Group aims to help chronic pain sufferers

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The next time you take a painkiller to drive away a headache, or run a warm bath to soothe a sore back, take a moment to imagine that pain never going away. Ever. That's the reality those with chronic pain live with every day - and night - of their lives.

For the most part, chronic pain sufferers are indistinguishable from everybody else. They carry on, smile, even. But inside, they are in constant pain.

That's the message that Judi Butler and Waterdown resident Jenny Collins want to get across. They've organized a Pain Awareness Day, to give information and support to pain sufferers, those who love them, and the public at large. The event will be held Sunday, November 6, from 1-6 p.m. at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Registration is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP to Butler at judibutler@sympatico.ca, or call 905-319-6345.

The event will feature three guest speakers, including Terry Bremner, a pain sufferer and support group coordinator for the Chronic Pain Association of Canada (CPAC). Dr. Angela Mailis is involved in pain research at the Toronto Western Hospital, and Dr. Micheal Salter is the Director for the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain. The speakers will be supported by numerous displays, and will be followed by a question and answer period.

Butler and Collins hope the event will not only provide new hope and coping strategies to chronic pain sufferers, but will educate the public. They're also hoping to raise funds to continue their work. The pair are co-coordinators of the newly formed Southern Ontario branch of the CPAC, which will serve the Halton and Hamilton regions. The group meets monthly to offer support and guest speakers to pain sufferers.

The first meeting took place in September. With no publicity beyond a small newspaper ad the day before, the event drew 65 people. Since then, membership has swelled beyond 300, she said. That gives an idea of just how widespread the problem is, said Butler.

However, chronic pain is not a recognized condition, and therefore the group has no access to funding.

The meetings have so far been sponsored by the Michael DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, which recently received a $20-million grant to build a state-of-the-art pain research centre. But the funding extended to the support group will run out in December, forcing them to make alternate arrangements.

The group is on the hunt for small, inexpensive venues, like churches and other community gathering spots, throughout Hamilton and Halton. Because the main group has become so large, these smaller venues would allow a more intimate group, where members can share experiences openly. Guest speakers will offer coping strategies, including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and relaxation techniques.

Finding ways to cope is a big part of living with chronic pain, said Butler. "Anything to take your mind off the pain."

Chronic pain has no explanation, and never goes away. "Usually, pain is a symptom of disease. With chronic pain, the pain is the disease," explained Butler. It can be caused by accidents or illness, such as arthritis. It affects people of every walk of life and every age.

Attendees of the support group range from mid-20s to late 80s, said Butler, who has suffered a constant headache for the past 10 years. She also suffers migraines on top of that headache. She lost her job because of the pain - a common side effect.

"It affects everything," said Collins. "People lose their jobs, their families their friends."

They also lose their independence. Collins, whose constant back, neck and hip pain stems from a car accident three years ago and another a decade ago, relies on her mother for help. "I have to call my mom to come do my dishes or do my grocery shopping. How sad is that?" she said. "If I have three things to do in a day, that's hard for me."

The pain is made worse by a deep depression, which has settled over her. "Depression is very common. There are pain sufferers who don't go out anymore," she said.

For many, the support group is their only social outing. "There, they can be around people who understand and can listen. People that don't tune them out," said Collins. There are some even the support group can't reach. The pain and depression have reached a state where the person has shut down. "They cocoon into their house," said Butler. "No one sees them."

Even doctors have tuned out many pain sufferers. "They say it's just in your head," said Butler. Depression is also often cast off as a state of mind.

"They say to get more exercise. But depression is a chemical thing. Exercise can help, but it takes a lot more than just that," said Collins. Part of the depression stems from the loss of purpose. Without a job, many people feel useless, a burden on the system. It's a huge blow to the pride of someone who may have built a successful business, or held a job they excelled at. Organizing the support group and upcoming event has given both women a new lease on life.

"It gives me a focus," said Collins, who hopes to return to her job as a speech therapist in the New Year; she's spent her time off learning new coping strategies, which she's optimistic about. But until then, she's saddled with another common affliction of chronic pain sufferers - bureaucratic red tape. Accessing insurance and long-term disability payments can be difficult for many sufferers, because they look healthy and their doctors can't find a cause for the discomfort.

"You have that bureaucracy, and then you get a migraine that shuts you down for three or four days on top of it," said Butler. "They don't understand that you just can't deal with it right then."

Butler and Collins hope the RBG event will shed some light on the lives of pain sufferers. Anyone wishing to donate funds or offer a possible meeting place to the organization is asked to call Butler at 905-319-6345, or e-mail judibutler@sympatico.ca. They are also on the lookout for guest speakers.

