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Readers’ Choice: Lori’s Story — Winner Against the Odds

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     Lori grew up on a grain farm in rural Saskatchewan. She has always been governed by innate bravery and was the only girl who raced her snowmobile against the men and she loved to work alongside her parents. She suffered two accidents in her teens that would dictate her winning spirit for the rest of her life. When Lori was 15, she was in a single-vehicle roll over accident and thrown from the pickup. The impact crushed her shoulder and pelvis and required long, determined hours of rehabilitation. Because of the extensive pelvic injuries she sustained, Lori was told she would likely never have children. Two years later, Lori was riding her motorcycle at dusk and hit a crack in the road, breaking her back.
After being told she may never walk, or be a mother, Lori was determined to prove her doctors wrong. I am here today because of her determination and courage. This is her story, in her own words, of the battle she has fought with herself and a medical profession that did not understand her ailment. She came out on top. She beat the odds …

I have been asked to detail what is like to live through the darkest time in my life and must first say that I am always amazed at the human spirit. Some of us can endure unbearable pain, day after day and year after year. Yet, we decide to stick around. I am one of those people.

Seven years ago, I was stopped at a red light and was rear-ended on an icy street by a young man traveling too fast for the conditions. Nothing has been the same since that severe whiplash injury.

The pain in the months, and then years, following the accident was unbelievable. My head felt like it would explode every day and I was unsure of where my feet were with each step. I could not turn my neck and if I looked up at anything above eye level, I would nearly pass out.  My hair was only shoulder length, but I couldn’t stand the weight of it. My husband cut it all off every three weeks. Sitting was impossible and felt like a knife surrounded by chunks of glass.

Needless to say, I had to give up on almost every plan my family made. I was unable to sit down at my son’s graduation or at my mom’s funeral. Utterly degrading, I laid down everywhere, even in the waiting room floors of the many doctors I saw.

Over forty specialists from Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto investigated my pain but none had any clue what to do. They all concluded I had developed severe chronic pain.

Neurosurgeons told me I was the worst case they’d seen. I was diagnosed with a condition that causes constant freezing and burning sensations. They grew worse over time. I read in a medical journal that most patients with the condition commit suicide and when I read there was no cure, I cried for two days. My excellent family doctor sent me to every expert she could find to help me; her perseverance was astonishing and heartfelt.

Chronic pain took over my life. I knew I was very lucky to have an incredible husband and wonderful kids and many dear friends, but I just couldn’t see a way to keep on living when the pain was there 24 hours a day with no end in sight. The decision to end my life was undertaken with great thought: what if I never got better?

I began to plan how to go out without leaving too much of a mess for my family and contemplated the right day. The panic would hit me like a shot as the time grew closer and the actual day would come and go. I was unable to go through with it. One day, I asked my husband if he’d forgive me if I committed suicide, and he said he and our kids would never get over the loss. He forbid me to do it and promised we’d find a way to make me pain-free. My parents had never used the word “quit” in their lives and my husband has never heard of the word either: How could I?

However, I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. I was not getting better. I was unable to end my own suffering. My eyes were two dark stars of grief and I could not remember my old life. I wondered if it had ever existed or if I had dreamed it all.

Trying to remain tethered to reality was the biggest battle I have ever known. At the end of my rope, I was extremely fortunate to find an amazing procedure with a success rate of over 85 per cent. It was being performed by an equally amazing surgeon, Dr. Ake Nystrom. He operates in the University Medical Centre at Omaha, Nebraska.

In June, 2008, I had a procedure called surgical fasciectomy. Dr. Nystrom released the compressed nerves, responsible for years of agony, from the surrounding tissues on the outside of my central nervous system. Dr. Nystrom has successfully performed the procedure on over 1,500 patients, who come to see him from all over the world. It literally saved my life.

Lori and Her Daughter, Jenn

For more information, please visit Dr. Nystrom’s website at: www.whiplashinjury.net.

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25 Comments - (Leave a comment! »)

  • Heather - Maryland said:

    I know what it is like to be in pain that seems endless. I have been there myself. I went through a period of time like Lori, where I thought my pain would never end. I was hopeless as well, but through new found hope, perseverance, and the love and support of family and friends, I pulled through. Lori is an inspiration to us all. She gave up, but found her courage and strength again within herself and fought until she won. Thank you. I enjoy your blog and reading about courageous and brave people.

