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How can you know? There might be better treatment out there!


I was sure. So positively sure.

I was miles better, my life was saved, I was no longer existing, I was living again.

I was sure that I was the best I could possibly be and that I’d received the best possible treatment for my type of pelvic pain.

But now, after a very successful sacral stim trial (of which I’m best writing more about later), I am left to wonder why I made up my mind and what it was that convinced me I was ‘doing great’ and reached the ‘best treatment‘.

I wasn’t, I hadn’t.

I know that living with pain for over eight years reduces confidence and belief. It even (warning, I’m going to use the C word), discourages hope for a cure. But how could I have assumed I found my best self for four years (nearly five actually, gulp!)? (more…)

A new DVD resource, Healing the Pain ‘Down There’: A Guide for Females with Persistent Genital and Sexual Pain


There have been many times during my years of chronic pain where I wondered, ‘Why didn’t I know that?’. Usually, the information is quite basic and I feel as though I’ve been deprived by never knowing something so crucial and important about my own body.

I was asked to view and give feedback before this thorough resource was released, and a few times, throughout the 284 minutes of run time, I asked myself, ‘Why didn’t I know that?’.

This DVD isn’t just about managing pain, but rather a clear and concise  resource for females… It should be put on some International educational agenda. (more…)

Back on the treatment trail



Maybe I should have titled this post, ‘Back on Pain’s roller coaster‘? But then I’d have to explain my position – which would it be? Up or down? Or is this another case of in the middle – managing?

I have many descriptions for my health status and they are constantly revolving around in my head. That’s because I don’t know where I ever stand with this chronic pain. And there seems to be no one else who knows where I (or you!) stand either. So damn frustrating.

But last year, I got fortunate. Someone planted a seed… (more…)

‘Ouch’ just doesn’t cut it!


I-feel-so-frustratedAnd neither does repeating, ‘it burns’, ‘it itches’, ‘it’s like fire’, ‘I get spasms’, or the various other words people in pain have to repeat for each consult in the effort to be understood.

Pain Train’s whole purpose is to help patients and their pain management teams communicate beyond these basic words. Pain Train saves the patient the additional pain of having to repeat their history and other related details at each appointment.

Pain Train offers patients a way to also show their friends and family their profiles in the hope they can also better understand their loved one’s experience. (more…)

Pain Train – Communicating chronic pain from the patient’s platform


All aboard!

It’s true that each of our pain journeys are unique. I must have been asked the following questions at least a gazillion times during my own pain journey:

How did the chronic pain begin, what investigations have you had, did you bring any reports with you, what kind of pain treatments have you tried, how long have you had chronic pain, which Health Care Professionals (HCPs) have you seen, have you taken any pain medication…?

Pain-Train_Jan2_1000pxAnd, I will never forget struggling to answer. That is if I was able to answer due to my fatigue, extreme pain levels, or dulling effects due to pain medication.

So how can a HCP begin to gather the best possible understand of each of their patients unique pain journeys? And how do patients navigate their search for diagnosis and treatment as best they can?

Stand clear… Pain Train is approaching


SBS Insight: Ouch!


Last night SBS’s Insight program aired Ouch! How much pain can you handle? 

I thought the program was great and provided a great broad definition about pain’s many forms and the varying ways it impacts people’s lives.

As usual, I was waiting for a lead. Waiting to hear that someone with chronic pain had found a way out of it and was cured. Mrs Gleeson, I could have bet you were going to say you were fine, after all, you looked it! And so did Lesley Brydon, Pain Australia‘s CEO… how could she be in any pain?

Tonight was the night I was going to hear about my cure.

It didn’t happen.

That made me want to write this post… I want to write to those that felt the slump and weight of the thought that remained with them at the end of the program that went something like this: I’m never going to get better.

It made me want to write, don’t believe it!

Well I don’t believe it, I don’t accept that my body will remain in this rut as long as I live and I believe this because I can see I’m getting better sloooooooowly. Answering the following questions allow me to come to that conclusion:

  • How am I compared to a year ago?
  • How is my activity compared to a year ago?
  • How does my treatment compare to a year ago?
  • How are my pain levels compared to a year ago?
  • What is my creativity like compared to a year ago?
  • What is my work ability like compared to a year ago?
  • How much help do I need compared to a year ago?

My answers;  I am better, more active, having much less treatment, my pain levels are lower, I am more creative, I have sustained my work ability and I need a little less help. There!

It’s not the best answer, a year is a long time but I believe the thinking ‘It is what it is‘ as stated by Mrs Gleeson, almost allows an acceptance, a kind of peace with pain. I experienced that and from there I personally used that calm to pace me back to life.

It’s working.

I believe in brain plasticity, I believe in healing, and I am very well aware our brains are uniquely wired. I’ve always thought, the harder the task, the more committment, sacrifice and discipline required, and chronic pain is definitely the greatest task of my life. I don’t feel there’s another choice for me but to listen to my self, pave my own unique pain management, take in information from programs such as these and their brilliant guest professionals, and just do my best.

