Donna's story

Find out how Donna has approached her musculoskeletal pain conditions and come out on top.

“Hi I’m Donna. I’m 38 years old and I’m a hairdresser and I have my own business. My pain is predominantly in my right shoulder, my mid back, my neck and my right arm and in my lower back – it affects everything. I deal with it everyday”.

Donna has had four car accidents since 1994: “None have been my fault. It’s important not to blame someone. It’s an accident that has happened in a spilt second. There are consequences…that can affect you for a long time…but it’s your choice to do something about it to make it the best you can and learn how to deal with it.”

Donna has had persistent pain since her accident and this has required her to develop new skills such as psychological flexibility, or ‘seeing the grey areas.’ A good example of this is where Donna has changed the way in which she works, and how she lives to allow her to continue to work as a hairdresser and to pay her mortgage.

“There are times when the pain is that great, that you think why go on…but there’s so much to live in life. You are going to have set backs…I call them false starts. You’ll try something and that doesn’t work, so you have to stop and reassess and say, ok this isn’t working, what can we do now to make this work.”

Donna has found one of the most important parts of her management is pacing activity…or doing small bits often…what she calls the “bucket rule” – the bucket signifies doing small bits often, sometimes only half filling the bucket, rather than doing the whole job in one go.

Learning to breathe was another strategy Donna found helpful in managing her pain, and this combined with regular massages, daily exercise and pacing her work and activity have been key aspects of learning to better manage her pain.

Donna stresses that if you have been involved in a third party incident where there is compensation, “getting the proper professional advice will help you through”. If you are given a lump sum, you may go on a holiday or buy a big TV but that only lasts a short time. “Putting money towards buying a good quality latex mattress that lasts 10-15 years, is important as you need a comfortable bed to rest, sleep well and heal”.

“Reflecting back from the first accident I have grown hugely as a person. I can achieve a lot. I can do anything. We all have plans and goals we want to achieve and you don’t always get there…you might have a side step, or 10 steps forward 50 back…that’s life in general. The past is the past…so you can’t change it. Look at it, learn from it and accept it. I feel like I am in the best place I have been in my life. I will deal with right here, right now …you have to live life for now”.

Pacing and goal setting

Movement with pain

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