The Story of My Experiences With USPF


Here’s the link to Pat Anson’s Pain News Network article week of 5-12-19:Misappropriation of funds by the US Pain Foundation

I’ve had some things weighing on my mind lately. I had thought about keeping them to myself because I’m not a person who likes to be in the midst of turmoil. I try to live as drama-free as I possibly can. But a few months ago, I was contacted by Pat Anson, from the “Pain News Network”. I declined to speak about the events hovering around the US Pain Foundation & decided to take the high road and not allow my feelings and emotions take flight. It’s been an entire year & I let “the dust settle”. I waited an entire year to post my story about this. I didn’t want this post to be written with anger or any feelings of revenge. But there are a few issues that have been tugging at my heart and bothering my mind. These continue to nag me in my thoughts.

Since Pat Anson’s articles have surfaced; I’ve read several pieces of information that are now public knowledge. I’ve decided that there are some things I’d like to share because I do have a story to tell. I will only share with you my personal observations, opinions and experiences.

First, I must share that when I was added to the Board of Directors of the US Pain Foundation,(officially on January 31, 2018), I was excited. Around that time, I decided to call one of the persons whose photo I’d seen on the USPF website listed as a Board Member. She was also director of their Medical Cannabis program. I’d been told she was a veteran Board member. I called to ask her a few questions, such as: “What was it like, being on the Board? What do we do as Board Members etc?” She laughed & told me that “there was no real Board of Directors”. She added that they’d never even had a board meeting! I was a bit disappointed at hearing this news. But it was soon confirmed. The Board of Directors of the USPain Foundation, were actually just photographs on the USPF website, prior to January, 2018. There was no true Board of Directors. There had been no board meetings or elections. So….I’m guessing there was there no secretary or treasurer? I’m guessing this means that nobody had to get permission to write checks? Didn’t they have to answer to anyone about how or where to spend donation monies? How does the President, Vice President & Executive Director & other upper management, not know what & where money is coming in and/or going out?

(*I’d  been a “volunteer ambassador”since November 2015. I did Awareness events and fundraisers. All the while I thought I was doing something good. I wanted to be a good advocate and help people living with pain, like myself.)

In looking back, in my opinion, It seems to me that when upper management realized that things had somehow gotten out of hand and that the USPF might be slipping away, they decided to get lawyers and accountants involved in an attempt to “fix” a situation that they’d created. It seemed to have finally become something larger that they could no longer handle alone. Again, this is just me looking back, trying to make sense of the entire debacle.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The first meeting was in California, in January 2018. But I was too ill to travel that far and watched it as a Zoom meeting. Nothing of super importance was discussed, from my recollection. After being recruited to the Board, I still had no knowledge of any significance until much later in the year. Also, in January of 2018, they wouldn’t allow me to make it public, that I’d been appointed to their Board of Directors. My volunteer position as Board Member was not added to their website until March that year. Over the following months, I found out what a mess things were and I immediately wanted to resign. I was advised by one of the attorneys, that “it wouldn’t look good” for USPF, if anyone on the Board resigned during that time. (*Even though Dr Abaci immediately resigned from the board when he found out about the misuse of funds in the past).

I was told that we should all stay and help to reorganize & rebuild USPF. The attorneys explained that it wouldn’t really look good for any of the Board Members to resign in the midst of this reorganization. Therefore I stayed for as long as I felt that I was doing something good. Even prior to becoming a Board member, I was given “busy work” & then asked to do research & write two articles for the “Learn About Your Pain” portion of their website. I was asked to research, write and include links with graphics about S.I.B.O and Dysautonomia. I turned in several pages of completed research. Almost a year later, I inquired about when everything that I had done was going to be posted to the “Learn About Your Pain” website? I received angry emails from several members telling me that with everything that USPF was going through, how could I even think about myself? (In Spring of 2018, I was also asked to make a video about RSD/CRPS, that I in fact made and it also was never used). I was asked (3) three times, to be a part of the USPF “INvisible Project”. A 4th time, I was told that I could tell my husband that he was going to be a part of the “Caregiver” edition of the INvisible project. Each time I was invited to be a part of that, I signed video/photo releases and I answered 10-12 questions in complete sentences. I gathered photos etc., and turned them into the USPF’s person in charge of that project with the interim CEO. Each time,within days of handing back my completed tasks (*just remember that I am also a chronic pain patient and was an unpaid volunteer), I received an email from the person helping the interim CEO with that project. She just told me things like “Ooops, My Bad?? I guess the interim CEO has something bigger in store for you later”! This went on for over a year.

