July 8, 2020

Sue’s Story

Someone once told me that if you strive hard enough, never give up through all the obstacles, smile through the tears and pain, and stay positive constantly looking forward…YOU WILL REACH EVERY GOAL AND DREAM! It was said to me on one of the best and worst days of my life…It was the day where in the morning I gave up on me, but by night time…I was ready to prove EVERYONE wrong…including myself!!

That was back in 1994. You see Christmas of 1993…I was told I would never walk again and never have children. I believed them…what 18 year old wouldn’t. I gave into the false hope that was set before me. For 5 months I laid in that hospital bed being negative, hopeless…saying this is the path that was set out for me. Well…in 1994 and 1995, I never pushed my body to the extremes like I did for 18 months. I was in constant pain, but wouldn’t allow myself any medication. I needed to know what hurt and when and how bad. I cried a lot…painful tears and joyous ones! I walked…alone…with no help…no assistance!

You see from day one of my life I have had obstacles…being born partially deaf…my parents not realizing it until I was almost 5. Having multiple surgeries and going through countless years of speech therapy…being constantly teased for the way I spoke. But I never once complained…I forged ahead.

Then in 2000…I felt that all the obstacles were nothing compared to what happened to me. What else could I possibly endure? Once again I was found bed ridden due to another car accident. Again I was ready to give up. Here I was a mother of a 2 year old who could no longer care for her daughter. I couldn’t give her baths, make her dinner or even bend over to give her a kiss and hug. I couldn’t pick her up when she cried and I couldn’t tuck her into bed every night. Then those words came flooding back into my mind again!

In 2003, I should have died….AGAIN…but again I came to realize that I am here for a purpose. I contacted bacterial meningitis on a cruise ship. I was heavily sedated for a week and in the hospital for another 2. It took almost 2 months for me to feel normal again!

I have had my share of pain…physical, emotional and mental. I have had heartache. I have had people walk out on me because they couldn’t handle things. Or they said I was too strong and independent. Or that they basically got what they wanted and that was it…it was just a game.

You see I LET too many people (not just relationships, but friendships) take my heart and abuse it. I let one take it for almost 5 years. My heart has been destroyed; I sit here and think if you could actually take my heart out and look at it…I would have so many scars, repairs, patches, stitches and staples…that you wouldn’t recognize it as a heart any longer.

In 2005, I decided to regain my health…not just for me, but for one amazing daughter who is my biggest supporter!  In January, I signed up for my first triathlon that I would do with my sister, Stephanie, come that July! I started swimming again and working out very hard, pain and all!

My starting weight at the beginning of 2005 was 275lbs, it was my heaviest ever! By the summer of 2006, I hit my goal weight 150lbs!!!  I went from a size 24 to a size 6-8. From a 3XL to a Small!  It took about another year for my new size to really hit home and for me to start thinking of myself as healthy! I continued training; I stayed motivated by spacing out triathlons throughout the year, so I was ALWAYS IN training.

Then at the end of 2007, I decided to finally go after a dream/goal of mine to become a sworn law enforcement officer. And just 6 days after my 33rd birthday I graduated from the academy, then on Oct 1, 2008…I was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff!

Then 5 days before Christmas (2008) I hit another obstacle in my life. I was in yet another severe car accident (while on duty) that I should have NOT lived through. I am once again dealing with issues I have known and that are unfortunately VERY familiar to me. I was in the hospital for about a month and have had 4 surgeries to date. I am in physical therapy 3 days a week. It will be 4 months since my accident tomorrow and I am still not using my left leg. I have used a walker and wheelchair for assistance and they have just become a part of me.

There is one thing I think that will bother me till the end of time…and that is PEOPLES reactions to my temporary disability…and also PEOPLES questions and statements. My favorite one is “Wow, you look great, you must be in no pain and feeling great!” I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THAT!! Am I supposed to go around life showing my CHRONIC CONSTANT pain I am in?…or do people not realize that a smile can get you through a whole hell of a lot and all my pain, scarring, fractures are all hidden under clothing and skin!!

18 months out from my accident and I have come to terms that I will never make it back to the road. I started a program called CrossFit, to rehab myself. It is a very intense exercise program. I love it and though I have multiple limitations (like not being able to jog even 400m without my left leg going numb), I still manage to pull myself through it because it is only making my body stronger, so I can deal with the chronic pain I am in.

I take multiple meds to just function on a daily basis (though I will not take a pain pill) and I am on my last option (as I call it PLAN Z) to try and relieve some of my chronic pain in my left hip and lower back. For 18 months, I have been a guinea pig or as I put it I feel like someone is using me as a voodoo doll!!

I try and stay as positive as possible, but the more positive I am, the more negative people are! The two words I hate are NEVER and CAN’T…they motivate me more than anything. I guess you can say I am odd one, but I will not let my obstacles control me!! I am the one in control!

Since leaving my career, I also lost my health insurance, so what does that mean…it means NO more prescription drugs…no more 15 pills a day to function…my chronic pain is worse now than ever, I am still battling with 2 bulging disc and one deteriorating rapidly. But here’s the thing…I AM HERE…I AM ALIVE…how do I know this…cause I still FEEL the pain…it lets me know my heart is still beating!!! I look at it as a blessing not a curse. The one thing I truly despise are people who tell me, “But Sue, you don’t look like you are in pain.” Really?? Please explain to me what pain looks like!!

