Terry Bremner has lived almost every day of his life in physical pain.
Born with a condition that caused soreness in his hip and legs, the father of two teenage boys said he finally found relief after undergoing a full hip replacement in his early thirties. But it didn’t last.
“Five years later, I was in a head-on car accident in Alberta,” he said. “I suffered a head injury, nerve damage, a broken shoulder…and that all turned into a condition called fibromyalgia – and basically that’s pain all over. It’s something I’ve had to learn to live with.”
Today, Bremner serves as president of Action Atlantic, a volunteer advocacy group working to improve chronic pain treatment in the Atlantic Provinces. Tonight, he will be speaking at the Reflections of Pain conference, to be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Dalhousie University student union building. The conference is one of several being held across the Atlantic Provinces over the next few days to mark National Pain Awareness Week.
According to Action Atlantic, more than half a million Atlantic Canadians are living with pain on an ongoing basis, and they’ve largely had to learn to fend for themselves.
“In Nova Scotia, I think we have five support groups that run a monthly meeting,” Bremner said. “They can’t find services, and they have to wait for the services that are there, so we have to educate ourselves.”
According to Bremner, wait times for treatment and a lack of education about pain in medical schools are two big issues that still need to be addressed by governments.
“Any doctor who takes a four-year post-medical degree only studies pain for one day,” he said. “So we as pain patients have to be the ones that take control of our own health conditions.”