Showcasing what many of us live with and deal with on a daily basis:
Someone help this woman! This is a crime! They treat animals better than people so what’s wrong with this picture? This must stop! People are committing suicide because they’re being denied pain medications! Please watch this short video and it will open your eyes to the TRUE OPIOID crises going on in the United Stated of America! Someone please help this woman and the other 100 million chronic pain patients who are in agony now bcz of what’s being misunderstood as addiction, hyperalgesia and worse! This lack of opioid pain medication to true legitimate chronic pain patients, has to stop! We are not disposables! We are in agony and we are human beings with rights like every living soul! Please learn about the difference between dependence and addiction! Addiction is a non-stop ruminating, craving and a need to get high from taking some kind of medication or drug! People with Chronic pain get “addicted” 1% of the time, due to pain medication! We are “dependent” NOT addicted! Our bodies will go through a physical withdrawal when the meds are taken away! But we do not WANT to need the pain medications. We do NOT get high or euphoric from the opioids! We get to live some semblance of a life outside of a hospital or a bed in our homes! Please help because too many people have died already! Stop being hysterical and blaming real and legitimate pain patients because someone you know died from an overdose! I’m so sorry for you, but don’t punish everyone because you’re in misery! Find compassion in your heart and watch this woman’s story for about 3-4 minutes! Thank you!
This is not just a story about me, but a story that many pain warriors live through on a daily basis. I know because I talk to many of them often. Much of this is “our story”. …..I awaken each day; the first thing that I do is cry inside of my head. My body lay still too long. Four hours is too long! I feel pain and don’t want to get up, or move because I know it will hurt. I’m so tired of the pain. I lay there and contemplate rising to my feet. I hear my husband call my name. He always says “Hello my Love, Good Morning! Time to rise and shine!” He tells our Kitty, Luna, to come and get me. She always listens to him and she enters our bedroom and meows for me to get on my feet. Still lying there, I think about the day ahead and wonder if it will be a busy day? Will it be one in which I have to do a few things? Or will it be a day that I can be a bit quiet?
After 40 minutes has passed from the time I took my medication, I attempt to get up. First I sit up and I feel the pain in my back. The Degenerative disc disease, Scoliosis, Spondylitis and multiple herniated and bulging discs, make it almost an impossible feat. The medication does help. It takes the pain down from a 9 to about a 5; and I finally get up. But then there’s the stairs to tackle. I hold onto the rail and then I lean on the wall. I fumble my way down the stairs, as my cat scampers past me, ready for her cuddles on my way to the kitchen. First, I sit on the ottoman and pet her for a few moments and then it’s time for breakfast. My husband has already made the tea and has my toast ready to go.
He goes to work and I go to my chair, my recliner. In my spot, there is a pillow and a blanket and a settle in for a look on the computer. What fantastic things have happened overnight on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? I answer a few questions, maybe I help a few people in my support groups? People always volunteer to help me with my groups because they are becoming large for one person to handle on a daily basis. People mean well, but they are also in pain and have much going on in their lives. Eventually they stop helping and I’m alone again. I don’t want to give up, because some people just need someone to listen, anyone. I like being that person. I want to help and do something of value with my life.
Maybe after awhile at the computer, I will either write a blog post, an article for the National Pain Report; or maybe I’ll sign a song that day. I love the beauty of ASL and the way the emotions come out of my body, hands and face. I can feel something other than pain. Until I’m finished; and then the pain is worse. I have to rest and take more medications. My husband comes home for lunch because he says that he likes to check in on me. We’ve been married for 20 years and he always comes home for lunch. I am one lucky lady to have such a knight in shining armor at my side. He never complains about doing so much. He cleans, cooks and does the laundry; after mowing the lawn and fixing whatever needs repaired in the house. Still, he never complains.