You see, someone once told me to live in the moment…but you see I can’t do just that. Is every one of my moment’s precious…YES! Do I cherish every breath that I take and realize how grateful I am to take it…YES! I have realized that living in the moment…is fine…it’s what you do with those moments…or what you say or do to HAVE those moments. I won’t ever make someone feel less or hurt them, so I can have my moment.

I know what it feels like to stare death in the face…three times! I know what it feels like to have the air sucked right out of you and you feel like it’s the end. I know what it feels like to hear “sorry, there’s really nothing else we can do for her”. I know what it’s like to look into people’s eyes and see what they can’t say. I know what it’s like to pick up the pieces after being destroyed, so my daughter knows that you can move on from heartache.

Have I been dealt a crap hand…I don’t think so…God knows the journey I am on. I am a firm believer in whatever doesn’t kill you ONLY makes you stronger. I believe that ANYONE can overcome any obstacle.

Am I positive all the time…NOPE! I will be the first to admit it…there are plenty of nights I cry myself to sleep wondering all the whys and what ifs! But then I wake up and realize it’s another day…another day to love my daughter, another day to enjoy my career, another day to look at the sunrise and sunset.

I know what my future holds…it holds everything my past wasn’t…I know I will have heartache and tears, I know I will have pain, I know that there will be obstacles and I know that sometimes there is just nothing I can do about it…but I also know that, I will have cherished moments, special memories, unconditional love for my daughter, moments that take my breath away, tears of joy, and accomplishments.

How can I not love the life I have…even with all the bumps and bruises, scars and ugliness…they are my BATTLE WOUNDS!! They are my daily reminder of how I got to be ME…

This strong, single mom….who loves her daughter, who strives to be better, who is independent, big hearted, loyal, trustworthy, and compassionate. Who knows how to stand firm on what I believes is right for her. Who won’t compromise or settle to make someone else happy, if she is not happy with them and who respects herself more to walk away even if others think she is crazy.

You see, I always have said…I would much rather be single and happy…then miserable in a relationship to make someone else happy. You have to love you first…and you have to be happy with just you…before you feel true love and happiness with another.

There is SO MUCH MORE to my story…get ready it’s a bumpy, but inspirational ride!

“Bionic Woman: A Beautiful Cyborg’s Guide to Survival” book is in the works!


  1. You’re just awesome, Sue! I’m sooooo glad that you are a fighter!! I’ll share my stories with you at another time! I’m getting ready to head out! I’m so happy that you are around!! :O)


  2. BarbabarBarbaBarb says

    I was sent your story by a friend of mine that has scleroderma. Just as you, she has endured more than her share of pain and suffering as well as the heartache that comes with that. And although we always have a back upp system in place, Somehow you always manage to feel like a burden to those around you.
    I was in a car accident 7 months ago, that left me in severe pain, a severe concussion, and recently went through a procedure of scraping my hip bone in hopes that it would relieve the pain and start me on the path to recovery. Unfortunately, that seems to not be the case as I still experience the same pain as before the surgery. There are SO many days I feel like giving up, but I have a 21 yr old daughter that is the light and love of my life. I would never want to be without her just as I would never want her to be without me. I try to be somewhat self sufficient so as to not burden her, since she is after all in her best years of her life, so we muddle through and at the end of the day, we always say I love you to each other and never go to bed angry. i’m not sure what state you live in, but if you’re close to NY perhaps we could possibly meet sometime. I will continue to pray for you. I know exactly what you are going through and the heartache it causes. You learn to be strong, and men can’t stand a strong independent woman in a relationship. Some days nothing makes sense, but in the end you are absolutely right…God has a plan for us. Thank you so much for your inspiring story. If you would like to keep in touch, my email is Bailey22462@gmail.com xoxoxo Barb

  3. Thank you. Up until 5mins ago I was giving up ,as depression takes over . Seems like every time I commit to getting fit something happens. Broken ankle both ankles, Spine surgery, and now car accident had me thinking negative and thinking I am just meant to be big and fat. Reading your story has helped. I wish I could go to the gym right now , but the pain stops me. So upsetting because I was committed and in the zone. Thank you for your story ,it helped me to see that it ain’t over !

    • It’s NEVER over…remember you don’t have to be in a gym to do things. Do what you can, where you are with what you have. Every little bit helps. 🙂

      I pray that your recovery after this last accident is quick and your pain starts to fade!!

  4. Melissa Shevchenko says

    Amazing story!! You are an inspiration 🙂

  5. Amazing!

  6. Great story of perseverance! Thanks for sharing. I’ve often wondered why you call yourself Bionic Woman 🙂 Now I know! It’s great to see you’re using your story to inspire the world!

  7. Anne-Marie Robinson-Tannehill says

    Sue your story is heartbreaking yet so inspirational! I too battle w/ chronic pain & debilitating illnesses… My ex-husband left me to raise our two children alone after 13 years of marriage & a total of 20 years together. Yet you & your story have inspired me to push through my own pain… physical & mental, to do whatever it takes to make my quality & quantity of life better! Not just for myself, but for by two precious teenage boys & my father (who helps me when he’s able). So I just wanted to say… THANK YOU & GOD BLESS YOU!

  8. Amazing story! Hang in there and never give up girl!

  9. You are amazing, & such an inspiration.

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