Latest Posts

Lyrics, Letters and the Forgotten Lives of Ben Irving

Taking a step away from my normal sphere today… This is an intriguing slice of family history, as presented by my insanely interesting and hilarious cousin, the newly-minted Dr. Tyler Sonnichsen. My great-grandfather, who went by the stage name of Ben Irving, was a mainstay on the Hartford jazz circuit during the 1920s when the Great Depression hit. Thereafter he moved the family to Brooklyn and took to the road as a sales representative, sending back postcards from every city he visited… and those postcards are now in the hands of Tyler. I’ll let Tyler tell you the rest.

Sonic Geography

New Picture Click to watch at PechaKucha.org

Pecha Kucha Knoxville recently uploaded the PowerPoint and Audio from my November presentation about my great-grandfather. This was a 6 minute, 40 second truncation of archival work I’d been doing about over a thousand postcards he sent from the road in the 1930s and 40s. It is an ongoing project that has been as rewarding as it has been educational and surprising regarding both my family history and a different era in American cultural life.

Here is my respectful sales pitch: If you enjoy what you see above, let me know. I am always happy to bring this lecture (in any reasonable length) to present at your company, school, civic organization, for any interested parties. Feel free to contact me at sonicgeography [at] gmail. I presented an hour-long version of this talk, which included a handful of his original song lyrics, more news clippings, and…

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Effective Alternative Therapies for Dealing with Chronic Pain

We have another guest post from Jackie Waters of Hyper-Tidy.com

There’s no silver bullet approach for dealing with chronic pain. Everyone’s pain is specific to them, and you can’t solve everything with a single pill or by eating more kale. A true holistic approach to chronic pain management will utilize a variety of coping methods.

For some, the risk of developing dependencies to medication is enough reason to seek out alternative therapies for their pain. Others find that a combination of treatments works best for them. Some are still searching for the right treatment. Whatever the case, the good news is there are alternative treatments that show promise and are already being relied on by millions suffering from chronic pain.

Add some specific foods to your diet

Proper diet and exercise is vital for anyone suffering from chronic pain. It’s important to reduce refined carbohydrates, excess sugar, and caffeine. Do everything that you can to maintain a healthy weight, as obesity exacerbates most forms of chronic pain.

But did you know that there are some specific foods you can add to your diet to help you minimize chronic pain?

  • Fish Oil – Fish oil is prized for its anti-inflammatory properties. “In one study, researchers instructed patients with neck or back pain to take 1200 milligrams a day of fish oil supplements with eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid. After 75 days on fish oil, more than half of the 125 patients who reported back said they had stopped their prescription painkillers,” according to EverydayHealth.com. The good news is that you can increase fish oil in your diet by eating delicious, healthy-fat fish like salmon and mackerel. You can also take capsules to supplement your daily intake.
  • Turmeric – This tasty kitchen spice also has anti-inflammatory properties, according to research. Turmeric’s pungent color, smell, and taste works well in a variety of dishes from a variety of world cuisines. You can also take Turmeric in pill form, if your cooking skills are lacking.

Some chronic pain sufferers have also reported that coconut oil helps minimize their symptoms.

Be intimate

Sex can be difficult for those suffering from chronic pain, but it can also be restorative, thanks to its effect on brain chemistry.

“Substances, released through skin-to-skin touch with peak effects at orgasm, similarly contribute to pain relief and well-being. These include serotonin, our body’s natural anti-depressant; phenylethylamine (also found in chocolate) which activates the brain’s pleasure center; and endorphins, a natural painkiller that reduce pain awareness and generate feelings of elation and euphoria. Endorphins, one of the body’s natural opioids, have a chemical structure that is similar to morphine,” says Psychology Today.

You and your partner should talk about the best ways to be intimate while being mindful of your chronic pain.

Find distractions

Much of the battle with chronic pain is fought by accepting and then distracting yourself from the pain, instead of attempting to rid yourself of the pain. Many activities like video games, sports, knitting, and reading can provide solid distractions from chronic pain.

One specific activity that has actually been shown to reduce chronic pain, however, is listening to music. Case Western and Cleveland Clinic researchers found that people who listened to music for just an hour a day reported pain reductions up to 20 percent.

