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Where there’s one…(1)

A curious feature of chronic pain conditions is that people tend to have more than one. The term “chronic overlapping pain conditions” (COPCs) describes the co-occurrence of more than one of ten named conditions (1). Imagine a Venn-diagram type overlap of the symptoms of each condition. The ten named conditions are not meant to be…

Thought experiment

Come along on a thought experiment with me please. Pause a moment and think of Aotearoa New Zealanders, who are we? Note down your description. I’m currently reading Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin by Stephen Jay Gould. I’ve read part one (of four parts) so my understanding of the premise…

I was nervous to get the Covid-19 vaccinations

I had my second Covid-19 vaccine yesterday (Pfizer). I am nervous each time I get a vaccination. It is a perfectly common experience to be nervous before a vaccination for a variety of reasons. I feel nervous because I worry about a flare-up of my chronic pain. This concern comes from the fact that a…

Student guest post: Emily McCarthy

Earlier in the year I was interviewed by a student, Emily McCarthy, writing a creative non-fiction piece on pain management. Emily interviewed me about my lived experience of managing pain as well as research I have contributed to. Emily also interviewed Toby Hall a clinician with extensive experience helping people to manage their pain. I’m…

Nothing about us without us

In late 2020, I participated in a New Zealand Pain Society (NZPS) webinar on why it is crucial to consider lived experience in pain management: “Pain education webinar on “Nothing about us without us” – A coalition of lived experience experts in Aotearoa New Zealand.” The NZPS has very kindly made this webinar available for…

Chronic mess?

The trickiness of chronic pain is its chronic-ness. It’s ongoing, unending. Auto-correct suggested chronic mess for chronic-ness, that seems sadly apt for how I feel and sometimes how I feel I am seen. Researchers use the words chronic and persistent to describe pain, fatigue, nausea, itch, ulcers, wounds, stress, sadness, fear… The whole Pandora’s box…

Doing research on pain

In this big pinch, I’m going to describe some of my PhD work that looked at attention in pain, as a concrete example of the research process to understand why pain makes it hard to think. Words in blue bold text are research jargon; I’ll define these as we go along. Science is a team…

My brain closet is full

I said when I started this blog that I wouldn’t put pressure on myself if I didn’t write regularly. All in all, I’d give myself a B+. Very good performance, but not excellent1. I haven’t posted since August and have felt only a little guilty about it. I often feel guilty when I don’t do…

Thoughts (3) – the b word

The hardest thing about my ongoing pain is the recurring thought that I am a burden. It’s taken me over a month to write this post. That’s how hard it is to even think about, even now when most of the time I don’t have thoughts that I am a burden. When my pain is…

Sad, not happy

Question from health professional: “How do you feel?” Answer from me: “Sad… not happy”. Pain is multidimensional. The experience of pain is not generated from physiological processes alone. Considering the multidimensionality of pain is especially important for both 1) understanding why chronic pain has such a large impact on peoples’ lives, and 2) for developing…

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