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Trust me, I’m a patient: pain education for professionals from a lay perspective

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Lay member, British Pain Society Patient Liaison Committee

A young woman with arthritis talking about the rising tide of hostility to disability claimants says: ‘People think I’m faking. I’ve lost friends over it. Pain is invisible and hard for people to understand.’ How many of us could say that we have never thought that someone reporting pain is faking or, at the very least, making too much fuss? This is the society in which we live: intolerant of the pain of others. From childhood onwards we are told to stop whingeing and are often not believed when we report pain. Adults can be intolerant of their partner’s pain and in the workplace colleagues seldom treat kindly weakness of any sort.

These preconceptions and attitudes to other people’s pain are what professionals may have grown up with and may subconsciously bring to the clinical setting. Pain education for professionals should focus not only on the methods of treatment available but equally on the impact of pain and the need to listen to and believe the patient’s story. Pain is what the patient says it is and if he or she has come to you for help, there will be very few instances in which pain relief must be withheld whilst a diagnosis is sought. And yet, often pain management is not addressed until all the avenues of diagnostic tests, scans and specialist opinions have been explored. Students need good communication skills and empathy, and they should be encouraged to think about their own attitudes to pain and how these might affect their professional practice. They should learn that there are very few conditions for which pain relief must be withheld until a diagnosis is made. For the majority of people adequate pain relief can be achieved before a diagnosis is made.

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Lady Gaga Battles Fibromyalgia

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Lady-Gaga-Five-Foot-Two

Devastating about Lady Gaga. Chronic pain does not discriminate.

It’s not the way I’d prefer people to be educated. I would never want anyone to endure chronic pain but with news of Gaga’s cancelled tour people might believe that invisible pain can be this debilitating. It can leave you hospitalised and/or change your life so much that you no longer recognise it…

(Article from The Guardian Fibromyalgia: the chronic pain that thwarted Lady Gaga’s tour)

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Resources for Treating Chronic Pain by the Victoria Pain Specialists (Vicpain) …MY pain team!

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Forgive my bossiness but this post comes from a desperate experience that I lived for 4.5 years. That’s a long time for someone with increasing chronic pain levels and not much hope. I felt isolated and alone in a very foreign world without appropriate treatment, compassion and understanding.

Nine years later, I’m hopeful a situation like mine can be prevented with the knowledge provided in the following resources. Vicpain are leaders in pain treatment and management, I can certainly vouch for that!

Please read the resources, learn them, share them… and if you require information on chronic pain, follow Vicpain. Continue Reading

Retrainpain.org

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It’s finally filtering through my brain: It’s going to be VERY hard work most days and it’s up to me to keep my butt in gear and stay on the treatment and management trail.

You’ll all be getting sick of reading my badger about this, but the research is out. Patient experiences have been in the making (for decades now), and the biggest sign that the hard work is cut out for people with chronic pain comes from the many who are now drug dependent with either increasing levels of pain or who sadly have lost their lives – not from the medication – but from the battle.

I get sick of filtering through paragraphs and words and med talk that I don’t quite understand (not to mention the pain levels soar for some peculiar reason) and as an artist, I still find it really difficult to present my pain experience to my readers, family and friends in a simple form.

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SBS Insight: Ouch!

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Last night SBS’s Insight program aired Ouch! How much pain can you handle? 

I thought the program was great and provided a great broad definition about pain’s many forms and the varying ways it impacts people’s lives.

As usual, I was waiting for a lead. Waiting to hear that someone with chronic pain had found a way out of it and was cured. Mrs Gleeson, I could have bet you were going to say you were fine, after all, you looked it! And so did Lesley Brydon, Pain Australia‘s CEO… how could she be in any pain?

Tonight was the night I was going to hear about my cure.

It didn’t happen.

That made me want to write this post… I want to write to those that felt the slump and weight of the thought that remained with them at the end of the program that went something like this: I’m never going to get better.