Jackie Waters is a mother of four beautiful and energetic boys. She lives with her family on a three-acre hobby farm in Oregon. Her goals are to feed her family as much fresh and home-grown food as possible, focus on sustainability while doing so, and practice simplicity.

She is here to tell you: you can have it all. With diligence and balance, you can achieve a beautiful, clean home. Her journey has been full of challenges, but she learned so much along the way. She would like to share with you her ideas and tips on how to be hyper-tidy!

Does the Quell Pain Relief Device Work? Ask the NeuroMetrix Team — and Quell Users

There’s something so strange about walking into a room where everyone already seems to know you.

That’s what happened when I arrived at the NeuroMetrix office. It’s where they make the Quell device, which I first wrote about back in 2015 when they launched their KickStarter campaign. My contact there, the lovely Emily Adekore, rescued me from wandering around the building like a homeless person and brought me to meet the rest of the team.

The idea behind the day was a Meet and Greet for local Quell users — a luncheon for us to meet with the company, to get to know the people who actually make the device, and to ask any questions we might have. Some of us did on-camera testimonials for promotional purposes. I use this thing every day, so why not help out?

It was a swirl of people when I first walked in, and many of them said they’d read my blog, which was like, What? Wow. WOW. I mean, it makes sense, but wow.  I’ve been with them since the beginning of their product launch — but they’ve also been with me.

There were many customer care reps already at work with their headsets, but I was swept into an office with a wonderful professional makeup artist at the ready (!!!) who prettied me up for the video interview. (!!!!!!!!!)

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It was definitely far more elaborate than I’d anticipated.

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After the makeup session, I was introduced to the appropriately hipster video production team, who were all younger than I am. I sat on a stool with an enormous microphone hovering over my head, and my mind immediately went blank when the guy asked me my name and where I was from.

“Um.” Who am I? “I’m Jennifer Kain Kilgore. I’m an attorney editor, I work from home, and, uh–” and then I just stopped. Yeah, I’m great at interviews. I went to journalism school. In my defense, usually I’m the one doing the interviewing.

Just… that boom mic, man.

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This might be forced perspective.

We worked our way through a standard battery of questions — who I was, how I got to be in pain, what it’s like, what treatments I’ve tried, whether they worked, and how the Quell’s helped. I was surprised to hear that one of the interviewers, a healthy-looking 26-year-old youngin’, has arthritis. Everybody’s got something, folks.

It was great to be dressed up, to be in front of a camera, to be helping. They gave me the newest edition of the Quell for my efforts, which has an updated band that doesn’t catch on clothing and also has cool changes to the app, so I’ve been told. I’ve tried the band since I’ve been home, and not having it snag on the inside of my pants has been incredible. (It’s a small irritation that builds up over time.)

Emily was also kind enough to let me borrow a conference room because one of my clients scheduled a teleconference right before the official Meet and Greet, which I couldn’t miss. She even supplied sustenance in the form of fruit and coffee, and she made sure nobody bothered me for the hour I listened to a guy talk about pricing in the legal industry.

The Meet and Greet

Then it was onward to the official Meet and Greet! My husband arrived to join me at this point, as many partners and caregivers seemed to be. This is where everybody came together, all the locals who use the device. I was shocked to see how many people made it. My husband and I were curious to see who would on a workday for a luncheon, and my God, people made the time. There was a man at our table who told anyone would listen that the Quell gave him “ZERO PAIN! After three weeks, there was ZERO PAIN!” Meanwhile, he’d had three back surgeries that apparently made his skin look like a zipper.

It was a mix of people who said the Quell turned the volume on their pain down somewhat or all the way down, depending on what condition it was treating. For me, it’s been somewhat, and I’m okay with that. I know it’s a treatment modality that I have to use in conjunction with other things. As long as it allows me to do things that I couldn’t do before, that’s enough for me. If I have to pair it with some other treatments, so what? At least I can do things. I can garden. I can walk in the woods with my husband. I can swim. Maybe I can’t do everything I could do before my car accidents, but I can do more than I could do before I wore the Quell.

