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    Flavia took part in our joint venture with Globe Community Project, via their ‘Take Back your Life‘ project led by Tareshvari. Flavia received 6 health coaching sessions alongside a course of 6 Acupuncture sessions with Andrew at Pathways Trust. Read on to find out more about her experience on the course.

    S: You received some complementary therapy?
    F: Therapy, yes. Which was very beneficial. I feel much improvement after that.

    S: So what did you what did you go for?
    F: Acupuncture, but there was also Gua Sha and cupping. It was a mixture of these things. I had problems with my neck and my back and my legs – these are the three points where I have chronic pain. But now after five sessions, my neck is completely healthy, it’s not painful anymore. My back is just a little bit, and still my legs are painful, but they are improving so definitely positive effect it had.

    S: And had you tried any of those things before?
    F: No, never. I never had the chance to try before. I am actually a bit surprised because I didn’t expect it to be so effective. I would say, “OK let’s try, let’s see” but I didn’t have much hope. I was resigned to my pain. But now I see hope. I see a possibility of it [pain] to go, in a way.

    S: Wow that’s incredible. So how does that make you feel then, to kind of have this new possibility?
    F: Well I was moved. I was really happy. Moved actually. When I feel that my legs are a bit better, not so much painful, a tear comes to my eyes because, as I say, for many years I was in pain, many years. I’ve got some pictures from 2017, and I remember I was already in pain. So it was many years ago that this started. And the NHS actually didn’t solve the problem, they just let it be. Just giving me painkillers which I don’t take because they don’t make me feel well in my mind, in my head. So all the ways were exhausted – there was no way out. But now there is a possibility, and it’s opened up a bit the vision.

    S: Yeah and that sounds quite a scary place to be in before, where you feel like there’s no options, you feel like this pain is just there.
    F: Yeah definitely, I had no options. I was thinking “this is what it is, I’m going to have this pain for the rest of my life.” But now – I’m not saying that I’m pain free – but I see the possibility of being pain free.

    S: Yeah exactly, and it sounds from what you were saying earlier about being involved more in the Buddhist centre, it’s about learning how to balance energy and things like that – it sounds even though you’ve maybe got symptoms to manage still, pain, fatigue things like that, it sounds like you’re more open to doing things.
    F: Yeah, of course, the less pain I have, the more energy I have. It’s as simple as that. Because the pain takes my energy.

    S: Yeah, it sounds like you’re thinking about how to balance things?
    F: Balancing yeah, at this stage I’m trying to balance. For example today I said, “no, I’ll stay home all day, I won’t do anything because tomorrow I’ve got something to do,” so I’m trying to find the balance, you know like trying to recover – because yesterday I had the acupuncture session, so today I will recover, I will be at home. And then tomorrow I will have another active day. Tomorrow is Tai Chi day, the Chi Gong day in the park.

    S: Great! And you said as well at one point you were quite passive, you couldn’t do much. I’m guessing that was because of the pain?
    F: Passive because I didn’t have the energy, because the pain was taking all my energy. Even if I was doing something like going for a walk and then I was coming home and I was exhausted because my legs were painful and all my energy was gone. But now that I’m feeling better, I’m recovering this energy. Now is the time that I need to balance it as I was saying.

    One thing I want to say about the therapy also; before the therapy in the morning, I was always having this bad mood when I wake up, but this is completely gone now. I wake up, I’m fine. This was another effect of the therapy I believe, because there is no other explanation why it stopped.

    S: Wow that’s so interesting isn’t it? And do you have an idea of whether that might be the actual acupuncture say, or do you think it might be because you’re in less pain, or because you’re getting out more?
    F: Well, it’s a combination I think of everything; it’s the therapy and also because I have less pain and I see a hope, so my life is definitely improved.

    S: Oh that’s so good to hear, I’m really happy to hear that! And so it sounds like you’ve got a few new ways now to sort of manage your condition. I know when you said at first it was quite tricky because you felt like the NHS didn’t really give much and you sort of accepted there wasn’t much they could do.
    F: No they just they just gave up, they didn’t find an explanation for the pain and they stopped there. They stopped there at the painkillers.

    S: Yeah and that sounds very frustrating.
    F: Yes definitely yes. I was going to the Barnet hospital and they were seeing me then all of a sudden they stopped seeing me, they didn’t call me anymore. No words about it. Nothing. They just stopped calling me. I don’t know why? And I asked the GP if she could contact them but she said that I needed to contact them and then I felt like… you know like I didn’t feel like doing it so I didn’t contact them and it just ended up like that, without an end. It’s like I felt they gave up and that’s it, I’ll keep the pain.

    S: Yeah, and I can imagine if they give up it makes you want to give up I suppose a little bit?
    F: Yeah! In a way I did give up. I was resigned as I said the pain. I was, “okay I’m going to have this pain for the rest of my life.”

    S: Yeah. And that’s a horrible thought.
    F: It’s a horrible feeling, yes.

    S: Yes, thinking about all the things you can’t do and worries and those sort of things. So now things seem more positive then? So what new ways do you think you might have to sort of manage your pain, manage your energy? Are you going to continue with the acupuncture do you think?
    F: I wish I could, I wish I could. Now I have three more sessions. I wish I could continue. If I find the money to continue I will, but that’s a different problem because my financial situation is not very stable so for me it’s difficult to find the money for that. But probably, if I can, instead of having one session weekly, perhaps I could have one monthly to continue in a way. Finding the money to have a session monthly.

    S: Exactly, yeah. And some people who are just training can sometimes offer it for a cheaper rate can’t they? Ok great. Are there any other ways, has there been anything else either from the health coaching or just something you’ve learnt?
    F: Well it’s like a growth. It’s like growing in mindfulness. It’s like a continuation of the course that we did, Take Back Your Life. It’s like mindfulness gets wider, it gets more. It’s a journey as you say, and you’re on the path and you’re growing. So definitely it makes you feel more positive, definitely, about life in general, about everything. Also to have this vision, it makes you feel like, I’ve got some goals.

    S: Yeah. Kind of a sense of direction I suppose?
    F: Sense of direction, yes.

    S: Are there any examples of where you might use mindfulness a little bit more in your day for coping with pain or fatigue? Have you noticed any changes in being a bit more mindful or maybe meditating a bit more?
    F: Well mindful is something that I learned to be all the time. I’m mindful all the time, when I go to the pharmacy, when I go shopping, I’m actually in that moment. This I learned from Take Back Your Life course but also before from my Buddhist courses.

    S: And how does mindfulness support you now? Are you still able to use mindfulness to help with your pain or fatigue?
    F: Yes, meditating. We have a weekly meeting with Tareshvari as well on Monday afternoon where we meditate and we connect, and that is always an important point. I do meditate myself, I do meditate when I go to the Wednesday class [at the Buddhist centre] so meditating is important as well.

    S: Great, that’s so good to hear. And is there anything else that you would like to share about either the health coaching or the acupuncture?
    F: Well I want to say the person doing the therapy was very professional.

    S: Great! And has there been anything unexpected, any anything that’s really surprised you?
    F: It was surprising because I didn’t expect it to have such an effect. Yeah it was surprising definitely yes.

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