In getting back to the true issues at hand, in Or around early Spring 2018, we asked the former CEO to resign. The Board meetings were only and always about the situation that USPF found themselves in, regarding the former CEO. Then in July, 2018; my Pain Management doctor told me that he was going to immediately remove me from my long acting/extended release pain medications (after almost 14 years of doing well on them). He said it was because of the CDC Guidelines.

I left the appointment that day in tears. I feared for my life and what the future was going to feel like. I arrived at home to an email from the US Pain Foundation. It was a survey asking people to tell what they know about Bupenorphrine. Being a board meeting member, I immediately called the interim CEO. I shared with her my shock & dismay about this email that went out to the pain community; the very people who I try to advocate for and protect. I asked her, what prompted this survey? I found out that the foundation had received a donation from the company that makes Suboxone/Bupenorphrine ( Here’s a list of the medications that RBI makes). My exact words to her were “How could you allow USPF get in bed with Andrew Kolodny?” She tried to assure me that Suboxone wasn’t anything like Bupenorphrine (*see photos that are included with this article). I was told I didn’t know what I was talking about and I was mistaken. She went on to explain that one condition of the donation was to get the public to have more knowledge, or to see what the pain community actually knew about Bupenorphrine. Next, I asked the interim CEO if she knew that the drug Bupenorphrine was not FDA approved for pain (at that time), in the USA? I told her it was an addiction medication and that people are labeled an addict once they’re put on Suboxone/Bupenorphrine; even if it’s for chronic pain! She told me that members of the pain community should have access to all different kinds of medications and therapies. I was very upset and I decided to do more research.Bupenorphrine is a weak analgesic that may slightly help those who have chronic pain AND addiction

Along with many among the chronic pain community, I had already been personally feeling that USPF has not been supportive of opioids, for chronic pain. I have written two articles about these medications: About Suboxone/Buprenorphine-and-naloxone and More About Bupenorphrine/Suboxone. I wrote these articles because I felt that the pleas of the chronically ill, the disabled and those of us living with daily ongoing high pain illnesses/issues; were not being listened to. We were not being heard by our Drs, the government or our own US Pain Foundation.

As soon as that conversation with the interim CEO ended; I knew that my time volunteering with USPF was coming to an end. I had been already feeling that they “push” complimentary therapies and medical cannabis without any support for a portion of the pain community who relies on opioids for pain control. They portray complimentary therapies as though they can actually end chronic pain without any help from medications. They publicly & actively support their medical marijuana program. If they can support a Federally illegal substance; (which I’m personally not against when & where it is legal; and only for medicinal purposes), and if they support all methods to alleviate pain, then where’s their opioid program? I feel that people should be able to use Marijuana, Kratom, acupuncture or opioids to alleviate their daily chronic pain. But opioids have been taboo within the USPF. Possibly for some political reason in my opinion.

Another occurrence that helped me decide to resign after only 8 months of being on the Board of Directors, was when I found out about the movie/documentary that the interim CEO was making with Actress, Karen Duffy. It just feels to me, like she & other upper management persons within the US Pain Foundation are more interested in publishing books and being in movies, than actually helping the pain community. My sadness grew deeper when I watched the movie trailer: Balancing The Pain Scale, a documentary with actress Karen Duffy & interim CEO of USPF . Some of words taken directly from the trailer are “getting beyond the pill bottle”. Once again, USPF was demonizing opioids. I’m not the only one who saw this either. Here is an article that I found from A prominent advocate for the pain community : A Blog Post from Steve Ariens, “Pharmacist Steve”.

