bad; the ying and yang with a balance someplace in the middle. There are good and bad politicians, teachers, and more. Drs, go into this career mostly because they want to heal and help others. There are bad patients too, but most of us just try to do whatever we are told and we follow protocol.

The thing that those in power are forgetting, is the balance. They are going with an all or nothing attitude. Why not realize that there are many precautions in place now with the PDMP and more? The people who want to break the law are going to find a way to do it! Those who are good, law abiding citizens living with daily chronic pain are the ones suffering. I think somehow they know we are physically weak. They think we are unable to fight for what we need and therefore they will make decisions above and for us. But we are not mentally weak. We must join together as one voice and support each other. There is no glory or fame here! There are peoples lives at stake. The right of every human being to live in some semblance of comfort.

Run Forest, Run!


This was written by Dr Mark Ibsen, MD, who has become a close friend of mine; as has Dr Tennant. My thoughts and blog post on this subject will be forthcoming ASAP! But for now, just for this moment, here are Dr Ibsen, MD’s words regarding this abhorrent situation with Dr Forrest Tennant:

Dr Tennant recently came to Montana to testify for Dr Christensen. Sadly, while in the home state of many of his intractable pain refugee patients,

His home was invaded and business ransacked by agents who allege he was “overprescribing”. 

Just what IS overprescribing?

And what would Underprescribing look like?

This term would imply that there is a ceiling dose of a medication that has been prescribed. 

It would also imply that there is a “Goldilocks Dose” that is not too high

Not too low, but “just right”. 

Dr Tennant,

An endocrinologist,

Has been on the forefront of research and therapy for the intractable pain that patients developed after years of medical or interventional management, or mismanagement. 

These are patients with adhesive arachnoiditis, complex regional pain syndrome, trigeminal neuralgia, failed back syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and various other accidental and iatrogenic pain syndromes. 

The law enforcement and regulatory agencies Who are threatened by the Obi-Wan Kenobi of pain medicine do not have the sophistication,

compassion,

Or training to realize that they are not dealing with El Chapo. Drug dealers don’t actually care how their clients are doing. In fact, when a drug addict dies of an overdose, sales most often go up. Dealing drugs that are unregulated and often fatal is not what doctors do. 

Most people who suffer cardiac arrest have some type of medication on board. We don’t arrest their doctor for prescribing a Statin or aspirin or blood pressure medication in an attempt to enhance or prolong a persons life. 

People have hypoglycemic reactions every day,treated for their diabetes. We do not arrest their doctor for “overprescribing insulin”.

All doctors are required by their oath to do no harm-to try to hit that “Goldilocks dose”

When cancer patients die,

Do we blame there oncologist for killing them?

There’s a reason medical doctors train for 12 to 20 years, then continue to study and research the literature their entire careers. Could it really be true that Dr. Tennant is sidelined by a DEA agent with 12 weeks of training?

Are doctors no longer protected by the regulations outlined in the Controlled Substances Act?

Dr. Tennant treats the sickest of intractable pain patients. I too have referred intractable pain patients to him, I have taken his courses and follow his protocols.

Now, who will testify for me and protect my patients?

According to the World Health Organization North America provides the best pain care management on the planet. Dr. Tennant has always recommended following the world health organization pain ladder. 

Doctors like forest Tennant, William Hurwitz MD, Ronald Myers, and Chris Christiansen are simply guilty of trying to relieve the suffering of their intractable pain patients. 

This often requires us to

“Increase the dose”

If we as a culture continue to punish pain patients and the doctors that serve them no one will be safe accessing the incredible medical system we have developed in the US. 

Yes, complications occur. 

Yes, people are dying. 

From heroin/ fentanyl injection ODs,

Not

From responsible informed and well researched treatment of those in intractable pain who have failed every other therapy available.

“Run, Forest, run!”

Help Spread Awareness of RSD/CRPS This November


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    Imagine that one moment you are walking around, sipping lemonade at a Summer arts festival and the next you are admitted into a hospital after a man ran through a red light.  You awaken after a catastrophic motor vehicle accident feeling incoherent and in a lot of pain.  That was what happened to me in 2002.  I endured 3 years of brain injury rehabilitation, 8 years of Physical therapy, speech therapy and 8 surgeries. But this story is not about those days, it is about later getting diagnosed with RSD/CRPS.