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See? I’m out and about, and I’m wearing the Quell under those pants.

Anyway, Emily set up one hell of a luncheon. There was tons of great food, and she even had catering set aside a special gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free/everything-free bag of food for yours truly, since I’m allergic to lots of things. (AND THERE WAS A COOKIE.) There were great swag bags for everyone to take home, filled with Quell electrodes, coffee cups, journals, pens, things like that.

We listened to Frank McGillin, senior VP and general manager, talk about the device and ways the team has been trying to improve it. They take feedback very seriously and constantly reach out to users via their email, Facebook, and Twitter. The marketing team had provided prompts for everyone attending to write what we liked about the Quell, what we didn’t like, how we’d improve it (I obviously went for aesthetics, because I want to get my sexy on sometimes and a black line in the middle of your calf can ruin the way a dress or skirt looks when you’re paler than Casper the Friendly Ghost. Biiiiiig issue, I know). The entire team was in the room, down to engineers who’ve actually worked on insane projects like robotic legs.

Then Shai Gozani, PhD, MD, CEO, president, and director took the floor. He was very mellow, super intelligent, and had to pipe up a lot to reach the people in the back of the room. Shai explained the history of the company and the tech of the Quell in a way that us plebs could understand, including how it’s more comparable to a nerve stimulator than a TENS device in that it reaches more of the body than a localized area, and in that it’s far stronger than a TENS. Obviously some people still need implanted nerve stimulators, but that’s a small percentage of the chronic pain population, and there’s 100 million people in the world with chronic pain. The rest of us need something to use in the meantime.

Surprisingly, NeuroMetrix has been around for much longer than I’d thought. Quell rose to prominence in 2015, but the company itself had been around since 1996, beginning in diagnostics before moving to therapeutics. They worked solely in prescription devices before deciding to try an over-the-counter device, which led to the Quell.

I wasn’t able to stick around after the talk to mingle with everyone, but I had a fantastic time nonetheless. It was wonderful to meet the team behind the device that I use on a daily basis and to know that they are truly aiming to help people. I know that some people look at the Quell and think it’s too good to be true, and I wish I could just shake them by the shoulders and say, “JUST TRY IT!” You can just return it if it doesn’t work! What’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work and your hopes get dashed — again? That happens all the time with chronic pain patients. I was there! I know what it’s like!

That was the whole point of the luncheon — they wanted to tell us about the device, yes, but they also wanted to hear what we had to say. That was marvelous for me to see. More health tech companies should take pointers from NeuroMetrix and learn by their example. Then we’d have a more compassionate health care system — one that actually listens to patients. What a remarkable idea!

Reworking Your Home Life to Minimize Chronic Pain

We have a lovely guest post from a new contributor, Jackie Waters, of Hyper-Tidy.com

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Via Pexels, Pixabay

Living in constant pain can cause worry, stress, anxiety, and depression. You wonder if you’ll ever feel better or if you’ll keep feeling worse. It is possible to get your life back and get a handle on chronic pain. People who suffer from it can incorporate everyday, holistic changes to improve their quality of life and manage their pain.

Lifestyle and Diet

Mindfulness meditation is a way to effectively train your brain to turn down the volume on pain. According to The Huffington Post, “A typical meditation involves focusing on different parts of the body and simply observing with the mind’s eye what you find.” Doing this makes you aware of the connection between your mind and body; you observe painful sensations as they happen, and then let go of struggling with them.

You may doubt the impact mindfulness meditation can have on chronic pain, but it has been shown to reduce it by 57 percent, and skillful meditators can reduce it by more than 90 percent. Imaging studies show that mindfulness meditation calms the brain patterns underlying pain. Over time, these changes alter the structure of the brain itself, decreasing the intensity of the pain.

In fact, hospital pain clinics often prescribe mindfulness meditation to help patients cope with the suffering caused by many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, migraines, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, arthritis, back issues, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In treating pain, you also reduce levels of anxiety, stress, and depression associated with suffering.

A diet for chronic pain sufferers typically consists of high protein, vegetable, and fruit intake and an avoidance of carbohydrates. The fundamental principle of the diet is that patients with chronic pain need to avoid high-glycemic foods, which are sugars and starches. Avoiding these foods while eating more protein and vegetables is thought to promote strength, movement, energy, and mental function.