The very last straw for me was when the Interim CEO & the rest of the Board, contemplated not telling the USPF “In-person” support group leaders that they were no longer covered by insurance. I was the only Board member who said that I’d have no part of that! If you’d like to read my resignation letter (redacted items are the attorneys names and anything that was not my information to share), it is here: Why I Resigned From The US Pain Foundation

I still find it difficult to believe that nobody else who’d been in upper management of the foundation for several years, knew anything regarding the going out and coming in of money/funds?

After my resignation, I started hearing stories from ex-Ambassadors that involved a couple of upper management persons being involved in some behavior that in my opinion, was inappropriate. Some of this allegedly took place during a few USPF sponsored events. In 2016, July; at the University of New England, “Pain Summit”, my husband and I stayed overnight at a nearby hotel instead of staying at the dorms. It appears that we missed seeing anything first-hand; but according to at least 2 eyewitnesses (one that actually called & showed me some videos), there were high ranking members involved in behaviors that I would consider inappropriate for anyone, let alone, upper management of a non-profit. Especially not during an event sponsored and run by that same Non-Profit.

All of this has been on my mind. I didn’t want to lose my integrity by talking to someone else about all of this. I decided that this is my blog & my own story to tell. I’ve given you my observations, opinions & truth to the best of my knowledge.

Reckett Benkaiser being Sued by 35 states

Who Makes Bupenorphrine?

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**BELOW IS A 1 MINUTE VIDEO SHARING MY CREDENTIALS. THIS VIDEO SHARES ALSO THE VIEWS OF US PAIN ABOUT ME & MY VOLUNTEER WORK WITH THEIR ORGANIZATION FOR ALMOST 4 YEARS:

A YouTube Video with my Credentials

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


The Art Of Learning Compassion


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We are in a group doing role playing above


Beds were brought in for people who needed to lay down awhile. That’s me with the blue blanket on the bed!! Isn’t that so thoughtful, accommodating and awesome? The US Pain Foundation did this for us!
Hello Luvs,

I wanted to write something about my experiences this past weekend when my husband and I went to Connecticut.  I was invited to go to a weekend seminar to learn how to be a “support group leader” and how to host an “in-person” support group for people living with chronic pain . I was a bit nervous at first because going on even a short trip is difficult for those of us who live with debilitating chronic pain on a daily basis. We worry about being in pain far from the comfort of our recliner, bed or even our own home.  There are worries about taking medications or durable medical equipment on a trip or to a hotel. Then we worry about the airplane ride or the long car trip and the ensuing pain it will inevitably bring. But guess what?  It is always worth the extra effort because our home, bed and recliner will be there when we return.

The U.S. Pain Foundation and their program called “Pain Connection”, hosted this two day workshop in Connecticut, not far from the U.S. Pain Foundation home office.  As with everything else that I’ve ever done with or for them, I was never alone. They walked with me through each and every step of the trip and the workshop. The main thing about any trip is the pre-planning. It makes everything easier if you can call the airlines and arrange for a seat placement that gives you the most amount of comfort.  You can do everything from your bed/recliner and home. All you need is your computer or a telephone. I got an employee of the airport to assist us to the gate, get me and my wheelchair onto the plane ahead of everyone else and all it took was a phone call. They needed the height and weight of my wheelchair and that was all. Everyone was very kind and cooperative. They let me take my wheelchair all the way to the door of the airplane, they took my chair and then assisted me to my seat.  It was much easier to take only “carry on” luggage.  This way we had nothing to “check in”. I brought my gum, headphones, music and smartphone. Everything went smoothly and all of the persons involved were accommodating.  I even spoke to the staff where I had to be “patted down” because of my pacemaker.  I’m not able to go through the scanner or have the wand put around my body because of my implanted medical devices. I told the staff member that I have a nerve disease and she was very cooperative and kind.  She very gingerly patted me down and I was not in any discomfort. You just have to be prepared, verbal and have a kind attitude yourself.

