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soula

Who am I going to be – Soula ‘a’, ‘b’ or ‘c’?

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_Sacral_stim

My new stim’s changed everything.

I’m grateful. Can you imagine if the whole process (from trial to permanent implant) hadn’t change anything?

In addition to the stim changing everything, I’m living a whole new life that Theo and I attempted to plan in great detail.

We’re trying to make me the best I can be so we can be… someway, somehow.

Life is unrecognisable and the path ahead is totally unfamiliar. To top that off, I need to figure out exactly how I can best be. I have choices.

Post op

After living with my

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Mark of hope?

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_ Mark of hope_Soula Mantalvanos QGW Lettered print exchangeQueenscliff Gallery & Workshop (QG&W) organised the Lettered print exchange.

A Print Exchange is when artists submit works to a set theme and they exchange each other’s work, each artist keeping a complete portfolio.

An exhibition is held and only a few of the editions are for sale.

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I made a gallery

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Soula & Theo Mantalvanos at QG&W

True! Theo and I made a huge life move as many of you have read.

Our transition began over a year ago when we escaped to Tasmania to figure out how to manage life with chronic pain.

It was the best thing we did even though terrifying at the time.

In just over a year, we have spent four months in Tasmania, returned to our dear Collingwood, sold our warehouse sanctuary, removed ourselves from our main business (as it was impossible for me to do the previous design work), planned a new lifestyle, and began a new venture with the utmost faith and backing of some very dear arty friends and some special few design clients.

Again, terrifying.

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

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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!)?

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I’m part of Bridge For Pelvic Pain’s Advisory Committee

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And I’m most honoured! To be recognised for my pelvic pain advocacy is one very exciting aspect, but to be invited to be part of a committee with a global vision, is quite an additional excitement. It appears my pain experience will definitely make a difference to others.

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Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia’s Melbourne launch

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I was thrilled to be invited to The Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia (PPFA)’s Melbourne launch last night. I originally met Dr Susan Evans when I was invited to present my patient story at AIM Pain 2014. I had cyber met Dr Evans prior, asking if I could include her details on this website, in fact I’ve ‘e-met’ many pain professionals this way. I never dreamt that one day they may all be in the one room together, all of us advocating for pelvic pain and helping start up a National organisation that addresses pelvic pain for women AND MEN.

Needless to say, last night I went on a magic carpet ride!

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Intermission, my solo exhibition in Hobart

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It’s my PN anniversary, eight years (if I don’t subtract the 4.5 years it took me to find out it was in fact PN)! Obviously time brings on reflection which in turn invites the ‘melancholies’ (yes, I did just make up a word). But I have significant reason to bury the ‘melancholies’ this year with…

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Permission granted and now it’s back to reality!

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Boxing Day Self Portrait For Theo

Permission granted and now it’s back to reality!
Or is it possible I never really left my reality? As if anyone can leave chronic pain behind and really have time off! I’m going to post my brain’s two conflicting versions:
1. Crap thinking out-of-the-way first version..

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Signing off for 2014 under an Olsen sun at MONA

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Soula At Mona John Olsen Painitng

Or 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.

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Melbourne Leader story, Soula bares soul over pain

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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.

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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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