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What My Pain Dr Told Me


Hello Luvs,

I wanted to write to you today to share with you something that I know many of us are dealing with these days. It’s about what happened at my pain management Dr. appointment on 11-8-18. First of all, every 30 days, I have to go and endure this treatment and I live with PTSD. It always rears its ugly head the day prior to my appointment with this Dr. or any new Dr. appointments. I’ll just refer you to my other article “Down the Rabbit Hole” if you need a reminder as to what has occurred up until now.

I arrived at the appointment which was in the late morning this time. I usually go in the afternoon because mornings are difficult for me, with my pain issues. But the past 6 months or so, I’ve had horrible anxiety when I know this appointment is drawing nearer. The closer it gets, the worse I start to feel psychologically and physically with the above symptoms on top of the pain. I decided to make this appointment in the morning because I thought it would not ruin our day so much. Just “get it over with” and be done; get on with our day. But it once again, did ruin my/our day.

I’ve had this pain management Dr. since July 2015, after my other Dr. of 15 years left suddenly. At that time I had been on the fentanyl patch and the lollipops for 10 years. This Dr. told me he would only accept me if I took myself off of the lollipops and I did it. I had to suffer through physical dependence withdrawals. I did it at home with my soulmate, my husband.

I’ve never rescheduled an appointment with him, nor have I ever been late. I’ve never run out of meds or asked for them early.  He knows of every medication that I take or have taken and honestly, I don’t feel like its up to me to have to “remind” him that I sometimes take Fiorcet for Chiari Migraines. He and I had a mutual respect sort of Dr./patient relationship up until April of this year 2018.  But that day everything changed and it turned out to be nothing that I did wrong. He had forgotten that I take Fiorcet and it doesn’t always show up on MAPS (Michigan Automated Prescription Service – *explanation found here*: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-72600_72603_55478—,00.html) because its such a low risk medication and not a high class either.  But whether it shows up on the MAPS is not up to me. Nor is it my fault in any way if it shows up or not, as long as he’s known from the beginning that I’ve been on it for more than 7 years.  This one particular day in April, he started being rude to me for no reason whatsoever. I went to my appointments in May, June and July.  But I was horribly anxious and very “ill” prior to each appointment, due to anxiety and PTSD symptoms.

This last visit was another horrible appointment and was the final one for me. I am done being treated like a criminal or an addict! I’m tired of feeling “put down”! I’ve never smoked or drank; nor have I ever taken any drugs. I received one more short acting script and now I will be tapering myself slowly off of the short acting medication as well. It will be horrible because it’s already horrible. It will be difficult and it’s already difficult.  He lied to me in July, telling me that “in Michigan, Fentanyl patch is illegal for him to prescribe (he is a pain management Dr. and Anesthesiologist MD), unless someone has malignant cancer”. I know this is not true and he told me that “I am smart and should be able to verify this online”.  I checked Michigan law and the fentanyl patch warning on the box. It says only that it is “for chronic long term moderate to severe pain that will not be going away.” If anyone has any idea where I can find this in writing; I welcome that information.

I got a letter from my GI Dr. (*see letter below) because he felt it was dangerous to take me off of the Fentanyl patch. With Gastroparesis, SIBO and Chronic Erosive Gastritis; along with EDS type 4/vascular and more, I am not able to metabolize the long acting oral meds. Believe, me, I’ve tried many things and either was allergic, got very ill, it did not help at all or it had large valleys and spikes. The patch just worked for my pain and it was the best match for me and my multiple co-morbidities.

Yesterday’s appointment he told me that “Chronic pain does not kill anyone”. I told him that I was in my recliner now 16+ hours per day due to the pain. He responded by telling me that my cardiologist should not have put me on Clonidine. I’ve been on it since 2015, but went off of it for awhile in between. He knew this also but apparently it slipped his mind because that must be what’s making me “tired.” But in reality, it’s the pain that’s keeping me down. Also, I only get about 4 hours of sleep on a good night.

My cardiologist told me to take 1/2 of only 1mg at night. He prescribed it for me and said it would help with the physical pain & dependence withdrawals. Thank goodness someone cared enough to help me a bit!

