Being interviewed, live on Pelvic Zen this Thursday 10th at 5:30pm Austin, Texas (Central Standard Time) / Friday 11th 8:30am Melbourne Australia (Eastern Standard time).
In Art and Chronic Pain – A Self Portrait, artist Soula Mantalvanos shares her experience with chronic pain, which has been a debilitating presence in her life for almost seven years. Soula suffers from Pudendal Neuralgia, a painful nerve condition that developed following an accident where a fit ball that she was sitting on burst, causing her to drop violently to the concrete floor beneath. Early on in the book Soula describes that split-second, and the devastating effects that followed. A highly active yoga-loving woman before the accident, throughout the book Soula gives a deeply personal account of the psychological, emotional and physical impacts of living with chronic pain for so many years. These negative effects were compounded by the fact that her condition Pudendal Neuralgia baffled her doctors, and took four and a half years to even diagnose.
The documentary explores what chronic pain is, its individual and societal impact, and the future of pain management through the stories and struggles of six individuals living with chronic pain and their loved ones, as well as perspective from leading national experts in pain management.
Tell us about your history and how you ended up in the position of being an amazing woman advocating for chronic pain? “I was working in our graphic design studio, Origin of Image (ooi.com.au) in March 2007. I was always health conscious so aside from my yoga ritual 4 mornings a week and walking everywhere, I would often sit on a fitball. It was great until the antiburst fitball burst and I fell to the concrete floor. It really was the split second that changed my life. I was 37. I think what tipped me into advocacy was the 4.5 years it took to find a diagnosis and the near miss I had with living out the rest of my life in horrific pain levels if I’d not investigated further. My chronic pelvic pain is more specifically known as Pudendal Neuralgia (PN) or Pudendal Nerve Entrapment (PNE). This is more simply put as Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis. Where Carpal Tunnel affects the hand signals and hand movements, Pudendal Neuralgia affects our biggest pelvic nerve which controls toilet and sexual signals and functions. The pudendal nerve runs under pelvic ligaments and muscles and is attached to nerve roots in the lumbosacral spine so it can be disabling. It feels like that core part of my body has a toothache or as if I have my finger stuck in a powerpoint. BUT, I’m happy to say I’m in a much better place now and that’s why I want to share my story. I believe if I was diagnosed within 6 months of my injury, I would not have this issue now and that makes me want to reach everyone with undiagnosed pain that may be suffering from PN. I’ve also been drawn to advocacy for injured workers since I’ve now had first hand experience with the WorkCover system and its limitations for understanding, assessing and treating chronic pain. In fact my chronic pain issue was not assessable for compensation. Its score was rated at 0% impairment. I’ve also submitted many complaints and questions to WorkSafe and associated organisations, I’m making a heap of noise on social media and gathering a great group of people in the hope of making a change. A network exists now, encouraging other injured workers to speak up, forming communities for support where there were none previously. Injured workers can now vent, speak up, be heard. Social media has provided a voice and is our legs (even when we physically can’t move). So in the process of advocating for PN/PNE the biggest tasks are to change the judgment and misunderstanding of ‘pain’, and misconceptions of the term ‘injured worker’.”
Now here's something I didn't see coming, my pain journey being transformed into an educational documentary about Pudendal Neuralgia (PN). And I have to warn you, there won't be much smiling and hiding of pain if this happens. One of [...]
Communicating pain... Absolutely gobsmacked at this achievement, and incredibly confused at the same time. Who would have thought a horrifying life changing event could bring so much reward. Nevertheless, I’m going with it and am stoked to be considered for [...]
Continuing on with my awareness for Pudendal Neuralgia and all things pelvic pain, I didn’t pass up the request from A Current Affair to speak about nerve pain and my experience with it and its treatment, predominately focusing on the [...]
My rants are plenty in regard to the WorkCover system and my efforts to express the limitations and lack of support I’ve experienced as an injured worker for almost 7 years have been endless. All efforts have led to the [...]
Social Media for Pain Education by Linda Baraciolli. Published on Painaustralia enewsletter, August 23, 2013 Social media can change the way GPs and other healthcare professionals understand chronic pain, says pain advocate Soula Mantalvanos, founder of the pelvic pain website [...]
Singer/Songwriter Sami Vanston spent the day in the studio as The Scheme Project brainstormed ideas for their documentary soundtrack. This song was written in dedication for a victim of bullying who took her own life because of the pressures of [...]