My first experience with chronic persistent pain was my mother. A brilliant occupational therapist (this makes me genetically 50% OT right?) She was diagnosed with non-specific low back pain when she was 17 but maintained extraordinarily high self efficacy. She bucked the medical advice of the time and refused surgery countless times under promises from surgeons that she would end up wheelchair bound if she didn't.
In the early 90’s she was the occupational therapist involved in developing a chronic pain program for her hospital. She was skilled at guiding her patients to live better in spite of their pain. Then while at work, she injured her knee. Two knee arthroscopies later, she evolved into a significant CRPS state (called RSD at that time). She had the classic trophic changes that no one recognized, this was 1999. I was in PT school. RSD was one of those diagnosis that would get assigned for class presentations when the professor wanted a sweep of "weird" diagnosis.
And so began my clinical life. Right out of school I was "that therapist that knew about RSD". While I was living my "neuro" career, I remained vigilant in reading about pain. A few years later the Recognise™ program was developed and I guided my mom through it. When she couldn't tolerate the images I graded her down to magazines and she bought dolls legs from the craft store to help her in a less threatening way. She is ever the clinician and ever the patient. She has sought out every possible manual, tissue based treatment you've ever heard of and many you haven't. Her knowledge has grown too as she has learned vicariously through me. Our conversations are interesting as I vacillate between daughter and clinician.
I was solo on my pain knowledge journey. I went to courses, read, and practiced. But I had no one to discuss difficult cases with. I was that therapist that did “weird” things that the "therapist hopping" patients loved. I treated my patients in hiding to avoid the judgement of the tissue based masses. I would give lectures and in-service staff and ultimately decided the best way to impart knowledge was for me to treat in the middle of the gym.