I tried to explain that I had resigned from many activities that I was able to do with the medications. He told me that none of this has to do with the medication for pain being taken away after 14 years. He went on to say that “Susan (you’d think after 3.5 years he’d get that my name is “SUZANNE” not “Susan), you and other chronic pain patients are hostages to the pain medications”. These are the same medications that he was fine with for the 3.5 years I’ve been going to him! He also knew that my history was even longer. I’ve been taking opioids since 2005, in order to have some semblance of a life. But just for the record, I’ll let you know that I tried everything else possible fir 3 years, before resorting to the opioids.

This pain management Dr. has told me all along that he cannot make my pain go away. But he can help lessen the pain by prescribing opioids. When he made the “hostage” comment, I responded with; well “instead , now I’m a hostage to the pain”. Yesterday he told us (my husband & me), that all of his patients still tell him they have pain “with or without the pain meds”. I responded by telling him “Yes, that is true, but I had a life with the meds and I have no quality of life now. The pain medication dulled the pain without ever giving me any kind of “high”. Now the pain is much more sharp, pronounced and at the front of my thoughts. I’m not able to concentrate much or put the pain in another place at the back of my brain.”

I started to explain to him that I have several “Physicians, pain physicians and nurses that are my friends online”.  I added that this past week I was diagnosed after an echocardiogram, with “left atrium enlargement”. I’ve had a heart attack, a CVA and a TIA twice. I have Atrial fibrillation, Sick Sinus Syndrome and a pacemaker since 2003. I’ve never had CHF but that’s what this means. I told him that “chronic pain can kill and under treated chronic pain can make blood sugar and blood pressure rise”, which has been happening to me.  He became very upset with me and started to pontificate about how “each symptom needs to be treated by a Dr. who takes care of that problem.  If my blood sugar is high, I need to go to a diabetes Dr. and if my blood pressure is too high, then I need that addressed by a physician who takes care of that issue. He went on to say that “chronic long term pain does not and cannot kill you.  Only acute pain can possibly make BP and HR etc. rise.” But from Dr. Tennant’s own account in his article (Practical Pain Mgmt. By Dr Forrest Tennant MD , from another article, by Pharmacist Steve Ariens, ( Harmful Effects of Untreated Pain )  and this article that I had written last year (that was also published in Ntl. Pain Report), “Chronic pain can kill” (Untreated Chronic Pain Can Lead to Sudden Cardiac Death ), he is the one who is lying.

The “O” Word


Hello Luvs,

I have just uploaded a video to my advocacy YouTube channel. I have called it “The “O” Word (The Opioid Issue)”,  It explains a lot about Chronic pain and the issue involving Opoids for the relief of chronic pain. After a pain patient has tried a good number of treatments and they have not worked out, then a patient should be able to make the choice WITH their pain management physician, to either take Opioids or not.  This would be in order to give them some semblence of a life outside of their bed or recliner.  The video is right here, below.  My YouTube Advocacy/Awareness channel is located at: http://www.youtube.com/Suzydukettes.

I don’t want to give too much away, but here is the video:

The “O” Word- The Opioid Issue

Introduction To: Inside Incurable Lives


We see so much in print these days about the “addicted”, the “overdoses”, the “bad guys” that are posting incorrect information all over the internet and about the opioid crisis.  Of course it seems as though only those of us living with daily chronic pain, truly understand that the “crisis” is indeed one of the pain patients “falling through the cracks”. Being-untreated or under treated and then committing suicide or having to spend the rest of their lives in agony.  This is the true “Opioid Crisis”.  But then I saw a short clip of a very well spoken, kind young woman named Victoria Suan.  She was asking for volunteers to help with an upcoming video compilation called “Inside Incurable Lives”, that she was doing for Social media.  She was going to follow a few stories of persons living with daily chronic pain and show how it affects their lives. I responded to her request and sent in some video clips; as did several other chronic pain patients. The first Social media video compilation called “Inside Incurable Lives, Episode 1”,  came out in September 2017.  In the second video compilation, Victoria was asking if chronic pain patients would be able to tell her “What one pain medication, would they not be able to live without?” Secondly, “If your Dr. Could no longer provide this, what would you do?”  The second video compilation project, “Inside Incurable Lives Episode 2”, focused on the voices of pain patients and their views regarding access or lack of access to opioid pain medications as well as medical marijuana. Episode  2  finished and posted in October. I was happy to be able to participate in both of these projects. I’m trying to help with this crisis in any way that I can. Later, I will be providing the links to these 2 video compilations for Social media. But first, I want you to introduce you to Victoria Suan, and her feature Documentary “Becoming Incurable”.

