Chronically Strong with Sonya Flower: My Life Restarted At 25!

Chronically Strong with Sonya Flower: My Life Restarted At 25!

“I want to inspire. I want to share what I’ve gone through cause I know it can be a lesson for others. Maybe just a blip of encouragement to not give up.”In December 2005 I was a pedestrian and had a Dodge Ram pickup back on top of me. It stopped when it was on my back and I felt a snap in my chest. It crushed the right side of my rib cage, and did some internal damage.

I managed to go inside a hotel lobby and EMS was called. I had a lacerated liver, hypothermia, and fractured ribs galore. So that’s the cause of the physical damage. 

I was a police officer. We were at a closed venue for a law enforcement Christmas party. The driver was my then fiancé. He was also a cop. He got mad I danced with others. We got into a fight. He was going to leave, he was drunk, it was snowing. 

I said, “You wanna leave? Fine! Go over me!” And dropped down. I was under the influence too. Didn’t think for a minute he would, but he backed on top of me and stopped when he realized what he did. Pulled forward, stuck his head out the window and said, “You crazy fucking bitch! Move!” I was already crushed. The pain was fierce. I couldn’t move.

He left me there after running me over. My attempt to be dramatic failed epically.

I could have died

I actually recovered, or so I thought but the scar tissue was planning an assault on me. Turns out I had thoracic outlet syndrome from the shoulder crush. My long thoracic nerve split when they fixed the TOS condition and my right arm became a useless appendage. 

We waited to see if the nerve would regenerate but it didn’t. So, I had to do the scapular fusion surgery to restore some functionality. They took a bone graft from my hip and wired my ribs to my scapula to make one unit.

I’ve had over 4 surgeries. Recovery was hard. When it happened I was a very physically strong person. That probably saved me.

I got back into shape and tried to make a return to law enforcement but once the scar tissue got hold, I was going to be a liability. 

I was with the DOJ until my medical stuff go so out of hand I had to leave the position. I received a disability pension because they wouldn’t accommodate me.

Chronic pain has always been a part of life

I have other conditions not related to the crush injury, like endometriosis and migraines. Sadly some of the damage was so severe I barely noticed the pain of my endo. It was nuts. Once we got my MVA pain in check, endo returned something fierce.

I have had Endometriosis for as long as I can remember. Extremely painful periods and since I was young their treatment was conservative. Injections and the like. Where I grew up hysterectomy was not an option considering my age and what if I wanted kids and such. It was infuriating to sit in pain because of such nonsense.

After having a failed pregnancy and zero child plans, Seattle was happy to go through with the surgery. I didn’t have a total hysterectomy so I’m sure is some crazy egg shuffling I could do but not likely.

Migraine is currently unpredictable in my life. I can be fine and then I get my aura of visual bubbles flying over my shoulders and pow, here it comes. I also wake up with them at times and those get me before I can medicate. I manage usually, but my friends and family know when I’m suddenly inactive or incommunicado. I’m usually out for 1-4 days.

My pain on a regular day varies, especially on a day with no activity. I’ve worked on stretching and limbering for at least 30 mins every day since the fusion, I’ve remained active and have since herniated several discs in my cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. I’ve lost about 30 degrees of motion from my right arm due to the fusion.

I definitely have some body image issues that lasted long before any of this, those may have come from sexual abuse as a child. I wear a mouth guard to prevent damage during the day from my clenching activity. I have a healthy stock of Icy Hot, Tiger Balm, Biofreeze, Voltaren, heat and ice packs. I usually smell of one or some of them. I also wear an Oura Ring to track my sleep.

Recovery has no deadline and is not linear 

Every day is different. Sometimes I have horrible nightmares that take me time to work through and process. The most difficult part of all this is the unpredictability of it… good days, bad days, can’t get out of bed days.

In the beginning I was resilient, especially since my injuries healed and I didn’t know what was in the future. When my body started to fail, I was heartbroken. There were days I wished I didn’t survive.

I love how all this has taught me, in baby steps, to trust myself, trust others and be a ruthless advocate for being treated well in all reaches of my life (not just chronic illness). 

I believe that my life restarted at 25.

Support system can make a world of difference

I have some close friends. My sister and mother who live 5 states away are always there for me. And I have the best medical care team a girl could ask for. 

I live alone with a dog (Puppy Chow) and 2 cats (Eggo and Leggo). My cat Leggo wants to be a dog. My dog thinks he’s a human. All mixed up.

I coach little league and have reunited with my adult niece and nephew and my niece just had a baby so I’ll just borrow hers. LOL!

Life always goes on

I just finished my Master’s. What’s next? Trying to figure out what platform I can use to make a difference. I have mad skills and can help people, just got to figure the way to make it happen. 

I’ve been in counseling for as long as I can remember. I’m reaping a huge return on investment. I read and seek knowledge from everywhere. I don’t use excuses, offering solutions instead and when I can’t do something anymore, I replace it with something as close to what it was (can’t play softball so I coach). Currently I work as a visit supervisor for non-custodial parents who are court ordered to have supervised visits. ❤️

“There is always a way to get through. Chronic pain doesn’t have to be chronic suffering. I’m not explaining it that well, but just don’t give up. You’re not alone.” 

Sonya Flower (@thesonyaflower)
I'm Sonya, 40, from Seattle, WA and my diagnosis is/are scapulothoracic fusion, PTSD, intractable migraine with aura, and persistent depressive disorder. Thanks for picking me to get to know. Feels good to go through the story for once. Sort of like a badge of courage. ❤️Connect with me on IG @thesonyaflower

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