     I went in for surgery on my right foot, in April of  2007.  Six weeks later I had my post-op check up. I knew something was wrong, before I arrived at my appointment.  I was in more pain and it felt as though my foot was “on fire” and had “exploded” on the inside.  I was told by the surgeon that day, that I “had a little RSD” and I was given Lyrica.  I could not take the Lyrica, as it made me very ill.  After researching “RSD” online, what I read sounded horrific!  I decided to get a second opinion. After visiting an Orthopedic foot/ankle specialist, I was told that I had “Classic RSD” and he sent me to a Pain Management clinic.  I did not go because I’d recently been through all of the “hoops” of the pain clinic, following the car accident.  I wasn’t a candidate for a pain pump or a spinal cord stimulator and so I was sent back to my primary care physician.  The pain Dr. had told me that “they are looked at under a microscope by the government”, therefore I had to have my primary Dr. do the prescribing.  I ended up getting medications to try and help with the pain.  I tried to finish up the PT but any touching of that foot was unbearable.

     I was getting by, just trying to live day to day. Then in 2013, what was supposed to be a pacemaker replacement surgery turned into a total pectoral muscle rebuild and more. I was diagnosed with “severe systemic/full-body CRPS. I am very lucky to have a Neuro-Cardiologist who’s done research on RSD/CRPS. He tried to head off the full blown systemic CRPS by taking several precautions. Unfortunately, it did not work for me.  Now I’ve explained how I got the CRPS but I’ve not told you about the depth of pain people endure when living with this Neuro- Inflammatory Autoimmune illness that is #43 on the McGill Pain scale.  The copyrighted flame CRPS awareness ribbon is a perfect example of what it feels like. Personally, it is as though the entire left side of my body, inside and out; is on fire.  It feels like a deep burning fire within and yet I feel and icy coldness as well. My knees, feet, hands and chest feel as though they might explode at any given time. This is only one of 8 or 9 high pain chronic illnesses that I live with. I think it is the illness with the worst kind of pain.

     November is the month dedicated to Awareness of RSD/CRPS, also known as “Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy” and “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”. Health advocates and patients join with non profits, such as RSDSA (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association); and we spread awareness. This is a complex and somewhat rare high pain illness. It is classified as a rare disorder by NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) and the FDA, but about 200,000 people are diagnosed annually.  According to the RSDSA website, “CRPS occurs when the nervous system and the immune system malfunction as they respond to tissue damage from trauma. The nerves misfire, sending constant pain signals to the brain.”  Usually it follows a surgery, a period of immobilization after a musculoskeletal trauma or some kind of injury to the nerves.  It steals the very life out of so many people who are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with it. Early diagnosis is the key to some instances of remission. Sometimes it takes years to even get a true diagnosis, due to the fact that many physicians don’t even know anything about it.  But there are some people who can help.  RSDSA  is a 501(c)3 non profit organization based in Connecticut and was founded in 1984.  I’ve come to know and love, the Vice President/director, Jim Broatch, MSW.  Annually, during the month of November, we have quite a campaign going. RSDSA is always there to “provide support, education and hope to all affected by the pain and disability of RSD/CRPS”. They are always striving to do more research and develop better treatments.

     Some of the events that I have going for this month, include a campaign that I call “#wearthemsharethem for RSD/CRPS”. You see, when the former RSDHope.org closed their doors in June 2016; there were many treasures “gifted” to me by my “adopted” family, the Orsini’s. I was given a number of temporary tattoos with the copyrighted CRPS flame awareness ribbon on them. I have put those to good use 2 years in a row, now. I ask people to just send in a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). I return their envelope with several of the temporary tattoos inside.  I only ask for them to send me a photo of themselves or someone they love, wearing one of the tattoo’s, so I can post it to my Website  “RASEforCRPS” (R.A.S.E. represents: Research, Awareness, Support & Educate). I use the hashtag #wearthemsharethem and we post to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, in order to raise awareness. Also I have gotten a proclamation from the Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder every year since 2013. The proclamation declares that in the state of Michigan, we recognize November as the month dedicated to the Awareness and support of RSD/CRPS. Then there are 3 fundraisers that I have going on this month:  a Facebook fundraiser lasting all month, a LuLaRoe Album sale on Thursday, November 16th through Friday, November 17th for 24 hours, and a Pizzeria fundraiser and Awareness event on Thursday, November 30th from 5:00pm until 8:30pm. One more activity for Awareness and education that I did last year and am doing again this year is the “#30factsfor30days of November”.  I post a daily fact about RSD/CRPS on each social media site.  All facts are taken from the RSDSA website, with their permission of course. 