  • Mary Quesenberry -- Montana said:

    One can almost feel the pain and suffering experienced by Lori through the articulate description. It was heart-warming to see her encouraged by her family during this time, and to find that she was finally able to overcome her painful injuries through surgery.
    However, I was hoping to hear more about this family. The daughter who writes these lines, says that she is here because of her Mom’s determination and courage, but fails to mention until suicide thoughts enter the picture, that there are other children involved in the story.
    I think the story should have been long enough to include Lori’s life today – what she is doing and how her family has been impacted by her recovery. It would have sweetened the ending.

  • Christine said:

    Lori obviously has an amazing story to tell. She survived two horrific accidents – the first when she was thrown from a pickup and the second when she broke her back – sustaining injuries that prompted doctors to tell her she would never walk again or have children. She proved the doctors wrong by both walking again and giving birth. So, I was surprised when the authors didn’t touch on either of those two accidents at all in “Lori’s Story”. Rather, the reader is told only that Lori developed severe and debilitating pain after suffering whiplash. If the first two accidents hadn’t been mentioned in the caption, the reader would be either amazed or somewhat suspicious of the extent of Lori’s pain from whiplash. However, knowing Lori’s previous medical history, the reader can only conclude that the whiplash aggravated injuries from the previous accidents, resulting in years of excruciating pain. Although I certainly sympathize with Lori’s trials and tribulations, and I assuredly exalt in her recovery, I think the story would have been stronger if we (the readers) had been told more about Lori’s previous medical issues and how they tied in with the whiplash injury.

  • Larry – Florida said:

    The pain and anguish (as described in the too-long photo caption) endured by Lori is heartbreaking, even though, thankfully, the story has a very happy ending. However, the authors hardly detail the accidents where Lori was ejected from a pickup truck and broke her back when she crashed on a motorcycle – yet whiplash from a rear-end collision (introduced early in the story) is described in much detail. I wanted more detail about her broken back and the type of injuries sustained from being ejected from the truck since both were mentioned in the photo caption. Also, Lori was advised by doctors (in photo caption) that she probably would not be able to have children, yet she did – a wonderful part of the story that was hardly touched on. I think “Lori’s Story” is an incomplete and unorganized account of a series of compelling comebacks.

  • Robin – Indiana said:

    I found it frustrating that the blurb under the photograph mentioned that doctors said she might not be able to have kids and talked about these two terrible incidents in her life. But the main article didn’t mention those incidents at all. It described what seems to be a recent event and how it impacted her. It was encouraging, but it’s hard to imagine that being rear-ended can bey as terrible as being thrown from a pick-up or breaking her back in a motorcycle incident. I found myself wondering if the article was talking about two different people. Especially when the blurb states that Lori was fifteen in the pick-up accident and the motorcycle incident occurred 2 years later and that she might not be able to have kids, yet the article talks about an even that occurs seven years before and the support of her husband and kids. The second picture shows her pictured with her daughter, who’s clearly more than 10 years old. Although it was well-written and fascinating, it was a little of a letdown after the fascinating blurb.

  • Kevin W said:

    I enjoyed the article and found I was able to identify with Lori’s situation despite never having experienced the agony associated with this kind of chronic pain. I’ve certainly felt like I was at the end of the line before and I was encouraged to read how her family stood behind her while she suffered through a terrifying chapter in her life.

    That her battle finally ended with her condition being healed was wonderful to read. The only thing I found was missing from this story was further details about her improved quality of life after the procedure that saved her.

  • Andrea -- Canada said:

    I navigated through your site and was thoroughly impressed by the work you are doing. Your mission and concept is simply brilliant and very timely. I was inspired by this Winners Against The Odds story about Lori.

  • Jeff N -- California said:

    I had never heard of neither Booth nor Sharp before browsing Winners Within Us™ ; while it’s tough to find a completely analogous basis of comparison, I went in with virtually no expectations, high or low. The brief pre-bio introduces Lori as uncommonly resilient, as well as consistent in her determination to regain control of her life – a quality sought by many yet attained by few. Once we as the reader reach Lori’s narrative, a certain expectation that she will once again triumph over adverse hurtles has been well established (she is, after all, telling a story of how she survived her darkest moments, so we know from the get-go that she does, in fact, survive, and to be rooting with her through her re-hashing), giving the rest of the piece a tone not unlike a university commencement speech; inspiring, yet concise.

