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
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
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!
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
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!
(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
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
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
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.
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!
Functional Living With Chronic Pain is a blog I recently started. The goal is to help other chronic pain sufferers learn to live a new "normal" by using various "tools" to rebuild their lives. In doing so, to find understanding of various aspects we face, a purpose, even peace and joy in living with chronic pain. As well as encouraging sufferers to help others on the same journey.http://