Major updates!

Hello everyone! I know it’s been a while since I have written, but, life has certainly been busy. I was diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis. Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spine that causes restrictions to the spinal canal. This has a heavy impact on the nerves, mainly the sciatic nerve.

In my case, I had Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. The narrowing of my spine (in the L4 and L5 region) caused the spinal nerve roots to become compressed. This resulted in sciatica symptoms in my left leg. I had been dealing with severe lower back pain and serious numbness and tingling in my left leg for a year and a half. On June 10th, I underwent a Lumbar Fusion. The neurosurgeon took out a piece of my spine, and fused the L4 and L5 discs together with rods and screws. I spent a few days in the hospital. Recovering in the hospital wasn’t easy. My first time walking after surgery, I almost collapsed. I was able to get around better after resting more. I was released from the hospital, and sent home with instructions and medication. Since then, I have been recovering at home. I had to use a walker to get around for a few weeks, and use a commode for some time.

It’s been 4 weeks since surgery and I don’t use the walker inside the house or the commode. I still use a seat inside the shower because I still get a little shaky. When I go out (which is not very often), I do bring my walker with me. I am off one of three of my major painkillers. I have also completed my home care program. I have my one month check up coming up in a week and a half. My incision is nearly healed, but, the pain is still there. I wake up every day with pain, and it usually lowers during the day. On occasion, I have serious pain, which requires a dose of painkillers (such as today).

My last doctor’s visit, I got in trouble because I told the doctor that I wasn’t taking the painkillers unless I was in extreme pain. They told me I need to take the medication when I’m in ANY pain. I just don’t like taking medication that has a history of making people absolutely crazy. Plus, I don’t like medication that alters my mind and makes me sleepy. I like being productive, even if I’m laying in bed or on the couch.

Anyways, this is what I’ve been up to. I will update when I can. I continue to write. Please check out my project page and visit my Bubblews link. I am on there on a daily basis. I am also working on a short book that I’m hoping to have out by the end of the summer.

Well, time for me to get some rest. I will be in touch soon! Have a great summer!

xoxo Shauna


The first photo is my X-ray from my 10-day post-op check up. The second photo is what my incision looked like on June 16th. The third photo is what my incision looked like on June 29th.


Inside the life of a former cutter

What leads someone to a point of self injury is a feeling of sheer desperation. There is a feeling of overwhelming pain and fear. It is too much for one to keep inside, so the person decides to cut in order to get the pain out. It takes an extreme hatred of oneself to engage in this activity.

Like many others, I had a tough upbringing. I experienced things that I would not wish on my worst enemy. All the pain that I fell in the first years of my life came to a boiling point at the tender age of 7. I started scratching my skin until it bled. This landed me in a hospital, where I experienced a traumatic event (I will go into that at a later date). When I got out of the hospital, I moved with my father to a new town. I was in therapy and I had high hopes that I would fit in. I didn’t.

My depression increased through the years and I continued cutting. My forearms, legs and stomach were the main areas I performed self-injury. For someone who has anemia, this wasn’t a smart outlet. Despite all the complications of self-injury, I continued to do it.

I continued to self-injure through college and into my mid-to-late 20s. I started putting cigarettes out on my skin when I was in my mid-20s. That was the lowest point of my self-injury life. At the time, though, I did not care.

In 2009, after I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, I was put on a few medications. I was lucky that the medications started to work within a few months of being on them.

It is 2013, and I haven’t self-injured since 2010. I have had desires to self-injure (even recently), but, I use all my energy in positive ways, such as writing and art. Also, I think about all the love I have in my life, and how far I have come. I just cannot ruin that. I have worked so hard to get where I am at, and my hard work would be wasted if I slip up.

Self-injury is one of the major ways to show disrespect (and hatred) to yourself, your loved ones, and to God. It is extremely hard to stop when the pain you feel is overwhelming. If you, or someone you know is cutting or burning themselves, approach them with love and support. Let them talk to you about what is bothering them. Be open-minded, and do not judge. Help them to find treatment. Remember, people who are self-injurers are in a very delicate frame of mind. What a self-injurer needs is someone who understands, someone they can trust. They need to find an outlet to how they feel.

One technique that has helped me in the past is the “Rubber Band Technique.” What you do is: Find a rubber band and put it around your wrist like a bracelet. When you have the urge to self-injure, snap the rubber band against your wrist. On many occasions, this technique has always helped take away my urge to self-injure.

