Workshop to help those with chronic pain

Local women Jean MacGregor and Sue Lindstrom – who have chronic pain themselves – would like to help others with similar such afflictions.

Jean MacGregor and Sue Lindstrom

There’s a lot to know about living with chronic pain.

Local women Jean MacGregor and Sue Lindstrom – who have chronic pain themselves – would like to help others with similar such afflictions.

The two are organizing a six week program titled Chronic Pain Self-Management; a program free to participants.

“We guide them through it,” Lindstrom said, of the program. “We’re not counsellors, but we have life experience to help guide them.”

Lindstrom has lived with pain for over 18 years, as a result of fibromyalgia; a chronic muscle disease.

MacGregor’s pain stems from a combination of arthritis and osteoporosis.

As chronic pain sufferers themselves, both program facilitators are well aware of the misconceptions and challenges associated with pain and pain management.

One misconception is that the pain is imagined.

“Because I look so healthy, they don’t see me not being able to walk a long distance,” Lindstrom said. “People tend to judge. They don’t see the being up all night, and the medication it needs to function.”

Different illnesses result in different types and levels of pain, with everyone’s experience a unique one.

Life is different with chronic pain, which can leave people unable to do things the way they are used to doing them. Living with chronic pain, one must modify one’s plans in life.

There are many challenges, which the two hope to address during the Chronic Pain Self Management Program.

One of the key ones is setting goals.

Goals can vary, but any improvement is a good one, MacGregor said.

For her, going up and down her home’s stairs two to three times per day instead of just once was her goal; a goal she’s accomplished.

Another person’s goal was drinking more water.

For what can become an isolating affliction, it’s important to discuss chronic pain, and to seek remedies, Lindstrom said.

“Self help groups help you meet other people like you, and make you feel not as isolated,” she said. “It’s okay to be unwell. It’s not a crime.”

“If we can help other people feel better, we’ve done our job,” MacGregor said.

The Chronic Pain Self Management Program is set to begin Thursday, October 6, and will continue to take place every Thursday from 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. until November 10.

The program was initially scheduled for later on in the evening, but such a schedule is not comparable with people who have chronic pain, Lindstrom said, as they tend to end their days earlier than most people.

The free program is being put on by the University of Victoria, the Centre on Aging, and the provincial government.

Those who take part will also receive a free book titled Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Pain.

Those interested in participating must register by calling 1-866-902-3767, as space is limited.