In the afternoon, I may visit my granddaughters and my daughter who live only a few blocks away. I’m still able to drive for “personal errands” and for about 10 minutes at a time. If I visit them, I get lots of hugs and kisses and more love and life than you can even imagine. They are rays of sunshine in a world of pain. They don’t understand that I am in pain and that’s a good thing for now. I like to light up their faces and give them love and receive that same love in return. My daughter and I may do a couple of errands or have a coffee and chat. It seems like a nice day, right? It’s true, it’s the nicest day you could imagine. Then I come home and I sink into my recliner and sometimes my cat will come and sit with me. Her love is unconditional and she seems to know when I’m in more pain than usual. She gives me comfort and love, unconditional love. By that time it is 3:30 in the afternoon. It’s been a full day and my pain has risen from the activities. I can’t do anything else. I don’t have the energy to make dinner anymore. The fatigue is deep and lasts for long periods of time. I rest and sometimes I nod off in my chair. The cat jumps off of the chair and the back door opens. My hero is home! The love of my life and my forever soul-mate comes home from another day at his job as a teacher. We muster up something to eat for dinner. Mostly, for him; because eating has become something difficult now. It’s not fun or anything I look forward to anymore. I have IBS, S.I.B.O., and Gastroparesis. There’s so much I’m incapable of eating now. If I just throw caution to the wind, and eat to be social or “fun”; I suffer more. There’s the nausea, constant nausea and burning whether it is high or low in my stomach; it’s awful either way. Then if I eat just a tiny bit too much, I will be sick for hours afterwards. This is something that others don’t see or understand. My husband sees and watches it from the other side. Then there are the others who I “talk to” on the other side of this computer. Many of them truly do understand.
Then, my friends; it is evening time. The sun goes down and we watch some Television together and maybe read or “play” on the internet for awhile. All too soon, it is 10:30 pm and my husband goes up to bed. He. has to work in the morning. He kisses me goodnight and tells me not to stay up too long. I tell him that I will come to bed as soon as I feel like I’m able to sleep. Time goes by and it’s one in the morning, then 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM. I start to nod off as I’m messaging the other “night owls” who are my fellow pain warriors. They are with me at night, because they too cannot sleep either. We try to give each other support and the strength to persevere. Finally, the sparks of chatter start to diminish online. I too, feel like I truly want sleep to come and save me from my body and the pain that is within. Much of the pain is physical, but there is no lack of mental anguish.
***I come from a family that doesn’t know or care that I exist. They are called “M.N.’s” or Malignant Narcissist’s. I try to stay away, keep my distance. For some reason, I cannot “let go” totally. Maybe I feel that I owe them something for bringing me into this world. But truly it’s been nothing but pain and abuse as far back as I can remember. Then the failed marriages because I didn’t know how to feel love until I met my soul-mate, Craig. We’ve been married 20+ years now. I thank God for him every day because nobody has ever truly loved me until I met him. Some people ask me why I always go back for more abuse and more pain? I guess he’s still my father and one of my two brothers is still my brother. The other one, I cannot even discuss and won’t. My oldest brother used to try and protect me, but one day he stopped. It was the day that I told our family “secrets”. That is when my father took his revenge and turned everyone he could, against me. I’m not sure why they listen to him? I’ve always been kind hearted, loving and as good a person as I can be. But now the entire family, including dozens of cousins, have shoved me “under the rug”. I am an an outcast. None of them will talk to me or even look at me if we meet.
I don’t get invited to the very very large family reunions. Even though I was the only one in my nuclear family that ever attended those functions. I always took my children to them while they were growing up. I wanted them to have a sense of “family” and belonging. I helped my one cousin, the only one who is the same age as me. She is 6 months older and I always got her “hand-me-downs”. I went for food when she had her big garage sales. I helped her when the family turned against her as her mother was dying. I told her not to let them “punish” her and told her to hold her head up high. They were so mean to her because she couldn’t let her mother come and stay with her when she was very sick and dying. I felt her pain as she told me the stories of her abusive childhood; we could relate to one another.
But **one day, in 2002, I was in a terrible car accident which started all of the physical pain. No one came for me except my husband. Again, my knight in shining armor there with me and at my side through thick and thin, good and bad. ***My cousin said she couldn’t come to our house and sit with me for awhile so my husband could do errands. I couldn’t be left alone as I could not even go to the bathroom or dress/undress myself or. cut my own food. She said that “seeing me in so much pain, made her depressed. If she was depressed, then her family would suffer.” Therefore, she could not see me anymore. I’ve not seen her again except at a couple of funerals, but she won’t even look at me. ****I went to my favorite Aunt’s funeral yesterday. It was in a church and my dad didn’t come because he would have had to have been “nice to me”; and then they might know that we’ve tried to “talk a little bit now and then” again. Only one cousin spoke to me and only one other even looked my way and smiled. My Aunts children were welcoming. They knew that their mom and I had a relationship. My cousin, her daughter, told me “mom wouldn’t have had it any other way”; when I thanked her for “letting me come to the funeral”.
