From suicidal to finding purpose again

Summer Warrior

Summer Warrior's Story

Anderson, Indiana USA

Age: 37-45

A little bit about my journey:

My Diagnosis

R.S.D. (Full body), Crohn’s disease, R.A., Raynoud’s,

Time to Get Diagnosed

More than 4-4.5 years for the RSD, RA, and Raynouds

Year I was Diagnosed


Sending Love to

Dr. Kristine Rea, and Dr. Joshua Wellington

Hospital I'd Recommend

I.U. Hospital

This is my story:

In 2004 I was a school bus driver (and mother of 2 active kids). I had a 12 yr old beat me and change my life FOREVER!! After the accident I had brain damage, jaw wired shut, and lost the ability to walk on my own. I can’t use my left leg anymore (which is where the RSD started).

I became severely depressed, I was no longer able to coach baseball/softball for my kids, be a Girl Scout leader, or even play with my children! I was is so much pain, nothing helped, I didn’t know anyone with this illness and was told by so many that it was all in my head!! I had a plan of exactly how I was going to take my life because I felt as though I could NOT live like this anymore. I had even offered my husband a divorce so he didn’t have to deal with this. I lost EVERYTHING!!!

Then one day I was referred to Dr. Kristine Rea, and things started to change…. slowly (over many, many years), but any change for the better was more than what I had. Dr. Rea had NEVER seen anyone with my condition before, so she made a promise to me that she’d do everything to learn and try to help me. We tried every treatment she could think of, from opiates and narcotics, to spinal blocks, epidurals, trigger point injections. Then came the surgeries… I had an SCS implant (trial passed, but implant failed and had to remove it), we tried another 3 SCS implants without success. I felt like all hope was slipping away! I told my doctor I was getting more and more depressed and was put on stronger antidepressants.

Then one day it clicked in my head that I can’t sit back and let my doctor do all the work. I needed to take control and advocate for myself… do my research and become part of the solution instead of the guinea pig!! That’s when I found the US Pain Foundation and others like myself (the CEO Nichol has RSD too)!! They taught me I’m not alone, and showed me how to not only advocate for myself, but to be able to advocate for others as well!

I went back to Dr. Rea and showed her all I’ve found and that’s when she introduced me to Dr. Wellington. I don’t trust doctors easily, but he was greatly reassuring and swore to me everything in my care is up to me and if I don’t feel comfortable with one treatment we’d try something else. He gave me the option of trying another SCS ( which he was upfront with me saying it probably wouldn’t work since it hadn’t before) and doing an intratheical pain pump. I chose the pump. At first we were just using dilaudid, but after several increases it wasn’t fully helping so he also added Bupivicaine. It greatly helped!! I’m NOT 100% pain free, but I’m on the right road.

So now I spend my days advocating for other warriors like ourselves, helping to educate others, help with support groups, leaving Info in doctor’s offices to educate others, help with art therapy, and of course making cards for warriors… each card is hand made and no 2 are the same!! I’m also ALWAYS here to help other warriors any way I can, just reach out to me!!

Let’s play 20 questions:

The song that keeps me going is:
Standing outside the Fire by Garth Brooks
I never leave home without my:
My go-to feel better movie is: 
Gabriel Iglesias specials
If I was in the hospital, the celebrity I would most love to visit me would be:
When I need to relax, I:
Draw, color, paint, make cards, or talk to other warriors
My favorite food is:
The quote that keeps me going is:
Always look for the silver lining in every day, good or bad days
When I need a laugh, I:
Watch my grandson, watch Gabriel Iglesias
Meet my pets (or favorite stuffed animal):
Bailey Moo and Leo (sister and brother rat terriers)
My hero is:
Children who fight illnesses, and our military heros
When I’m having a down day I binge watch:
My favorite book to get lost in is:
Stephen king
I want to be best friends with:
Toby Keith
The thing I’m most proud of:
Getting V.P. Mike Pence to sign my proclamation I wrote
The most wonderfully unexpected thing that has happened to me as a result of this journey is:
Toby Keith paying for my 1st SCS implant and front row tickets to his concert as well as gave me his personal guitar
The most hilarious thing that has happened to me is:
Slipped and cake fell on my head
It really means a lot when someone does this:
Shows the truly and honestly care
My favorite social media account to follow is:
Facebook & Tik Toc
The advice I would give to myself back at the beginning of this journey would be:
It will get better, be your own advocate. Don’t forget to ask for help. Listen to your body!!
Words of encouragement that I’d give to my fellow warriors are
You’ve got this, so far you have survived 100% of your bad days, just know I’m here if you need a friend who understands
Follow my journey:

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