Home Life

By implementing strategies for keeping your house generally tidy and maintained, you won’t spend hours cleaning it all at once, which can lead to a pain flare-up. Habitually performing these small-but-significant daily tasks prevents you from becoming overwhelmed with clutter and cleaning tasks.

Begin your day by making your bed in the morning so you’ll start off on the right foot. Put your clothes where they go. Hang them up, fold them and put them in the dresser, or place them in the hamper. Also, do one load of laundry a day. Otherwise, if you ignore the laundry all week, it will take you hours to get it all done.

Put things back where they belong when you use them. Not only will it keep your house cleaner, but also you won’t have to try to hunt down an item when you need it again. When you check the mail, deal with it immediately. Throw away junk mail and file bills. Lastly, end every day by cleaning your kitchen. Do the dishes, clear the table, sweep crumbs off the floor, and wipe down the counters, table, and stove.

If your house needs a deep cleaning, consider hiring someone else or asking a friend or family member to help. Certain tasks may be harder for you to handle, such as vacuuming or heavy dusting. These would be ideal for your cleaning helper to handle. Chemicals in household cleaning products can cause hormonal disruptions that lead to chronic inflammation (which can lead to chronic pain), so consider switching to all-natural products.

Suffering from pain can make life less enjoyable. Take back your life by implementing holistic changes. Through meditation, diet, and small changes throughout your daily routine, you can lead a life with less pain.

Jackie Waters is a mother of four beautiful and energetic boys. She lives with her family on a three-acre hobby farm in Oregon. Her goals are to feed her family as much fresh and home-grown food as possible, focus on sustainability while doing so, and practice simplicity.

She is here to tell you: you can have it all. With diligence and balance, you can achieve a beautiful, clean home. Her journey has been full of challenges, but she learned so much along the way. She would like to share with you her ideas and tips on how to be hyper-tidy!

 

 

How to Get Work Done When You Have a Chronic Condition

Working while dealing with chronic pain is another task on the To-Do List (or so I keep trying to tell myself).

I used to crank out work at such a high level, and now I feel so much slower, like I’m trudging uphill through molasses in January. What used to be a machine is now rusted, rickety, with nuts and bolts rattling and clinking down upon the floor.

But things still need to get done. Jobs and projects require my attention, divided though my attention may be. How do I focus and get through my docket when my pain tries to pull me in so many directions?

Here’s what’s on my docket these days (WARNING: COLLUSION!):

  • day job with Enjuris,
  • editing/writing side gigs,
  • legal side gigs (gotta love this “Gig Economy“),
  • writing a book with my father about his work,
  • volunteering for the MetroWest Opera as a board member (and I need to do the annual taxes),
  • volunteering for the Pain News Network as a columnist and a board member (gotta do some writing),
  • and on top of all that, I want to write an eBook on productivity and chronic pain,
  • and I want to work on my own short stories.

Yeah.

And I work from home, so distractions abound. Like Fattie Ding Dongs here.

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This is her best side.

With all of these distractions (I use “all of” when referring to my cat or all of the other things in my house), how do I stay focused? How do I get work done while also battling the daily chronic pain?

Three Important Tasks

Productivity experts focus on the Most Important Tasks. I chose Three Important Tasks, because I’m immature with acronyms and also because I have learned that, realistically, I generally can’t accomplish more than three in one day. (I don’t count responding to emails or phone calls in this, because I count that as busywork.) Sometimes I can’t do more than one, but I feel like I need more than one in a day. I rank them in order of importance, so if I only get the top item done, well, then at least I’ve made one productivity expert happy.

Find More Time

Alzheimer’s patients are known to “sundown.” Chronic pain and illness patients have their own strange version of this in which suddenly, without warning, we lose all energy and are done for the day. It frustrates me to no end that my work day ends prematurely when I still have so much to accomplish. Then I wondered if lengthening the day on the other end would affect how long I could last.