Group aims to help chronic pain sufferers

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The next time you take a painkiller to drive away a headache, or run a warm bath to soothe a sore back, take a moment to imagine that pain never going away. Ever. That's the reality those with chronic pain live with every day - and night - of their lives.

For the most part, chronic pain sufferers are indistinguishable from everybody else. They carry on, smile, even. But inside, they are in constant pain.

That's the message that Judi Butler and Waterdown resident Jenny Collins want to get across. They've organized a Pain Awareness Day, to give information and support to pain sufferers, those who love them, and the public at large. The event will be held Sunday, November 6, from 1-6 p.m. at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Registration is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP to Butler at judibutler@sympatico.ca, or call 905-319-6345.

The event will feature three guest speakers, including Terry Bremner, a pain sufferer and support group coordinator for the Chronic Pain Association of Canada (CPAC). Dr. Angela Mailis is involved in pain research at the Toronto Western Hospital, and Dr. Micheal Salter is the Director for the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain. The speakers will be supported by numerous displays, and will be followed by a question and answer period.

Butler and Collins hope the event will not only provide new hope and coping strategies to chronic pain sufferers, but will educate the public. They're also hoping to raise funds to continue their work. The pair are co-coordinators of the newly formed Southern Ontario branch of the CPAC, which will serve the Halton and Hamilton regions. The group meets monthly to offer support and guest speakers to pain sufferers.

The first meeting took place in September. With no publicity beyond a small newspaper ad the day before, the event drew 65 people. Since then, membership has swelled beyond 300, she said. That gives an idea of just how widespread the problem is, said Butler.

However, chronic pain is not a recognized condition, and therefore the group has no access to funding.

The meetings have so far been sponsored by the Michael DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, which recently received a $20-million grant to build a state-of-the-art pain research centre. But the funding extended to the support group will run out in December, forcing them to make alternate arrangements.

The group is on the hunt for small, inexpensive venues, like churches and other community gathering spots, throughout Hamilton and Halton. Because the main group has become so large, these smaller venues would allow a more intimate group, where members can share experiences openly. Guest speakers will offer coping strategies, including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and relaxation techniques.

Finding ways to cope is a big part of living with chronic pain, said Butler. "Anything to take your mind off the pain."

Chronic pain has no explanation, and never goes away. "Usually, pain is a symptom of disease. With chronic pain, the pain is the disease," explained Butler. It can be caused by accidents or illness, such as arthritis. It affects people of every walk of life and every age.

Attendees of the support group range from mid-20s to late 80s, said Butler, who has suffered a constant headache for the past 10 years. She also suffers migraines on top of that headache. She lost her job because of the pain - a common side effect.

"It affects everything," said Collins. "People lose their jobs, their families their friends."

They also lose their independence. Collins, whose constant back, neck and hip pain stems from a car accident three years ago and another a decade ago, relies on her mother for help. "I have to call my mom to come do my dishes or do my grocery shopping. How sad is that?" she said. "If I have three things to do in a day, that's hard for me."

The pain is made worse by a deep depression, which has settled over her. "Depression is very common. There are pain sufferers who don't go out anymore," she said.

For many, the support group is their only social outing. "There, they can be around people who understand and can listen. People that don't tune them out," said Collins. There are some even the support group can't reach. The pain and depression have reached a state where the person has shut down. "They cocoon into their house," said Butler. "No one sees them."

Even doctors have tuned out many pain sufferers. "They say it's just in your head," said Butler. Depression is also often cast off as a state of mind.

"They say to get more exercise. But depression is a chemical thing. Exercise can help, but it takes a lot more than just that," said Collins. Part of the depression stems from the loss of purpose. Without a job, many people feel useless, a burden on the system. It's a huge blow to the pride of someone who may have built a successful business, or held a job they excelled at. Organizing the support group and upcoming event has given both women a new lease on life.

"It gives me a focus," said Collins, who hopes to return to her job as a speech therapist in the New Year; she's spent her time off learning new coping strategies, which she's optimistic about. But until then, she's saddled with another common affliction of chronic pain sufferers - bureaucratic red tape. Accessing insurance and long-term disability payments can be difficult for many sufferers, because they look healthy and their doctors can't find a cause for the discomfort.

"You have that bureaucracy, and then you get a migraine that shuts you down for three or four days on top of it," said Butler. "They don't understand that you just can't deal with it right then."

Butler and Collins hope the RBG event will shed some light on the lives of pain sufferers. Anyone wishing to donate funds or offer a possible meeting place to the organization is asked to call Butler at 905-319-6345, or e-mail judibutler@sympatico.ca. They are also on the lookout for guest speakers.

