Welcome to my blog! I'm Beth Anne Cochran, and I am a stay-at-home mom of our miracle twin boys (now 4 1/2 years old - where has the time gone?). If you don't believe in the power of prayer or simply don't believe in the love and mercy of Christ, come talk to me - I've got amazing stories to tell you.
I am a graduate of Jacksonville State University with a bachelor of arts degree (music education - k-12), and I have taught elementary music education and 5th grade band for a year after my graduation (up until we started a family). I loved the teaching experience, especially since elementary is my favorite age group. My instrument of proficiency is the oboe, of which I have played from 6th grade through my 5th year of college (and was a big part of my music degree study). I also play piano and teach piano lessons from my home on a casual basis.
Something many people can't tell by initially looking at me (when my crutches or wheelchair are not seen) is that I am disabled. I call it a "hidden" disability, as many-times I hide it extremely well (other times, I'm transparent). I have a long list of diagnoses that involve severe chronic pain that hinders my ability to function normally. At the age of 26, I started using crutches or a wheelchair when going in public, as standing on my feet for more than 15 minutes can cause excruciating pain which sometimes lasts for many days (or even weeks) following a single activity. I am also prolonging additional spinal surgery by using a set of wheels, which is a huge benefit considering spinal surgeries are many-times unpredictable. Because of my chronic pain, using a wheelchair has opened up unbelievable avenues, including the ability to join my family for simple outings...places like the grocery store, mall, zoo and aquarium. I have found a freedom in having less pain while spending quality time making memories with my sweet family - a freedom that is simply indescribable and was very unexpected (even though parts of the transition to using a wheelchair were difficult).
(If you would like to read more about my journey with being open about my disability and using assistive devices, such as crutches and my wheelchair, click on the following blog post, entitled Living Freely with Physical Disability: No More Hiding!)
* Hypertrophic facet disease
* Leaking/torn disk in the L5/S1
From that moment on, the diagnoses continued to roll in:
* Progressive degenerative disc disease (cervical and lumbar)
* 8 "bulging" discs in lumbar & cervical spine (C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1)
* 2 "torn/leaking" disks (L4/5, L5/S1)
* 2 "collapsed" disks (L4, L5)
* Thecal sac compression (L3 & L4)
* [Visible] nerve root impingement (L4)
* Displaced nerve root sheath (L4)
* Gross spinal instability (lumbar)
* Spinal canal & foraminal stenosis
* Bilateral foraminal narrowing (L3/4, L4/5)
* Ligamentum Flavum Hypertrophy (not connected with Hypertrophic Facet Disease)
* Bilateral sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction syndrome
(SI joints aligned and 85% relief from surgery - SI joint bilateral fixation with screws)
* Piriformis Syndrome (80% relieved due to surgery - Piriformis Release)
* Mild Scoliosis
* Peripheral neuropathy in both legs and feet
* Bone tumors in cervical spine (neck)
* Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS)
* Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)
* Foraminal Spondylosis
* Spinal Arthritis
My spinal conditions impact other areas of my health as well (all of the following conditions have been clinically linked to my back & neck injuries/fibromyalgia). I have:
* Adrenal Fatigue, Stage III (out of IV)
* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
* Chronic Migraines (with ocular changes)
That's a total of 40 diagnoses (if you count each damaged disc as a diagnosis, as they do in the medical field). 33 of those diagnoses are oriented of the spine. The remaining 7 diagnoses are usually linked to my chronic pain in some way, yet separate from the actual disorders of the nerves and spine.
I have had over 50 disc/nerve block/epidural injections as well as bilateral nerve ablation of the SI joints to try and reduce the pain, and the doctors continue to try different types of injections/locations to pinpoint the pain producer. They are starting to think, however, that the pain is caused by too many combined issues to target with simple nerve block injection procedures.
I had my first spinal surgery (performed by Dr. David Weiss) on March 27th in Gainesville, GA. This was essentially four surgeries in one, in which they put hardware in the sacroiliac (SI) joints (bilateral) to fixate the joints and keep them from moving and/or popping out of joint, as they had been doing. They also released several muscles and tendons along the SI joint that had been impinging on nerves (called Piriformis Syndrome). The SI joints are at the very base of the spine, so the logic is that if we can fix the foundation of the body's infrastructure, the "cracks" and mal-alignments will begin to settle and the body itself will begin to solve the problem. However, with all of my issues, they do expect that this will be much more difficult than what it sounds. Even so, the surgery itself was a success in reducing pain in the SI joint region, and it has increased my mobility and ability to function throughout the day. I still have my good and bad days, and I still have to pace myself very slowly to accomplish things. (Remember they only treated 2 diagnoses of 20.) But this surgery has been a miracle for me and my family. And for that, we praise God!
In the Spring of 2016, I opted to have a spinal cord stimulator implanted to help cope with the pain. It has definitely been a great tool in the struggle to cope with unrelenting pain. However, it's not a quick fix (society's all-too-common assumption). Even so, I am so grateful for modern medicine and the little steps of improvement along the way.
This road of life & battling chronic illness on a daily basis has definitely seemed like a long trek at times, but I can also genuinely tell you that God has used this continual struggle in my life as a blessing in countless ways. I have grown tremendously in my walk with the Lord through this battle, and I don't know where I would be today if this struggle were never in my life.
My goal in life is to grow closer to and radically serve the Love and Romancer of my life - the Lord Jesus Christ. His love for you and I is incredible. We are given the highest honor of sharing His love with others - however, we must see, recognize and act according to the Spirit's guidance in each situation (and always using the Word of God as a reference to check that our actions will be of good character and suited for the situation). May this always be my goal. I can tell you that for the last are willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him. And we certainly can't do it alone. The body of Christ (the body of believers) is there for everoneJoin me on this beautiful journey called life.
Isaiah 40:31 - Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
John 16:33 - Have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world!
Philipians 4:12b-13 - I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
1 Peter 1:6-7 - 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.