I have started waking up at 6ish in the morning if I can, 7 at the latest. My goal is 5 am. Why? Because I function best in the morning. As the day progresses, I become less and less functional, which makes sense because I’ve been sitting for long periods of time. This means I have to get my work done first thing. This also means I have to eat the frog.

Also, figure out what your peak times are. Mine are 6 am and 10 am. Something about that magical silence when nobody else is awake does wonders for my work at 6, and then the second cup of coffee helps my groove at 10. Keep notes to find out what yours are.

Eat the Frog

I do the biggest, most important work first, even if it’s something I desperately don’t want to do. Think of it like an inverted pyramid; that’s how newswriters write their stories. The most imperative piece of information goes at the top, because that’s what people read. As the story progresses, the information becomes less and less important because the likelihood of the person finishing the story diminishes. (Sad, but true.)

So, start the day with what you are avoiding. Eat the frog. I’ve found that is generally the most pressing bit of work to do.

Stretch Every 15-30 Minutes

This goes without saying, but I know that I need a timer to remind me to get up and move around. Also, for those of you who are also working from home, remember to get outside. It’s easy to become a hermit and stay inside for days at a time. It even becomes comforting to remain in this little bubble, not talking to people, going for ages without actual human contact. Talking to people online isn’t quite the same.

Self-pace your workload and listen to your body. Don’t try to keep up with everyone else or do what you used to do. I keep trying to do that and every time I do, I end up in bed with a flare. You’ve got a new body now. Listen to it.

Listen to the Same Music Every Day

This might sound weird, but I’ve listened to the same video game soundtrack every day since I started working from home. I’ve never actually played the game (Ori and the Blind Forest), but my sister sent me the music one day last year and I fell in love with it.

Listening to the same music on repeat is like white noise, but better. Somehow I don’t get bored. There are familiar rhythms that I lean into, spikes I use for creativity. The rest of it melts into the background. Research has found that familiarity is best for focus, and I know that when I don’t know what song is coming up next, I don’t work — I listen to the music. So, I find it best to know the music. A Pandora station you’re familiar with would achieve the same thing.

Celebrate Successes

Did you finish an assignment? Three-minute dance party. Did you publish a blog post? Fist pump. Did you get an article accepted by a publication? You get to scream as loud as you want for the next ten minutes.

Ergonomic Workstation

My kneeling chair saves my life at work. I also have an Edge desk that I will be using more, and I also spend my afternoons in a recliner with my laptop. Find what works for you and what lets you get your assignments done in the most comfortable manner possible. If you need to speak with your employer about accommodations, many of them cost less than $500 and can be made out of stuff already in your house.

Routine

Routines are imperative when you have a chronic condition. This is why traveling is so hard for us. Find out what works for you and stick to it.

Lists and Sticky Notes

The one thing that has driven me up the wall since I’ve developed my chronic condition is that my memory is now shot. Between the stress and my medications, I can’t even remember if my therapist has bangs when I see her every week. I’m constantly struggling for words and phrases, going “Um, uh, um,” and drawing blanks.

Sticky notes are my savior. I have every different size and color, and they have everything from personal mantras to what I need to mention to my boss that day. My desk and monitor are wallpapered with them. The only downside? I need to remember to throw away the outdated ones.

And there you have it. That’s how I keep myself in line during my workdays. It might not sound revolutionary, but it’s my method, and so far it’s worked for me.

Considerations Before Deciding to Work from Home

We’re getting back on a regular schedule, guys. In the meantime, one more post from a lovely writer who’s taking us in a new direction: working from home with a chronic condition! Here is a contribution from freelance writer Jenny Holt, please give her a warm welcome. 

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Working from home can be a dream come true for the self-reliant… or a nightmare for procrastinators.

Do you find it increasingly difficult to commute to work every day due to your condition? Perhaps you even find that workplace stresses are making you feel worse. You may be considering working from home if you find that medical appointments are difficult to fit in around working hours. However, working from home is a big commitment, so it is worthwhile to consider the pros and cons before making such a decision.

Reduces Pressure

When you work remotely or freelance, there is a different kind of pressure. It is less overbearing because colleagues and bosses are more distant. However, deadlines are still there and even if these are flexible, work has to be done within a reasonable time limit or the client will look elsewhere. You are however, freer to set your own hours, manage your own workload and to take on as many projects as you can realistically handle – if you are a freelancer. For remote workers, you have more freedom to choose hours, but there are still exact workload expectations from your employer.

