Read Alexandria Pavelich's story on the experience of living with pain.
Alexandria is a graduate student and SaskPain board member who has been given multiple pain diagnoses throughout her life. She has tried a variety of therapies to manage her symptoms: everything from dietary changes to massage and physiotherapy, to medication, meditation, and pain reprocessing techniques. She is sharing her story in hopes that it will inspire others to not stop looking for solutions, and to continue to advocate for themselves until they are happy with the care plan they’ve received.
Alexandria’s Personal Story: My name is Alexandria, and I am graduate student researcher specializing in the area of pain. I have lived with pain at various periods throughout my life with a long history of varying diagnoses such as hemiplegic migraines, coccydynia, multiple herniated discs, scoliosis, sciatica, IBS, pelvic pain, and central sensitization.
Like so many others, my pain journey has been long and trying in attempts to find relief which, at times, severely impacted my mental health. In 2019, I started experiencing severe pelvic pain; by mid 2020, I had to take a leave from my work and studies to figure out what was wrong as every area of my life was being impacted by my pain. For over a year, no one was able to help me despite having the support of a large, multidisciplinary care team. At times, my pain made me feel suicidal as it seemed that no one would listen to what I was experiencing. Even with family members in health care trying to assist, I still I had to go to different provinces, contact international specialists directly for advice, and pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for testing and treatment in order to try and make sense of what I was experiencing.
Over an 18-month period, I saw over 21 specialists and 14 additional alternative health care practitioners. With the support of my physiotherapist, we finally found a specialist who took my pain seriously: he told me I had endometriosis. When I was told there was no cure, I began exploring alternative approaches to manage my symptoms outside of medication and surgery. I tried a variety of things like physiotherapy, myo fascial release massage, medicinal yoga, acupuncture, somatic experiencing therapy, nervous system regulation and neural circuit pain reprocessing techniques. I also spent a great deal of time reading or listening to stories of healing and recovery from others suffering from chronic conditions where they were told there was no cure – this provided me a shred of hope that I would, one day, be able to get back to my normal daily activities.
However, it was only after meeting Dr. Gabor Maté and learning about the connection between past trauma and chronic pain that I began to having improvements to all my symptoms after years of suffering. My lived experience has inspired my graduate school journey where I spend time researching innovative healing activities for those with chronic conditions – especially those who are struggling with feelings of suicidality around their health status. I am always happy to share book, podcast, or article resources for those wanting to learn more about how our mind affects pain processing in the body, and I can be contacted directly through my website at www.alexandriapavelich.com