Group aims to help chronic pain sufferers

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The next time you take a painkiller to drive away a headache, or run a warm bath to soothe a sore back, take a moment to imagine that pain never going away. Ever. That's the reality those with chronic pain live with every day - and night - of their lives.

For the most part, chronic pain sufferers are indistinguishable from everybody else. They carry on, smile, even. But inside, they are in constant pain.

That's the message that Judi Butler and Waterdown resident Jenny Collins want to get across. They've organized a Pain Awareness Day, to give information and support to pain sufferers, those who love them, and the public at large. The event will be held Sunday, November 6, from 1-6 p.m. at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Registration is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP to Butler at judibutler@sympatico.ca, or call 905-319-6345.

The event will feature three guest speakers, including Terry Bremner, a pain sufferer and support group coordinator for the Chronic Pain Association of Canada (CPAC). Dr. Angela Mailis is involved in pain research at the Toronto Western Hospital, and Dr. Micheal Salter is the Director for the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain. The speakers will be supported by numerous displays, and will be followed by a question and answer period.

Butler and Collins hope the event will not only provide new hope and coping strategies to chronic pain sufferers, but will educate the public. They're also hoping to raise funds to continue their work. The pair are co-coordinators of the newly formed Southern Ontario branch of the CPAC, which will serve the Halton and Hamilton regions. The group meets monthly to offer support and guest speakers to pain sufferers.

The first meeting took place in September. With no publicity beyond a small newspaper ad the day before, the event drew 65 people. Since then, membership has swelled beyond 300, she said. That gives an idea of just how widespread the problem is, said Butler.

However, chronic pain is not a recognized condition, and therefore the group has no access to funding.

The meetings have so far been sponsored by the Michael DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, which recently received a $20-million grant to build a state-of-the-art pain research centre. But the funding extended to the support group will run out in December, forcing them to make alternate arrangements.

The group is on the hunt for small, inexpensive venues, like churches and other community gathering spots, throughout Hamilton and Halton. Because the main group has become so large, these smaller venues would allow a more intimate group, where members can share experiences openly. Guest speakers will offer coping strategies, including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and relaxation techniques.

Finding ways to cope is a big part of living with chronic pain, said Butler. "Anything to take your mind off the pain."

Chronic pain has no explanation, and never goes away. "Usually, pain is a symptom of disease. With chronic pain, the pain is the disease," explained Butler. It can be caused by accidents or illness, such as arthritis. It affects people of every walk of life and every age.

Attendees of the support group range from mid-20s to late 80s, said Butler, who has suffered a constant headache for the past 10 years. She also suffers migraines on top of that headache. She lost her job because of the pain - a common side effect.

"It affects everything," said Collins. "People lose their jobs, their families their friends."

They also lose their independence. Collins, whose constant back, neck and hip pain stems from a car accident three years ago and another a decade ago, relies on her mother for help. "I have to call my mom to come do my dishes or do my grocery shopping. How sad is that?" she said. "If I have three things to do in a day, that's hard for me."

The pain is made worse by a deep depression, which has settled over her. "Depression is very common. There are pain sufferers who don't go out anymore," she said.

For many, the support group is their only social outing. "There, they can be around people who understand and can listen. People that don't tune them out," said Collins. There are some even the support group can't reach. The pain and depression have reached a state where the person has shut down. "They cocoon into their house," said Butler. "No one sees them."

Even doctors have tuned out many pain sufferers. "They say it's just in your head," said Butler. Depression is also often cast off as a state of mind.

"They say to get more exercise. But depression is a chemical thing. Exercise can help, but it takes a lot more than just that," said Collins. Part of the depression stems from the loss of purpose. Without a job, many people feel useless, a burden on the system. It's a huge blow to the pride of someone who may have built a successful business, or held a job they excelled at. Organizing the support group and upcoming event has given both women a new lease on life.

"It gives me a focus," said Collins, who hopes to return to her job as a speech therapist in the New Year; she's spent her time off learning new coping strategies, which she's optimistic about. But until then, she's saddled with another common affliction of chronic pain sufferers - bureaucratic red tape. Accessing insurance and long-term disability payments can be difficult for many sufferers, because they look healthy and their doctors can't find a cause for the discomfort.

"You have that bureaucracy, and then you get a migraine that shuts you down for three or four days on top of it," said Butler. "They don't understand that you just can't deal with it right then."

Butler and Collins hope the RBG event will shed some light on the lives of pain sufferers. Anyone wishing to donate funds or offer a possible meeting place to the organization is asked to call Butler at 905-319-6345, or e-mail judibutler@sympatico.ca. They are also on the lookout for guest speakers.