[5 min read]
In this article:
- Swedish Pain Services patient Dawn Miller (shown above with her son, Quinten, and their family dog, Teddy) shares her story of living with chronic pain.
- Miller credits her son for pushing her to find treatment and Swedish with helping restore her joy in simple activities, like walking the dog.
- Learn more about how Swedish Pain Services can help you.
For the last three years, Dawn Miller put on a brave face and went out into the world, never letting on that she was in chronic pain. At home, she says, it was a very different story. Her pain made it difficult—and sometimes impossible—to carry out basic tasks like washing dishes or housekeeping.
“In 2020 I was working from home. I was working long hours and not moving as much beyond daily walks with my dog, and my lower back became more and more painful,” she says. “At one point I was barely able to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night. That really began my journey. I could not understand what was wrong with my body. It was evident I needed professional help to deal with it.”
After numerous tests and attempted remedies, including injections and adjustments to how she slept, stood and moved, Miller was at a loss. Relief was nowhere to be found, it seemed. Then she met with Jordan Orr, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Swedish, who diagnosed her with joint hypermobility syndrome, a connective tissue disorder in which the ligaments connecting the bones are loose or weak. For many, the condition is painless, but others experience severe discomfort, chronic fatigue, joint subluxations (when part of a joint becomes dislocated) and, sometimes, gastrointestinal symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome.
“Because the connective tissues around my bones aren’t strong enough, my muscles overcompensate for the dysfunction, and I experience a lot of pain in most of my joints,” says Miller.
“I had done a lot to help myself, but Swedish provided the piece that was missing. I worked 1-on-1 with practitioners and a pain psychology nurse, who taught relaxation techniques. We also worked as a group to come up with hive-mind solutions in our group learning setting.” - Swedish Pain Services patient Dawn Miller
Dr. Orr referred Dawn to Swedish Pain Services’ Chronic Pain Team, who assessed her as a candidate for their day program, a 3-day-a-week program in which patients engage in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and movement therapies including proprioception exercises. Patients also learn pain management techniques and work with professionals on the emotional and mental health effects of living with chronic pain. After meeting with Wilson Chang, M.D., Miller was sure the program was right for her. This past June, with her employer’s blessing, Dawn enrolled in the program.
“Dr. Chang described the program and it seemed like a dream come true,” says Miller. “It was multifaceted and whole-body.”
“I had done a lot to help myself, but Swedish provided the piece that was missing,” she adds. “I worked 1-on-1 with practitioners and a pain psychology nurse, who taught relaxation techniques,” she says. “We also worked as a group to come up with hive-mind solutions in our group learning setting.”
“For a long time, I did what I could to hide the amount of pain I was in. And I always had a feeling I was doing something wrong, and I tried to minimize how I was really feeling,” says Miller.
Today, she’s able to do things that many of us take for granted, such as standing to wash the dinner dishes, attending live music events with her son or getting back to taking the family dog, Teddy, for a leisurely walk.
“The Swedish program helped me change my approach to pain,” Miller affirms. “I still have pain, but my attitude is different. Instead of spiraling, I can restart.”
Learn more and find a provider
If you have chronic pain, contact Swedish Pain Services.
Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.