4 W’s, One H, and a… Why?

An Introduction to Shifting Highways

Remember that first news report assignment in grade school? Maybe it was the one which sparked your dream to become a journalist. Or it might have confirmed your adolescent mind that composition was truly a stupid subject. Either way, the teacher explains that there’s 6 essential questions the essay must answer. They are… Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Well, in this post, I’ll be answering those same questions. (Hopefully there’s a marked improvement in my writing skills since my first news report — 25, I mean, 20 years ago.)

WHO

I’m Amy, a 30-something adult living in the beautiful state of Michigan. I live an abundant life, brimming joy due in a large part due to a tight-knit, supportive family and loving, encouraging friends. My bachelor degree is in Acoustics from Hillsdale College; I hardly employ but then again certain skills I use on a daily basis. Over the course of this past year, I’ve switched careers and am currently working in e-commerce and non-profit. It seems to be the current trend for my contemporaries to obtain multiple degrees and / or certificates. So, in the legitimate sense, I have one, yes sadly only one. However, between life experience and research, I have a Masters in Pain Management Education and am currently working on my PhD in the same subject. (Tongue-in-cheek implied.)

WHAT

To be perfectly honest, the Shifting Highways is a work in progress. Right now, it is a blog and a website. In the (near) future, it will be a non-profit organization with the mission of patient education on chronic pain management. So they might choose the best treatment program for themselves. What will SH not be:

  • a substitute for doctor visits
  • a “pity me” blog
  • a place for people with chronic pain to commiserate with each other
  • a “this treatment worked wonders for me; it will for you too” advice column

WHERE

Literally or virtually? In the real world, SH’s home is located in the great Mitten state (i.e. Michigan). In the magical world of the internet, SH’s address is shiftinghighways.live

WHEN

We are live NOW!!! The actual accident occurred in 2006, but I’ll go into more details below. This organization is a culmination of years of experience, interviews, and research. are very excited to share it with you!

I’ve saved the hardest questions for last. They are difficult to answer for a couple reasons.

  • Their answers can have a metaphysical nature. Don’t worry I’ll barely walk down that gnarly road.
  • Also, I will be revealing pieces of my own story — sometimes dark, sometimes painful. Vulnerability is never fun but necessary for you to understand SH’s history.

HOW

Oh easy… I just made up an interesting name and created a website. The end.

Alright, here it goes: How did I arrive at this point in life? How did I come by writing this blog post? How is it that I’m still a natural blonde… Act of God?

I belong to a very large club; thousands join every year. However, it’s not very popular. The one qualification is a chronic pain diagnosis from a medical professional. One can leave the group, but it rarely happens. The amount of time, effort, and resources in order to enter remission is monstrous. Sometimes it only seems like a miracle will work.

My story starts in the spring 2006. It was a dark Thursday evening, the week before finals week. I had just finished a very boring meeting with my music sorority. Next I was dashing off to a study session for my 3-hour physics exam the next morning. (Yes, 3. And yes, I was nuts for taking the class.) So what happened?! As I was running out of the meeting, I forgot to take into account elevation difference between the porch and the sidewalk.

Actually it was an physics experiment on whether or not humans have evolved to the point where we can walk on air… well, we can’t. — Wait, what was that? No, no I was drunk. If I had a dime for every time someone asked me that, I’d be a very rich woman. I was extremely stressed and very loopy from the pain though. (I’ll share some of the humorous moments from those crazy 24-hours in later posts.)

Doctors called it a severe foot sprain. (Sprain? My a — ) It took 3 years, 6 doctors, and multiple diagnostic tests to finally land on a proper diagnosis: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) (formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)). It’s been an uphill battle ever since. (I’m still having random revelations of what truly happened to my nervous system, bones, and muscles that fateful night.)

Over the past decade, I’ve poured over books and articles with any relation to terms like: “chronic pain”, “nervous system”, “pain psychology”, “stress”, “depression/anxiety”, etc. Over time they morphed into words like Feldenkrais, Paleo, histamine, Fibromyalgia, Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), and hemiplegia. I have gained a wealth of knowledge and understanding from my many, many, many hours of research and impromptu conversations with medical professionals, nutritionists, social workers, physical therapists, personal trainers, alternative medicine specialists, mental health professionals, etc. This leads me to…

WHY

Why me?! WWWHHHHYYY!!!! (Just kidding. This is not a “pity me” blog.) My opinion: you’ll never uncover the true answer. I’m still trying to decode the actual “how”.

I started sharing my story and findings just with family and friends. Then I began meeting other people with similar stories. We could commiserate, yes about the pain, but more importantly about the lack of patient education and the amount of money and time wasted on unnecessary procedures. People began hinting that I should blog and perhaps write a book. Well, no book…. yet. Blog-wise, I’ve had a few over the past decade; they were mostly for personal use. Shifting Highways is very different. It is an educational resource for those with chronic pain and their loved ones. It is the resource I wish I had at my initial diagnosis. So please visit our site, give us feedback, and share with your friends and loved ones.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.