“It was a huge breakthrough to be told, ‘you must start moving again, you won’t do more damage, indeed you will do your body good.’ “All we grown men and women had tears rolling down our faces with the pain in those first physio sessions, as we started to stretch and reuse limbs.
“I saw we were in a competition for life, to live as normally as possible. Like an athlete, you had to go through the pain barrier and keep improving.”
Barbara had always led a busy life, pushing herself, and still tried to push herself on good days, which inevitably led to pain flare-ups. The group learn to be realistic, pace activities, do a bit at a time, and then build up slowly to doing more. The psychologist teaches problem-solving strategies instead of seeing a problem as overwhelming and giving up, generate options for dealing with it.
“It all began to fall into place, like pieces in a puzzle,” says Barbara.
“The trouble when you’re soaked in chronic pain is you can’t think about anything else. You lose your identity, self-esteem, energy. It’s like a bereavement for the loss of your life and future.
“I’ve still got the pain, but the course gave me a choice. Either lie down and be an invalid and get worse, or battle through it and achieve a much better quality of life.”