Welcome to the Telling of Story Podcast. I’m your host, Storyteller Jewels, and along with my guests, it’s my endeavour to explore the art and science of storytelling, to attract, engage, and retain a business audience, and to unpack why it works for some, and not for the many that try. Listen in as Dina talks about what it takes to build a community.

Deana: It has been such a slog to get up every morning, and I enjoy it, so thankfully I’m really passionate about this and I know that there is a huge gap to fill, so I am motivated to get up every morning and do this. I haven’t paid myself in a very long time because I’m building this community and it’s taken a lot of resources and a lot of time.

And I feel like I’m on this huge uphill battle for the David and Goliath story where there’s the medical model who has a very strong presence, a very strong voice for over a hundred years. And then there’s this little person from Canada, and all the other providers who are doing similar things that I am, you know, trying to get their message out there.

So, if I didn’t think there was such a need for this, I would not get out of bed as excited as I do. 

Jewels: In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Deena Chopolis. After watching her mother’s lived experience with undiagnosed ADHD, post polio syndrome, and celiac disease, which resulted in an early death.

Along with her husband’s experience of living much of his early years with an undiagnosed rare metabolic disorder, Dina grew to understand the challenges of those who live with invisible chronic conditions. Being misunderstood, not believed, labelled as slow or lazy, being told that everything looks fine after testing.

That what they experience on a daily basis must all be in their head. As a pain coach, Dina, along with the chronic pain community, witnessed firsthand how chronic pain Care is truly broken. Through all of this, Dina has learned that all chronic health or chronic pain is indeed biological, psychological and social in nature.

And this is just not being shared with the chronic pain community. Even though there is 12 years of solid research to back it up. So she got to work and created a unique space exclusively for the chronic pain community to bridge the gap between physician care and the pain warrior with self care management through pain education Coaching, community and peer mentorship.

Exactly the sort of model she wished she could find when her parents and her husband needed guidance. Dina, welcome to the show. Ah, 

Deana: thank you so much for having me. 

Jewels: Dina, what is the definition of chronic pain as opposed to just pain? 

Deana: Right, so chronic pain is essentially more than three months. So if you have an injury and, which we call acute injury, and it lasts, longer.

The injury heals and then after three months time, if you’re still living with pain, we then call it chronic pain. And when it becomes chronic, it’s a whole other beast. It’s very different than the acute phase. 

Jewels: I was listening to one of your podcast guests, I think it was Anne Schober, and she didn’t want to be defined by a chronic illness, and which I can relate to because I’ve actually got quite a bit of back pain, and have suffered for close to 20 years.

Three back operations down, as you can see, I’m standing for those of you who can’t see, I generally stand a lot and I fully understand or I fully appreciate where she’s coming from, because to me, being associated with the pain itself, you know, when it’s brought up in conversation, when people ask me how I’m going, because they know I suffer.

It kind of changes, it changes the mood and it’s, you know, tends to bring me down a little bit. And in your bio, you talk about chronic health or chronic pain is being biological, psychological and social in nature. Can you take me through that? Because I absolutely agree, particularly the psychological part.

Deana: Yes, absolutely. I’m so glad you asked because it really is the best way to describe pain. So pain is not just the, as the researchers in Australia say, issues with the tissues. It may start off that way, but once it becomes chronic, then it becomes The biological piece is there, the psychological piece is there, and I’ll get into what they are in a second, and then of course, of course, the social.

The biological is anything that is going on sort of inside, whether it be arthritis, whether it be the diagnosis that you get, whether it be the scans, the procedures, the treatments, deficiencies, all those things sort of lumped into the biological, and that’s what we tend to focus on in our medical model, which is important.

But it’s only a one third of the pie. Then we get into the psychological, and you know this all too well with living with pain, but it becomes a lot of other things. The thoughts, the beliefs, perhaps the biases we have, the behaviors we do as a result of the pain. There is a thing called Pain behaviors, the, you know, beliefs that we had growing up around perhaps how your parents responded when you hurt yourself, you know, experiences we’ve had, unresolved trauma.

It goes on and on and on. And then there’s the social aspect, which is a lot of the other things kind of lumped into one. Where, you know, social isolation or the environment you live in or the environment you work in is very much a part of the chronic pain experience and how much pain you actually feel.

Whether you feel like you’re getting care or not getting care, all those things add up. 

Jewels: You also talk about The concept of grief and pain, which is kind of an interesting one for me because I suffer a little bit from that too. You get that. Well, for me, it’s, I wouldn’t describe it necessarily as grief.

