If a picture speaks a thousand words, then the art of Atara Schimmel speaks volumes about pelvic pain and pudendal neuralgia. She’s just won the ADA poster contest sponsored by the city of Boston for her entry “We Will Be Heard,” one of her Project Angel series which is dedicated to raising awareness for pelvic pain.
Atara proves that art and artistic expression are powerful vehicles that patients can use to express their pain, frustration, emotions and thoughts in a healthy and often profound way. Better yet, that art can become a powerful tool to educate others about pelvic pain. I love her designs and her work!
Her story resonates deeply with the pelvic pain and pudendal neuralgia community. In the video below, she shares that her symptoms slowly began after she joined a gym and started a new aerobics and kick boxing program that, in hindsight, likely damaged her pelvic floor muscles. The first sign was a pinching sensation deep inside her vagina, as if tweezers were pulling on her cervix.
Not surprisingly, her doctors couldn’t figure it out with several suggesting that the pain was not real and “all in her head.” She was eventually crippled by the pain and couldn’t do basic life activities. She saw more than 20 doctors in Israel who, she says, were ignorant about the pelvic floor and pelvic pain and treated her almost cruelly at times. Sounds familiar, right?
After returning to the US, she finally found a physical therapist who found muscles so tight that they were squeezing her nerves. After years of searching, she finally found a physician (Dr. Valovska at the Brigham and Women’s Pain Clinic – Boston, MA) and a therapy (nortryptline) that has helped.
Atara faced the same plight that many patients struggle with. Many medical care providers simply haven’t received any training on pelvic floor dysfunction, pudendal nerve entrapment and/or genital pain. She’s on a mission to change that. She’s trying to get pudendal neuralgia, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, endometriosis, pelvic floor dysfunction, PGAD and pelvic pain into the national spotlight by asking the various medical specialty organizations to create position statements and for medical schools to teach about them. It’s a big job but she’s a very determined woman!
Thank you Atara for sharing your story and giving us some of the most beautiful patient centric art! You’re truly inspiring!
See more of Atara’s Art
The Project Angel Gallery – A stunning collection of angel figures, each with an inspiring mention! Seriously, I’d love to have some of these as posters in the ICN office, or as Tee-Shirts or postcards that we can send out!
The Faces of Pudendal Neuralgia – These self portraits speak to the pain and agony that she has struggled with in her fight to find relief for pudendal neuralgia and pelvic pain.