**I watched my family all sitting in the same church, singing “Let there Be Peace on Earth”. While the words came out of their mouths, there was no peace in that room. Only a gathering of many who really don’t know each other anymore, but had one thing in common. That one thing was the love for a woman who knew how to live and how to love. So you see, there is physical pain and there are other kinds of pain. Some of these exacerbate the others. We just have to surround ourselves with those who want us in their lives. Those who want to give and receive; or share love with us.
When my head finally hits the pillow at night, I lie down and listen to my husband’s breathing. So glad to hear those sounds of life and know that this person beside me has truly shown me what real love is all about. I never knew if I would have that, some people never get to know it. People who are “damaged” like me, have a hard time very often knowing the difference between real love and hurtful kinds of “twisted” love. I’m fortunate to know this man and lucky to have his love and to have him to love. I try to let the sleep come to me. Relax, sigh and listen to the breath sounds and the sound of the cat purring next to me. This is my real “medicine” in life. They, along with my children and grandchildren are what makes me happy. I try to remember these thoughts as I fitfully sleep for a few hours, only to wake up to the “fear” of getting up on my feet once more again tomorrow.
I awaken each day; the first thing that I do is cry. I cry because I’m in pain and it is as though someone stepped on my back in the night and feels “broken”. My husband hears my cries and he goes and gets my pain medication. Medication that I’ve taken since 2005; and never more but sometimes less. He proceeds to start making breakfast, coffee and give tap water to our Cat. It’s her favorite thing in the morning aside from running up the stairs to get me after about 20-30 minutes. My husband says “Luna, go and get Momma”! She bolts up the stairs and “Meows” at me to get up. She doesn’t stop until I am upright and together we go down the stairs. It’s almost 7:00 am, and most likely I just went to bed at 4:00 am. I have some tea and toast. We chat a bit and he goes to work.
I have choices to make and they are not easy ones. My oldest daughter only lives 2 or 3 blocks away, with her husband and our two eldest granddaughters, ages 4 and 2 1/2. We see each other often but it’s so hard for me to fight the deep, deep fatigue and pain to do a lot of outings and I just am not able to babysit alone, without my husband there. I think it upsets her and I feel so bad inside because I cannot do what I wish I could do. The first year and a half that we were reunited (**my daughter left home at age 18 and was away for 10 years. This is not a story about those very sad times. This is about the reuniting of a family that was broken because of a car accident. My daughters were used to me being and doing everything and suddenly I could not do anything, not even dress myself. My eldest ran from the pain and surgeries), I think I ran on adrenaline. I saw her/them daily and then afterwards, I came home and crashed. Was that fair to my husband? No, it wasn’t! Did he say one word about it to me? No, because he was so happy to see my heart whole again. It was broken for 10 years!
So now it’s been about 3 years and so much has happened. I lost my Dr. of 12 years and the old pain medications that made easier for me to do more, it seemed. My pain Dr. is much better now and the regimen that I’m on is safer. But I’m unable to do the activities that I wish to do with them. If I was the person that I had been, I would be making snow angels with them in the snow. I’d be baking cookies and running around playing tag and “Duck, Duck Goose”. I do play some “sit down” (for me) games with them and we have tea parties. We watch Disney movies and I love it when they sit close to me and play with my hair. I used to take my walker to the zoo or on daily outings. I sat down when I was tired and I just was happy to be together. I’m still so very happy to have everyone together. I could never have had a happy life without both of my daughters and my grandchildren it.
