In 2016, a teenaged woman in a rush to get to a party, accelerated into the back of my car. Because I take good care of myself – I seemed fine. However, to be on the safe side (after reporting the collision to the police and my insurance company), I went for a check up at a medical clinic, where the physician recommended massage and physical therapy treatment.
The massage therapist was excellent, but the physiotherapist had no experience in treating injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions nor was he trauma informed. From assessments by other health practitioners, my neck, hip and jaw suffered significant amounts of damage, that he failed to find. As a result treatment for these conditions was delayed.
Nearly, nine months post collision, I found a physiotherapist who understood my condition, providing a proper diagnosis and care for traumatic brain injury. Managing the effects of concussion was difficult, because while I looked healthy, I had mood issues, ranging from high anxiety to depression. I was often short tempered and aggressive with people who were trying to help me.
Through my family doctor, the behavioral health consultant recommended his colleague who specialized in chronic pain management using the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, who designed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) interventions. Then, still under their care when I was hit again in 2018 by a young man following too closely.
Alberta Healthy Living Program
Right before I was hit in 2018, I took training for Better Choices Better Health – Chronic Pain, a six week self-management program offered by Alberta Healthy Living program that helps people understand their pain holistically.
The skills I learned facilitating the course helped me cope with my own situation, especially as we had to be in the company of other people. Due to sensitivity to noise, I did not go out a lot with friends, though I could spend time one on one with them. I kept active, going on walks, but couldn’t go back to my active lifestyle of hiking in the mountains. I started ballroom dancing to regain my balance rarely with music. We worked through the syllabus to build enough strength so that I could avoid falling.
Fear of the future was constant as I needed to find a new career, but the second collision affected my ability to read comfortably for long periods of time. Eventually, I was accepted into a social work program at the University of Manitoba with accommodations for reading. Given my interest in research at school, I enjoyed participating in studies that the university and students needed to complete. They all had reflective components that helped me understand my new social location as a differently abled person.
COVID19, chronic pain and studies
During the height of the COVID19 restrictions, researchers at different universities wanted to investigate how people were affected. One study was conducted through my physiatrist’s office. It was a relief to talk to someone who wanted to know how I felt about the restrictions denying me access to care.
The other study involved checking to see how people felt about COVID19. This one was about two weeks long and was well designed to remind people to do the daily survey. Participants had the option to continue after two weeks to answer the same questions about how they psychologically felt about COVID19. I appreciated taking time away from the news to reflect on how I actually felt about what was happening.
Overall, my chronic pain condition is well managed with eating well and exercise. I still practice mindfulness and talk to a psychologist regularly during stressful periods.
Be deliriously happy and madly in love with the moments that make up your life.
Clinical Trial Hero would like to thank Sima for taking the time to share her story.
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