Disclaimer: Information contained in this website is intended for educational purposes. It is not meant to replace your healthcare team nor as medical advice. Please contact your physician or medical professional before making any changes to your current care plan, diet, or exercise routine
If you want the professional, business-y side of things, you’ll find that lower on the page. But if you want the real, everyday me, then here’s the un-cut, up-close-and-personal stuff about who I am, what I do, and why I feel it matters. Grab some hot chocolate or sweet tea and let’s get to know one another a little better.
Nowadays, I’m a person who lives with chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s and non-POTs dysautonomia. I’ve enjoyed success as a small business owner, an author, speaker, teacher, musician and a healthcare auditor. A highly successful small business career in healthcare was an unexpected blessing in our journey to Tennessee, and I’m forever grateful for the success we’ve had here.
Most importantly, though, I’m a wife, mom, and now a JoJo! I live on a small goat farm in Tennessee and enjoy farm living. Baby goats are the cutest ever!
Though I no longer work in corporate America due to illness, I stay connected to patient care by volunteering as a writer/teacher and patient advocate for families affected by chronic disease and disability. My sweet spot is teaching patients all about self-advocacy and how to be their own voice along the journey of chronic illness. I’ve met some great people along the way and been a part of legislative progress on many issues that affect chronic illness families.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - the uninvited guest
Five years after our move to Tennessee, chronic illness rocked my world. As in, turned it completely upside-down. Diagnosed with severe, aggressive and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, I felt the sting of living with chronic illness and disability, and I watched helplessly as it took its toll on my body, my career, my family, our friends, our small business, finances, and every.single.area.of.my.life. The every day of living with chronic pain and fatigue was devastating.
Chronic issues are hard.
The physical side of the journey is hard, without a doubt. But there’s another side to this journey all its own. No one prepared me for the every day of being sick. Yeah, I’d been in healthcare administration for decades, but it was never personal to the extent that it would be on my own health journey. Making appointments. Dealing with insurance. Going in and out of disability. Trying to hold a job. Heck – trying to just get out of bed or hold my toothbrush. The every day of chronic illness is the side of sick no one prepares you for. It took its toll, both physically and mentally.
With a lot of faith, persistence, desperate determination – and even some sheer grit- I’m winning over chronic and finding joy in the every day of my journey. Though the chronic life is often not fun, we belong to a unique community of extra special people, and encouraging one another through the hard times is a much better option than trying to go it alone.
You are never, ever alone.
It’s my hope that you find education here about successfully living a chronic life, feel encouraged by the stories, tips and resources, and that you feel empowered by the help you find here, especially on the every day side of sick.
Please visit often, join the dialog, and pass the site along to everyone you know who’s affected by chronic illness. I hope you are blessed greatly and will, indeed, win over chronic and find joy in your journey.
Rock on, fellow Chronies, rock on –
Now the fun stuff !
Here are some fun facts about this crazy life I lead
1. My favorite food is probably ketchup. Or chocolate. No, ketchup. Definitely ketchup.
2. My husband Chris and I have three kids, a daughter and twin sons. And a really cute Brittany spaniel who is Mama’s boy.
3. I’ve played the piano all my life. My mom was my teacher and I honestly don’t remember ever not playing the piano. I went to college on a piano performance scholarship, though I majored in nursing.
4. While I attended nursing school, I didn’t get to graduate due to a severe anaphylaxis latex allergy. This was my first experience with chronic illness. I was able to transfer from the nursing staff to the admin staff at work and got to learn the administrative side of medicine. Boy, has that ever come in handy!
5. My favorite concert is a TSO Christmas concert. Nothing better. One of my favorite family traditions.
6. We live on a farm with the cutest goats ever. Nothing cuter than a baby goat! I sing to them, Silent Night is their favorite. They don’t seem to care if it’s July or December.
7. I’ve been skydiving. Would absolutely go again.
8. I’ve had a pacemaker for 10+ years. My pulse was 19 when I went to surgery. All I could think of was how hungry I was because they wouldn’t let me eat.
9. I’m a recovered Type-A overachiever who’s let go of the relentless (and unachievable) pursuit of perfectionism. There really is such a thing as an “achievement addict” and God can heal that, too.
10. Seeing former students serve through their music is one of the greatest thrills ever. Don’t think I’ll ever tire of this.
Professionally, Elisa is an author, speaker, pianist, teacher, worship team leader, healthcare quality auditor, and tireless patient advocate. She lives in Tennessee with her family, where she has enjoyed success in public speaking, small business, ministry and education. Elisa attended college on full scholarships in piano performance and nursing. She carries multiple certifications in healthcare administration/education and has taught on healthcare/chronic illness topics for over 10 years. Most recently, she got certified as a group fitness instructor, specifically for orthopaedics and arthritis-type conditions. When health allows, she volunteers with local ladies’ groups in fitness classes and healthcare education with a small-group emphasis on community and encouragement.
