A most essential chat – person (living with pain)-to-person (living with pain). As well as having a lived experience of pain in common, Deb and I also share a love for communication – Deb via media studies (film, video, etc) and myself through art and design. For two people with a great understanding of communication, our experiences navigating the chronic pain journey have been different. Having said that, the frustrations have been oh so similar! All of it is ground level information of what it's like to work through diagnosis, a life-changing situation and coming out the other side. Deb also shares her excellent resources – some previously shared on the website but some local to her New Zealand network and they are brilliant! In my chat with Deb we cover: 00:17 About Deb 1:38 People pleasing 3:45 The unknown 5:28 Work status change 5:43 Livelihood & life change 11:15 A new Approach 13:03 Communicating Pain 23:00 Hero speak 23:15 Keys in communicating pain? 24:26 Mutual Understanding 25:36 Partners 28:27 Ideas beyond pain 31:04 Pain Management 44:03 Bravery 45:00 Vulnerability 49:52 The Life Lesson 53:15 'Work' 54:19 Advocacy
I can't really think of a better way to mark my 14 year anniversary with chronic pain than to present this wonderful (loooong) chat with my diagnosing physiotherapist, Anne-Florence Plante. I will clarify firstly that Anne-Florence's official title is not Soula's physiotherapist but rather her qualification is Senior Clinician Physiotherapist. Not only did Anne-Florence Plante diagnose me but this awe-inspiring human is the reason pudendalnerve.com.au exists. We have stayed in touch on and off over the years which has been wonderful and now, given my move to video advocacy it was only fitting that my first two chats were with Theo and Anne-Florence. Since 2011 when I first published this website, many of you have written to me to ask about the physiotherapy Anne-Florence Plante provided that not only led me out of a 4.5-year search for an explanation to the pain I was experiencing but that ended up guiding my future treatment and pain management. I'm so happy to be able to share this informative conversation. What we talk about in this chat (with lots of other detail in between): 1:05 Diagnosis 1:36 Pudendal Neuralgia 4:50 Appointment approach today 16:00 Anne-Florence's Formal training 20:05 Isolating pelvic pain 23:40 Educating people & practitioners 27:30 Navigating the journey 30:34 An explanation 36:20 Do I still have Pudendal Neuralgia 37:12 Management 43:00 Et Voila! 44:26 PainTrain – My Health Summary
You have all heard so much about Theo and how we have (and continue) to work together through chronic pain. However, you have never really heard from Theo directly nor does the chronic pain world hear or acknowledge the 'carer' anywhere near enough. I thought a chat with Theo – specific to pain management would be insightful and a great way to kick off my video 'interviews'. Although couples have various chemistries and approaches to their relationships I thought there may still be something in this chat to help others with the battle of trying to live, love and grow with the ever-present chronic pain beast! The questions I put to Theo are: — How do you describe chronic pain, Theo? — The way I see it, we both live with chronic pain. Do you want to describe how you manage living with chronic pain? — What's one of the most helpful things you've heard from a professional or found in research to help you manage being the partner of someone living with ongoing pain? — What do you think about the word 'carer'? Is it appropriate, is there a better descriptor? — Are there any good things that have come out of living with the life impact of pain? — There are many negatives but what are the toughest? — What would you do tomorrow if I woke up after taking a magic fixer potion and pain was no longer in our lives? — We're not the people we could have been. How often do you think of the 'mighta', 'coulda', 'woulda'? — It's obvious and clear that we manage well – what advice do you have for other couples/families/housemates/friends who live together or who have a very close relationship with someone who has ongoing pain — Aside from the support of our families and friends, what is the key to managing a relationship and a life when an ongoing illness is present and limiting life? You'll need to be a member to watch the video or sign in.
Chronic pain management is tough! And it's also different for each person who lives with and manages it. I wouldn't be much of an advocate if I didn't welcome you inside my sanctuary space and show you a teeny glimpse of how I approach daily life – especially when I've promised to bring you video content and interviews about pain management and chronic pain research with other fabulous people. So here I am, live to you from my sanctuary space, from a room that is my everything space otherwise known as, an artist's studio. I present a little of my management wisdom and creativity, the how and why I came to be in the space and what is going on with all those dolls in the background! This video is Membership material so therefore only visible to you if you have a current membership for pudendalnerve.com.au
In November this year, I was invited to present my pain experience to a group of 40 GP's. The topic was: An Approach to Chronic Non-Cancer Pain and the workshop was facilitated by Dr Paul Grinzi for Murray City Country Coast GP Training. Where does one start when asked to present to 40 pain interested GP's in 20 minutes? There's a great emoji to illustrate the look on my face when I ponder this question. You can well imagine. As an 'expert' in my 'field' 20 minutes to describe 13 years of living with chronic pain of which 4.5 years were spent lost in a forest is still a tough gig. However, this was a presentation to medical professionals. And they know everything, right? .... I've decided to make this video a paid resource. All proceeds go towards funding this website and PainTrain – My Health Summary. What do I talk about in my video? — O:43 My story — 2:50 Investigating pain, research & treatment — 4:26 Diagnosis — 5:55 Advocacy — 7:45 The experience of pain — 8:27 Medication — 9:35 Characteristics of Pain — 10:55 Planning life with chronic pain — 12:09 Pain management — 13:50 PainTrain
Support for artists is rare. Understanding and value for the arts, in general, is rare and if you are an artist with a disability... well, you fall off the media platform altogether. So, what's especially great about Nas Campanella's story about this artists' residency is that it relays the important message of creativity as a form of catharsis and management for invisible chronic health issues. And the artists get to explain.
I'm closing the door on the 'reasoning rooms' and I'm not going to investigate what might have caused a sudden flare. 'Soula, let's not go there. Don't enter that routine. Don't walk towards the dead end. Don't waste your time... again!' 'You've wasted years, Soula. Over a decade in fact thinking in rooms that provided no answers. They are mostly empty – blank walls, no windows, no air to breath!'
Not knowing what's ahead is a familiar nightmare for people living with chronic illness and injured workers and their families. This lived experience has been misunderstood. This lack of empathy could not have been understood without the personal experience of something like COVID-19 – something impacting the world. Even Governments may just get a glimpse of looking down at their feet and feeling the ground below them is trembling. Being unable to make plans and left dangling, waiting to hear about a way forward – whether you can resume work or even have a job (or business) is excruciating. Add a long-term health issue to that equation and the world begins to fall in on you. You can't help but ask, 'will I get through this?'