Victoria lives in California and since High school, she was interested in becoming a filmmaker. She graduated from Sacramento State with a Communications degree. She started creating short documentaries during college and then afterwards she decided that she wanted to make a feature documentary. She started researching blogs and video’s on YouTube. From there she discovered the chronic illness community. Victoria found through her research, what she describes as “a wonderful support network of people who are giving one another validation as they deal with the frustrations of chronic pain.”  She told me that she was thrilled by what she saw, and inspired. She decided to create a feature documentary about “chronic illness through intimate stories of real people living with chronic pain”. Starting out with her cousin who lives with Dystonia and a friend with another incurable condition, she then found her third featured person for the documentary. She describes the 8 or 9 months of filming as a “wonderful journey”.

The two video compilations on social media, that I participated in, were an extension of her feature documentary. Victoria then made a Facebook page and it became a platform for the chronic illness and pain communities.  She has become a “voice” for those of us who live with pain & chronic illnesses and she is showing our side of this painful journey.   She also wants to do whatever she can so people learn about her feature documentary. 

Before we get to the two video compilations in which the chronic pain communitiy on Facebook participated; I’d like to share some of Victoria Suan’s views about the opioid crisis.  I feel that it is very important to listen to the views of others who are neither patient, politician nor physician. Now that she has become close to several of us from the shorter video’s; I asked what her thoughts and feelings are, regarding what is happening to the chronic pain community? Her response was very heartfelt and thoughtful. Victoria told me that regarding the opioid crisis, she “really feels for the families and individuals that are dealing with addiction. Sadly, there aren’t enough ways to treat addiction without affecting the millions of chronic pain patients in our society.”  She told me that she’d read that Governor Chris Christie blames hospitals and physicians for starting this opioid epidemic. She wondered “how would a person dealing with chronic pain feel about this? How ignored and betrayed they must feel.  Is it wrong to eliminate a torturous level of pain by taking medication as prescribed by Dr.s?”  My own feelings are that politicians seem to not really care as long as it doesn’t touch them or their own families.  Victoria agrees that they just don’t want to listen to this. She feels that as chronic pain patients, we should not have to fight so hard just to be heard, really listened to.  But we are trying to fight because our very lives depend on it.

Victoria feels that it is “sad that one governors personal opinion can do more to influence legislation than the voices of millions of chronic pain patients.” She is happy that there are News outlets such as this and others, along with non profit organizations, such as the U.S. Pain Foundation; that are educating the public about chronic pain.  Victoria thinks that the film industry; especially a film called “Unrest” that is touring worldwide; and her documentary, “Becoming Incurable”, show that efforts are being made to educate and inform the general public about chronic pain.

Lastly, I wondered what she has learned from doing the 2 video compilations and the documentary film. She mentioned that she hadn’t realized before doing this, how difficult it is for people living with chronic pain to “do normal tasks, such as getting out of bed and/or going to the grocery store”.  I think that it taught her and hopefully will teach others about “Invisible Illnesses”.  She says that actually seeing these people in their pain, made her “truly acknowledge what life is like with chronic pain and illness”.  She feels that these projects taught her that each person has their own unique story to tell. She has figured out through these projects, that we are united in our pain yet each of our situations vary widely. I want to share with you in Victoria’s words, what she wants people to learn from watching “Becoming Incurable”. She hopes that people “will see these video compilations showcasing pain patients and stand with organizations that are fighting for the chronic illness community.  If our government continues on this path of neglect, I’m certain that chronic pain patients will be forced to fight a human rights issue.  I think this has already begun, as we are learning the numbers of chronic illness patients committing suicide.  It is important that we speak and act now in order to invalidate a campaign that deems anyone taking opioid medication as a suspect of the addiction problem.

Here are the links to the 2 video compilations of “Inside Incurable Lives” by film producer, Victoria Suan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjrJnriz6y8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CuFEgnz8yA

https://www.flipsnack.com/becomingincurable/inside-incurable-lives-issue-1.html?0=becomingincurable

Invisible Disabilities Week 10-15 Through 10-21-2017, You Are “Invisible No More”


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Several years ago I was approached by a YouTube channel called “Invisible No More TV”. They had seen some of my advocacy videos for patients, chronic pain, RSD/CRPS and “invisible disabilities/illnesses”.  They asked me if I would like to be featured on their channel in a short video describing “invisible disabilities” and being “invisible no more’.  I agreed and I’ve been featured on that channel ever since 2012.  I later found out that this YouTube channel is a part of a much bigger organization called the “Invisible Disabilities Association”.  The reason that I’m telling you this today is because this week is “Invisible Disabilities Awareness week”.  I’ve always been a team player for IDA and have always supported them and they have always supported me, since we met in 2012.

