Becoming Incurable Crowdfunding Campaign


Please watch this short video and see how this film producer is bringing awareness of Chronic pain and Chronic illnesses to the big screen!

If you prefer to visit my advocacy YouTube Channel to watch this, you can visit: WWW.YouTube.Com/Suzydukettes….

BUT my newest Youtube video is right here for you to watch -and it’s only about 4 minutes Long: I hope you will enjoy, learn & help in any way possible with the crowdfunding campaign, at: http://www.seedandspark.com/fund/becomingincurable

Here is a very short 4 minute video: (Thank you for Watching):

Becoming Incurable Crowdfunding Video

Human Rights Group Addresses Opioid Issue


 

I was uplifted to see that someone is finally standing up for the rights of 100 million chronic pain patients in these United States of America. We’ve been waiting for a group, a person, a physician or anyone to stand of for this group of people who are mostly too busy worrying about Dr. appointments and just carrying out daily tasks of living to advocate for themselves . Those who deal with daily pain are often too weak to form a huge protest, fight with signs and stand on Capitol Hill for days or hours at a time. Many of us have written letters and tried to encourage people to respond to the FDA docket. Many people have done what they could do to help, while living with illness, chronic pain and debilitating fatigue.

This past week I was so happy to find that a Human Rights group called “Human Rights Watch” has taken an interest in our cause. Someone has finally noticed that ignoring a large group of citizens who live with chronic pain and who are being largely untreated or under-treated, is inhumane! This Human rights group has reported on other forms of torture throughout the third world countries as well. They are based in New York and at last, they are looking towards helping the people at “home”, in the USA. They were doing research on cancer patients and were shocked to find that so many had lost their pain control/relief. This is considered torture in many other countries. Before this Opioid issue began, I never would have believed that the USA would want to torture their most fragile citizens? Hopefully this advocacy group will truly help this cause. They could begin by reversing the effects of the CDC guidelines and by helping to keep the government (and politics) out of practicing medicine. In my opinion, it feels as though some legislators who may want to be re-elected, make a name for themselves or get news media attention have been “using” the chronic pain community for their own gains. One example of politics mixing with medicine is the “Lifeboat tax”. A group of Senators want patients who are taking Opioids, to pay for addiction treatments centers by forcing a tax of .01 cent per milligram of Opioids prescribed daily. But the majority of people who are legitimately prescribed Opioids are not “addicted”. This is wrong and someone has to take a stand, be brave and help those who truly cannot always fight for themselves. Living with untreated and under-treated chronic pain is definitely a human rights issue because people can and do die from it! They pass away because increased amounts of pain can cause very high blood pressure, high glucose level, stroke and a heart attack. But it’s the “living” without pain relief that is the torturous part.

Honestly, removing Opioids from the bigger picture of high pain illnesses, is inhumane. I hope this Human Rights Watch group will help the chronic pain community, curb the fear in our physicians and stop the Government from creeping into our patient/Dr. Relationship and exam room. This group found that nobody has been paying attention to those suffering because their physicians “jumped ship” and abandoned them. They found that the testimonies given by some patients who have lost access to appropriate medications for pain relief, “were similar to those who were victims of police torture”( https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2018/3/15/human-rights-watch-investigating-treatment-of-pain-patients. We needed someone to be brave and step up to help our community.

If you want to help the chronic pain community and/or if you have a story of your own, please write to this group? Share your story in just a few lines. They have asked for people to send these stories to: Human Rights Watch, email researcher Laura Mills at millsl@hrw.org…They also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HumanRightsWatch and they have a Twitter feed @HumanRightsWatch. The more true stories about increased pain and loss of treatment that can be sent to them, the better. The more real human faces that they can connect with this Cause, the more it will help to stop the continued torture of Americans who rely on Opioid therapy for relief of chronic pain Illnesses.

I Am Invisible No More!