Freedom may relax you, but working from home is not stress-free even if you are in a comfortable environment. Sufferers of chronic pain may find that working from home, with a more relaxed work schedule, will ease some of their pains. This is because stress can exacerbate conditions, but also because you can find a way to work in your home that is more physically comfortable. A happy mind is going to help make a happier body.

Requires Discipline

Self-discipline is needed to ensure that you do not wind up working through the night to complete projects. Without the pressure of being watched or having set targets to meet, it can be easy to procrastinate. Try to separate your workspace from your home space to ensure that there are no distractions.

It is possible to play psychological tricks on yourself to make you feel like you go for a walk and arrive at work (even though you’ve really come back home) and when you finish your work, go out and come back again. While at work, you need to resist the temptation of the TV, of the fridge, and social media, and set yourself reasonable goals, targets, and a good time to just stop. However, one bonus is if you are freelance, if you have a day when the pain is too much, you can scratch it as a work day, and pick up the next day when you are feeling better or you can work in bed.

Time for Family

When you arrive home from work, you may feel tired and in pain, which makes it more difficult to spend quality time with your kids. Your time at home is also limited by your commute. This may prevent you from going on the school run or attending your children’s extracurricular activities. By being a home worker, you can fit family time in during the day as opposed to the evenings when you may be too tired to play games or run around with the kids. It is easier to take days off to care for sick children and to pick them up from school in the afternoon.

Lack of Relationships

You may find that you miss making new working relationships with like-minded people when working from home. Chatting with colleagues or working with people on a project can be a nice distraction when you suffer from chronic pain, but working at home can let you dwell on the pain you are feeling. Mental health issues are key for people working from home – the solitude can be too much. However, it is also easier to take breaks, do exercises, and go out for lunches to see friends or family. By breaking up your day, you can distract yourself, and find some of the positives in life which help dull pain.

Freedom for Leisure

You may have always wanted to take a certain course or try out a new leisure activity that didn’t fit around your working hours. When you work from home, you can make time for more things that you love and organize your schedule to accommodate hobbies. This also means therapy, trying Qigong, Tai Chi or meditation to manage and reduce pain, and to fix the fundamental underlying cause if possible.

Jenny Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it all and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind. Email her at jennyholtwriter@gmail.com! 

Got a Pain in the Neck? Incorporate These Stretches into Your Daily Routine

Hello, everyone! I have been swamped with work, so we have a guest post today from Megan Wilson of PainInjuryRelief.com. She brings us a lovely graphic dedicated to neck pain relief that you can use while at work or on the go! Stay tuned for more regular content soon. In the meantime, thank you, Megan!

Living with chronic pain is a trying experience. It can impact each and every minute of your life, from your interactions with friends and family to sleep and mental health. So if there are things you can do to help relieve pain in one area, or to strengthen a part of the body to help compensate for pain elsewhere, then it’s a path to pursue.

One area to focus on is the neck; we need our necks to do so much. We use them to work on our computers, to talk on our phones, to read. And neck pain affects so many people—up to 70 percent. Want to learn how to help your neck? This graphic can help.

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Huffington Post: Personal Injury Lawyers: What I Learned From Being on Both Sides of the Aisle

Happy New Year, everyone!

I can’t believe it’s 2017. We’ve finally closed the lid on the dumpster fire that was 2016, thank God. Now we can focus on bigger and better things.

You know, like new writing ventures! (How’d you like my smooth transition there?)

I wrote a new article for the Huffington Post about my experience as both an attorney and a personal injury client. Swing on over there to check it out if you feel so inclined!

Click here for article!

 

Enjuris: “I Had to Mourn the Person I Used to Be”

Hi guys! I know, two posts in one week! It’s almost like it’s Christmas!

So, my new job interviewed me about my two car accidents for their blog series (DISCLAIMER, yes they pay me because I work there, ETC.), so if you want to head on over there and see what’s what, please do!