First of all, let me explain that an “invisible disability”, according to the IDA website, which you can find by visiting: Invisibledisabili.org, is “a physical, mental or neurological condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities that is invisible to the onlooker.  Unfortunatley the very fact that these symptoms are invisible, can lead to misunderstandings, false perceptions and judgements.”  The Invisible Disabilities organization works tirelessly throughout the year to bring awareness to illnesses, diseases and disabilities that often times seem to go unnoticed.  One week during the year, the third week of October is the time to share your journey with invisible disabilities.  This year, that week is October 15th through the 21st, is “Invisible Disabilities awareness week”.  During this wek, we will be posing many interactive posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  These are where you can share your personal stories, advocacy, favorite people, places, pets and anything else like this that you wish to share. This is YOUR week to meet new friends, post a video or share  stories with others.  The reason for this is that we want to show you that you are “INVISIBLE NO MORE” and just because people say “but you look good”; doesn’t mean that nothing is wrong on the inside.

This is how this week will play out:  On Monday we want you to “share your story”.  You can post as much or as little as you wish. You can post a photo collage with a story underneath, or you can make a *short and sweet video (about 2 minutes is best). Please note that you can post your story throughout the week, but Monday is the starting date for this activity.  On Tuesday we will be sharing stories of why invisible disabilities awareness is important in your life. You can make a video or a photo collage about your life and the millions of others who live with illness and pain that goes unseen sometimes. If you have the Invisible Disabilites glow-in-dark wristband, t-shirt or lapel pin; please wear it (you can buy them at the IDA website at:  www.InvisibleDisabilities.org).  If you have none or some of these, you can just choose a blue hat, scarf and/or a blue shirt. Invisible Disabilities Association wants to “turn the internet blue for millions living with Invisible Disabilities.  IDA is on  Instagram at: http://www.Instagram.com/invisibledisabilities, on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/InvDisabilities and on Facebook at:  www.Facebook.com/InvisibleDisabilities. You can use the tag #InvisibleDisabilitiesWeek.

Just to give you a little bit of background about I.D.A.; they were founded in 1996. Their mission is to “encourage, educate and connect people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe”.  They believe that “together we can make a difference in our communities and around the world.”

But now I just want to tell you a little bit about my friend Sherri Connell was an actress, dancer and loved to dance and sing. When she was 27 years old she lost the ability to take care of herself. She was diagnosed with progressive Multiple Sclerosis and she was in a wheelchair paralyzed.  At first friends and family were understanding and supportive.  She has been able to regain some use of her legs with a lot of work and effort. She still finds it difficult to stand and walk around.  But because suddenly the other people in her life could no longer “see” how the MS was disabling, they stopped being as understanding. It was not the wheelchair that kept her from her career, but the disabling fatigue, cognitive dysfunctions, horrible pain and dizziness too.  She could not care for her own daily needs.

Sherri’s husband Wayne, decided to try and tell people; help to educate their friends and family about her disabilities and illness.  He published a few writings from her daily journals onto a website. They thought long and hard and then decided on the name “Invisible Disabilities Association”.  Sherri quickly found out that she was not the only one, because she received numerous emails from people all over the world.  These people reiterated that they too, had felt alone and felt like nobody understood what they were going through because sometimes it was or is “invisible”. Then it became Wayne and Sherri’s passion to help others with disabling conditions by first believing them, and then by being compassionate, supportive and hopeful.

So then, in 1996, Wayne founded the Invisible Disabilities Association (a 501(c)3); with a mision to “Encourage, Educate and Connect People, Organizations Touched by Illness, Pain and Disability Around the  Globe”!  If you have any questions, you can reach out to Sherri Mitchell Connell or Wayne Connell on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also find them through the IDA website listed above.  Let’s all have a great week of spreading the awareness of Invisible Disabilities, Invisible Pain and Illnesses that go unnoticed to others at times, but never to those of us who live with it on a daily basis.

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No Competition, No Winners!