    By chronicling her pain with such infinitesimal detail, Lori’s decline into hopelessness felt so vivid and relatable that the aforementioned “confidence” that everything would work out diminished. I was actually scared for Lori’s well-being, despite the mental note two minutes earlier that she does, in fact, survive. For anyone to bear their soul so completely, to be so openly honest as to admit when they gave up on their life requires not only the strength of pulling oneself out of those darkest, lowest times and continuing, but the trust that those words will not fall upon deaf ears.

    Clearly a unique understanding – a bond – transpired between Booth and Sharp. Admittedly, I wanted to criticize Sharp for being “too dry” of a writer, definitely technically proficient, but lacking a certain flair. As I was re-reading Lori’s Story, however, my attitude shifted toward the importance of preserving the authenticity of Booth’s story, rather than cheap, punchy pizzazz (like using the word pizzazz, for instance). On one level, I love Booth’s heartwarmingly motivational tale, but on another I appreciate Sharp’s dedication to telling a story exactly how I believe it is meant to be told – how the person who experienced the scene told it.

    Overall, I enjoyed the piece – surprisingly more than I initially believed I would.

  • Britnie -- Massachusetts said:

    I just finished, Readers’ Choice: Lori’s Story — Winner Against the Odds and it was all I expected, heartwarming, encouraging and realistic.

  • Brian said:

    I like this website because, quite frankly, it’s inspirational. Too often people focus on the negative aspects of life; too often the media focuses on the sad stories – yours is a publication that shows the other side the coin, and it’s a nice change of pace.

    What I liked most about Lori’s story is her absolute refusal to give up. Stories of human triumph are always great to read, and her story definitely exemplifies that. I also like how, though uplifting, the article didn’t leave out any of the agonizing details she endured. It’s a very honest look at a hard situation that ended well.

  • Bonnie -- Nevada said:

    As I sat down with a cup of hot coffee to read this article I found myself excited to see what it had in store. I found that at first I was unimpressed with the introduction highlighted in blue because it did not capture my interest the way I hoped it would. Once Lori began telling her own story in her own words I was floored by the beauty of expression with which she recounted the years of pain and finally her miraculous recovery. As a person who has known many dear friends with intense emotional pain I was struck by the similar path the human thought process takes for all those in an intense and long-term struggle with pain. In the end I decided that I liked the introduction because it created a mirror image of Lori’s life. It was the bit one had to get through before the true beauty could be found. Lori’s life has really just begun and now she will never take for granted the experience of bending down to literally smell the roses. She appreciates the gift of life and all of us could learn something from her amazing attitude in the face of true and undeniable adversity.

  • Catherine said:

    The story itself definitely got me. The writing is hard to comment on because it consisted of a paragraph at the beginning before the subject’s own words take over.

  • April G said:

    After reading the inspiring story Lori’s Story, I am in awe and also made curious by the remaining unanswered questions, unless I missed an option to “keep reading”, the story was missing the triumph of this brave woman’s ablity to become a mother. Althouht the article does mention her son’s graduation, it never clarifies that she had children.

    As a mother myself I can only imagine the impact that becoming a mother against all odds must have had on her already determined spirit. It would have made a powerful testimony to faith and endurance, if it had been part of this story, however all in all the article was wonderful.

  • jm said:

    It’s an amazing study in human endurence. At one point she even lost hope and contemplated suicide. How she found the strength to continue is quite inspirational and the resolution of the story is quite satisfying as well, as she does finally find a surgical cure. However the article’s composition is a bit confusing in that it shifts from third person to first person voice after the first paragraph. This leaves the reader wondering who is telling the story. I would assume Lori’s daughter Jenn wrote the introduction paragraph since she is listed as the co-writer. This story would have worked better if she (Jenn) had introduced herself as Lori’s daughter from the start, then we would have at least understood the shift in voice. But preferably this article should have been written entirely by Jenn in the third person with quotes from Lori inserted for emphasis. Relating the story through the eyes of the daughter would have given it more power since Jenn has obviously been inspired by her mother’s brave stand in life.

  • A. said:

    The article about a woman named Lori, drew me in within the first paragraph. Her writing style kept me interested by being concise and clear. It also spoke to me because I was in a similar situation once in my life and have known many people like her, and her story is an uplifting and an almost cathartic experience for the readers who can sympathize with her. It shows the reader that if they can hold on and never give up, that things will get better. There are many people out there going through a similar experience and hopefully by reading this article they will know that people have gone through this before and the writer of this article will hopefully inspire the readers to never give up, not only in the case of pain caused by her disease, but with everything that they undertake in life.

  • SG said:

    I love your magazine! My husband and I often talk about doing something extraordinary to change our world into a better place, to help someone in need. I can honestly say I am passionate about your magazine’s purpose.