While I am self-injury free, I will always wear the title of a “cutter.” I cannot promise to NOT have deserves to self-injure, BUT, I do promise to outlet my pain in creative ways, such as writing, art, and the rubber band technique.

**If you are a self-injurer, and you need someone to talk to, you can talk to me. I know what you’re going through.**

Dealing with Misconceptions About Chronic Pain

For the majority of my life, I have dealt with misconceptions. People have always judged me without knowing me. When I talk about my mental health struggles, I’m always seen as “crazy.” I have Bipolar disorder, and people assume that I’m “unstable and violent.” On the contrary, I would never hurt a fly. I have been treated for Bipolar disorder for the past 4 years. I take my medications everyday, and I am able to control the rapid cycling that I experience with having Bipolar disorder.

This year, however, I am dealing with more hurdles: Degenerative Disc Disorder in the L4, L5 regions of my lower back, and chronic headaches. When my back started hurting in February, I was in too much pain to continue working as a Certified Nursing Assistant. It was a job that I loved, and I was sad to go on medical leave.

With no income coming in, I had to file for state assistance. I hated applying for state assistance because I’m really not one to trust the government. Being bedridden for a good amount of the spring, I went through a painstaking application process. The DSS office was incredibly rude and slow to process my application. I contacted my state representative, and my application was approved. To help make money, I began writing online full-time. I dealt with a lot of misconceptions about my situation. People thought that I was lazy, pathetic, a low-life, a parasite, and a mooch of the system. People also said that my online writing wasn’t a real job. My thoughts? If I’m being paid for it, it IS a real job! You try writing, publishing, SEO Optimization, website development, etc, and see how well YOU do. I am doing what I can while I am riding this thing out.

Thankfully, I will soon be seeking help from a Neurosurgeon and a Neurologist. I still have a long way to go, but, writing online has helped me relax and be sane. I am making some money off of writing, and it’s helping with buying groceries and household supplies.

I want to confront all of these misconceptions that people have about me. Not that I need to answer to anyone, but, I am in moderate to severe pain everyday. Even if I’m on my feet for 20 minutes, my back hurts. If I sit for the same amount of time, my back hurts. I can’t even wash dishes without my back hurting. I wake up with terrible headaches everyday. Medication doesn’t really help me.
Despite being in constant pain, I still get up everyday. I shower, get dressed, and face my day. I have a home office that I write from, and I do art for therapy.

What I deal with is part of what is known as Invisible Illness. Just because you cannot see my pain, doesn’t mean that it is not there. Each day is a struggle, but, I take everything day by day. That’s the only way I can deal with this thing.


Take Relationships Seriously

One thing that I have always done is take relationships seriously. Whether it be my relationships with friends and family, or romantic relationships, I always go into them, wearing my heart on my sleeve. I put my all into these relationships and would do anything for them.

In terms of romance, I can’t say that I’ve had the life experience to give advice on adult relationships. I’ve only been in the one relationship, and that’s the one I’m currently in. See, I used to be a very naive girl. I allowed moronic guys to walk all over me. I allowed them to sweet talk me, and then leave me high and dry. I lacked the self-esteem to see right through them. When these guys hurt me, I used to take revenge (yes, I was THAT crazy girl). I used to be the butt of these guys’ jokes. Most, if not, all of the guys I encountered in my past told me that “guys don’t date ‘fat girls,’ they just have their way with them.” Nice, eh? It makes me wonder if they would allow a man to treat their mothers like that.

Anyways, I digress. I want to talk about the seriousness of relationships. I grew up around two sets of grandparents who had strong marriages. My grandparents on my dad’s side had an incredibly strong marriage. No matter what happened (poor health, an out of control granddaughter, etc), they got through it together. They took their marriage seriously. My grandparents on my mother’s side of the family are incredibly strong. They are very health conscious and work hard at living a healthy lifestyle together.
Relationships need to be taken seriously. You have someone in front of you who loves you and depends on you. They want the best for you, and want to take care of you. When you’re in a relationship, you are not only thinking for yourself: you are thinking for two. If you don’t take the bond you have with your partner seriously, the bond will break. The relationship has to be 50/50.

Don’t enter relationships because you don’t want to be alone. Relationships are a serious bond. Make sure you are ready to take relationships seriously before entering them.