Dawn is 45 and is an Occupational Therapy Assistant, delivering a variety of courses supporting self management. She currently lives with two long term conditions, arthritis and chronic back pain, which ten years ago resulted in Dawn having to give up her previous position working for the council. Now her primary role is to support others living with long term conditions and her lived experience only enhances the skills and knowledge she brings to this job.
Dawn experienced chronic back pain about twelve years ago, after various examinations and investigations by health professionals, no explanation was found. She tried many different types of medication but nothing had a positive impact on her pain.
Eight years on, a home visit by a different doctor referred Dawn to social work and occupational therapy. They made adaptations to her house including hand rails which increased her mobility and allowed her to carry out everyday tasks easier. The Occupational Therapist enrolled Dawn in a lifestyle management course which was invaluable in teaching her the skills to manage her condition. Following completion, Dawn took it upon herself to enrol in other courses.
What self management means for Dawn
Living with chronic pain means that every day is different and you need to stay focussed on what you can do, not what you can’t. I learnt it is better to do a little than to avoid activities when you’re feeling less able.
Self management is about learning defined ways that I can manage my own condition. Not looking for a doctor to give me an answer, rather being proactive in finding answers for myself.
She found gentle physical activity to be a great pain relief. She took it upon herself to set up a weekly swimming group so that others in her community with long term conditions could also benefit.