Help Spread Awareness of RSD/CRPS This November 2017


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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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Pain, Awareness and Distraction!


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Hello Luvs,

Welcome to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Awareness Month! It is November, known also as “KNOWvember” and “Nervember” by different pain support persons & groups.It’s that time of the year when chronic pain patients, Ambassadors, Delegates, pain warriors, and many people who live with this illness, try to reach out to friends, family, the rest of the pain community and the non-pain community;  to spread information and gain support of this horribly painful disease.

We post about the fire-like pain and debilitating symptoms of this nerve and neuro-autoimmune illness. I think that some of the others who are our “friends” on Social media get really tired of seeing post after post about pain, illness, and unrelenting symptoms that keep us from living life fully, as most of them get to do. We aren’t trying to take over Facebook or Instagram. We are trying to help others to understand what we are going through. Because nobody knows, unless they truly live with this tremendous amount of daily pain. We see your posts about where you are going and what you’re doing. The trips you take and the places you get to visit. We read about you in the car driving here, there and everywhere; or being at your child’s school events. We scroll down to see the many family members who never even speak to us or even know that we live in daily pain, nor do they ever ask about it or us. We notice the friends who seemed close at one time but after awhile they, too got tired of listening about our pain.

This month is for us! This is a time of teaching, preaching, tweeting and posting. Social media is a great avenue to speak about CRPS and this is a special time of year for those of us who live with this on a daily basis. We actually take this time, not to lament about being in chronic daily pain. We are not complaining or posting of our daily struggles with this “monster”.  NO…we are CELEBRATING ourselves because we can!  We are celebrating the color “ORANGE” as it is the awareness color of our illness. We will color our world orange by the end of the month and especially on November 7th, 2016; which is “Color the World Orange Day” in the USA and some places Internationally. If we are not “celebrating”, then we should be. For one reason or another we are affected by chronic pain. Nobody really knows why any of us were allowed to “get” this painful nerve disease.  It is OK to be sad about it sometimes. Take some time to be sad if you need to and then push that sadness aside and do something to help yourself and others.  Actually, helping others is a great way to feel better about things in your own life.

There are so many things that we can use as distractions from our own chronic pain on a daily basis. The more you sit and do nothing, the more you whither away into the dark abyss of pain, sadness and nothingness. The more you try, the more you do and the more you can be positive; the better life you will have.  Honestly, sometimes I admit that I overdo it and then I “pay” for it later, with much higher pain.  I’m not saying to do what I do. That’s actually going too much the other way at times and honestly, I don’t want that for anyone one either. But there’s a “happy medium” someplace in between laying on the bed and/or couch all day and going, going and doing too much until you are in tears because you’re exhausted.  This month we are a bit more “busy” chatting and posting about CRPS awareness, but then the rest of the year we should try to do some other things to help ourselves to be happier. Of course, I’m not saying STOP advocating, spreading awareness and doing events, fundraisers etc. for CRPS or any other chronic pain illness that you live with. I’m just saying that we need to have a life outside of illness, chronic pain and CRPS.

There are things that we can do to distract ourselves from the gnawing, burning, aching and throbbing of this “thing” called Chronic pain and/or CRPS.  It wants to take over our lives and it will if we allow that to happen. The worst thing that you can do for yourself,is to get in with a group of others living with chronic pain, that are negative, competing to be the sickest and who want to bring you down with them. Instead let’s bring them “UP”, cheer them and ourselves at the same time. Find something that you used to enjoy and modify it to a way that you can start doing it again. For example, I used to be an Interpreter for the Deaf at a major University hospital and several school districts. I lost that after the car accident and I went from Interpreter for the Deaf to Hearing Impaired with 2 hearing aids! I was in performance sign language groups and ASL was a huge part of my life! I thought it was over and gone. Now i make Artistic Sign Language videos on You Tube. I try to find uplifting songs with rallying lyrics and I learn the words first and then just sign the song as emotional as possible while taping it. If I choose the right song, it seems to really resonate with people. It makes them feel emotional in a good way. Sure, I have extra pain when I’m finished, but there are things that I can do to help myself.

Distractions are good if you just don’t overdo it! If you like to be artistic with painting or drawing, you can choose one of those awesome coloring books that they have now for adults too! I thought that I was unable to do that also. My hands hurt as the CRPS and the RA/OA has really gone to my hands and they hurt after just a little while of holding a pen or a pencil.  The remedy for that? Find the kind of crayons, markers or colored pencils that are very “chubby” and better for holding onto when you’re in pain. You could also get that “molding material” that is at the craft stores and put it around your favorite coloring utensils; this way making them as thick or thin as you need. There are also little rubber stoppers that you can buy at the school supplies section, to put around the markers or colored pencils.  If you like to be on the computer, but you have a hard time using your hands, try the “talk and text” option. You may even get a good laugh out of some things that pop up wrongly when you use it. You can that way fix just a few things instead of having to write everything that you wish to write. There are programs for your desktop or laptop, one in particular that I know about, called “Dragon”. It is much better at being precise and it’s not horribly expensive. If it is too much money for you, then ask for that as a gift from several people for Christmas or your Birthday present.

