Pain management has a social link

The popular and much appreciated self management programs for chronic pain and disease will continue in Parksville and Qualicum Beach this fall.

A local pain management program is all about people helping people.

A local pain management program is all about people helping people.

The popular and much appreciated self management programs for chronic pain and disease will continue in Parksville and Qualicum Beach this fall.

“Anyone with chronic pain or a chronic disease or who lives with someone who does would benefit,” said local facilitator Donna Frawley.

She said people who take the workshop learn how to live a healthy life with chronic pain.

The program, developed at Stanford University in California and run by the University of Victoria Centre on Aging in B.C., provides various workshops, information, Internet and telephone resources.

People go for a couple hours once a week for six weeks to hear from the peer-facilitators who have gone through the process themselves.

“A lot of it is pretty basic info that we’re just reminding people,” Frawley said, adding that it’s as much about the human interaction and supportive atmosphere as the information. “It’s about people helping people.”

“When we bump into someone on the street and ask how they’re doing, often we don’t really want to know,” she said of the workshops which, for many people, almost become a support group.

“Whether someone’s suffering with a chronic condition in their 20s or their 80s there’s a huge isolation factor and we build a real sense of community.”

“I find a lot of people just want to be heard,” she said of letting people vent, but stressed it doesn’t just become a whining session. “We focus on the positive, what can I do to make my life better.”

The six weekly classes build on each other, so while they understand sometimes “life gets in the way,” they encourage people to attend each session.

“The process of going through the workshops is really beneficial as people try new things each week,” said Lisa Leger who has been local facilitator for almost ten years.

“It’s one of the most rewarding volunteer positions I’ve ever had,” Frawley said adding it’s nice to watch the change in people over the weeks.

“People come in really down, really inward looking, six weeks later they’re completely different,” she said thinking of one woman in particular.

“She had to use the elevator at the beginning, she could barely get around, but at the end she was going out shopping and having tea with another group member, almost bouncing up the stairs. Nothing in her life had changed except attending the workshops.”

There are several different types of programs for chronic pain, or different specific diseases like diabetes, but they all provide valuable information and a book paid for by BC Medical, along with the friendly support, she said.

The programs are all free with volunteer facilitators, donated space and supplies funded by BC Medical.

There are workshops starting in Qualicum Beach for chronic pain Sept. 14, chronic disease Sept. 20 and one in Parksville Sept. 15 for chronic pain.

For more information or to register e-mail selfmanagement@eastlink.ca, call 1-866-902-3767 toll free or check www.selfmanagementbc.ca.