     Aside from what I am doing, which also includes writing, posting, blogging and sharing; RSDSA has many events taking place during the month of November also.  They have an “event Calendar” on the website, but just to name a few:  there is the 4th annual Central New Jersey RSD/CRPS Walk for Hope, Saturday, November 4, 2017, the 5th annual Fight the Flame 5K, in Charlotte, NC, on Sunday, November 5th, 2017, the Fight the Flame 5k, Mentor, Ohio, Sunday, November 5, 2017, CRPS Meet-up and Scavenger hunt by CRPS Forum, Los Angeles, CA Monday, November 6, 2017, Charity Ride for CRPS, New York City, Saturday, November 11, 2017, and Color the World Orange, World Wide, Monday, November 6, 2017.

   Please help us share this information and raise awareness and support for this painful illness. The RSD/CRPS community truly comes together at all times, but mostly during this special month.  We are not ones to sit in the side lines. This community comes together and creates a beautiful month of togetherness, awareness, support and raising money for the much needed research.  The monies raised, also helps RSDSA provide patient assistance.  One of the funds that helps RSDSA assist CRPS patients is the “Maria Lane Fund” and another is the Brad Jenkins memorial Fund.  You can find out about these assistance programs at the RSDSA website as well. There is also an RSDSA informational YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/RSDSAofAmerica. The other part of RSDSA’s mission, is to fund research. They have funded more than $3 million dollars in pilot studies and pain fellowships.

     Lastly, I want to personally thank Jim Broatch and RSDSA for the letter that they sent out on October 9, 2017.  I was touched and I stand along side of many other RSD/CRPS patients/advocates. This letter that was emailed to it’s members, states that they “Oppose Cigna’s decision to Not Cover the cost of OxyContin in 2018” and they wrote also “We will continue to stand with our community during the War on “People in Pain”. Thank you to all who are doing their part to spread awareness and try to educate the medical professionals and the public regarding this illness.

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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: Invisibledisabilities.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

We ARE In The Room



If you visit the Emergency rooms in Michigan, you see and feel many horror stories.  I don’t visit the ER and have not since 2007, when I was diagnosed with CRPS.  I had chronic pain even before that, from several chronic pain issues and illnesses stemming from a car accident and other reasons. But the last time that I went, I was treated like a pariah because I was taking pain medication.  They never asked me about all of the different therapies and non-Opioid medications that I’ve tried.  They don’t know all that I’ve been through.  They also don’t even ask me if I’ve ever been addicted to anything in my life.  The answer would be “NO”. I’ve never smoked anything and I don’t even drink “once in awhile” socially, not ever!  Yet, the Dr.’s and nurses treat people that take small amounts of pain meds as if we are someone to be scorned.  The amount has gone down but it’s not ever going up.  It works for me and for about 25% of the chronic pain population. Only 1% of  legitimate chronic pain patients ever become addicted to pain medications given to them by a pain management physician.  For some people this is what works after numerous other medications and therapies have failed.

I want to share with you just an overview of something I read in a Detroit Newspaper article yesterday (Link to Detroit news article  .  This is what is happening in Michigan in 2017. I’m praying for change and I’m going to advocate to help the legitimate chronic pain patients. I have already written to and gotten a response from the other letter that I wrote to the White House and Governor Chris Christie.  All that I got in return was a fancy form letter from “The White House”.   I can’t give up.  I refuse to give up hope, without hope, we have nothing left.  We must not give up and we need to keep hope alive.

This is just the summary of what actually happened to a family in Michigan.  I read in our Detroit, MI newspaper recently, and it is just a summary:   “Over on a gurney, a woman screams out writhing from pain. A Dr. stands idly by, just watching a monitor. He stood away from her as she was doubled up in pain, screaming about pain in her abdomen.  Her husband walked in and saw this and he new about his wife’s chronic pain condition(s), but had never seen anything like this from her.  The Dr. was expressionless, as if she was not even in the room and as though she was a non-feeling “thing”, a non-being person with feelings and a soul”. Imagine if it was his wife, his mother or child? Would he still feel the same?

