Today we shine the spotlight on Atara Schimmel. Atara is dedicating countless hours of her time to raising awareness for Chronic Pelvic Pain Conditions. It is estimated that in the United States alone over 30 million women suffer from chronic pelvic pain (conditions like Interstitial Cystitis, Pudendal Neuralgia, Vulvodynia, Endometriosis, ... and others).
To shed light on this astounding statistic, Atara is creating 30 Angel-Ladies, one angel represents one million women. These Angel-Ladies (three of them seen above) will be showcased during an art exhibition at Newton Open Studios Art Fair April 11th and 12th.
In addition to the 30 Angel-Ladies, Atara will also be exhibiting the faces of real women who are living with Chronic Pelvic Pain Conditions, to make the showcase even more intimate and powerful. Along with the faces will appear a sentence or two about that lady's strengths and qualities within themselves that they love.
Atara has received a great number of responses from women willing to share their faces to raise awareness alongside Atara's Angel-Ladies. Of these women Atara said:
"The more vocal we become, the more we will heal. The more that we put our stories out there, the more help we will receive. The responsibility to bring these conditions into awareness is ours. The change will come from us. Thank you for taking the step into the light with me. Your participation makes me fight harder."
If you're interested in joining the movement just head to Atara's facebook page.
"I know , I know . . .you're going to want me to exercise . . you're a PT for goodness sake" is what you might be saying to yourself reading the title of this blog. "But I hurt . . . and how can I exercise when I hurt?"
That is a FANTASTIC question. In GENERAL, pain is a signal our body generates to let us know that our body "is in danger" and makes us stop what we are doing in order to protect us. HOWEVER, those who have been living with persistent pelvic pain can't rely on their pain signals to determine if an activity we are doing is "safe" for them. In a nutshell, the pain signal is reliably unreliable.
So what is one to do when starting an exercise program . . how do we know how far to push ourselves? After attending a fantastic pre-conference course put on by the Section on Women's Health at our Combined Sections Meeting this year, the speaker, Neil Pearson, helped to answer that question, specifically for performing a yoga exercise program. Yoga is a fantastic mode of movement/exercise/mindfulness for people with persistent pain as part of their recovery process.
You should ask yourself these 4 questions when going through a yoga exercise program:
1) Can I keep my breathing relaxed . . .
2) Can I keep my muscles relaxed
3) Answer the questions: Is this safe? and Am I going to pay for this later?
4) Pain levels (Yes, pain is still included. If you use JUST pain as the determining factor, one may never return to movement/exercise which will just perpetuate the persistent pain. Therefore, the MINDFULNESS of the exercise and how your body is responding to the exercise are really important)
It is really important that you are able to say YES to the first 3 questions (and NO to the "am I going to pay for this later" question) and be aware of pain levels to help you better determine if the exercise program you are doing is at a good level for you. If no, then talk with your physical therapist, instructor about how to modify the exercise program for you.
Moving forward . . . must involve movement . . .
-Karen Liberi MS, MPT, WCS
Women's/Men's Health Specialist
Director of Rehab at NWO Center for Pelvic Rehab and Wellness
I am a great magician, my greatest trick? My great vanishing act! You can watch as I disappear before your very eyes! First I get smaller..my smile gets smaller, my voice gets smaller.. I pull into myself. The less there is of me the easier it is!
Next is the lights! The ones in my room, the ones in my eyes. The duller something is, the less likely you are to look. Shiny things attract attention.
Next I stay in bed for a day or so. You'll get used to not seeing me, another important part of the trick! If you don't expect to see something, you won't. It's harder to find something you're not looking for.
And then Poof! I'm there, and nobody can see me. Invisible right in front of your eyes, because I'm not really there. I am still in bed. Just an empty shell of a body walking around and nobody can even see! An illusion of a person!
It's a great trick! What's the name of my marvelous magical act? It's called after its name sake of course!
The great Depression.
- Sami Schoff
*Note from Stephanie: At an open mic night I was attending for a dear friend of mine, one of the other acts read original poetry and I just loved this particular poem she had written. I could really identify with it and I just knew others in the pelvic pain community would, too. Many people suffering from persistent genital, sexual and pelvic pain conditions (including myself) experience depression and anxiety. "Pain" and "Fatigue" are other fitting ends to the poem as well. Thanks to Sami for allowing me to share her poem!
Stephanie Yeager: Passionate about spreading the word of hope and healing for those like her, influencing a paradigm shift in the medical community toward greater understanding of chronic pelvic pain disorders, and prevention initiatives that may protect young women before onset can occur.