Welcome! ... What is it like to live with a chronic illness?

Dealing with any chronic health condition, and/or illness, can be a daunting task in-and-of itself. While there are numerous aspects that affect one's everyday functioning and survival, one of the greatest frustrations is the lack of understanding, compassion, and tremendous judgement experienced by an individual struggling with any chronic health problem. While it may be difficult to relate to someone who battles a chronic illness, it is so important for those on the outside looking in to make their best attempt to understand their loved one's challenges.

Several years ago my mother stumbled upon a wonderfully written document called "The Spoon Theory." This piece details what it is like to live with a chronic health condition in simple and relatable terms. In my opinion, it is a must-read for anyone whom is seeking to better understand what it is like to live in a body which is chronically ill.

Trust me ... this piece is enlightening and extremely insightful.

This blog is a commentary on my own very personal, and sometimes very painful and challenging journey, with chronic health conditions (including the auto immune diseases Psoriatic Arthritis & Ankylosing Spondylitis, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto's Disease, Hyper-Mobility Syndrome, PCOS, as well as a spine condition called Spondylolisthesis), and the medical system. While I am not a doctor nor a medical professional of any kind, I am most definitely one very experienced patient! My hope is to share my gained knowledge and experiences with others who deal with similar issues.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009


Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition in which one of the vertebra (usually the lower Lumbar region & Sacrum) slips forward from the vertebra below. Spondylo means spine, and the word listhesis, literally means to slip. While this condition is actually fairly common in general the population, it is rare for the condition to slip to a degree which is great enough to create problems. Physicians and the medical community label the varying degrees of slippage, from least to most severe, as grades 1 through 5. A complete slip, beyond that of a "grade 5," where the vertebra no longer sits on the respective vertebra below, is called Spondyloptosis. This condition can occur at any vertebra level, but is more commonly seen in the lumbar region of the spine. This is the area in which I experienced my Spondyloptosis. I am now considered a grade 5 Spondylolisthesis following a series of surgeries, procedures, a full body cast and extended therapies. My spine is fused from the S1 (Sacrum) through the L5 & L4 (Lumbar).
There are a number of debated "fixes" (surgeries/procedures) for Spondylolisthesis, but due to the infrequency of the condition becoming severe enough to require surgery, they are more experimental than common practice, in my opinion. I am not a doctor, nor am I an expert on this condition, that is, if you consider an "expert" as someone who has specialty credentials in the medical field. Rather, I am simply an individual whom has dealt with this condition first hand for my entire adult life, not to mention the majority of my juvenile years as well. My hope for this page on Spondylolisthesis is to utilize the power of the internet in order to reach as many individuals, in all age groups, who may be dealing with this condition in their life. Whether the condition is labeled at a grade 1, or a case more severe, I hope that my personal experience, insight, and research with regard to the spinal abnormality, may help as many individuals as possible. This condition tends to be less well known than other conditions and diseases, and due to this fact I found it difficult to connect with any fellow sufferer's during my painful, tough, and life altering struggle with this extremely painful condition since my initial diagnosis, I hope to create new dialog and connections within the orthopedic community.
As I mentioned previously, there are several treatments for this condition, which are ultimately determined by the grade level found in any given patient. I believe that it is highly important for anyone whom faces decisions regarding this type of serious medical intervention be able to obtain as much information as possible prior to moving forward with any treatment plan. My recommendation is to thoroughly researching the condition itself, the various surgical and non-surgical options, statistical outcomes, possible side affects, and even the prospective physicians whom specialize in this very unique condition, as all of these components are essential when it comes to advocating for yourself as a patient with Spondylolisthesis. Not only are there several more commonly practiced surgical and medical procedures offered as treatment, but there are also a few alternative options that may work well from both an intervention standpoint in addition to that of preventative measures. The better bet is seeking a combination of treatments, which may result in a more rounded and promising future for a patient. Treatment is often determined by the severity, but even in the most severe cases, there are a few options that may not be presented or addressed by a provider, therefore limiting options, and resulting in a rush for the operating table. Now don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to surgical intervention, as my condition was very severe, and without immediate intervention, my overall quality of life would have been bleak, even fatal. I would also like to note, that like many surgeries, whether it be on your spine or your heart, surgical intervention may assist in increasing the overall quality of life, but it rarely, if ever, makes one "normal" again, nor "fixes" the health issues completely. This is a myth. There will always be a sort of "life long up-keep," which is required to assist in allowing your body to function in the best way possible, in a less than normal state. Again, this is my opinion, which is based simply upon my personal experiences, observations, and research.
I hope that anyone who may be just learning of this condition (parents who are educating themselves with regards to their child's recently diagnosed condition, any adult that has just been diagnosed, and is seeking information, resources, options and help, along with those veteran Spondylolisthesis sufferers), may take time to research the condition to the best of their ability, ask many questions, thoroughly investigate all options that may be available (both western medicine and alternative health care), and feel free to contact me with any questions, advice, stories, or anything else that may be prevalent to the goal of assisting each other in making the pain, along with our general quality of life, a little better.
This condition is a life long presence and battle. It can be very scary, painful, and all around difficult. I will share my timeline from my earliest pain and symptoms, to my surgeries, and ultimately, my current struggles. I pray that this page may help both those facing a Spondylolisthesis diagnosis, along with anyone whom finds themselves seeking support for a family member or friend. Even if I only manage to reach just one person struggling to stay afloat in this overwhelming process, I will be grateful that my painful experience was able to make another's less frightening and isolating. I know that there are others out there, and I cannot allow those whom are facing the same daunting unknown, struggle through the darkness, when I have already walked the journey.
As a last note, if you are dealing with ANY chronic health condition, please take a moment to read both the poem "Footprints In The Sand"; "The Spoon Theory." ~ Blessings ~

About Me

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My interest for all things related to health & illness arises from my own struggles with chronic health conditions. I have found it most therapeutic & empowering to write about my many experiences within this realm. Through education, my own research, and my ongoing personal challenges, I am teaching myself how to become my own best advocate. To learn more about me, please see the page entitled "About Cat" located at the top of the page. If you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to contact me through the "about" section listed above, or email me at healthandillness@gmail.com. Please note that this address is also linked through my profiles. Blessings of health, energy and peace.

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