About Anna


 AHi, this is me!
Here I am hanging out of a train carriage in northern India in 2007. I've never been fond of being indoors too much, so when chronic pain due to RA and two traffic accidents stole my life away, I had no other options than to fight back.


My pain story began when I was 17 years old and was participating in an expedition sailing a viking ship across the Black Sea to Istanbul. It was physically very strenuous, and it didn't help that I - to show off how strong I was - arm wrestled with greek fishermen in the port when we weren't sailing (ahhh, the stupidity of youth...) I got an inflammation in my right arm, and it stayed with me as a severe tendinitis that spread to my left arm and both shoulders. A year later the joints in my hands and knees became inflamed and after a few months I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The local rheumatology hospital planned a great future for me, involving plastic joint replacements, titanium wheelchairs, and life long treatment with cell poisoning and cortisone, whereupon I decided to try living in a warmer climate and see how I could improve my own health instead.
I moved to Indonesia - where a good friend of mine was living and studying - and got a job as an English teacher, the arthritis was much better. 10 months later I was in a bus accident there (the bus had no brakes and I was in the front seat) and my spine was fractured - a complex compression fracture in Sacrum, L4, L5, L1&L2. The lowest vertebrae L5 was completely crushed and there were slivers of bone in the spinal canal and nerve. At the hospital in Indonesia I lay on a plank for 10 days without pain medication, and was transported back to Norway where I went through two failed spinal surgeries.
My life as a chronic pain patient began.
3 years later I was out walking (I could still walk!!!) my dog around the block when I was hit by a drunk driver in a zebra crossing, flew 10 meters through the air and sustained a whiplash. For this I did not get any compensation because the insurance company's doctors managed to prove "I was already injured". From then on my life was pure hell for another 3 years, before I met a neurosurgeon in Sweden who used some new techniques (new then, in 2002 not now) and I went through a spinal fusion from Sacrum to L4 with bone transplant.
After that my acute pain got a lot better, but I was stuck with the chronic pain, mostly muscular and with inflammation in joints, tendons and muscles from the RA. 
It got worse before it got better, and I got very very weak, burned out physically and was stuck in a wheelchair or hospital bed most of the time for the next few years. At that point I was 29 years old, the doctors had given up on me and would only feed me pills but not help me try to get better. So I understood that if I ever wanted to be anything other than a patient, I had to do it myself. 




I learned everything I could about coping techniques and self help for chronic pain - gradually including all these techniques in my daily life, and reclaiming it in the process. 
By doing all these little life style changes, also changing my diet and working to rebuild my body gradually, I worked my way out of the wheelchair in 2005. That autumn I walked, limped and rolled my way across the Spanish mainland, to complete an 800 km pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella! When I stood on the cliffs watching the sun set in the Atlantic after walking 800 kilometers, I knew things would never be the same again. And they never have been.
Today I have a great, challenging and meaningful life despite chronic pain. I have been training martial arts and yoga for 7 years. I have done a lot of volunteer work and gotten a degree in linguistics and project management. In 2010  my memoir "Kronisk" was published in Norwegian, and I now run a political blog about the Norwegian health care system called diagnostisert.no with support from the Free Speech foundation Fritt Ord. I currently live in Sweden with my wonderful, supportive boyfriend Samuel who loves to make me laugh, we are getting married this summer :)
I still have pain almost every day, but mostly not above 7 on the pain scale. Sometimes I have good periods, and there are days when I realize I can't remember when I last had pain... those days are really amazing... 


In this blog I share everything I've learned about living with chronic pain, how to overcome it and to enjoy life with chronic illness. 




 

8 comments:

  1. Wow, congratulations on conquering the rheumatoid arthritis and the two accidents.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Anna,

    I got to your website because I was looking for pictures of the brain and neurons on the internet. Somehow, I started reading your story from the end. Yes, that is right, from the bottom, and soon I realized that there was something similar to my story, and that was pain and inflammation.