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Hello Luvs,

I wanted to post the video that I made for Invisible Disabilities Association. I was hoping to ask you for a favor? I have entered this video in a contest, in order to spread awareness of Invisible Illnesses. Would you please be so kind as to just click on the video below and then watch the 3 minute long Video? Then right above the video, after you click on it, you’ll see the word “VOTE”! Please click on that word and that will cast your vote for me!

Thank you so very much! If you could, I’d be so obliged if you could SHARE the video on your Facebook pages and in your groups, Tweets etc. It would be really awesome to make Invisible illnesses more known! Thank you for your vote, in advance. I appreciate it so much! Ohhhh please always us the hashtag #Iaminvisiblenomore thank you !

My video “I Am Invisible No More” Is Right Here, When You Click!

http://woobox.com/yskmzt/gallery/0by3nprZkI0

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


Living With Invisible Illnesses


 Showcasing what many of us live with and deal with on a daily basis:

The Many Faces of Dysautonomia (NPR Article #10)


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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.

SIBO, The Missing Piece of Chronic Pain Dysautonomia


 

Difficult question

One Summer day in 2002, a man ran through a red light and changed my life forever. I didn’t know what pain was until then, except for childbirth. After the MVA, I went through multiple surgeries, chronic intractable pain and then one medical issue/diagnosis after another. I now have an Autoimmune disease called “Combined Immune Deficiency”, which renders me unable to be a candidate for many surgical pain interventions.  I have several pain illnesses such as:  Systemic/full Body RSD/CRPS, Arnold Chiari I, Polyneuropathy in Collagen Vascular Disease (which is similar to EDS type 4/Vascular), Degenerative Disc Disease, Autonomic Neuropathy, Scoliosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis,Dysautonomia/POTS, CFS, Gastroparesis, Chronic kidney disease II, Chronic Erosive Gastritis, and there are more. I won’t bore you with the rest of the list because you get the idea!  Except for the latest diagnosis that I’ve been given, puts the puzzle together for me in some ways.

Are you a chronic pain patient who has had IBS (Irritable Bowel syndrome) and much trouble with your stomach and digestion? Have  you been diagnosed with Chronic fatigue? Do you have Fibromyalgia? How about Dysautonomia, POTS and EDS?  Well, it took me several Gastroenterologist’s to actually find one that would truly listen to me. One who had knowledge of such things as CRPS and Dysautonomia and ANS failure. We all need to visit specialist after specialist, until finding one who truly listens. Luckily, the GI Dr.that I’ve found, is knowledgeable about CRPS and many of the pain illnesses that I have. He did many blood tests, EGD, colonoscopy and gastric emptying test. He gave me the diagnosis of chronic erosive Gastritis. He said “Do you see the CRPS lesions on your hands and legs/feet? That is what the inside of your stomach looks like”. Then in giving me the diagnosis of  Gastroparesis he explained  how my  Dysautonomia most likely contributed to many things, including the next illness that I would be diagnosed with. I finally had answers and was so relieved to at least know what was going on inside of my body. But that was only part of the puzzle.

Next, he ordered a test for me, called a “SIBO” or “Small Intestinal bacterial overgrowth” test. In the end, it shows if you have a chronic small intestinal bacterial infection or not. Most people have this test and it can last up to 3 hours. Mine was positive after only 20 minutes, because the numbers tripled during that time! I was given a positive diagnosis for “SIBO”, and then a couple of medications; including an antibiotic. They printed out an information sheet and made me a  return visit appointment with the Dr. in a few weeks.

I actually rushed to my keyboards in order to share this information with my “pain friends” and the “pain community”. This is an important piece of the “puzzle” for many, I believe.  I will try to explain this in the best way I know how, but you need to talk to your physician about it,  in case it could be part of your puzzle.  You see, we all have the “normal” bacteria in our GI tract. The small intestine not only plays an important role in digestion and getting the nutrients from our food, but it also plays a very big role in our immune system and fighting infections. The “good” bacteria help with absorbing vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin K, A and folate. They even help with the muscles that move food through our systems.