We arrived at our hotel which was a wonderful accommodation and again everything was great! They even had a coffee machine in the lobby with my favorite and special kinds of coffee. We arrived on Friday evening and my husband went to the pool, while I sat at the pool area and rested from the day’s journey. We had a more comfortable bed than mine at home! I slept a whopping 6 hours and the most I ever get is 3 to 4 hours of sleep at home! I’m not sure if it was actually the nice bed or the fact that I was exhausted? Either way I was rested and ready for the day ahead.  On Saturday we went down to a conference room and to my elation, there were several beds ready for takers; along with nice and comfortable tables and chairs.  I had my wheelchair with me, but I quickly snatched up one of the beds and would have gladly shared if anyone had needed it or asked.  We had introductions and proceeded to be trained to work with people who live with chronic pain and their families in a group setting.

Some of the tools that were taught included: relaxation, the “treatment tree” plan, self-compassion, meditation, self-massage and more.  We learned the Psychosocial stages of chronic pain, the grief process and we had a question and answer period with discussions. We watched a couple of videos and did role playing on Sunday. We laughed and cried with each other and truly got to know our peers.  I formed many new friendships during those two days.  These are persons who literally live what my husband/caregiver and I both go through on a daily basis.  The leaders were so wonderful and they too, laughed and cried along with us.  We learned some techniques of Acupuncture and Acupressure and how to lead successful groups.  One part of the weekend that especially touched my heart was when the caregivers did their presentations.  These were the caregivers to the leaders of this training program.  They spoke about how families are affected by chronic pain. Then we had a group discussion. Again on Sunday we learned even more about things such as: guided imagery, breathing techniques, pacing & respecting limits, how to maximize group member engagement and then we learned about flare-up relapse prevention.

At the end of the two days full of enrichment, learning and building friendships; we all received our certification for “group leader training”. We were called up individually and sat on a chair in the middle of the room. It wasn’t intimidating in the least! It was exhilarating to hear the kind words that were said about each person. They went around the room and everyone said something kind and wonderful to the person sitting in the chair.  Maybe it was something they learned from them during the weekend, or it may have been something about their personality that was especially positive? Either way we laughed and cried again, together as a group and individually, personally.   There were polished stones laid out on a table.  Each stone had a word carved or painted on it.  Some of the various words were:  Courage, Hope, Love, Kindness, Healing, patience and so on. Everyone chose a stone that had a special meaning to them and that is when we sat in the “hot seat” and we were given positive feedback from the weekend.

I always felt comfortable to eat, drink or get up and move.  I even wasn’t embarrassed when I fell asleep for a few moments during the comforting music and guided imagery session.  When does a pain patient get to feel so relaxed and comfortable? It is when we are together with others like ourselves and feel comfortable enough to share, laugh and cry together.  I know that many of us were so happy and felt very accommodated and comfortable during this workshop weekend.  Even though I was “wiped out” from the day on Saturday, my husband and I did something that we had never done before! I called an “Uber” to take us out to dinner with some of the staff and other friends who were there.  We had a fun time of chatter and more laughing and much sharing. We went back to the hotel and crashed after that, but it was worth it.

We arrived home but returned with many tools, more knowledge and several new friends. I now feel that I have the tools and am more confident to start and run a support group near my home in Michigan.  I want to give special gratitude to the U.S. Pain foundation and their program called “Pain Connection”.  I also wish to personally say “thank you” to Paul Gileno, Lori Monarca, Gwenn and Malcolm Herman and Cindy and Marty Steinberg. I encourage anyone to be more empowered and try to do things that you think you cannot do. Lastly, I would like to say that whomever wants to know what the U.S. Pain Foundation is all about, read this article again.  You can visit their website and become and Ambassador and have a more fulfilling life.  There is so much that you can do right from your own home. You can even use tools such as Skype and “Google hangouts” to connect with more people. I encourage you to look for a support group near your home and if there is not one available, think about trying to start one yourself. Helping just one person, reaching one person’s heart is worth its weight in gold.

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