Meet the team

Kat - Social media and events co-ordinator

My pain began when I was 18 years old following emergency surgery. I spent the next three years suffering intermittently with severe abdominal pain that would result in me being unable to look after my son, go to university, socialise or work my part time job. I would frequently end up in A and E because of the pain and I required surgery four times between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. During this time I was diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).


To make matters worse, I had a stroke a few days after my 21st birthday due to an undetected hole in my heart. Luckily I did not suffer any long term problems with my speech or movement. However chronic pain has been shown to be induced by a trauma, either physical or emotional, which could mean that my stroke had something to do with the deterioration of  my health and increase of chronic pain over the years.

 

I left university, somehow managing to graduate with a Law degree and began my first job. I was so excited and hopeful. I had even moved to Northampton, with my young son, in order to take the new role. However things became more and more difficult with increased pain, spreading further than the usual abdominal pain and hitting me much harder. I would come home from work beyond exhausted and make a quick easy meal for my son and I to have in bed while we watched a movie. At twenty-four, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, which explained the widespread pain across my entire body and the soul destroying fatigue.

 

Due to my decline in health, I found I could no longer cope with working full time as well as raising my three year old son as a single parent. Additionally the stress and anxiety I was suffering due to the increasing difficulties and tensions my absence at work had caused, it was better for me to stop working. I had hoped that leaving full time employment would only be a temporary measure, whilst I had my impending surgery and waited to be seen by the pain management team.

 

Unfortunately despite the surgery, despite various different medications, despite doing everything I could to try and reverse what chronic pain had done to my life, it was not happening. At this point, feeling completely hopeless, I fell into a deep depression. I couldn’t understand what had happened to my life, was I being punished for something? Every day was a monumental struggle both physically and emotionally, trying to navigate a whole range of violent emotions such as guilt for the things I couldn’t do for my son, anger when I couldn’t go visit my friends and family, frustration when every single thing I tried to do felt like I was climbing Mount Everest.

 

I felt like a complete an utter failure. It was only early on in 2019, when I began another course of CBT with a new counsellor, things seemed to get better for me mentally and emotionally. I realised that I was at breaking point and something had to change. With the help of a fantastic therapist she helped me find a way of introducing small changes to my routine, made me realise how important self care and doing things for me were. Up until this point all of my energy went into my family and
raising my son. It felt selfish to be using valuable energy on doing something for me when he needed me. It took some time for me to realise that him having a happy fulfilled mother with a more balanced life was actually what was best for the whole family, my Husband included. So I decided that I would try and focus on a couple of activities I could do that would get me out of the house, socialising and feeling a bit more like the old me.

 

I joined an amazing art therapy course called ‘ArtWorks’ and decided I wanted to join a chronic pain related support group, where you could actually meet members, as opposed to previous groups I had joined that were limited to a online relationship only. My amazing therapist found NCPS and I went
to my first meeting, feeling very nervous and unsure, but it was great.

 

It was so empowering being able to talk freely, to realise that others were going through the same thing, being able to learn from others experiences, to support and comfort one another when things get tough and so much more. I decided that I really wanted to help Lou with NCPS and use some of the skills that I hadn’t used since leaving my job and university. I thought to myself I would give it some time and just enjoy being a member of NCPS before asking Lou if she needed any help. As fate would have it, Lou had asked the group that week if anyone would like to help out. Over the following months Lou and I realised how well we worked together and how our skills really complimented one another, I began to take on more responsibilities and a partnership began.


After such a tough time it felt like all of these factors combined at the same time to help me onto a path that would mean that even if I couldn’t do anything else for my body, at least my mind was being taken care of. Through the combination of a weekly art class, trying something new and meeting an amazing group of people, joining NCPS and again finding such a huge source of strength and inspiration and finally feeling like I had some kind of purpose and use, personal to me really helped me feel more hopeful. Things are still up and down and I have to be really careful to make sure I do what I can to balance my routine. Pacing is still a concept I can’t quite master, but being aware of what works and doesn’t work is half of the battle, and with pain, fatigue and flare ups being so unpredictable and so easily
provoked, it can be hard to keep it all in check. I am still hunting down different things to try, that could help my pain and remaining hopeful that my physical condition can improve somewhat. However I have accepted that my reality is now hugely different to what I had expected it to be, I have recognised that I still need to focus on me and make sure that I am fulfilled by doing activities that work with my pain not against it


I have a vast knowledge of social media platforms, a law degree, I hold a certificate in community leadership awarded by Birbeck University in London. My last employment role was Partnership Co-ordinator, which involved event management, networking and fundraising. I have attended an intensive pain management programme called LINK run by UCLH, taken part in several Mindfulness webinar courses, had several rounds of CBT and have twelve years of living with chronic pain to draw from, as a parent, a student and a young woman.

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