SIBO is essentially a chronic infection of the small intestine.  They have found it shows up positive with many chronic conditions. It can lead to various IBS symptoms such as: bloating, abdominal pain/discomfort, Diarrhea, Constipation, Gas/belching and in more severe cases there can be weight loss and the symptoms related to the vitamin deficiencies. One of the biggest issues it causes is called “leaky gut”. But it can “mess with” our immune system as well. This in turn, may cause an increase in allergies, food sensitivities, fatigue, altered cognition or “brain fog”, pain and other neurological symptoms. SIBO is a bacterial infection but it is NOT contagious. It is very hard to treat because antibiotics are used, but in about half of all patients it returns within a year, maybe several times. Extended use of antibiotics is a risk factor for SIBO! It has been studied and most patients with Dysautonomia also suffer from SIBO! There are several publications out now, that find a strong connection between SIBO and Fibromyalgia as well.

So why am I telling you this?  Mostly, because many people who have CRPS, EDS, FMS, CFS and other pain illnesses or ones which cause fatigue, also have Dysautonomia. Abnormal autonomic function can cause many varying symptoms, including:  fatigue (*not just being tired, but a lack of energy so severe that has a huge impact on a patient’s life), sleep disturbances, altered cognitive function (*known also as brain fog), cold/heat intolerance, headaches (*headache upon waking up are common with ANS dysfunction), bladder/bowel dysfunction and stomach pain (*GI symptoms such as: bloating, early fullness are a part of ANS dysfunction as well). Digestion is a large part of the Autonomic nervous system. In addition, many people with EDS Hypertonicity/Spasticity or abnormal muscle tone have Dysautonomia; along with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), Visual disturbances and altered sweating.

Treating this small intestinal bacterial infection (SIBO) is very challenging. Treatment is more than just helping with IBS symptoms.  SIBO, as I have discussed, is often present with many of the autoimmune or chronic inflammatory diseases. Getting rid of the “wrong” bacteria is most important. I was given an antibiotic and probiotics. But some patients, I’ve read, are given antimicobials, and pro kinetic agents such as low dose Naltrexone.

If you have any of the symptoms of SIBO that I’ve mentioned above, talk with your GP or see a Gastroenterologist, a specialist in digestion and motility disorders. For more information you can visit: https://autonomicspecialists.com/symptoms/, https://autonomicspecialists.com/small-intestine-bacterial-overgrowth-sibo/, http://www.thedysautonomiaproject.org/‎, https://draxe.com/sibo-symptoms/, http://www.mitoaction.org/files/Dysautonomia.pdf, https://autonomicspecialists.com/small-intestine-bacterial-overgrowth-sibo/

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I want to add that SIBO is just another painful part of  living with Chronic Pain illnesses. The diagnosis of Combined Immune Deficiency disease,  makes me one of those persons who needs access to Opioid pain medications. Due to risk of infections and an even higher risk of paralysis; I’m one of many pain patients  who are not candidates for SCS or a pain pump. We need to be heard and to keep our voices going strong. Continue to reach out to our Government representatives, regarding the error in  labeling us as “addicts”.  A grossly incorrect label given to those of us living with chronic daily pain but who require Opioid pain medications. The majority of Chronic Pain patients take these medicines responsibly. We should not be lumped together with Heroin addicts and those persons who abuse drugs. I/We do NOT get a high, nor do I/we crave our pain medications. We require them just as a diabetic needs insulin. In my own life, the Opioids help my CRPS, the horrible burning nerve pain & give me a reprieve. In the same way that other medicines help people with different specific illnesses. If the diabetic or the person with high blood pressure stops their medications quickly, they will get very sick and could even die. Why can’t the CDC, DEA, PROP Dr.’s and our Government see this?  That I too, can digress, get very ill and even could have seizures or a heart attack if I am abruptly removed from my Opioid pain medications? The exact pain medications that I have been prescribed and have been taking  at the same or lowered dosage since that auto accident in 2002.

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