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Can virtual reality really soothe pain?

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How VR could break America’s opioid addiction

Can virtual reality really soothe pain? Jo Marchant meets the doctors who say yes, and who hope this is a solution for the country consuming 80 per cent of the world’s opioid supply: the United States of America.

“It’s like a crawly feeling inside,” says Judy*. “You get hot, then chilled, and you feel like you want to run away.” The 57-year-old has short dark-grey hair and a haunted expression. She’s breathless and sits with her right leg balanced up on her walking stick, rocking it back and forth as she speaks.

Judy explains that she suffers from constant, debilitating pain: arthritis, back problems, fibromyalgia and daily migraines. She was a manager at a major electronics company until 2008, but can no longer work. She often hurts too much even to make it out of bed. Continue Reading

Dr Susie Gronski: How One Artist Used Her Hurting Strings To Stitch Back Her Life

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I can’t recommend Dr Susie highly enough. I wish I had online physical therapy advice when I felt lost, unable to commute and in need of someone who could understand my pain experience.

Dr Susie really gets pelvic health issues and especially for males – oh hoorah, finally someone to help the boys!

Don’t hesitate to organise an online skype session, Dr Susie has a load of support and experience on offer.

(Post written by Dr. Susie Gronski, DPT, PRPC. Doctor of Physical Therapy. Expert pelvic health advice without the jargon)

Soula Mantalvanos has been dealing with pelvic pain for over nine years. She’s an aspiring creative living in Australia. An artist who battles Pudendal Neuralgia through her words & artwork. Soula’s a die hard advocate for persistent pelvic pain sufferers.

She’s also the author of our newest blog post – How One Artist Used Her Hurting Strings To Stitch Back Her Life.

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Encouraging Self Management

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(Written by me, the founder of {Pain}Train)

That’s easier said than done.

When I first had my accident in 2007 and literally landed in chronic pain, the last thing I expected to hear at any appointment was that I had to manage and coordinate my own treatment.

It was confusing when I was asked what treatment I thought would be best for me to try next – wasn’t the professional meant to guide me?

But a decade later I now finally realise that I was driving my pain management and it was in fact my direction and feedback – from my unique pain experience that was making the difference.

Without the patient reporting their exact experience – which we now know is unique – there’s no way to plan or move forward.

I can’t imagine the complexity a professional faces when trying to help a patient who is unable to articulate their pain experience. But I know this is the general scenario and I know this because I experienced the difficulty of remembering, talking, thinking, documenting, reporting and navigating each minute while living with chronic pain. Continue Reading

ADF campaign: Losing Yourself in Pain Medication

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The Alcohol & Drug Foundation (ADF) has been working to enhance awareness about the way Australians consume pain killers.

My understanding of the campaign is that the ADF in no way suggests pain killers are not necessary – many Australians require their medication to manage their health issues – but patients should investigate other options and be informed about the effects of taking these medications long-term. They should not be recommended as a first resort.

Within a few months of taking chronic pain medications, I realised it was not a long term plan for me and was thank full to be able to find other forms of treatment that could help me survive chronic pain day-to-day.

Mamamia: My experience with medication

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Mamamia_0794

It’s time we talk about the addiction killing more Australians than heroin and ice combined.

(Excerpt from mamamia.com.au. Story by Caitlin Bishop)

Soula Mantalvanos was 37 when she was sitting on a fit ball and it burst. She landed on concrete, hard.

“It was a split second. It was bone to concrete and it felt that way. I was in shock and then thought ‘I can’t move, I can’t move’. Slowly, I turned over and crawled to the carpet,” Soula told Mamamia. 

Before then, Soula walked everywhere. She lived with her partner in the heart of Collingwood, Melbourne. They would walk to see friends, walk to dinner. Soula did yoga four times a week. She could hold a shoulder stand for eight minutes. Continue Reading

I Got Paid

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Home-love-wood-engraving-Soula-Mantalvanos

Have you all been holding your breath as I have the last couple of months? Well, you can breath out and feel happy for me – I got paid!

The financial ease is beyond documentation even though it falls far short of what I’m due (a most usual scenario with injured workers).

The fear and doubt that the compensation won’t continue will be ever-present. Being treated repulsively for years can never been forgotten – it’s a kind of irreversible trauma.

I will forever doubt these monsters. Trust was never incorporated into this relationship.

So am I settled, is it done, and am I feeling ecstatic?

Nope. There’s grief and anger to get through now. Grief for the life we lost due to the insurer’s dirty tactics. Anger for having to unnecessarily begin a whole new life miles away from everyone and everything we love. Continue Reading

What it means to be believed

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It means security. It means quality sleep. It means closure. It means, I was entitled.

It means everything I touched this morning, didn’t pose the question ‘how will I afford to replace this?’

And.

It means I rose above the monsters and didn’t let them defeat me. They didn’t get to keep something that belonged to me. Sadly they did destroy Theo’s and my most valuable belonging – our home.