There are so many things that we can do to distract from the chronic nerve pain that we know is there and we feel every day. It will be there waiting for you when you are done, but for a little while it will be a bit more distant in your mind, instead of at the forefront. There are things such as:  knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, writing, speaking, coloring, “playing” games on the computer, social media, reading and even something like photography.  You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but if you enjoy photos, like I do, there are so many free apps (pic collage, Rhonna Designs etc.) to download and “play” with your pictures. If you need relaxing, there are applications such as “Pacifica” that help you relax to different time allotments and music choices.  There are even photography apps where you get a prompt daily and you get to be creative in taking a picture and posting it to their website (500px, Little Moments). Some other things you can do might be to learn a language or at least a few new words in a language that interests you? You can do as much or as little as you are able to do and try to take a few moments each day to NOT think about your pain, illness and the next Dr. appointment coming up.

Canton woman is a pain warrior


Joanne Maliszewski, jhometownlife.com 5:31 p.m. EDT September 9, 2016

Suzanne Stewart of Canton lives in pain – all of the time. And she knows plenty of others who share a similar lifestyle.

“It’s up there with cancer, childbirth and amputation of a finger without anesthesia,” said Stewart who suffers from a nerve or Neuro-autoimmune disease (RSD/CRPS). She also lives with: Chiari, R.A., O.A., Degenerative Disc Disease, Dysautonomia/POTS, Polyneuropathy in Collagen a Vascular Disease (= to EDS type 4,Vascular) and other issues.

As an ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation, Stewart – who attended an educational retreat in August – has a host of events and displays this month in Canton to spread awareness of living in chronic pain. The U.S. Pain Foundation serves as advocates for pain management through a variety of methods, including medicines.

Stewart’s life of pain began following an auto accident in 2002, which led to eight surgeries. She has since had a pacemaker installed, has had a stroke and heart attack all by her current 54 years of age. “One in three Americans lives in chronic pain,” Stewart said.

Suzanne Stewart and her husband, Craig, showing the
Suzanne Stewart and her husband, Craig, showing the display for awareness of chronic pain. (Photo: Submitted)
As a result of the auto accident, Stewart suffered nerve damage – a cause of much of her continuing pain. At times she is in a wheelchair, other times she uses a walker or a cane. She suffers continual swelling on her left side and has lesions from one of the autoimmune diseases.

As society fights against some types of prescriptions, Stewart wants the public to know that those medicines are necessary for her and others with chronic pain, to live their lives. She also wants the public to know that while no one can see her chronic pain, it’s there and it is very real. Offering an example, Stewart said she has a handicapped permit for her car. But she has had people gawk at her and question her because she does not look ill or handicapped.

“They don’t see it, but I can feel it,” Stewart said.

That has led to her making fliers and signs that say, “People with pain matter,” because she urges others to avoid judging those who live as she has to. “Don’t judge what you cannot see,” she added.

As part of increasing awareness and understanding, the U.S. Pain Foundation has kicked off a project asking those with chronic pain to send in their stories. “It’s really more of creating an understanding,” Stewart said.

Locally and for starters, Stewart has a display in the Canton Public Library through Sept. 16. It’s a display of facts and information about chronic pain and awareness, as well as information about he U.S. Pain Foundation and additional data about RSD/CRPS, the autoimmune diseases from which she suffers.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, she will attend the Canton Township Board of Trustees’ meeting to accept a proclamation designating September as “Pain Awareness Month.”

Other activities will include:

Wal-Mart in Canton, store No. 3476 on Ford Road: 1-3 p.m., spreading awareness of chronic pain with items from the U.S. Pain Foundation.
Monday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m.-noon, Stewart will have a booth for “Senior Day” at the Canton Summit ..She will hand out items to increase awareness, as well as offering 400 bags of information and items for Seniors.
Stewart also plans to fundraise for the pain foundation and plans Someday, to head to Washington D.C. to meet with officials of individual states to raise awareness and to make changes for people living in pain, she said.

 

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original article is here:  http://www.hometownlife.com/story/news/2016/09/09/canton-woman-pain-warrior/90134682/

 

 

INFO, Question/Answers To A Group of University Students


Hello Luvs,

Hey I did a little information session and a question/answer part to a group of Eastern MI University students yesterday. It is for their project about learning something that is pretty much “Unknown” and then trying to gain awareness for that “thing”.  Well, I was wearing my RSD/CRPS hoodie one day and this young girl spotted me and asked about the ribbon with flames on it. She asked what RSD/CRPS was about. She said she was doing a project at school and this seemed like the perfect CAUSE for their project! I’m so excited to be their spokesperson, mentor and information person. I get to be a part of a Non Profit booth that they are setting up in November for “RSD/CRPS Awareness Month” 2015!! I’m very excited to be getting brochures, decals and flyers from RSDHOPE.ORG (they are providing me with those things and a banner for the booth). The main purpose is to spread awareness and get the word out because that means that more people will be knowledgeable.  The more that people are educated the more that physicians, E.R.’s and others will try to help us fight this disease. I pray for clinical trials of more meds to help our pain. I pray for more research and kindness and Peace and less pain. Here is a video from my little “talk” today:

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