It made me want to write, don’t believe it!

Well I don’t believe it, I don’t accept that my body will remain in this rut as long as I live and I believe this because I can see I’m getting better sloooooooowly. Answering the following questions allow me to come to that conclusion:

  • How am I compared to a year ago?
  • How is my activity compared to a year ago?
  • How does my treatment compare to a year ago?
  • How are my pain levels compared to a year ago?
  • What is my creativity like compared to a year ago?
  • What is my work ability like compared to a year ago?
  • How much help do I need compared to a year ago?

My answers;  I am better, more active, having much less treatment, my pain levels are lower, I am more creative, I have sustained my work ability and I need a little less help. There!

It’s not the best answer, a year is a long time but I believe the thinking ‘It is what it is‘ as stated by Mrs Gleeson, almost allows an acceptance, a kind of peace with pain. I experienced that and from there I personally used that calm to pace me back to life.

It’s working.

I believe in brain plasticity, I believe in healing, and I am very well aware our brains are uniquely wired. I’ve always thought, the harder the task, the more committment, sacrifice and discipline required, and chronic pain is definitely the greatest task of my life. I don’t feel there’s another choice for me but to listen to my self, pave my own unique pain management, take in information from programs such as these and their brilliant guest professionals, and just do my best.

I believe I can make my own conclusion to ‘Ouch’… Chronic pain will not be with me forever.

Robert J. Echenberg, MD

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Dr Echenberg http://www.instituteforwomeninpain.comI don’t think I need to write an introduction for Dr Echenberg or Bridge for Pelvic Pain. The only explanation I feel I need to give is that I was drawn (pardon the pun!) to Dr Echenberg’s fabulous ‘patient expressions‘ web page on his site: www.instituteforwomeninpain.com and had to send him an email.

I landed on The Echenberg Institute website after participating in the Pain Pathways facebook chat. From there I was also contacted by Carin Willis, the Founder and ED of Bridge for Pelvic Pain who also took the time to send me a very touching email expressing her appreciation for The Hurting Strings and requesting that we connect and stay in touch. Carin was also kind enough to send this review: Continue Reading

Pudendal Neuralgia Association, Inc

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(excerpt from www.pudendalassociation.org)

Who We Are

The Pudendal Neuralgia Association, Inc. was established in 2013 as a non-profit organization in the state of Massachussetts. We provide educational services to pudendal neuralgia patients and their families as well as medical personnel in English and in Spanish.

Our wish is to help improve the quality of life of pudendal neuralgia sufferers.

Members of The Executive Board

Dahri I. McFaline, M.Ed.Executive Director, President
MaryBeth Scalice, Ed.D. Coordinator of Psychospiritual Services
Andrea M. Kaubris – Clerk
Rosalyn Feliciano, M.A. IDET – Instructional Designer
Raena Avalon – Consultant
Maureen N. Strong, CPA – Treasurer

Board of Directors:

Kara Moylan MacLean, M.Ed.
Richard P. Marvel, MD
Jose R. McFaline-Figueroa, MD PhD
Jyotsna Nagda, MD
Mickey Nilsen
David Podolsky, JD
Clinton Michael Radenbaugh

Our Goals

  • Establish and maintain a telephone hotline to provide support for pudendal neuralgia sufferers seeking emotional guidance.
  • Identify appropriate resources to assist affected patients and their families in coping with their chronic pain, daily activities, emotional stress and financial burdens
  • Locate medical resources available in the vicinity of the affected patients’ community and facilitate their access.
  • Provide counseling services.
  • Educate patients in new ways to regain their individual and financial independence so that they may once again feel they are contributing members of society.
  • Facilitate training programs for medical personnel in the latest pain management treatments and surgical procedures for pudendal neuralgia and pudendal entrapment patients.
  • Establish a capital campaign to create aHope Centerto accommodate patients and their families who travel long distances for medical treatment.
  • Maintain online information about the latest treatments and medical procedures.Pudendal Neuralgia Association, Inc

Theo, and his ‘carer’s’ perspective

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Team Soula and Theo

The post many of you have been waiting for… Theo’s thoughts, sacrifices and life experience of his daily ‘caring’. I should add that Theo and I have been together almost 20 years, seven of those consumed with Pudendal Neuralgia (PN).

