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Improving life with long term pain - case studies

A picture of Wendy Stanton

Wendy Stanton

Amputee Wendy Stanton has endured pain for most of her life, but a combination of methods – more so than medication - now allow her to do things she wouldn’t have considered before.

Wendy, aged 56, suffers with long-term back pain and sciatica, while she has also had type 1 diabetes for over 30 years. She had her right foot amputated eight years ago after breaking her foot in an accident in 2006.

To combat the pain of her long-term conditions, Wendy has used various medications throughout the years. But a holistic approach, assisted by a low level of medication, has served her best. A positive mindset and acceptance that pain will never completely disappear but can be managed has proved the way forward.

Wendy said: “Suffering with long-term pain can be very, very exhausting not just physically but mentally too.

“You wake up in pain and go to bed in pain. For some people, they feel their best approach is strong medication, but that’s not the case for me.

“Accepting that I’m living with a certain level of pain was the starting point. I could either deal with it or let it drag me down, and that’s a critical point in your next steps. Don’t focus on what you can’t do – look at what you can do!

“From then on it’s been a case of exploring what works for me. All of my long-term issues, such as my back pain, have been addressed with a certain level of pain relief – not a massive amount – but enough for me to seek more holistic approaches.”

Those approaches have come in the form of different methods which have delivered both physical and psychological benefits.

A picture of Wendy Stanton Wendy said: “The pain from the sciatica is like a dull ache that’s always there on my left side. I can feel it running down my leg – it makes my left leg weak – and it’s at its worst when I am lying down.

“My back pain is more acute, but I’ve found that doing a lot of stretching really helps. If I didn’t do that then I’d be very stiff and it would affect me for the rest of the day. I can’t highlight the importance of stretching enough.

“That has helped me physically, but there are things you can do that can help you psychologically too. A big thing for me was joining a pain management group at the Port Talbot Resource Centre near Neath Port Talbot Hospital. It was about accepting pain and how to deal with it in our own way – it freed up my brain.

“Since then, I’ve become a Swansea City season ticket holder, which was a big achievement for me because I needed to ask friends for help as I needed a personal assistant because of my sciatica. Before the pain management course, I would have been too proud to ask for help.

“I’ve also joined a gym. I do some light weights, which has strengthened parts of my body. That in turn helps the rest of my body function better.

“Those are things I wouldn’t have done before. They have given me physical, psychological and social benefits.

“I believe that you ache more physically when you feel down or depressed, and all those things helped take my mind off the pain.

“It’s about adding up the little wins and having that positive mindset.”

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