We each feel like our own pain is the worst and that what we are going thru is the hardest and most devastating. In a way, this is partially true. That is because when it is “YOUR pain” then it IS “YOUR” WORST.  What I mean is that everything can be challenging when you feel like your own story is the only one that’s difficult like this.
Consider Brian Greene’s idea, as he writes about the string theory in clear English : He points out that, “in an infinite universe, each of us is at the center”. Exactly, my point and what I’m trying to convey here, today. For example, one person may feel that whatever they are going through with chronic pain is the worst pain they’ve experienced in life…ever!, The patient may feel this way due to the possible negative outcome of certain treatments or the lack of treatment and/or empathy, or understanding. One person could feel that their situation is the very bottom of the “pit”. The true “fires of Hell” very well may be his/her situation. The outcome could be a “loss” of the use of his legs; to him this is the worst thing that he could imagine. For another pain patient, or an RSD/CRPS sufferer, she may be afraid and feel that her suffering is the hardest that anyone can imagine because RSD/CRPS is #43, which is so very high on the McGill pain scale. She may scared because she is so young and has her whole life ahead. For her, this disease is taking so much; it is a thief of sorts! She could lose so many possibilities in life.  Maybe she has indeed lost so much already? What about the younger ones who’ve never been able to experience true love or the dream of being a mother and holding that baby for the first time? Maybe the dream is something different but what if they don’t ever get to do the things that I got to do prior to my pain? There is much to lose at each and every stage, when your life gets harder, the pain gets worse.  It even gets more difficult to find things that make you smile again.

Today it feels to me as though life for patients with chronic pain has become much more challenging. We have to worry about going to different specialists and having a legitimate “Pain Dr.” now instead of just going to our General Practitioners or Primary Care Docs. We must have and visit a Pain Dr. every month or 2 months, if we are on any kind of Opioids. Today we must do urine tests, the million questions (yes, I’m exaggerating), the signature or the signing of a contract to prove that we will not seek out any other Dr. or even get any other medications for pain from any of our other Physicians. Therefore, if we have a surgery, our pain meds must be authorized by our current Pain Physician, before we can get them or take them! The new “CMS strategy for use/misuse of Opioids” is happening as I write this article . Let me explain.  This is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They intend to curb opioid misuse and abuse. But in the meantime they could cause needless suffering to many of our most impoverished and elderly persons in pain. There were posts made by me and Letters sent out by the U.S. Pain Foundation & RSDSA, regarding this. There were tweets, posts, letters etc. going around to get emails out by Friday, March 4, 2017;  to help change some of this strategy before the deadline at midnight Friday. The new Strategy doesn’t go into effect until April 7th, 2017, but we needed many emails to go out.  We needed these emails to help fix what may be a problem for many chronic pain sufferers who rely on Opioids for pain relief.  (*For more information visit: The U.S. Pain eNewsletter, Feb 1, 2017 “CMS publishes new strategy to combat opioid misuse”)!  There are obstacles coming toward us from all directions it seems right now. There’s also the way that Pharmacists can be “the Dr.’s” now and they, along with our insurance companies, can override what our own physicians direct us to take for pain medications. Things are changing and getting more difficult for many persons living with high pain illnesses. I have had people come to me in the groups that I administrate. They have asked me “What can I do? The pharmacy wants me to come back every 5 days to get Opioid pain meds that I’ve been on for years? I cannot drive and it’s an hour away from my house! What can I do?” I feel terrible because I can’t “fix” it for them. I’m writing letters, tweeting & emailing, but no one is listening to me either; not yet. I don’t mind if they change the way the medications are made, such as changing it so they cannot be crushed, broken or changed in any way into another form.  That’s fine with me because I am a legitimate pain patient, who takes my pain medication responsibly at the right times and on the correct dates. But God forbid if you do anything different or wrong! I was questioned because my pharmacy took 6 days to get my medication in!  My Dr. wanted to know why “I waited 6 days to get my pain medication”. I felt like a criminal or like a scared child! This was no fault of my own and in fact, my husband tried to check around but nobody else had my medication in during those dates either. I was punished because I’m the one who started getting very ill for those 5 days! I had to go through that because even though I go to the same pharmacy monthly and for the same medications; they didn’t have my specific  medications that month! When I returned to the Pain Dr. appointment, of course he wanted to know why there was a “lag” in time for picking up my meds. It’s just getting harder, more scary and more confusing. I’m tired and I can see why people feel like giving up sometimes. But we cannot give up! I will not ever give up!  I have to keep on fighting for my rights and for all of our rights!