Time has changed me and now I am tired and in pain much faster; more deep than before. In 2013, my CRPS changed from being in my feet and knees; to “severe systemic and disseminated”. It happened after what was supposed to be a 45 minute surgery but turned out to be a 3 hour heart and pectoral muscle rebuild surgery. I’ve never recovered and have felt a deep deep fatigue since then. If I do something for 2 hours one day, then I’m in my recliner for the rest of the day. I don’t want it to be this way, I don’t like it at all. I want to spend a whole day at the zoo with my granddaughters. I feel that my oldest daughter gets so frustrated when I cannot do the things I pushed myself to do at the beginning. Nobody understands “Invisible Illnesses”, not even our own families or friends. We used to go to dinner each Friday with my best friend and her husband. I’ve cancelled a few times in this past year and now I can feel a difference. Things that I wish I could do, I no longer am able to do. I love and look forward to babysitting when my husband is home and he is with me. He is there so that when I start to be too tired and in too much pain, he takes over.
But I lose friends and have lost people related to me. My own family cousin, who’d been my best friend for years; stopped talking with us after the car accident. My husband had called and asked her to come over because I could not be left alone at the beginning. I couldn’t dress or undress myself. I couldn’t even go to the rest room without help. My cousin and another person who was a good friend of ours, told Craig “No, I just can’t help because it’s too sad. When I get sad, then my family is sad and I cannot do that to them.” She took herself out of my life and so did the rest of my cousins, and family. I called my own brother after the accident from the hospital. I had been unconscious and when I finally got to a room, I tried to reach for the phone and missed. I hit my cheek instead. I called the only number that stuck in my head due to the TBI, it was my oldest brother. He answered the phone and I told him I ‘d been in a car accident, a bad one. I told him I was in the hospital and he answered back by saying, “Oh…you need someone? …..CLICK” and he hung up on me. Craig is my hero and the only person who’s ever truly loved me unconditionally. He’s there when I need him and when I think I don’t think I need him so much.
I married to get out of the house, when I was just 20 years old. That lasted 10 weeks and it was so terrible that I won’t even discuss that time period. Luckily that marriage was annulled and I moved away to another city to work at a school for the Deaf. I lived between my 2 aunts homes and got to work with Deaf children. I loved that job and I was also Interpreting for the Deaf at a great church. I got to participate in 2 drama groups that did sign language or “ASL” to songs and choreographed dance. I had a wonderful time during the year that I lived in Arizona. It was 1982-1983 and I celebrated my 21st birthday there and was part of a church youth group with wonderful friends.
I arrived home from Arizona and later met someone. We dated, got married and we were married for 8 years. We had 2 daughters, a dog and a beautiful home. I won’t belabor the story of how the Marriage ended because people can be hurt still today, from that “story”. I will say that I obtained help from a shelter and the Women’s Resource center. I moved out of our home a few months later when my older daughter finished kindergarten. Their father moved 1800 miles away and rarely saw them. I took care of them all by myself. I was the only person that was always there for them! Even if I had to leave my job in the middle of the day to be there for them and return to work afterwards; I would do that. So much has happened in my life. Most people would think that it’s horrific, but I soldiered on. I was almost completely alone but the three of us had each other. We were very lucky to have received some help from some very good people, churches and counselors.
When my oldest daughter was in 4th grade, I went on field trips and I took every chance possible to help out at the girls’ elementary school. I started a “Sign Language club” at their school, for a group of 4th and 5th graders. I taught 35 children some songs in Sign Language and did that for about 4 or 5 years. I love children and had so much fun interacting with them. I would teach fun songs in Sign Language and at the the end of the year we would have a show for the parents and the rest of the school. The “Silent Impressions Sign Language Club” was after school each Friday. I had that day off from my job and used it for volunteering in the classroom or at school and for teaching the Sign Language club. Towards the end of that year, my daughters’ teacher and I started to discuss meeting up for a coffee. He was a single dad and I was a single mom but we decided not to date until the school year was finished. Once we started dating we found that we were truly “soul-mates” and a little over a year later; we were married in the Wedding Chapel on Valentines day 1997.
One Saturday afternoon during the Summer of 2002, my husband and I were meandering & sipping lemonade at an outdoor Craft fair; while deciding where to go for dinner. The girls were with their friends and so we headed towards our town to a restaurant. As we were driving through a green light, a man ran through the red light and “t-boned” our mini Van with his SUV. I only remember a terrible burning smell after screaming “OH MY GOD”! The “lights went out” and I have vague memories of being in an ambulance and at a hospital and crying due to horrible pain. Luckily my husband was not hurt and a Police officer took him home to get our other car and our kids. I have no memory of the time without him being there with me.