I believe I can make my own conclusion to ‘Ouch’… Chronic pain will not be with me forever.

Signing off for 2014 under an Olsen sun at MONA


Soula At Mona John Olsen PainitngOr should I say, looking forward to 2015?

Looking forward is more my tune but the changeover of another year, especially with chronic pain, calls me to reflect and to ponder my future.

It’s been three gorgeous months in nurturing Tasmania where I’ve eased my work load, upped my fine art a little, and squished obligations to almost zilch (bliss!). The year will end and sadly I haven’t been able to incorporate driving into my abilities, nor a consistent and regular exercise routine, and Theo is still carrying much of our daily living load… but…

…as I keep stating, finding life balance with chronic pain is really very difficult and I believe ‘we’ are doing very well, yes it takes the two of us, Theo and I.

I’ve stopped my medication and thankfully that rid the night-time hallucinations. Although dainty, my fort has been held without meds, monthly massages and Traditional Chinese Therapy – for this I give huge thanks to the implant in my body.

Indeed the Sun is beginning to shine down on me, and yes, I will certainly be marking the months of this Tasmanian trial period in my spirit’s fashion with a small solo exhibition. I’m working on self-portraits that will exhibit at Penny Contemporary in Hobart. Here’s your diary date: Opens March 6 until March 25. If you want to follow this artistic endeavour, subscribe here.

There’s so much more I could write, but I’m going to keep this light and hopeful and keep my bigger news to kick off the new year…

Signing off now… sending love, health, happiness and the warmest of hopes for pain relief to those of you who need it.


Painting by John Olsen, The Source on the ceiling at MONA

Melbourne Leader story, Soula bares soul over pain


The following story was published in support of the current National campaign: Nerve Pain is Different. Please help us raise awareness for those with debilitating invisible pain.

If you think you have nerve pain, talk to your doctor and visit www.nervepain.com.au. Complete the online questionnaire intended to help you explain your pain and take a printout to discuss with your doctor.

Melbourne Leader Mon 1 Dec

Resident shares story of coping with daily agony following fit ball accident

By Nic Price for the Melbourne Leader

SOULA Mantalvanos’ life was up-ended in 2007 when a fit ball she was sitting on burst and she dropped to the concrete floor.

She didn’t think much of it at the time and tried to continue her routine of yoga four times a week and regular walks, but that soon became impossible.

Dealing with chronic pain that made her feel like her “finger was stuck in a power point”, the Collingwood resident was not diagnosed until four-and-a-half years later with severe pudendal neuralgia nerve pain.

As she embarked on a journey of living with pain, Ms Mantalvanos and her husband turned their lives upside down in an attempt to find a better quality of life.

They closed their graphic design studio down (Ms Mantalvanos now works part- time) and even removed doors in their house so she wouldn’t have to open and close them.

“I’ve learned not to lift more than a few kilos, to sit a lot, get in the car a lot,” Ms Mantalvanos said. (more…)

My interview with the Australian Pain Society


APS Pain Recovery JourneyA pain recovery journey shared

(Excerpt from Australian Pain Society’s blog. Read the full interview here)

We recently had the opportunity to interview Soula and gain her valuable insights.
We hope you enjoy this blog post and possibly find some useful tips.

APS: Would you describe your pain recovery journey as having a ‘turning point’?

Soula:     There have been a few turning points but two main ones:

  • Firstly when I was implanted with a peripheral stimulation device which restored my ability to read with the much lower pain levels.
  • That led, shortly after, to my diagnosis which has been the key to my recovery.

APS: What 3 things would you rate as your biggest lessons in your pain recovery journey?


  1. Firstly that my body is first and foremost driving recovery, it just needed the help of appropriate treatment. I initially presumed it was the other way around.
  2. That everyone needs a decent explanation of what is causing their pain before they can move on with recovery. In my case that was: the pudendal nerve lives in various levels of an overactive inflammatory state. The why’s, what’s and how’s are secondary information and unique to each person and we may actually never get those answers.
  3. That my lifestyle: Theo (husband) and creativity have been my biggest treatments of all.


Committment, sacrifice and granting myself the right permissions


Soula In TassieLast week, I attended my last acupuncture appointment and for the first time in over seven years, am therapist free. Hang on, I have to just repeat that:

I am therapist free

Did I ever think this day would come? Of course I did and I believe that’s why I am here.

I have had my moments, but what I didn’t realise through all that heat and whilst pacing like a snail, was that each flare up and pain episode was actually not an indication that pain was here to stay, but rather that it was actually beginning to leave. Although just a difference of minutes initially, eventually I felt the flare ups spreading further apart. And with recognising that change and NOT increasing my capacity past a snail’s shell weight, I began to make progress. (more…)

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What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?

Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggrevated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

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