The Chronic Pain Advocate

About Me

If you want the professional, business-y side of things, you’ll find that lower on the page. But if you want the real, day-to-day 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 and the autoimmune diseases of rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome and dysautonomia, to name a few. I’ve enjoyed success as an international 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.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - the uninvited guest

Five years after our move, in 2009 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. 

Chronic issues are hard.

The physical side of the journey is hard, without a doubt. But there’s an other side to this journey all its own. No one prepared me for the admin side of being sick. Yeah, I’d been in healthcare administration for decades, but it was never personal to the extent 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 – simply trying not to give in to discouragement. This is the side of sick no one prepares you for. And it can derail any physical progress we hope to make in the blink of an eye.

With a lot of faith, persistence, desperate determination – and even some sheer grit- I’m winning over chronic and finding joy in 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 admin 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 CDPs, 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.

These are some of the babies born on the farm. Baby goats are the cutest thing everrrr

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.

PROFESSIONAL BIO

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.

Business/Leadership Awards

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)

Certifications

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

SBA week in Washington, DC with President George W. Bush and Nat'l SBA Administrator, Hector Barreto , May 2005
I had the privilege of meeting with Senator Lamar Alexander from TN.
It was an honor to meet Hector Barreto, National SBA Administrator. He continues to help small businesses as an advisor to The White House.

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.