I could not stand or barely move. My husband says that people were leaving the halls because my screams of pain were too hard for them to hear. My case was given to a trauma Dr. and I was admitted to the hospital. After 5 days my husband called my Neurologist (who I knew because of a Long thoracic nerve injury in 1999); and signed me out against medical advice. The weren’t doing anything for me. My husband told them that I was not acting like myself. I wet the bed and could not even stand to go to the bathroom. Instead of diagnosing me correctly with the TBI, that I later was finally diagnosed with; they sent up a Psych consult. They told us that I was “acting that way due to being abused”. My husband stayed with me the whole time and it was still a horrible experience. I left the hospital and that’s when questions started being answered. My then, G.P. and Neurologist helped get me the testing that was needed. I was found to have 2 torn rotator cuffs and multiple herniated/bulging lumbar and cervical discs. I had a torn Meniscus, sprained ankles and wrist. Also, I was diagnosed with Chiari I malformation, which I was born with but until the MVA, it was “sleeping”. Well, it awakened and I started having the worst migraines in the back of my neck and head. I could not hold my head by myself. My husband had to put me in a wheelchair with a yardstick behind my back and head with a pillow holding up my head. I couldn’t dress or undress myself or even go to the restroom alone. I couldn’t cut my own food or sleep in my bed. The insurance company sent a hospital bed for me to use or I slept in our recliner. I was in the most pain I’d ever known, outside of childbirth. The Physical Medicine & Rehab Dr. sent me for Neuro-Psych testing and I was found to have a TBI or “Traumatic Brain Injury”. The report said that my “short term memory was in the toilet”!! I went to a TBI Rehabilitation Center, daily from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm for 3 years. I had several different areas of nerve damage. It was discovered that I have a convergence insufficiency in my eyes and Moderate hearing loss in my ears. I needed Prisms on my glasses and 2 hearing aids. As I continued to faint nobody would help me or even listen. My husband knew something else was wrong and so did I. But to get Dr’s to listen when things are complicated and when so many things wrong; is very difficult. I saw a Neuro-Cardiologist because the TBI center sent me to him finally because of the fainting. I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia and POTS. I had Coronary spasms and a permanent pacemaker was placed. I ended up having 8 surgeries! I had visited so many shoulder Dr’s but none of them would listen to my issue regarding a “nerve zing” that went down my left arm from my left shoulder. One Dr. said to me “What part of “I can’t fix it, don’t you understand? Is it your brain injury?” OMG!! He was horrible and while I was walking out with my walker; the girls in his office looked horrified by what their boss had just said to me. I had several awful experiences with physicians, until one finally listened to me. It only takes ONE Dr. Folks! One to listen to you and help you. I ended up finding out that during that entire year that I was visiting shoulder Doctors; my biceps tendon had ruptured during the accident and it had grown onto the bone incorrectly. I had to have open shoulder surgery! They had to un-attach my Biceps tendon and reattach it with 2 screws. It was very painful.
I went through so much! Later, I had my 7th surgery, which was in 2007 on my right foot. It was the start of another nightmare! I was told that it would be a 30 minute surgery. I had been put on Coumadin, a blood thinner; due to having a heart attack in 2005. Following that Heart attack, I was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation. After that, in 2006, I suffered a CVA or stroke. The surgeon didn’t want to take me off of the Coumadin and so she put a blood pressure cuff around my ankle to stop blood flow to the right foot. The surgeon came out and told my husband after 90 minutes, that “once inside, the foot was much more gnarly” than she originally had thought. It took much longer than expected and there was no blood going into my foot during that time. Five days after my surgery, I was hobbling along in our kitchen and suddenly a big golfball sized lump popped out of my ankle and was purple, black and blue instantly! It felt like knives sticking in my ankle and I was writhing in pain. My husband took me to the E. R. but nobody wanted to help me. I sat there crying in so much pain while they “were waiting for another ambulance to come for the girl in the next bed who was “stable”. I was crushed again that no one would help me. We paged the Dr. who did the surgery and left the E. R.! She told us to meet her at the surgery center the next morning. I had to make it through the night like that! It was so much pain! She said that the “synovial joint sac had burst over my ankle joint “ and that is why it was so painful! She gave me Fentanyl Lollipops and told me to take them until the swelling could go down. That would take time & then the pain would lessen, slowly. I went for my 6 week check up and told her that the pain was worse than before I started. She told me that I had “a little RSD” and gave me some “Lyrica” I waited and things got worse and the Lyrica was horrible with nasty side effects. It did nothing but make things worse for me. I went to another Orthopedic Dr. and got a 2nd opinion. He walked by the room and said that my foot looked like “classic RSD” and he sent me directly to a pain clinic.
