September is Pain Awareness Month, and SpineNation is teaming up with author-activist Kelly “Nerdzilla” Mendenhall for a giveaway of her book, “Skin in the Game: The Stories My Tattoos Tell.”
New users registering at SpineNation.com in September, who join the Medical Mysteries Support Group, will receive a free copy of Mendenhall’s book in eBook format.
SpineNation.com is the #1 Digital Support Community for people living with chronic back, neck, and spine conditions. SpineNation’s mission is to educate, empower, and support those living with chronic back pain and spine conditions to live their best lives. Skin in the Game: The Stories My Tattoos Tell is written by SpineNation contributing writer, community leader, and author-activist, Kelly Mendenhall. SpineNation CEO, Jay Resio, spoke on why it made sense to give away this particular text in September.
“One of the things we often discuss regarding chronic pain and spine conditions is the need to be one’s own best advocate,” said Resio. “You have to fight hard for answers sometimes because the answer to what is happening to you isn’t always obvious.”
Resio is referring to how difficult it can be for many patients living with chronic pain to acquire a firm diagnosis and treatment plan. Tests and scans relied upon to diagnose spine conditions and injuries don’t always tell the whole story, and patients are often up against stereotypes about people living with chronic pain. In Mendenhall’s case, it took more than two years, and she is still seeking definitive answers for certain symptoms.
“I have been privy to Kelly’s journey and experiences with self-advocacy since SpineNation first launched back in 2017. She started out as an Instagram follower and then became a member. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who fights harder for answers than Kelly,” Resio continued. “I tell her she’s my hero pretty regularly. She doesn’t just fight hard for answers, she fights hard for her recovery and improved quality of life.”
“I have been a medical mystery for quite some time myself,” said Mendenhall. I decided that sharing my story with members of the SpineNation community who were also up against medical dead-ends, diagnoses, and re-diagnoses, and Medical Gaslighting, made the most sense in terms of the book giveaway.”
Resio goes on to say, “One of the messages that Kelly drives home in all that she does is that a diagnosis or set of diagnoses does not have to be the end of a person’s story. Her book is testament that we are all the heroes of our own stories, so long as we refuse to give up.”
Kelly “Nerdzilla” Mendenhall, as much of the virtual world knows her, is a self-proclaimed recovering nonprofit professional. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master’s in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Her professional career was centered in the nonprofit sector. In June of 2017, Kelly became suddenly medically disabled and lost her mobility nearly entirely at the age of 35.
Over the 2+ years that followed, Mendenhall endured multiple epidural steroid spinal and piriformis muscle injections. She has one medical implant and had two successful spinal fusions, multiple laminectomies, and two discectomies. Mendenhall happily has two working legs and arms again. However, despite three neurosurgeries and years of physical rehabilitation efforts, her journey for answers isn’t over just yet.
“I actually have another surgery coming up on September 4,” Mendenhall explained. This time, Mendenhall is having an exploratory laparoscopy that will, hopefully, determine a key contributing factor of her piriformis syndrome and chronic sciatic nerve pain. If endometriosis is found and treated, she may experience more than 50% pain reduction, something that Mendenhall says would be life-changing.
“Right now I can only sit upright for 2-3 hours per day, max, without a really bad pain flare and swelling in my leg. Some days, it’s not even that much. My back is world’s better than it was before my surgeries, but my leg has been the harder puzzle to solve. I’d love to be able to drive long distances again, take road trips, get out and travel more to talk about my first book and the upcoming second book. COVID permitting, of course.”
Mendenhall’s memoir is described on her website as, “a book about survival, human connection, false steps, and ascension.” Mendenhall states, “The last two chapters of the book and the afterword focus nearly entirely on my journey to reinvent myself and fight to get answers about my pain and other symptoms. My hope is that it inspires others not to give up as well. It’s all part of my mission to turn my mess into a message.”
All new members registering at SpineNation.com for the month of September, who also join the Medical Mysteries Support Group will receive a free eBook copy of Skin in the Game. For more information on the benefits of becoming a community member, read Five Reasons to Join SpineNation.