My response to the London attack + a new course coming for June!

Two things happened this week: I got an official Distinction for my Masters degree (cue champagne) and my home town was attacked – cue frantic messages home to make sure nobody was near Westminster. This is the second time that London’s been attacked whilst I wasn’t there. And I know this should feel like a good thing, being safe, but it really does just make me feel like I’m a long way from home and lots of people I love. I love Wales, it’s been home for 10 years and always will be. But so is London. This attack brought back memories of 2005 and finding out that my bus, my tube and my dad’s work tube station were hit (he cycled that day, phew). And then afterwards as I found out how friends and family had been affected, whilst I was in a Jungle on the other side of the world without the technological links we have today that would allow me to feel a little like I was supporting and grieving with those back home…

It’s also made me think about my friend Esther, an incredible clinical specialist physio with us on the masters course who was hit and killed by a bus when cycling to work a few years ago. It was a ridiculous waste of such a promising life, she really would have continued to be a gift to her patients and to the wider profession. Grief again, it’s a shock.

I’ve spent 4 years on and off with my head in BPS world (bladder pain syndrome), thriving on reading the exciting new frontiers broached in our understanding of the vaginal and urothelial microbiome, pain modulation, multidisciplinary team working and finding ways of subcategorising patients so that we can really “Treat the Right Patient at the Right Time in the Right Way”. The literature abounds with people like me – excited and engaged with the challenge of trying to piece together a multi-facetted understanding of BPS, and then find ways that we can then try and augment these facets into a shape that resembles the life our patients may want to lead… It’s a wonderfully complex puzzle and as I read I share a great warmth with the authors of these papers pouring their brains into trying to solve a section of it to add to the whole. And the thought that I need to be sharing this tickles the back of my brain, quickly smothered by a feeling of imposter syndrome.

So I’m sat at my desk feeling a little overwhelmed. That idea has been in my head for 4 years “Why is there no training about BPS?”. Humans are humans the world over and I don’t think there’s a suspiciously large group of people in South Wales with BPS/IC, yet I see them in my practice is every day. Why are we not talking about this?

“Someone needs to talk about this. I think I need to talk about this.”

And then our friend Jaz Ampaw-Farr did the most brave, soulful, awful, authentic, honest and utterly inspiring TEDx talk (which I’ll post a link to when TED release it), asking us to be 10% braver every day. The thing about Jaz is she already lives at about 2750% brave-ness and is incredibly giving and nurturing to everyone around her. She was already an inspiration to me – especially when I’m regularly told I’m doing too much (I can’t help being truly interested in lots of different things and enjoying being involved) and her talk has put my already awesome view of her into perspective. Beyond brave, strong.

So as I sit blocked and overwhelmed at my desk words of hers are louder than the imposter anxiety:

“Change won’t happen until your desire to make things different is bigger and stronger than your fear of trying”

Sitting surrounded by the sadness of wasted lives and buoyed by the inspiration of someone living hers fully for us all to have a better life, I set a date. Grabbing that fear by the scruff… June 10th/11th I’ll be running a physiotherapy course on Bladder Pain Syndrome.
Watch this space for more details!