Prior to that MVA, I had only known the pain of abuse, and non physical types of pain. Childbirth was painful because I had 2 C-sections. The second time was a C-section after 43 hours of labor! But it was worth it because I got to have a beautiful baby both times! Also, there was an end to the pain of labor! There is no end to my current pain. The CRPS or “RSD” has gone systemic or full body since my 2nd pacemaker placement in 2013. Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. Mostly, because Dr.’s would not listen or had a preconceived notion of me and who I am. But I am strong! I am a survivor and it’s time to listen to me! I’m fighting for the pain patients and I won’t give up.
I have heard that my tragedies, illnesses, abuse etc. are cast upon me because maybe I am not virtuous enough? I’ve even heard that maybe I am cursed because I do not have enough faith? A friend of mine had someone in a local market say that they were going to “cast away the devil in her” because she carries a cane. I have had people say that they want to “lay hands upon me and pray upon me, because I am afflicted”, they feel that their prayers will “cast out evil spirits, or evilness that has caused my afflictions”. There was another who told me that I don’t “have enough God in my life” and therefore I have “so many tragedies” and it is because I “have not forgiven my abusers in this life”…..Sometimes I feel that over zealous, “fundamentalists”, who are excited about God’s miracles, try to “play God” in peoples lives. For instance, I heard about an 18 year old girl who went to a Christian camp and was told that her younger brother need not have died from Cancer, if only the family had more faith! WHAT? You NEVER know who is going to be stricken with an affliction, an illness, disease or grief. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you say. I am a “Chemo Angel”. I get assigned a person who’s going through chemo therapy and I send them small gifts & cards of cheer. Right now I have a small, 3 year old girl, with “Langerhans cell Histiocytosis (LCH) “, a form of childhood cancer. Could anyone say that she is ill because she doesn’t have enough Faith or that she’s done something to wrong God and he is “disappointed” in her? Can you say that she has had cancer for 3 out of her 4 years of life, because her family doesn’t have enough faith? NO, that would be cruel and judgemental!
First of all, none of the statements about “illness being due to a lack of Faith”, are accurate. Look at Job and all that he went through! Job was persecuted because of his faith in God. Job was given an “affliction”, not because he was “cursed” and certainly not by his own fault. Three of Job’s friends came to comfort him at the beginning of his worst pain and loss! They were sure that Job was sick and suffering because of the sins he had committed during his life. They told him that “righteous people don’t suffer”. Job always continued to say that he had done nothing sinful or wrong. In the Bible it does not say that a lack of healing is equal to a lack of faith! God can choose not to heal the faithful, but it is not connected to a lack of faith.
It is cruel, unloving, unkind and just wrong, to say that someone has a lack of faith and is ill, or stricken with loss and tragedy in life because they don’t have enough prayer, faith or enough love of Jesus Christ. To accost anyone in such a judgemental way does not help but only makes them feel marginalized and more alone. There are many different faiths in our society. Each Religion has its own set of beliefs, rules and rituals. I’m not here to judge any of these Faiths or beliefs, but I am here to say that nobody is sick because of their belief system or lack of faith. People don’t live with chronic pain day in and day out due to any Religious affiliations or lack thereof. We don’t use a cane, a wheelchair or a walker because we do not pray enough. It does not help a person with chronic pain and illness, to approach them and say any of the words that I’ve stated above. If you choose to pray for someone, then you can do that. But don’t try to push guilt and more pain onto anyone who’s already suffering. That doesn’t help, it only hurts and makes things much worse. Please try to remember to treat others as you would wish to be treated.