I mean, even the graphics turned out great. I was talking about how my life got derailed at age 17, and this was the final image for the story:

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Love it.

Anyway, just giving you a heads-up. I’ll be posting more normal things soon and hopefully more product reviews. Several people have reached out to me with things to try, and I am ready to get back into the game.

ONWARD!

Working with Enjuris to Help Personal Injury Accident Victims

I could start this entry by waxing poetic about my time away, but that’s a bit boring, isn’t it?  

My absence was because of all sorts of reasons. The prolotherapy regimen was a big one – five weeks of intense pain will cause anyone to fall off the map. But most importantly?

I started a new part-time job!

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*Cue the trumpets and fanfare*

After I left my job as an attorney, I wasn’t sure whether I’d find anything that would fit my skills and aspirations. I loved to write and edit, and I had a law degree I wasn’t doing much with. Deep down I knew I wanted to help others like me, people who’d been decimated by accidents and who needed information but didn’t know where to find it or even where to begin. I thought I’d have to do that on my own time, though, and that any job would be a 9 to 5 time-suck that kept me from my true pursuits. That is, until I found Enjuris.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I work for Enjuris. I don’t usually talk about my work here in more than vague terms because I don’t like to mix my personal and professional lives. However, my editor and I have talked about it at length. WT&C and Enjuris actually have the same audience and benefit from the same content, so why not give this a try? They gave me complete leeway with the writing. With that said, here we go!

Here’s some background: Enjuris is a new legal project. After a lengthy interview process – which included the most thorough background check I’ve ever had, they called everyone on my resume that was still alive – I got the job and jumped right in. It’s a remote position, which is magical, and I’m able to roll downstairs in my pajamas and work from the office or the living room at whatever odd hour I choose, as long as my week’s work is done by Friday afternoon.

Enjuris is a different kind of bird. It’s a personal injury law information site for people who have been in accidents, kind of like a Nolo or a FindLaw, with articles about different types of injuries, types of accidents, how to get through the litigation process, state-specific pieces, and a law firm directory. Many articles are still being written (that’s partially my job) and new content is being created every day.

However, the thing I love about Enjuris is that my editor is absolutely determined to make it a site that serves the accident victims first. And when I say that, I mean serve them first emotionally. She wants to provide information that will help them heal, not just information that will get them an insurance settlement. (Both are nice, to be fair.)

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Dolla dolla bills, y’all!

I guess that’s something I have yet to find. There are websites devoted to accident victims, and there are sites devoted to knowledge, but there aren’t hybrids. At least, there aren’t good ones. My editor has been open to every idea I throw at her. I have 12 years’ worth of pent-up ideas for websites and resources that I’ve wanted to implement on my own or with other people, but I haven’t had the time or money to make them happen.

On our weekly calls we brainstorm how to make the site more accessible, more people-friendly, more forward-facing, and more compassionate. We don’t want to just provide information people can get at Nolo. What’s the point in that? We want to provide that information and take the next step, which is helping that person get into a support group in their area or join an online collective for people with the same injuries. (Can you tell that I’m passionate about this?)

I think the difference is that most everyone at Enjuris is able to play a variation of the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. You know, think of any movie and within six movies, you can get to Kevin Bacon.

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Look at that face. How could you not like him?! Photo credit: Genevieve719 via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Here, within a few people you can get to someone who’s been in a horrible accident. My editor’s sister, for instance, suffered dreadful injuries in a motorcycle accident, which was featured on the Enjuris blog. It’s far more common than you’d think.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this work. It feels like Jake Blues having his moment of truth about getting the band back together in The Blues Brothers. Enjuris takes every talent I have and puts them to good use. I write articles about personal injury accidents and how to recover from them as healthily as possible. I edit articles to clarify their intent and showcase their ideas. I use my legal background to make sure that anyone who comes to our site gets solid advice and knows what to do. Because I’ve been exactly where our readership has been (twice), I can write in a way that isn’t condescending or pandering.

I want to put everything I have into making this project as great as it can be. And readers, I want your input as well. You’ve been where I’ve been, and if you want to take a look at the site and tell me what you think, what you’d change, what you want, then please tell me. I welcome your feedback, as always!