City & State: Concord, New Hampshire
Age: 65 years old
Pain warrior role: U.S. Pain advocate since 2017
What type of health conditions you live with: Rheumatoid arthritis, spondylolisthesis, herniated disk, and IBS-C
What is your favorite tip for others with chronic pain: “Hang on to the hope and the belief that you can do this through the support and experience of others, who like you, live with chronic health conditions. You are not alone. Breathe!”
To provide more support and tips for self-management during the pandemic, Pain Connection has launched an interactive series, “Building Your Toolbox,” held the first Tuesday of the month. Each meeting in the series focuses on discussing a different pain modality with an expert. With the current health crisis, fear and stress seem to be at an all-time high, especially for pain warriors. We would like to encourage our pain warriors to create a toolbox of treatment modalities that can help you thrive all the time, not just during the pandemic.
By Angelica “Heidi” Brehm
Before my migraine disease caused me daily pain and disability, I was an elementary school teacher. I intentionally taught my students about people who shared their backgrounds, challenges, and differences who managed to dream big and accomplish amazing things. I integrated these role models throughout my curriculum because I believed it would increase my students’ success. So why did it take me so long to search for role models for myself? Why didn’t I seek out examples of people with migraine, chronic pain, or other life-altering challenges who lived successful lives? Maybe it’s because it was hard to believe that something so basic could have such a powerful effect on my own success.
By: Ellen Lenox Smith
It is tough enough to be able to afford medical marijuana because it is not reimbursed by insurance. And now, we add the horror of this pandemic, leaving so many financially compromised. However you obtain your medication, you should do what you can to protect yourself and your health.
Here are some suggestions to consider for still obtaining medical marijuana and keeping yourself safe.
Many people with chronic pain spend a lot of time at home. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, even more people are staying inside. But how do you make sure the way you are positioning your body to do everyday tasks — like typing on a computer — isn’t causing more pain?
Ergonomics — or how we position our body and equipment when doing everyday tasks — is an incredibly important factor in pain levels and overall health.
The U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased to share it has appointed two new members to its Board of Directors: Edward Bilsky, PhD, an academic administrator and researcher from Washington, and Jessica Begley, MFT, a licensed therapist and community leader from Texas.
They join existing members Ellen Lenox Smith, a retired teacher and medical cannabis patient advocate from Rhode Island, Marv Turner, an Emmy award-winning producer and filmmaker out of Wisconsin, and Shawn Dickens, MBA, a government defense contractor from Florida. Dickens has been tapped to serve as Chairman.
By: Michaela O’Connor
So many people with chronic illness look back at their lives prior to their illnesses with such nostalgia, pride, and infallibility. It is as if their lives were the picture of perfection with nothing and no one to hold them back. They forget the embarrassments, shortcomings, and utter failures they previously experienced. In their eyes, the moment that their pain began was the moment their lives of perfection ended. In the 14 years since my trigeminal neuralgia began, I am extremely guilty of looking back at my “flawless” life and praying for the pain to end so I can return to that perfect life.
By Melinda Sandor
Being stuck at home is new to many people. But I started sheltering in place in 2013 when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I spent three years on IV therapy, seven days a week, and walked only to the bathroom and back. The years after IV therapy were just as rough.
I required assistance with everything. The pain unbearable–going to the bathroom, taking a shower, walking down the stairs were so difficult. Mentally I struggled, too, trying to remember to make appointments and phone calls I needed to. I couldn’t even handle putting my medicine in the case each week without mistakes. I felt so much guilt. I thought my husband would leave me as soon as he could, or maybe he would have an affair. Why couldn’t I keep up with showering and fixing my hair? When was the last time I wore makeup?
By: Ellen Lenox Smith
As I celebrated Mother’s Day, I received an email from our youngest of four sons that brought me to tears. He thanked me for always being there when he confronted a number of very serious medical issues during his childhood and early adulthood. He also shared that now as a parent himself, he hopes he never has to face watching the pain and difficulties we faced raising him.
By Ellen Lenox Smith
It sure would be easier to be home isolating with the consistent sun shining down. Instead, here we go again with another day of mist, rain, or clouds. Here on the East Coast, the weather we have had to cope with has included only a few sunny days since the pandemic. When the sun hits, the world seems safe, beautiful, and full of hope.
When the weather switches back, hope is harder to hold onto, and the emotions seem to dip.