About Me

Hello, I worked in Occupational Therapy for almost 25 years. This much loved career was cut short by multiple spine diseases, several spine surgeries, which lead to nerve damage, resulting in a neurological condition called, Central Pain Syndrome. (Some physicians state it is the same as CRPS - there's a lot of similarities, however, this is centrally initiated along the spinal cord vs. peripherally as in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). I continue to keep up my license in Occupational Therapy through the state of Michigan, my certification through the National Certification Board of Occupational Therapy and am a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association. I am an advocate for chronic pain sufferers, as well as an administrator of a spine disorder chronic pain support group and author of a blog called, "Functional Living with Chronic Pain - Living Life in a New "Normal."

After having "lost" my career due to having 24/7, moderate to severe pain, in addition to the spine disorders, I have found purpose in life of living in chronic pain by helping to encourage and educate others on the same journey by using skills I had learned in my career in occupational therapy, as well as what I am continuing to learn living with chronic pain.

I dedicate all my work to those whose lives have been torn apart by horrific chronic pain, as well as my hubby and my pain specialist, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, who both encouraged me to use my skills in occupational therapy to help other sufferers learn to push through the deep dark crushing pain and understand the many facets of chronic pain. To learn to live as functional of a life in a new "normal."

I recently write a series of eBooks called, Preparing for the Holidays with Chronic Pain,  for those with chronic pain, with the purpose of giving specific suggestions and ideas to help make the strenuous activities of the holiday season simpler and more tolerable, ultimately decreasing the stress on us and helping us to be able to reduce the chances of increased pain flares, thus hopefully allowing us to spend cherished time with family and friends.

This is part of what I shared in my interview with the National Pain Report when contacted. 

I spent almost 25 years working in Occupational Therapy working mainly with the elderly population dealing with decreased function and strength in orthopedic, neurological, muscular, cognitive, pulmonary, cardiac and psychiatric diagnoses. Helping people recover and be as independent as possible, with whatever their physical or mental diagnoses left them to deal with in life often means learning to live life in a new “normal."  This was my passion! It still is! It always will be!

Since 2010, I’ve been one of those people learning to live life in a new “normal". Everything I worked so hard to achieve in my career and life had been shredded to pieces by my multiple spine issues, 3 cervical herniations, 3 lumbar herniations, lumbar stenosis, DDD, occipital neuralgia, cervical foraminal stenosis, cervical nerve damage (C2-3 level no physician wants to touch), brachial neuralgia, post-laminectomy syndrome, cervical radiculopathy, and SI joint arthritis. After my second of three spine surgeries leading to unrelenting intractable pain I sought several opinions from specialists looking for relief.

Eventually, I ended up with a neurological pain specialist at the University of Michigan, who is one of the top in his field that works with neuropathic pain disorders. After even more MRI’s and other tests than I already endured the previous 15 months, he stated the nerve damage along my spinal nerves lead to a neurological nerve disorder, called Central Pain Syndrome, thus leaving me with moderate to severe constant chronic pain in my upper body. I was told by him, as well as several other specialists I sought treatment from, “I am very sorry, there is nothing we can do. You will have to learn to live with it.”  I heard it so much I started comforting them because I felt sorry for them having to tell me that.

Over the past five years, after attempting to fight this reality, denying its existence and trying to “push through the pain” to do what simple tasks, as well as heavy duty tasks, we all take for granted,  I realize this is not a mind over matter situation. For a time there I felt I might as well do whatever the heck I wanted, if I was going to hurt, I might as well have a good reason for it! That seriously was not a good attitude. Nor was it appropriate for me, as later reprimanded by my physician. I could have physically damaged myself. So, please, don't do that to yourself! But, I guess it is what one does when very angry at all the horrid pain. One cannot fight against this diagnose... It fights back! And it always wins! As of last year, having yet another inescapable spine surgery, this time in the lumbar spine, causing the central pain syndrome to spread to my lower body, I am told the only option left is to have permanent implantation of a pain-modulating device, called a motor cortex implant.

Throughout all this, I have tried repeatedly to take theses shredded pieces of my life and rebuild a new “normal”.  Finding "tools" to be functional in my daily life to just get done what needs to be done, to take care of myself and our home with all this physical pain gripping my body is incredibly difficult to achieve. During all this, I was grieving! Holding tightly to what my life was, who I once was, as well as how this all fits into my future. I have struggled in my heart to find significance, a purpose, with where I was at.

Trying to be functional in life with all this pain is hard enough. But, one cannot escape going through the added weight of the intense emotions of all the loss this pain also puts the sufferer in. The denial, isolation, anger, bargaining and depression to hopefully someday finding acceptance are just so hard to deal with! Achieving acceptance can lead to a sense of peace and joy in the new “normal.” I want others to know it’s worth the fight to finally get to acceptance!

