.This week our Power in the Story featured blogger is Pamela from There Is Always Hope and she also runs a second blog called A Chronicle of Hope. The fact that she runs 2 successful blogs should tell you right away that she is a powerhouse! She writes about her experiences with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Invisible Illness and has been published on The Mighty website discussing her issues with Trigeminal Neuralgia and having an invisible illness.
Living in Langford, BC, she is an active volunteer with the Patient Volunteer Network, an organization in British Columbia that gives ordinary people the ability to have a say in how healthcare is delivered in her province. She is also currently sitting on the Clinical Resource Committee for the BC Emergency Physicians Network and recently accepted a new role with the Laboratory Quality Council Committee.
She also enjoys crafting, playing on the computer, writing short stories and poetry and reading True Crime and Biographies.
I think that you will find her dedication to volunteer work, in spite of her limitations impressive! There is definitely power in the story!
Power in the Story: The Volunteer Life
The Working Days
I’ve been an active volunteer starting when I was a kid in Brownies and Guides. Then again during most of my working years I have volunteered in many capacities. This is especially true of the years I spent working at Bell. Bell was a major sponsor at the Calgary Stampede. For ten crazy days each year for 4 years, I would go to the Stampede Grounds after my work day. I worked at the Bell Xperience Tent where I handed out flyers from 4:30pm until 10pm or so.
There were a lot of other volunteer opportunities I was a part of during my working days. Some of those included the Calgary Corporate Challenge, Habitat For Humanity, and Blood Donation Drives.
After going on Long Term Disability due to my Chronic Illness, I wasn’t sure how I could continue volunteering. I couldn’t get through my days without needing to nap because I had no energy. My mind had no ability to converse with others without losing my train of thought halfway through a sentence. I was deep in depression and as much as I wanted to continue to give back, I simply didn’t have anything left in me to give.
So…volunteering was pushed to the back and left there, forgotten. I worked hard trying to improve my health physically and mentally over the next several years. I worked with various Doctors and medical personnel to try and fix everything that was wrong with me. The list is quite long unfortunately and most of what’s on it is “unfixable”. I can find ways to help me feel better, but the issue in question is never going to go away.
The Journey Back
Eventually, I did start to feel better and came to a point where I felt I was able to volunteer again. I just wasn’t sure in what capacity I would be able to manage. What I had done before was quite physical and I knew that wasn’t going to work for me now. So I had to be realistic about my new abilities.
I came across an advertisement about Patient Voices Network and immediately knew this was the fit I was waiting for. The concept that I, an everyday, average British Columbian, could have an impact on how healthcare was delivered, completely knocked my socks off. I signed up on the spot! I went through the orientation class and immediately began registering for various engagements that appealed to me. In the past five years that I’ve been a member of PVN, I’ve had involvement in many opportunities. (to see a complete list, click here)
How Volunteering Works with My Chronic Illness
As a volunteer, the best part is that I can pick and choose what I want to do. I make those decisions based on how I’m feeling. Most of these committees meet once every two or three months via teleconference, and occasionally, there is a face to face meeting held in Vancouver which is always a treat.
Making and Impact in Healthcare
On one of my trips to Vancouver, I was invited to give a speech to approximately 175 people. The topic was Information Governance and Health Records Portability. I explained why it’s important that our Health Records be available in all Health Regions in BC, not just the Region you live in. I spoke on the scenario of what would happen if you had an emergency in an area outside of your home Health Region. There is a video of the speech on my one of my blogs and you can watch it by clicking Here.
Facing Fears and Finding Hope
My biggest fear was after I left work, that I would no longer be relevant. I didn’t want to just fade away in the background. I also had to be mindful of my health and not take on things that would hinder my need to rest when required.
My involvement now takes the form of quarterly WebEx meetings or Bi-monthly in-person meetings. Because of this, I’m never overwhelmed and I control how much I want to take on.
Of course, that’s the only problem, is learning to say no!! There are always so many incredible opportunities that I hear of and I want to do them all. Realistically, I have to draw the line somewhere, so I’m learning how to let go.
Through it all I remember…there is always hope!
I am sure that you are as impressed as I am with Pamela’s ability to give selflessly of her time. Her ability to make a difference in spite of life’s hardships amazes me! To read more details about Pamela’s volunteer experiences, please check out her post, The Volunteer Life.
I am sure that you will agree that there is power in the story!
Please visit this incredible Chronic Illness Warrior at her blogs and her Social Media Accounts:
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