I’ll be adding to this post as the insurer responds to the Medical Panel Opinion which finally arrived and states: Continue Reading

Only because of their stupidity…

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Post-box

“…that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.” wrote Franz Kafka in The Trial.

I really relate to this quote right now because I just can’t make sense of my current pending status.

I’ve now been waiting 8 weeks for 5 professionals to answer two questions… that an assigned WorkSafe insurer had the right to set.

That’s bloody confusing in itself.

Further to, I’m wondering a couple more things:

  1. how these 5 professionals, the Convenor, and the staff at Medical Panels convince themselves this process is helpful to me and other injured workers, and
  2. whether they enjoyed their Christmas as much as I didn’t

I called the Medical Panels to follow-up the report and express my anxiety on the matter. I’m feeling I’m going to explode. I’ve been breathing in so much my stomach feels like it has rocks in it and my neck feels like it’s fused with my shoulders. Continue Reading

Can looking at art make for better doctors?

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(Article published on The Conversation)

In 1984, artist Jon Cattapan’s sister Adriana died in a car accident. His painting, titled Sister, and some accompanying drawings, were a response to this tragedy. Sister depicts a grey-shrouded body lying on a bright red structure. Behind it are five figures in two separate groups. One represents living relatives and friends; the other, the spiritual world.

Sister’s distorted figures reflect Cattapan’s interest in primitivism and animism. Its colours and twisted forms project his anguish, and express the heightened intensity of the state of grieving. Cattapan has written about the disorientation experienced in grieving and also how the “topsy-turvy” space in all the Sister images represents his sister’s schizophrenia.

One day, a few months ago, a group of third year medical students spent a long time looking at these works, which were on display at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at Melbourne University.

They were encouraged by the Museum’s Academic Programs Curator to describe aspects of the painting as objectively as possible – its style, colours, content. Then they began to share their personal interpretations of the narrative.

Jon Cattapan, Sister, 1984 (oil on canvas). The University of Melbourne Art Collection, Gift of Jon Cattapan 2008.

Was the prone figure in the foreground dead or dying? What elements were more powerful? The Christian iconography and emotion on the figures’ faces? Their gestures? The insistent vibrancy of the colours? Or the apparently chaotic mix of formal elements? How did their interpretation change when the examination shifted to the Sister Drawings, hung alongside the painting, which are like snapshots of aspects of the story?

Continue Reading

Injured workers, here comes the royal commission we’ve been waiting for

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Senate Passes Resolution Calling For Royal Commission Into Banking Industry

Injured workers, if there’s just one more email or letter to write, it’s this one to Senator John Williams. I’ll personally be sending all my insurance related posts to the Senator.

(Hansard transcript of Senate debate on the Banking and Financial Services motion.)

Senator WONG (South Australia—Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:25): I move:

That—

(a) the Senate notes that:

(i) confidence and trust in the financial services industry has been shaken by ongoing revelations of scandals, which have resulted in tens of thousands of Australians being ripped off, including:

and further down the post

Senator GALLAGHER: And only a royal commission that you, Senator Williams, have been arguing for, for some time. The response from the government has been completely inadequate. Listen to the stories of those people whose lives have been affected, whose houses have been lost, whose retirement savings have vanished, whose businesses have folded and who have been arguing for years—eight to 10 years, for some people—for some sense of justice. This is what this motion seeks and that is what a royal commission will find.

… read the full transcript of the Senate debate.
Write to Senator John Williams (senator.williams@aph.gov.au)

My email to Senator Williams written 28 December, 2016

(The email also included many of my insurance related posts)

Dear Senator Williams,

I am a self employed injured worker. My ordeal has gone on nearly 10 years. My husband and I have just begun a new life in Queenscliff after having to sell our home and move from our beloved family, friends and community in Collingwood where we lived for 17 years.

I’ve experienced horrid treatment as an injured worker but the ultimate blow came when we had to sell our home because of an insurer excuse that to this day I still can’t really understand (neither can the Ombudsman, my lawyer or a friend’s contact working at the Vic Bar). I’m sure you will understand it and certainly the Ombudsman’s report, point 385 helped shed some light but unfortunately I’m still here without any compensation or treatment help and worst of all, my chronic pain continues.

I’m doing everything I can to live with my health issue and so is my husband – we’ve even started a new business that is completely customised to my abilities in the attempt we can work. Everything is on the line.

Below are all the posts I’ve written on my website. It’s the only way I felt I could communicate what was happening and help others in the process.

I’d happily speak up anywhere, anytime, and you are welcome to use any of the following information to argue the horrid experiences injured workers have had to bare.

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Definitions of pain

What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?
Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggravated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

What is Neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain is the result of an injury or malfunction in the peripheral or central nervous system. The pain is often triggered by an injury, but this injury may or may not involve actual damage to the nervous system. More…

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