58-year-old Diane Williams created the pain management group following her completion of pain self-management sessions ran by University Hospital of North Tees in 2010.
The course ran for seven weeks and gave insight into managing chronic pain and fatigue through mediums such as self-care and medication.
I have been suffering from chronic pain since I was 19. I had a car accident that left me with degenerative disc disease. Since then I have had two major operations on my spine followed by both elbows and left shoulder surgery.Diane Williams, pain management group lead
“My consultant at North Tees suggested the pain management course to me and I thought it was a fantastic idea, if you don’t support your physical health it has a knock on effect on you mentally.” Diane said
“With chronic pain you can either sink or swim, I chose to adapt a positive attitude and continue to push forward encouraging others to do the same.
Pain management support group
The foster carer currently chairs the group of 45 members who attend either in person sessions or in their WhatsApp group.
Set up in July 2011, the main purpose of the group is friendship and connection with the commonality of chronic pain.
However, they also take part in educational and research programmes with Teesside University to share lived experience with budding medical professionals.
They are also community members of the regional neurological alliance, Neuro Key, and contribute to research projects volunteering their time at lived experience seminars at Teesside University.
When I got to the end of my course I questioned what happened next. The facilitators encouraged me to set up a support group. I didn’t want this learning to go to waste and I knew that this group could help others just like me, it was a no brainer.
Our group has the common denominator of chronic pain; we understand each other and rally around others. But it’s not all about pain; we are firm friends who genuinely enjoy each other’s company.Diane Williams, pain management group lead
Even Covid-19 did not deter the network with their active WhatsApp group providing advice to members at all times of the day.
The network have also had exclusive GP visits to discuss how to utilise their appointment time and seek the help they need.
“Our group is a no pressure, friendly environment. You don’t have to attend every face to face session and we even have members that just join the WhatsApp.” Diane said
“Every single member brings something to the table. We don’t always talk about pain but we know that if someone has an issue with their health we can give them the information and guidance they need.
“At the beginning, I didn’t have this support so I created it. Now it is amazing to think that we have spent the last ten years helping and advising others on the importance of pain management. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Chronic pain can disrupt all aspects of life and feelings of isolation, frustration and anxiety are common.
It can be a very lonely place so support from others is so important. Meeting with people who are in the same boat and fully understand what it is like to live with chronic pain is so valuable, community groups such as this are extremely beneficial.Rachel Imeson, pain management matron
The pain support group meet at Thornaby Library on the last Friday of every month.
New members wanting to join can contact Diane via email [email protected] or mobile on 07883 031481.