I have just been in Tasmania with Pain Revolution. This is a week-long education and cycling tour with a rural focus, aimed at health professionals and the public. As part of the tour we encourage the locals to come and chat to us about their pain experiences. I enjoy this part especially in the more remote towns. I am aware that one third of people who have experienced chronic pain for over 5 years no longer seek treatment, perhaps in the belief that there is no treatment. These are the locals I hope to engage, they are often shy and sit at the back of the room close to escape routes.
Hi, I’m Dave… Hi, I’m 15 years bone on bone
Many stories emerge with Pain Revolution tours, but two of the stories that stuck in my mind this year were both initial responses.
I said to a man “Hi – I’m Dave”. The response was “Hi – I’m 15 years bone on bone”.
I said to a woman. “Hi there welcome, what brings you to a pain seminar? She said “ I have chronic bursitis, tendonitis, myositis, fibromyalgia real bad, and I fractured my shoulder in 3 places two years ago”.
How did it get to this?
What do you say when you have 5 or 10 minutes maximum? I tried to craft answers for both, but deep inside I was bubbling with desperation and increasing anger. Some health practitioners I know still laugh at responses like this. I asked myself “how did it get to this?”, “who put these life sentences on these people?” , “why are they victims of the health system when the answer is simple, powerful, cheap, liberating knowledge?”.
I don’t think I had an effective immediate answer for the gentleman who reported that he was now fifteen years bone on bone. That needs time. I suggested to the woman that maybe all those problems were linked in some way, that maybe there was even some doubling naming and that a specific treatment for each one might not be necessary and that a clever movement and knowledge programme could help them all and that I knew a local practitioner who could help. She had a blank look but when they left her husband came back, found me in the crowd and simply said “thanks – that’s the best start we could get”. I felt a little better for them, but no less anger for a clear failing in our health system.
– David Butler
PS. Make sure you check out Pain Revolution. “Revolution” is the most apt term I can think of.