After my heart surgery in February, 2013; I found out that my RSD/CRPS had traveled to my heart as well as my whole left side. I have so much pain in my neck, knees, lower back, hands, feet, arms, legs etc, from several of chronic pain illnesses or issues. At times, I’m afraid, sad and I get lonely too. But I know that this is only “MY” worst, not anyone elses. I only truly know my own private pain. We all have our own health and pain issues that are specific to each of us. While I can’t take the pain “journey” for you, I can go through it “with” you in a personal way. I can be your friend, listen to your heart and because of computers, I can virtually reach out to you via my groups, my blog and even articles.

Every one of us has real fears, anxieties and true pain.  I recently read a story about a poor woman in terrible pain with great fear. I do understood her fear (to a point) and her pain (only from as far as I can draw from my own experiences). Then I read about another, younger woman in the same kind of horrible pain. In both of their personal stories, deep fears and pain came through. The younger woman feels that she has so much to lose, as she hasn’t even started her life yet. Some of us have already had our children and we’ve had “real” jobs or a career for a while. We may have even been through some good &/ or exciting adventures prior to becoming chronically ill? Maybe we’ve done some fun things in our lives or accomplished a goal? Some of the younger people living wth chronic pain have not been able to achieve any of those things, not yet, anyway. What I see through my patient advocacy work with chronic pain and Invisible Illness; is so much love and compassion. Sometimes it is dampened and even overidden by our real fears and the feeling that we are “the person worse off”. We each may feel that “it’s not fair”  or that our pain is “the worst”.  But it is our own personal worst; which is different for every individual. When I think of pain in this way, I realize that we all have essentially the same inner feelings. If I can stop thinking of my own situation and my pain, and step back for a moment; I’m better able to  empathize with others who live with pain. I know that many of us share the same inner feelings of solitude with our illnesses at times.  We  cannot give up on ourselves or each other. We must not stop trying to fight for a life that we each deserve.

Support Groups,Chronic Pain, And Why Kindness Matters


 

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When we are in pain, it sometimes can be hard to see another persons pain as well.  I have founded and am Administrator for several Support groups online. Some are for chronic illnesses & pain. While others are for fun and socializing. I’ve noticed that my group for people who love Cats,”The Scratching Post”; is very different than my other groups that are in support of people living with different kinds of pain. The reason that they are so different is because people who are just there to hang out and talk about the silliness of Cats  are usually thinking more positive thoughts and they’re in their happy place. Those of us who struggle with pain, may feel a various number of emotions. We bring those emotions into the group setting. Luckily, in the support groups that I run; I have not had any trouble with drama, in-fighting or bullying whatsoever.  I tend to think that it is because I have been the sole administrator and I take care of anything and everything Before it happens. I always check the “new requests” very thoroughly. I try to keep my groups safe from harm or any kind of researchers that want to “study” us/them. I have had people pretend to be someone who is in pain and they request to join my support group online. A long while back, I had a few interns from various countries, who wished to “study” the persons with CRPS or Invisible illnesses, so they tried to join one of my support groups. I have not ever asked their reasons because they don’t even get that far. I just don’t let them join my groups.

A few of the the ways that I keep my groups safe are by doing a few simple tasks before allowing someone to  join. I look for “signs” on their pages and I ask them several questions via private message. If their page is bare, without even a cover photo or profile picture; I don’t even pursue their request to join. If it just looks a bit “private” but they’ve been on Facebook for several years, then I ask them the questions that I will post below for you. If they have a few friends in my support group(s), or if they are referred by someone in the group; I usually just welcome them to the group and don’t check much more. I will ask the person who referred them or the people they have as their “friends”, if they know them well or if they are just an acquaintance?  Here are a few of the questions that I ask a prospective new member in one of my online support groups:

  • First I will make a statement something like : “Hello, my name is Suzanne and I’m the founder/admin. for the group that you have asked to join (then I name the group)”.  Then I’ll say, “Please don’t feel singled out, because I ask all prospective members the same questions. I like to just get to know you a little bit to make sure that you are in the right group for what you want/need.”
  • Secondly, I will ask them How did you find this group? What were you searching for?(Because my groups are mostly private, which means they can be seen in name only but the posts are private)….this also helps both of us make sure that they’re in the right place.
  • Then I might ask, What makes you want to join this type of group? Do you live with __ or __? (*Chronic illness, invisible illnesses and/or RSD/CRPS), or are you a Caregiver?
  • Next, I will say “When were you diagnosed? Where do you live?”
  • Then I will check everything out and usually allow them to join
  • If they don’t or won’t answer any of the questions, I don’t allow them into my groups. There are many other groups out there and I just want my members to feel safe.
  • If their page has zero information, zero photos and nothing that you can see whatsoever, that is a bad sign and I just usually “ignore” that request to join.