What does PN mean to you?

To me PN is a yet to be accepted condition that sufferers are unable to express and be understood for. I do not claim that I understand it/the symptoms but I believe that it is real. I see my wife live with it every day (and night).

How has PN changed your life?

More so it has changed our (Soula’s and mine) lives. Personally however, I feel I have the lucky end of the stick for I am still able-bodied and there to help my wife. Our ‘arguments’ always revolved around who could do more for the other. I guess I have come up on top in that respect, however, having to see Soula in pain takes a lot out of me. Learning to adjust with things like, walking slower, no sudden tickling, no jumping playfully into bed or sitting through a long dinner has taken time. You adjust. It’s the look in Soula’s eyes though that can see me having to adjust that saddens me most. I can’t help but feel that she feels responsible for me having to change my life. I always say to her, “What would you have done…?”

You don’t like yourself being referred to as Soula’s ‘carer’, please explain why.

I care for Soula however, I never consider myself her carer. A carer to me is someone somewhat detached. Soula is my wife, my life! If she were to catch a cold and needed a few days off her feet whilst I made her soup and tea, I would take that as caring for her but not as being her carer. I think this may be a language issue but I wanted to clarify. Continue Reading

Reality posts on my Chronic Pelvic Pain Story Facebook page

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Recoup Off To The ParkI thought it might be a little more realistic to post ‘status’ reports as I battle on with PN. Most often I try to be positive and hopeful but the reality is PN is nothing but hardship, sacrifice and loads of pain.

Instead of bombard my website with these status reports I chose to write these on my Facebook page. It also makes it easier for me to provide support in the form of  ‘live’ communication. I can keep posts short and they can be posted from the phone more regularly. The website tends to have ‘major’ status updates, I felt I needed to comment about the day-to-day struggles.

To followers who aren’t aware of my FB page I’m posting today’s ‘Reality update: Shopping (if you can call it that)‘ so you can decide if you want to follow these ‘reality posts’. If my memory serves me correctly you won’t need an FB account to see what I post on this page. Continue Reading

Festive cheer or is it festive fear?

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Christmas WrappingI’ve come to another checkpoint, the end of the year always seems to call for a summary and with PN I won’t be summarising any grand bonuses, monumental achievements or any other events that suffice to the amount of days and hours that passed. In fact, the biggest blocks of time go on rest, treatment and wondering if this pain is actually ever going to end.

When I hear ‘festive cheer’ I can’t help but rhyme it with ‘Festive fear’, are you terrified at this time of year? Festivities call us to get out of the safe daily zone, step into marathon entertaining, baking, wrapping, socialising, a time to move away from our therapists and their treatments (Lord knows they need a break!) and jump! It’s impossible not to wonder, how will this end for my pelvis?

I know that sounds negative for someone that managed to finally get back into the studio, made Christmas wrapping (above), who contributed to her design company, who directed Art and Chronic Pain – A Self Portrait, and who wound up planning a documentary to create awareness for the very issue that holds her up day in day out, but, I’m slowly realising although I progress, PN is consuming my life more and more (and Theo’s!). PN has infested into my creativity, it’s become a monster outside my body as well. A monster now guiding me to forget my privacy, suck up the imposition and ego, and play a lead role in the name of PN awareness. How on earth did it come to this? And where on earth is it going? (You won’t believe what’s next!!) PN is truly fixated on me, in me, around me, it’s becoming the PN never-ending story. I can’t help but wonder at times, at what the point did this become my job? Continue Reading

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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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