Welcome to my blog! I'm Beth Anne Cochran, and I am a stay-at-home mom of our miracle twin boys (now 5 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 an honors graduate of Jacksonville State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education (Grades K-12). Immediately upon graduating from college, I began teaching in a long-term substitute position for elementary music (my favorite ages to teach). This lasted for a year and allowed me to stretch my wings a bit. I started a 5th grade band, organized PTA (Parent-Teacher-Association) programs, and went from teaching in a beautifully set-up music room to a music cart and a P.E. storage room as my office and storage for the old room's contents. It became apparent quickly that my body was not up for such a challenge, both emotionally and physically, although I absolutely LOVED the teaching experience, and if I had to go back and do it again, I wouldn't change one thing.
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 am grateful to be able to keep up my proficient skill through teaching lessons and playing with a community band. I also play piano and teach piano lessons from my home on a casual basis.
The STORM and the RAINBOW:
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 also prolonged additional spinal surgery by using a set of wheels, which was 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 very difficult).
(If you would like to read more about me, my daily life, triumphs and joys, sorrows and trials sustained with perseverance, including the emotional roller coaster of deciding how, when, and to what level to be 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!)
(in order by date of diagnosis):
I started having severe undiagnosed chronic pain when I was 15 years old (I am currently 30). After years of diagnostic tests (and exhausting all diagnostic options at the time), my first diagnoses rolled in at 23:
* 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, 2015 in Gainesville, GA (I highly recommend this physician for issues related to the sacroiliac joint). I had been diagnosed with Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Syndrome, and had attempted conventional treatment options, all to no avail. They determined that surgery was the best option for us to move forward toward healing and improvement. 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 (called a Sacroiliac Joint Fixation with Surgical Titanium Screws, Bilateral). In technical terms, the surgeon uses the titanium surgical screws to permanently adjoin the sacrum and the illium (both are bones of the pelvis, but are technically the last part of the spine) so that there will no longer be any separation. This surgery requires women to be permanently done with their child-bearing years, as these are the two bones that separate during childbirth / active labor. The surgeon also released several muscles and tendons along the SI joint that had been impinging on nerves (diagnosis is called Piriformis Syndrome, the name of the surgery is called a Piriformis Release, bilateral). 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, SCS (also known as a Dorsal Column Stimulator, DCS), 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.
Other surgeries include
(not including nerve blocks or epidurals):
2002 - Lateral Retinacular Release on LEFT KNEE 2002 - Lateral Retinacular Release on RIGHT KNEE
2007 - Excision of BENIGN BONE TUMOR, RIGHT KNEE
2011 - CESEREAN SECTION for delivery of twins (The BEST surgery of my life! ;) )
2014 - LASER NERVE ABLATION of the SI (sacroiliac) joints, bilateral
(2015 - BILATERAL SACROILIAC JOINT SURGICAL FIXATION (using screws); BILATERAL PIRIFORMIS RELEASE)2015 - LASER NERVE ABLATION of the SI (sacroiliac) joints, bilateral
2015 - EMERGENCY APPENDECTOMY
2016 - TRIAL IMPLANTATION of SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR/SCS (Duration of temporary implant: 5 days)
2016 - PERMANENT IMPLANTATION of SPINAL CORD STIMULATOR/SCS
2016 - LASER NERVE ABLATION of the SI (sacroiliac) joints, bilateral
2017 - LASER NERVE ABLATION of the SI (sacroiliac) joints, bilateral
UPCOMING (within the year of 2017) - RECONSTRUCTIVE SPINAL FUSION of LEVELS L5/S1, L4/5, and possibly L3/4 (surgeon will determine how many levels to stabilize via fusion or other intervention)
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 everyone. Join 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.