Some ideas for Administrators and moderators of groups already ongoing are:

  • Check the group regularly and just look over the new posts as they come in. Respond as soon as possible.
  • Look for abusive language &/or aggressive behaviors
  • Watch for a person that may be “picked on” or who has the anger of the group “dumped” on them. Act accordingly to figure out and fix the problem.
  • If you have spoken to someone a couple of times and they are rude to you or other members, it’s time to take them out of your group for the members’ sake
  • Ask for help, as I just recently started doing. I just couldn’t be everywhere and do it all. I asked for volunteers, for people who wanted to do some of the things that I cannot keep up with. Such as checking out all of the new members. Watching for any abusive, nasty or negative language or posts; and then telling me about them. Then I can decide whether to delete the post or talk to the person. Either way I will speak to the writer of those kinds of posts; it’s just a matter of before or after I delete it. My new moderators have the choice if it is a very abusive post to just delete it and tell me who and what, later.
  • Make sure that if you do ask for help, you choose people that you relate well with. Also persons who you have known for quite a while and you trust them and their judgement.

Unfortunately, many of us with Chronic pain issues and illness,  don’t always have the most supportive families or friends. These types of people also try to show up in groups to find out information for the “family”. That is another article in and of itself about Malignant Narcissist’s or abusers. If you have a supportive family, that is half the battle; it’s wonderful for you and that alone can help with your healing.

Whether you are a founder/administrator, a moderator or a member of an online support group.  Try to think first before you write, or at least before  you hit the “send” button. Remember that in Facebook support groups, you have the chance to go back and delete what you have written. Just in case you were terribly upset (we all can feel that way sometimes) and you want to get rid of your post before another person’s feelings get hurt or worse. Never carry private or specific information from one group to another. If in doubt, always ask the administrator(s). If you want to re-post an article or something similar, then go to the original Website  where that article was posted and share straight from there. This way you aren’t taking a post from one group and sharing with others. Usually  it is impossible to “share” between private groups anyways; but just in case.

We all continue to learn and grow in our lives each day. I’ve made mistakes before and I try to make amends or change whatever I can, so that I don’t repeat the error of my ways. I do my best to think first before I react or say something to another person, whether they are a friend or foe. Regardless if they are online in a group or out in the world in some kind of group setting. We are all humans and everyone feels hurt when someone is downright rude or is treating us badly. I want to add that if you are going to comment either way about something that someone has said, written or done; always be sure that you know all of the facts first. Don’t just read one line of something that someone has written, and then make a rude or cutting remark.  Don’t try to guess what someone means when they write a sentence or two in a group post online.  Sometimes the short or hastily written words cannot depict the true feelings, ideas or thoughts of a group member.  Keep in mind that some people are better at expressing themselves with spoken words and others are better at writing. Try to not get bothered by the small things, and think about what the “tone” of the words feel like to you; even if you might’ve said it differently.

When all is said and done, remember that we all inhabit this internet world together. We need to be as kind, loving and gentle as possible. There are always times when we say or do the wrong things. What we do afterwards, or the next time; is what matters most. Be kind and remember that the person you are upset with may have a whole mountain of issues, illnesses or problems that you don’t even know about.  That doesn’t give them the right to abuse or hurt you or others in any way. But just get away & remove yourself from the situation whenever possible. It never hurts to explain yourself, if  you feel that someone has gotten it wrong or judged you wrongly.

Lastly, please remember in the support groups for chronic pain, illness, grief, abuse survivors etc….these people are hurting a bit more than the average amount.  Try to be understanding and be a good listener, especially in a support group.  Give hurting members; those who are in much pain either physically or emotionally, a little leeway. Remember to be gentle and kind.  If you felt hurt by the actions or words of another member in your support group, step back for a moment and think. If you forget and then  realize that you retaliated against someone in a group, because you felt angry or hurt; try to make amends. Try to put yourself in someone Else’s situation, if you know it. If not, then try to just be thoughtful of others feelings. Treat them how you would like to be treated.  Remember that Kindness matters!