Julie Flook, UK
Summary: In 2009, Julie experienced a sudden, painful headache while on shift at a pub. She found she has slipped a disc in her neck and was immobile for two weeks. After acupuncture treatment and an anterior cervical discectomy, Julie slipped another disc lower in her neck.
This second slipped disc left her with chronic pain in her shoulder, arm and back, and numbness in her fingers. Julie was put on meds and referred to a pain management clinic, as the doctor’s advised there was nothing left they could do.
After giving up her job, Julie tried several other careers, but none were suitable for her condition. She was forced to give up work entirely, which left her very low.
First Game Changer: Taking on some advice
At the pain therapy group, Julie met a man who loved to run, even with his pain. They went for one together and he shared some useful advice: find what you love and do it every day. If you don’t, there’s no point.
Luckily, it wasn’t much later that Julie rediscovered her love of art. She went with a friend, who was suffering from mental health problems, to a local art group at a garden centre. Although it took both of them a few weeks to open up, the difference it made was incredible.
In the beginning, it was both the social element and the actual process of making art. After an exhibition of their work, Julie received positive feedback about her pieces and realised she was better than she’d given herself credit for.
Second Game Changer: Investing in your passion.
It is one thing to do a hobby once a week but for Julie she gets so much from art that she is taking the hobby to a new level. After doing a few commissions for friends, Julie has decided she wants to turn her art into a small business. It’s her passion and her reason for getting up in the morning, and she wants to share this with others.
Julie manages her pain with the positive feeling of doing art, and while she doesn’t bother with it on bad days, she never stops thinking about and planning her pieces.
The little things that help Julie with her art:
Julie also has to pick the right time of day – late morning – and take her meds at the right time to get the most from her art sessions. But, considering it helps her to forget about her pain, these sessions last as long as possible.
-Using an ergonomic chair - position is really important for Julie and so she used an ergonomic chair that enables her to offload her neck as much as possible
-Wearing a neck brace and wrist brace - very simply the braces support Julie’s joints and give her a sense of security when she is making art.
-Switching between angled and flat easels: Because Julie needs to be mindful of her neck it is really useful having the option the change the angle of the easel.