I’m Anna Raymann and I founded Boek-en-steun/Support for chronic pain in 2013. I live in The Netherlands, dividing my days between our beautiful capital Amsterdam, and the southern part of our country, Limburg. I am 62 years old, and I have lived together with Rob for almost forty years now. Together, we have three children who live in Amsterdam, the Hague and Houston TX. I am a physiotherapist, a writer and a chronic pain patient.
I have had chronic back pain for almost 40 years now. About 8 years ago I also got Crohn’s disease and began suffering from migraines. During my many years as a pain patient, I’ve found that the most difficult thing about my situation is explaining my plight to people outside of my inner circle. To make them believe and understand what I am facing, and the type of impact it has not only on me as a person, but on my family as well. To explain how this constant pain had such a negative influence on my everyday emotions.
Throughout the years, I’ve delved deeply into these issues, especially since it turned out I’m far from the only person who was forced to see their social life deteriorate as a result of the pain, and that many of my peers found this experience even worse than the pain itself!
I also found out that this social aspect in a life of chronic pain is scarcely treated in books and other media. That even the best multi-disciplinary pain clinics don’t include treatment of the partners and live-at-home children in their pain management programs. Of course that also means that helping people maintaining a strong, social network is the last thing on their minds most of the time!
As I studied the social consequences of chronic pain, and what can be done to deal with these things in an as efficient manner as possible, I’ve learned so much that I’ve decided to share this knowledge with as many fellow chronic pain patients as possible. I’m doing this in order to help them maintain their social network, and to help them in keeping their social life both warm and empathetic. To help them surround themselves with Strong Helpers.
Meanwhile, my hobby of writing grew more important to me by the day. After all, you can always write, even when you’re lying in pain on a bed. I started blogging about my life of dealing with chronic pain and my health, which was both deteriorating and preventing me from leading the life I wanted.
Despite it all, I managed to achieve my dream of working in the Olympic village at London 2012. I wrote about my experiences in London in a popular column in the two largest newspapers in Limburg. This column and my blog would later become the basis for my book about this very special year, which started with the worst winter, but ended with the best summer of my life: ‘Limiet gehaald,’ (Limit reached, a very special year in the life of a chronic pain patient.) This book ended up being read by many chronic pain patients, who told me that they recognized my story and that it inspired and encouraged them.
As a result of all this I decided to action and started this website and the Facebook group in Dutch. I wrote ‘Lieve Help!’ (‘Strong Help! To support and to get support when dealing with chronic pain and other invisible misery’) during 2013 and the beginning of 2014. It was released in The Netherlands and Belgium last March and it was received extremely good. The great reviews I received from patients as well as from pain doctors and psychologists was the incentive to have the book translated in English to be published as e-books on Amazon. ‘Coping with chronic pain—a team effort’ .