    I immediately wonder if you had RA, and sure enough you did. I am not sure if your condition still continues up to these days, but if it does I would beg you to go and look for the following information and person. I am in the process of healing from RA for about 5 months now, and I am pain free and drug free. I mean I don’t take any medicine for RA.

    The miracle I am talking about is in the book of Barbara Allan, Conquering Arthritis, and in her website. Have a look and see if this is for you: http://www.conqueringarthritis.com/

    Many Blessings,
    Rosanne Martins

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, Anna!

    Yours is a wonderful story. I commend you on your life so far and your excellent blogging of the adventure.

    I am writing you because I have a good friend who experiences disabling pain from an underlying fibromyalgia condition. For years she has used pain management medications, including opiates,under the watchful eye of a doctor who recently announced he was quitting his "pain management" practice.

    My friend was recently featured in a segment on a local television station (ABC Network in Tampa) drawing attention to the increasing unavailability of medications. She is also involved on a Facebook group of Floridians who are encountering many of the same obstacles they are experiencing and which you describe in your blog. The Facebook group is called the "Fight for Pain Care Action Network." The group is basically from Florida and is now 100+ strong. The leader is Donna Ratliff of Lithia, Florida. They have some ambitious plans to draw further attention to this injustice, including a plan to march on Tallahassee in September. Maybe you would wish to add your considerable voice and join forces in your advocacy mutual effort?

    At any rate, your story and your blogging are EXCEPTIONAL. I am a member of the group and would be pleased to facilitate communications if you like or you can contact the Group leader, Donna Ratliff directly as you prefer. You are very special as is this group. You make a perfect match.


    Keep up the excellent blogging.

    sincerely

    Art Hanscum, sorsaris@yahoo.com
    Advocate from near Tampa.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anna, here is the interview from last night's ABC Action News WFTS-TV Tampa Bay: http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_pinellas/critics-claim-pain-pill-legislation-creates-obstacle-course-for-law-abiding-doctors-patients

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Anna. I actually stumbled across your blog while searching for a photo to use on my brochures. Let me first tell you how inspirational your story is. I do not live with chronic pain but I will definitely suggest your site to anyone I encounter in the future that has chronic pain.

    The photo I speak of is the one of all the people holding hands in a circle with the words "no boundaries" in the middle. Where did you find this photo?

    ReplyDelete
  6. tracy.rose@healthline.comFebruary 4, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Hi Anna,

    Healthline is interested in contributing a guest post to 365painfreedays.blogspot.com. We would be open to contributing any blog that would be of interest to your readers. Healthline bloggers have been featured on a variety of sites including:

    Washington Times: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tango-mind-and-emotion/2012/aug/10/how-healthy-choices-easy/
    Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/036515_diabetes_strawberries_prevention.html
    Patch.com: http://strongsville.patch.com/blog_posts/where-and-what-to-eat-in-cleveland-to-beat-the-winter-blues

    Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Warm Regards,
    Tracy

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anna

    Hi. I suffered from chronic back pain for many years and went to see specialists, including chiropractors, osteopaths, etc... No one could help my pain, until I read a book from Dr Sarno called, "Healing Back Pain, Mind / Body Connection". Check out the reviews on Amazon.com. It's now a best seller on the chronic pain list.

    Just give it a try (wholeheartedly). I believe he thinks RA is also TMS related, so you have a good chance. I understand you've had injuries and I haven't read all of your history, but a technique like this one shouldn't be missed, especially as you're so open to healing.

    Good luck.

    Avnita@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi,

    I wanted to recommend a very resourceful doctor who specializes in fibromyalgia and CFS--Jacob Teitelbaum, MD--and he knows these conditions as an insider. He contracted CFS while attending medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. In the ensuing 30 years, he's dedicated his career to finding effective treatment. He's written several books on the topic, including his latest, "The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution" (Avery Penguin, August 6). For more info, check out his website, www.vitality101.com and to preorder, http://www.vitality101.com/the-fibromyalgia-and-fatigue-solution.


    Best,

    Lauren

    ReplyDelete