When Chronic Pain Hurts Your Performance
After promising my readers not one but two books—Lethal Silence and To Shatter the Silence—by February 2013, and failing to deliver either book, I fear I’ve lost my credibility. So it’s time to come clean.
I should confess: I did just finish one book, but it wasn’t either of those titles. It was Cheatin’ Ain’t Easy, a memoir about the life of Eloise Morgan Milne. I was under contract to write this book, so it had to take precedence over my own books, including those already in the pipeline.
I hate not keeping my word. After all, a promise made is a debt unpaid. I grew up with that belief, and still live by it. Of course, I also issue far fewer promises these days.
Having cut my writing teeth doing deadline work, it isn’t about missing my own deadlines. No, the problem has been from chronic pain, something I’ve been living with for the last two years. Until 12 days ago, when I finally bit the bullet and had carpal tunnel surgery. I feel like I’ve been given my writing life back. Thanks to Dr. Glen Buterbaugh, at the Hand and UpperEx Center, in Wexford, Pa. Dr. Buterbaugh has worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins and Pirates—which should tell you how good he is. I gave him a big hug and a sincere thank you yesterday, when I saw him for my first post-op visit. Because, for me, he performed a miracle.
In the interim, though, while living with pain that forced me to put down my pen or stop typing long before I was ready, I’ve missed posting a lot of news here, too.
Like the final story about Shannon Stafford’s murder. (The one that blasts government agencies for leaving Shannon’s toddler daughter, Faith, in danger for more than a year.) That story’s been on the back burner now for many months. Much to my—as well as other people’s—chagrin. Recently, I received some information that will allow me to publish that piece—but first I must update it. That’s because Faith went missing recently.
Nor have I written as much about the Steubenville rape case as I would have liked. But the story I stayed silent about is the one that’s in my own backyard. Literally. Skylar Neese, then 15, went missing last July. Police said they couldn’t issue an Amber Alert because they believed the Star City teen had run away. In the meantime, Skylar’s parents, Dave and Mary Neese, have fought for passage of Skylar’s Law.
That bill now awaits Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s signature. As reported in the Beckley Register-Herald recently, “Under the bill, State Police would have discretion in deciding to add a missing child to Amber Alert, regardless of whether an abduction is suspected.” Legislators are questioning why Gov. Tombin has not yet taken action, especially in view of new developments in this case.
In January, Skylar’s remains were found in Pennsylvania. By March, authorities announced the University High student had been murdered. Last week, two of Skylar’s friends were charged with her fatal stabbing. One girl, Rachel Shoaf, 16, pled guilty to second-degree murder. She awaits sentencing.
Normally the names of underage defendants in criminal cases are not released to the public. But Shoaf agreed to be charged as an adult. The name of the other teen, already in custody, hasn’t been released.
Editor’s note: Berry is the executive director of Samantha’s Sanctuary, Inc., a new 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to helping empower abused women and their children. Berry’s TEDx talk, given April 13 at Connecticut College, will be live any day.
Berry is the first recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change. Berry speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country. Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read an excerpt, please go to the Sister of Silence site. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout”.