Elisa was named Tennessee Small Business Person of the Year in 2005 and traveled to our nation’s capital to represent the state of Tennessee at National Small Business Week. She enjoyed many years of business awards for her achievements, which led to a new venture in public speaking.
In 2005, Elisa was appointed the US National EHR Coordinator for the transcription industry, where she led the national initiative to move transcription in to the electronic medical record during President George W. Bush’s presidency.
She held this post for four years and taught countless seminars and education sessions throughout the US. She made numerous trips to Capitol Hill to advocate for quality in healthcare records, and in 2006, was invited by the Honorable David Davis, State Rep-TN, to testify before Congress regarding her success as a small business owner. It was during this time that she discovered her talent and love for public speaking.
Elisa is a published author in numerous medical journals, US and state legislative reports and submissions, healthcare conferences and training events regarding quality in medical records, living with chronic disease, and music therapy/education. Her success as a small business owner was featured in the book, Roadside MBA, where she was interviewed about her accomplishments in the field of health information technology. She knows first-hand how chronic illness and disability impacts the practical side of life, and she is a sought-after coach in this regard. Elisa has a particular passion for teaching patients how to read their medical records and for encouraging those affected by chronic life and disability issues to stay strong on such a difficult journey. She writes and speaks about real-deal health journey topics, wrapping them in a candid humor which those who know her have come to expect and enjoy.
2005, United States Small Business Person of the Year, State of Tennessee
2005, Rising Star Award, Tennessee Small Business (TN Small Business Development Centers)
2005, Top 40 Under 40, Business Leadership/Excellence Award, Tennessee
2005-2009, National EHR Coordinator for Transcription, US/American Assn for Medical Transcription
2006, Small Business of the Year, Tennessee
2006, Blue Ribbon Business, United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC
2006, Economic Development Model Business/Leader of the Year, SE Region (TN, NC, SC, VA, KY)
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, National Speaker, National Transcriptionist Convention, AHDI/AHIMA
2008, Tech Star Award for technology in business, Eastern Region
2009, US Small Business, National Who’s-Who in Leadership Award
2011, Featured business leader in Roadside MBA, a book about small business owners/leaders (read full article here)
CPHIMS, Certified Health Information/Management Systems
CPHIT, Certified in Health Information Technology
CPEHR, Certified in Electronic Health Records
CQA, Certified Quality Auditor/healthcare
MLS, Medical Language Specialist, certificate
PMP, Project Management Professional
Group Fitness Instructor/arthritis/orthopedics, American Council on Exercise (ACE)Certified REFIT® Fitness/dance-based Instructor
Advisory Group, Advisor, Walters State Community College, Northeast State Community College
Keeping It Real with Arthritis, Book, Contributing Author, ImagineWe Publishing, Dec 2022
Arthritis Ambassador, US American Arthritis Foundation, 2021-current
When Healthcare Costs More than Your House, The Tennessean, April 28, 2021
Covid-19 Patient Impact and Insights, Global Healthy Living Foundation, April 2021
On the 5th Day of HIT Christmas, Healthcare IT Today, Dec 2020
Why Won’t Insurance Cover the Medication Your Doctor Prescribed? No Patient Left Behind, non-profit, Sept 2021
Congressman Escalates War with PBMs, MedPage Today, with US Rep Buddy Carter, GA 1st District
6 Ways People with Rheumatoid Arthritis manage Their Fatigue, SELF Magazine, April 2021
Pulling Back the Curtain on PBMs, Cong. Buddy Carter, GA, Legislative Initiative, Oct 2022
Patient Rising Foundation, non-profit, ongoing patient advisory/interviews, 2021-present
Unintended Consequences of the EMR, author, Medical Conference Educator, 2008-present
The EHR: Quality Redefined, AAMT/AHDI, AHIMA/SE-AHDI Continuing Education Conference Educator/Author
HIPAA: The Patient’s Perspective, Patients Rising Foundation, Patient Educator, 2022
My Fitness Instructor Journey
Just before my relapse in 2016, I got certified to teach fitness classes. I enjoyed teaching mind-body-spirit fitness for women, many of whom were on a chronic illness journey just like me. We learned all about progressions and regressions and how to be fulfilled with gentle range of motion, or even exercising from a chair some days.
Sadly, I’m no longer able to teach arthritis/fitness classes due to my health, but it’s definitely one thing I miss most along this journey. I continue to pray that God would allow me to do this again.