The following is provided purely as one person's experience of the PMP and not as specific information regarding how the programme is run. Please note too that whilst the following provides an account of how the PMP benefited someone with fibromyalgia, that the programme is aimed at anyone with chronic pain, and not fibromyalgia specifically.
by Michelle Millar
Initial Appointment at Pain Clinic, BCH - 9th May 2004
I had my consultation with Dr. Gillespie at the Pain Clinic today and as expected there are no magic drugs available to manage this Fibro pain. However, he did tell me that he believes I would be a good candidate for the Pain Management Programme (PMP) that they run in the City Hospital specifically for people with chronic pain conditions. I was told that in order to be considered for this programme, I would have to show a great deal of willingness to want to help myself deal with my pain rather than expecting prescribed drugs to do all the work. I'm determined that this illness won't beat me, so I tell him that I would like to be considered for the programme. He puts my name forward for referral.
Assessment for Pain Management Programme, BCH, - 25th June 2004
Today I met with the other medical professionals on the pain management team, so they could assess my suitability as a candidate for the programme. I was quite apprehensive beforehand, I just didn't know what to expect. On the day there were 3 other women also being assessed for the programme. All had Fibromyalgia. I was slightly uncomfortable with the fact that all the others there were in there 40's and 50's. Being in my 20's I always feel I stick out like a sore thumb and I hate the typical statement; ‘You're awful young to have Fibromyalgia'. I sometimes feel like I'm always having to justify myself and yet I know that this is probably just me being oversensitive.
First off, I have a consultation with the physiotherapist who immediately puts me at ease. Her assessment consisted of three physical tests to measure my ability and pain levels at the time. In the first test I had to sit and stand as often as I was capable of within 3 minutes. The second test involved stepping up and down for a period of 3 minutes and the last involved walking a short distance to the timing of beeps. I didn't actually find these exercises too taxing, but today was a good day for me and I'm not sure what the ability of a ‘normal' person actually is.
The second specialist that I saw was the Occupational Therapist. She went through the questionnaire that I had filled in before I arrived. It basically detailed where I felt my pain, how it affected me physically and emotionally and what I wanted to achieve on the pain management programme. I have to stress that you can’t just want the programme to take away your pain because it won’t. You have to be realistic about what you can achieve. I tell the OT that I just want to have my life back and to be able to control my pain levels so that I have less flare ups. I also want to be able to cope better in periods of extreme pain. The OT tells me that the programme will address these issues.
Finally I was seen by the clinical psychologist. Many people are very apprehensive about seeing a psychologist due to the stigma attached, but I found that I was very comfortable and willing to talk with this person. Maybe it’s because as a Fibro sufferer you have so many thoughts and feelings that you can’t understand and this was the chance to get those questions answered. Most of the time spent with the sychologist involved filling in questionnaires as opposed to actually talking, so it will be interesting to see how these issues will be addressed on the programme.
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© Michelle Millar/FMSNI