    I read Living in the Moment and am simply amazed at the roadblocks Bella overcame to find ways to persevere in the face of such difficulty. And she not only persevered, she changed her world. Her story is one of hope for anyone who is going through a similar health problem and encouragement for those looking to start a project to change the world.

  • lk said:

    I have read a few of the articals, but this one touched me most about a lady, who had gotten into two car crashes, and had unbelievably terrible chronic pain. She consittered suicide, but the will of a promis from her husband kept her alive long enough to meet Dr. Ake Nystrom, a surgeon. He preformed surgery on her, which in the end helped her with the pain.

    This story, whenever I read it, makes me cry, because I am so happy that she carried on, and didn’t give up. Suicide is never the answer, and I’m just so happy she found what she needed.

    I love these kinds of articles, they always make me thank my lucky stars.

    -lk

  • Eileen said:

    First, let me say that I loved this website.

    I read “Lori’s Story – Winner Against All Odds” and I also read “Living in the Moment – Annabel Sclippa”. I enjoyed these true life stories of people who overcame odds and hung in there. In this time of great hardship for many, the stories of waiting out the storm and being strong are much needed and can provide much encouragement where there was thought to be none.

  • Kerry said:

    I found this to be a heartfelt story that contained a few nicely worded phrases such as “My eyes were two dark stars of grief” and “Trying to remain tethered to reality.

    The beginning of the story indicated Lori may never be a mother and though it says, “I am here today because of her determination,” it is never clearly identified that the person writing that is what I presume to be one of her children. Later in the story Lori references having children, and it was then that I made the connection.

  • Susan said:

    I would just like to comment on the previous post from Lori who seems to be a little confused about the story.
    She asks what Lori’s (the Lori in the story) ailment was:

    Seven years ago, I was stopped at a red light and was rear-ended on an icy street by a young man traveling too fast for the conditions. Nothing has been the same since that severe whiplash injury.

    Lori’s two previous accidents meant her body was already weakened and had been under great stress before she endured the severe whiplash injury.

    Lori (the comment poster) also asks if she was able to become a mother:

    One day, I asked my husband if he’d forgive me if I committed suicide, and he said he and our kids would never get over the loss.

    “I am here today because of her determination and courage. This is her story, in her own words, of the battle she has fought with herself and a medical profession that did not understand her ailment.”

    I think confusion may arise from this story because, just like the medical profession Lori speaks of, many people do not understand how someone can suffer so greatly from a whiplash injury, but trust me, until you have experienced severe nerve damage it is very hard to understand.

  • Lori said:

    Lori is obviously a remarkble person, a survivor. I enjoyed the story, and the writer seemed to put much effort into the article and getting Lori’s story told.

    The story does not flow to me. I still wonder what ailment Lori suffered from. After reading, I am impressed with her determination, but I don’t get a genuine feeling of her pain and experiences. What was her ailment? How did/do the two accidents mentioned at the onset of the article relate to her current condition and the whiplash injury? Part of the opener was that “her doctors said she would never walk or become a mother.” Did she do those things? The story is heartfelt; however, it lacks clarity and cohesion.

  • Cheryl said:

    Lori,you are such an inspiration to others. Your courage and the fact you never gave up is a testament to your strong will. Despite your pain, you have continued to help others find ‘cures’ and emapathsize with those who continue to suffer. No one can possibly understand the dark tunnel you have had to live in since the accident. I, for one, am so glad you never gave up, Lori.

  • Grace said:

    What a beautiful and uplifting story, I’m so glad you didn’t give up.

  • Patricia Erixon-Dionne said:

    Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it! It brought tears to my eyes! I too suffered from “Whiplash” for two plus years which quickly named “Chronic Pain” and “Untreatable”. I also was operated on by Dr. Ake’ Nystrom at the Omaha Nebraska Medical Centre in April of 2010. A truly remakable surgeon. Before I left his operating table I already was experiencing positive results, some of which included: no more light sensitivity, no more headache, no neck pain, my range of motion returned to my neck with no pain or nausia, ROM returned in my arms and the spasms I had experienced for so many years were gone. I got my life back! Thank You Dr. Nystrom, you are a saint with an amazing ability! Thank You Jenn for telling Lori’s story to the world. Yes, there is treatment for “Whiplash”.

    Patricia

  • Tyler said:

    That’s wonderful. Just goes to show that you should always hang in there, because you never know when things will get better.

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