Recovery Stories

Get inspired! Find out how other people, just like you, are managing their pain. Learn tips from other Albertans faced with similar challenges.


“After experiencing both mental and physical pain, Carrie can now recognize pain in others and have more empathy”.


Carrie lives in Edmonton with four dogs, two cats, one of her two adult sons, and his girlfriend. She is retired and stays busy going to the gym and painting.

Carrie was in a motor vehicle accident when she was a teenager but had recovered to the point that the injuries didn’t bother her any more. She served in the military and had training and service related injuries, including broken bones, which made her pain worsen over time. Now she has chronic arthritis and tendonitis.


Looking back, she thinks that if she had had have better access to treatment at the time of her injuries she believes her outcomes would have been different. Carrie also had to fight for recognition of her injuries afterwards, and this had a negative effect on her mental more.


“Try your very best to explain your pain and how it affects what you are doing”.


Chuck lives with his wife, daughter and son, and their two cats. He is retired from the military and he owned a small computer company but had to give it up after having some health problems that needed attention. He enjoys music, computers, flying drones, walking, singing, and rocks/lapidary.

His pain started with shoulder and neck pain first. It took a while to figure out if this was one pain or two and what was the cause. Finally, it was discovered that there were two separate causes, but not much could be done about it. He was put on opioid medications to help manage the pain and to keep functioning. At that time, getting some relief from his pain was the most important thing to him, as he was really suffering. The pain affected his mood and his ability to sleep, eat, and work. He had to be very persistent to try to get answers. He had physiotherapy, acupuncture, traction for the neck, TENS, inferential, medications, stretching and strengthening exercises. Meanwhile, the pain kept going. He also developed low back pain and some other health more.


“Pain can affect “Tracy’s” mood and she can be easily agitated. Sometimes she cannot do what others expect or want her to do”.


“Tracy” lives with her mother, father, older brother, and two cats in St. Albert. Her dad also has chronic pain. She likes to draw, read books, play video games, and sleep. When she was in grade six she went to the hospital a few times for stomach pain. It slowly got worse until, a few years later, she couldn’t even go to school.

She had surgery and afterwards the pain worsened. She noticed that she would overdo an activity or do things to try to please others, but that would make her pain worse. She had several medical procedures and “every test in the book”, but nothing seemed to help.

Now she is trying to reduce the amount of acid in her stomach and sleeps with the head of the bed elevated. She also tries to manage stress and not get upset about more.


“Four months after surgery, I hiked up to the Lake Agnes tea house near Lake Louise, achieving my big goal to hike, even though I had pain, walked slowly, and I still needed medication”.


I live in Edmonton with my husband and I work as an occupational therapist. I love my work a lot, and I also volunteer with my professional organizations. I’m interested in reading and learning more about mindfulness. I also try to keep working on improving my physical function through exercise. 

I’ve always had problems with my feet and ankles. I seemed clumsy as a child, but in retrospect I think some of it was due to ankle instability and torn ligaments. It was related to the way my feet were structured and I just tried to adapt to it. It gradually worsened over time, and in 2015 a tendon spontaneously ruptured in my right ankle while I was trying to do a strengthening exercise. It took many months before the underlying problem was correctly identified. Meanwhile, I was walking less and less, and I fell several times when my ankle would give way. I wore an ankle brace and used anti-inflammatory cream. I had a tendon rupture, several torn ligaments, and the remaining peroneal tendon was shredded.  There were a lot of delays along the way. There was nothing that could be done without surgery, it was just going to get more.


“Sybil is learning to ask for help when she needs it”.


“Sybil” lives on her own. She had a 20-year career as a sales rep and is currently unemployed and looking for a new job. She is an outgoing and social person and is learning to adapt to health issues that have greatly affected her lifestyle.

It started when “Sybil” was diagnosed with cancer. She gained weight and had extremely low energy. Her pain and fatigue were made worse because she wasn’t sleeping well at night.
One thing that helped her was taking baby steps and accepting things as they were, even if she was having a bad day.

“Sybil” adjusted her lifestyle to accommodate her low energy levels. She worked part-time instead of full-time and looked for ways to modify her work to make it easier. When able, she started the day later because she could get more sleep. She decided to quit her part-time job because her pain and fatigue were getting worse. She is now working on reducing her pain and regaining more.


“I have become an advocate for those with pain and I plan to continue to provide support”.


Twenty-five years ago, when I was in my early 20's, I crashed while downhill skiing, injuring my right shoulder and knocking myself out. It took over a year for the pain in my shoulder to settle down. Later, when I was starting my OT career, I was cross country skiing in the mountains. After the first day of skiing, I was in agony because my right shoulder hurt. I could not find a position of comfort or sleep well, as I woke with pain every time I shifted my weight. I thought perhaps I had strained my shoulder, and it might be related to the earlier downhill accident that I thought had healed.

I went to physiotherapy for treatment. The physiotherapist tried to treat my shoulder, only to find my wrist and hand were starting to swell too. Neither of us could make sense of what was happening.

When I started a second job a year later, I started to have pain and swelling in multiple joints: my shoulders, fingers, feet, and toes. There is a history of immune disorders on my mom’s side of the family, and I was soon diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) more.

© 2018 by Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists


Contact Us:

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.