Have you ever felt so hot; sweating so profusely and you thought you might spontaneously blow up from the inside out? That is how those who live with Dysautonomia feel much of the time. If the temperature drops and we get just a little bit cold, then we are freezing cold, our lips turn blue and we are shivering. It takes our bodies a long time to regulate when there’s a temperature change. We may start to sweat and feel so very hot from the inside out! Many people don’t seem to understand the fatigue, heart racing, inability to adjust our body temperatures, the GI upset,motility issues, inability to sleep or the pain. All of these feelings fall under this medical condition called “Dysautonomia”. It happens to someone when their Autonomic Nervous System has gone berserk! (**The Autonomic Nervous System or ANS is every system in the body that is involuntary. This means the G.I. tract or digestion, Respiratory, breathing, Heart Rate, Pulse, Blood Pressure, Body temperature and other involuntary brain functions as well).
Quite often those with Dysautonomia also live with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. POTS causes feelings of being light-headed, fainting, dizzy, fast heart beat or tachycardia, chest pains, shortness of breath, GI problems/issues, inability to exercise, and sensitivity to heat and cold, as I mentioned above with Dysautonomia. Some people actually do faint while moving their body from the laying down or sitting position to standing upright.The diagnosis for POTS is usually made when a heart rate increases approximately 30 beats per minute (bpm) a few minutes after standing. Some people with severe cases of POTS, might need to get a pacemaker. There also may be other heart problems going on besides the Dysautonomia/POTS; as in my case. *”Many times POTS shows up in women who appear to be “normal and healthy” on the outside. Researchers have found that these issues and symptoms are actually as disabling as such conditions as COPD and CHF” (*this information was found on “Dysautonomia International” website). Another common diagnosis for persons with ANS dysfunction or failure is “Arnold Chiari Malformation”. This is something that a person is born with but it usually goes unnoticed until they have symptoms and then an MRI. It happens when the brain stem swells and doesn’t fit very well into the spinal column. It causes great headaches called “Chiari Migraines” in the back of the head. In my case I’m unable to hold my head up for a very long period of time because it feels weak and painful. “Chiari” can cause a number of disturbing issues for those who live with it. Some of these are: migraines, fatigue, muscle weakness,slow heart rhythm, Scoliosis and Central sleep apnea.
There are many “faces” to Dysautonomia, with its different symptoms and illnesses. I’ve mentioned some of them, but there is so much more to this “Invisible Illness”. For example; there are a number of other health issues associated with it and people don’t realize that some of these are linked together. Some of these are: CRPS or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Gastroparesis, Ehler Danlos Syndrome (EDS), CFS/ME and more. Many times patients feel like they are just living with many different ailments. Some physicians think that their patients with all of these different “issues” are just complicated. They don’t always look at how all of these ailments could be the many pieces one “puzzle” that all fit together because they are all under this “umbrella” of Dysautonomia.
*Over 70 million people worldwide are living with various forms of “Dysautonomia”, which can cause a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System (*numbers from “Dysautonomia International” website. Please try and remember these things when you see someone who appears to look fine or “normal” on the outside. If they take a Handicapped parking spot, they need it and their Dr. has approved it! People don’t have the HC placards for fun. Please don’t be mean or rude. Don’t say something sarcastic or unkind. I’d rather that you just ask me if you have a question about my disability status. I’m not required to answer you, but I will because I want people to know. You just never know what is going on inside of someone’s body. I hope this bit of information has helped you to understand POTS and Dysautonomia a little bit better than before. If you have a friend or family member with these illnesses, please give them the benefit of the doubt, when they are not feeling well. If they’re exhausted for what you think is “no good reason”, if they’re tired because they were up several nights in a row, due to their pain, or illnesses; please don’t judge. The worst thing that you can say is “well you were up til wee hours of the morning, so it’s no wonder that you’re tired”. We cannot sleep like you “non ill” persons can sleep. Just please be kind if we are not always at our best and/or if we have to cancel an outing with you.
Some of the statistics or medical information was taken from the “*Dysautonomia International” website at WWW.Dysautonomia.org. But most of this was my own words, feelings and from my own personal experiences that have happened and that are still happening to me every day.