So moving on, …”as the husband approached this so called “Dr.”,  the physician was startled and reached out his hand to introduce himself. He said to the husband, “yes she’s “complaining” about pain. He said “we will “try” to address it. Next, he said something horrifying, but not new to our American chronic pain communities.  He said “addicts often come to the emergency room looking for opioids”.  The woman’s husband knew about her medical condition and he knew enough to realize that something must’ve gone terribly wrong after the nerve block procedure she’d had done earlier that day, while he was at work.  They’d been to Cleveland and Mayo clinics and even to the U of MI hospital. This poor woman had gone through numerous medical procedures and attempted over 40 medications. They finally had found a regimen that worked to relieve enough of her pain so that she had some semblance of a life now and then. The only effective regimen was very complicated but it included Opioids”.  The way she was treated just recently, in 2017 is barbaric to say the least.

This is happening not only here in Michigan, but all over the USA.  Just today, 9-17-17, I read an article that was sent to me through my email. The article written by Julie Mack in “MLive”, discusses many statistics about Michigan deaths from “overdose of Opioids, including Heroin”. Opioids for legitimate and suffering chronic pain patients and Heroin, should not even be compared in the same sentence; let alone included together in the same article showing numbers of deaths.  The article even states that “these numbers are based on death certificates and list only deaths that specify “Opioid and/or heroin” as a factor”.  I want people to see the difference here. Legitimate chronic pain patients who’ve been doing well, taking opioids, after trying many other methods to relieve their pain; are not even in the same same category as heroin addicts.  Unfortunately, from the death certificate, they just lump everyone into one category and that’s hurting the pain patients.  We are suffering due to the ignorance of certain Government officials and the paralyzing fear that has been put into our legitimate and caring Pain management physicians.

In Michigan, a bill was recently introduced into the House of Rep.  This HB 4601 would put absolute limits on the dosages that chronic pain patients may receive. The patient’s medical history, illness(es) or lack of any proof of abuse or addiction are suddenly irrelevant. The Government would be mandating that “no doctor may prescribe opioids to a chronic pain patient exceeding 100 morphine milligram equivalents per day.” No matter what! Oh my goodness, everyone’s bodies are different and dosages can affect people differently.  If this bill goes into law,  legitimate pain patients will be bedridden and writhing in pain.  Please help us and learn about this side of HB 4601. Our Michigan Government needs to step in now, to help other government leaders and those in Washington D.C., to understand this huge gap between pain patients and drug addicts. There are two distinct groups included in HB 4601, but we are being “lumped together” as one.

In Oakland County Michigan, the Board of Commissioners has taken a stand against this historically old proposal. They unanimously passed a resolution stating that HB 4601 “infringes on a doctor’s ability to care for patients by substituting  the Legislature’s opinion for the opinion of individual medical professionals.” The board also advocated a balanced method “that specifically targets addiction and abuse while protecting the rights of patients for whom these prescriptions are medically necessary”.  Please help the chronic pain community. We are human beings and we deserve our rights and our lives protected by the state of Michigan and the USA government as well. Please don’t take the rights of our educated physicians away from the decision making process. Educate them more in the area of chronic pain management, but the doctor patient relationship should still stand.  Our Senators, Governors and even our President, need to be educated in this area.  They need to understand the differences between addiction and dependency; along with the difference between drug addicts versus legitimate chronic pain patients.

I implore you to help stop this in Michigan and everywhere. I understand that balance is hard, but we need to think of the real people that HB 4601 affects.  Slashing dosages of opioid pain medications or taking it completely away from people that it has been effectively helping is cruel and abusive. This is America! What is happening to us when the government steps in and takes away a doctors right to treat his patient effectively?  If we can focus more on the people, we would start tailoring laws to address societal harm and avoid legislative dragnets that sound good in headlines but bring danger and harm to too many  citizens. We need to do better for the legitimate chronic pain patients for whom all other methods have failed.

We ARE here, we ARE in the room.  Please join me in helping to make the government and elected official listen to our plea!

Excerpts taken from DetroitNews.com

9-12-17 “Opioids Treat Real Pain; Don’t Limit Drs”