It can happen! It does take time. Way more time than we'd like! We just cannot push through all our losses. It takes a lot of work! While I was stuck in this mess, (always will be in many ways) I came across many others suffering as well! I hated to see so many suffering! Some at very young ages! Some all their lives! I especially hate to see those that get stuck along the way in the negative aspects!

One of the many things I learned from the many traveling this same journey is that we all need each other! We need to help encourage and comfort each other along the way! We need to look for ways to find our new “normal!" We do not have to let it overtake us! We do have hope, a hope that we all can find a purpose in our life with chronic pain. That is what we need to find, and encourage others we come across to find as well!

I (with God's help, my husband’s, kids, grandson, some family, friends and knowledgeable physicians) have mostly put together the shredded pieces of my life caused by central pain syndrome to be as functional as I can be in my new "normal." I am finding my way through the maze of all the physical and emotional stress living life in chronic pain brings. After 4 1/2 years, I feel I am finally ready to work on this "acceptance" thing. I need it, for myself and as much for my family and friends. I have felt it in my heart here and there. Yet, I am still gripping tightly to what my life use to be! It's just hard to let go! I am at times afraid to let go, for it seems it will forever be lost to me. I think that it is like a roller coaster ride of grieving the loss of what was and living with the constant pain horrid pain. It just isn't ever going to go away and sometimes we need to be okay with the grieving it brings in the middle of the night when it overcomes us, leaving us unable to sleep at all, leaving us gripped in the reality of the dark, deep truth of, "I am sorry, you will have to learn to live with this, it will never go away." The deep, gripping, burning, shooting, horrid truth of this unending pain that tears your heart apart and shreds everything in its path, choking you with this truth...

I guess it has already let go of parts of me. The parts of have control over-my heart, my spirit, my soul. It still has some hold on those areas, maybe it always will in a way. However, I have slowly found moments of peace and joy, less fleeting, taking over my heart. Maybe it is because God's creation is springing forth with Spring finally arriving, but I am feeling renewed and ready to live again! Perhaps there is hope after all…

Part of my new "normal" is utilizing my skills in Occupational Therapy, as well as what I have learned on this journey of living life with chronic pain caused by Central Pain Syndrome, to help other sufferers on this same journey to rebuild their new “normal.” One of the many subjects I have published is a series regarding the losses we endure and the stages of grief due to these losses. Please click through the topics below the title of the blog, as well as the archived items to see topics covered.

My hope is that you will discover something from the articles in this blog to apply in your chronic pain journey! Tools that will help with understanding the many ways this life in chronic pain affects us, to increase our sense of control, ways to be as functional as possible with everyday living, as well as finding a purpose for yourself if you have not yet been able to find one.

I have met many along this journey of living with chronic pain that express that this life leaves them feeling that they don’t have much to give. Many are hopeless and depressed due to the multiple losses this life brings. I accidentally met these people in support groups while looking around the internet one day. I had no idea these groups were out there!  There is a lot of support out there! No one has to live this life alone! Many found these groups while looking for support and they end up encouraging others by giving words of empathy, comfort and understanding to others! Thousands of people have formed communities of deep friendships! If you have not found a place of support, please email me and I will let you know where to look. Sherikay823@gmail.com.

If you have found something to add to your own knowledge that helps you in this life of chronic pain, please share it with others you meet along the same journey. We need to be there for each other sharing knowledge, as well as words of comfort, with those we come across! Being there for each other gives us all a purpose in life!

2 comments:

  1. Hi, my name is Sherry Kay...for real (Sherry Kay Dyck) and my husband has CPS but specialists and drs have never figured out why so they can't get to the root of the problem. He had to quit work years ago but hasn't qualified for financial assistance because the illness is so nebulous. He's tried everything medication he's been offered as well as a gazillion alternative therapies that have cost a lot of money to no avail. He's currently on a cocktail of many meds that have nasty side effects but barely touch the pain so his quality of life is horrible. I, too, have lots of chronic pain due to 3 invisible illnesses (spondylitis, fibromyalgia and major depressive disorder) and lost my job 4 yrs ago so we are trying to raise 2 teenagers and survive on my very small disability income. We've lost tonnes of friends, our future hopes and dreams and have almost lost our marriage. These illnesses have shredded our lives and it is only by the grace of God that I am still alive...literally. I just finished reading your story here and wanted to thank you for sharing so beautifully and vulnerably and I can't wait to go through this site with a fine toothed comb to glean from your experience. Thank you Sheri...blessings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sherry Kay Dyck, How are things going for you and hubby? I pray you're finding many blessings along the way. I know it's very hard to live this way, but we have to focus in on the good as best we can!

      Delete

As always, please feel free to leave a comment, ask questions, or give suggestions!