It’s more of frustration. It’s like, I miss being able to do the stuff that I used to be able to do when I was a bit younger and a bit fitter. And that comes up quite a lot because I’ll be in the garden. I’ll be going for a walk. I’ll be, you know, even jumping off a fairly low environment. I go, Oh, you know, I used to be able to jump off that as very sprightly.

And these days I’ve got to take it very slowly and make sure that everything’s okay. Talk to me about the, that idea of grief and pain together. 

Deana: So, and I apologize, I think our connection’s a little funny. I think I got the question, but I’ll do my best. If I don’t answer it, just let me know and I’ll go for it.

Yes, it’s a bit of both. I mean, it really is. Every emotion we can feel as a human being can be applied. Grief, yes, um, for some it feels like the loss of life they once had. For others, it’s that frustration, or maybe even a bit of both. You know, not being able to do what you’ve done before. So they do tend to lump into each other.

There’s even the shame that kind of sometimes comes in there when you feel like, you know, you can’t do what you used to do. Your family’s expecting you to keep up. You’re not able to keep up. You know, there’s a lot of these emotions that tie in. So. Yes, when it comes to grief, I do believe it is an important process to work through for those who really truly believe that they have lost life and there’s not a lot of hope for their future.

That’s when the grieving process happens and it is a process and we need to work through it, walk through it, you know, to be able to resolve some of the issues because a lot of these unresolved issues can then become not only the psychological but also the biological. They can become more intense in the 

Jewels: pain.

I definitely experienced that myself when, if I overthink the pain, if I dwell on the pain, it comes to the forefront, right? You can, you seem to be able to feel it more, it feels more painful. And that’s part of the reason why, I guess, sometimes I don’t even want to talk about it when somebody says, you know, how’s your back going, because I know that then turns into a conversation that makes me think about it.

And when I think about it, suddenly the pain feels a little bit worse. 

Deana: Yes. Into it. Truly. Right. 

Jewels: And the social aspect is quite interesting too, because obviously when you’re in pain, that changes your mindset and your behavior. You know, you don’t feel like doing stuff. You don’t want to go out. You don’t want to mix with other people.

You don’t want to appear to be the party pooper, if you like, but you just physically don’t feel it physically and mentally don’t feel like. Doing it. So it does have definitely have an impact on your social life. What does that, how does one combat the idea of losing touch with, you know, family and friends through this period?

Because it can be quite long and quite extended, right? You know, I’ve been suffering for 20 years of, you know, in particularly in the last 10. And so there’s times where I just don’t want to go out. I just don’t want to mingle, right? How do you get through that? How do you help people get through that?

Deana: Right. So it is important. I think you stated very clearly that it’s important for us to understand that it’s going to be our companion with us regardless, right? It’s always going to be there, but there are things we can do to help dial that down a little bit. And then we start to pick and choose what.

events are important to get out to and it is important to get out. We don’t want to be avoiding certain situations, but we also need to pick and choose, you know, what are the important ones to get out to. So for a long answer for a short question, is this, I think it’s really important that once we start to build awareness around how pain works so that, you know, if you are out with friends and you feel that pain coming on, The first thought is not, oh gosh, I’m doing more damage by being here, you know, we want to sort of mitigate that and say, you know, actually, by being with people, it’s helping me cope a little better with my pain.

It may also mean that we are working through maybe setting boundaries. Communication skills around how do I actually say to my friends, Hey, you know what, I really do want to come out tonight, but it’s just not a good night for me, and, or if I do come, I may not be able to last long. So, being truthful in our messaging, being open and honest about how we deal with this.

But it is important to find that balance between Overdoing the connections and underdoing the connections, right? It’s hard to mitigate because there’s good days, bad days, right, with chronic pain. So, yeah, but there is, it is important, it’s so important to keep those connections going. What happens quite often when it comes to chronic pain is we become so avoidant that we miss out on these really meaningful connections.

And so that’s the tipping point. If we’ve gone too far and we’re really avoiding life in general, that’s going to amplify pain too. So it is a balance to be 

Jewels: found. Something else that’s quite interesting that I’ve found over the years, you can be pretty much anywhere in any form of conversation, whether it’s at a barbecue, whether it’s just out, you know, at a pub with some friends or wherever you may be out for dinner, it doesn’t really matter.

And as soon as you say, you know, I suffer from back pain and back pain is an interesting one, because I think to some degree everybody has suffered some form of back pain throughout their life. So it’s quite at one, it’s, it’s one of those common ones, not necessarily to a chronic degree, but you know, they’ve hurt themselves at some point in time.

And so what I find is that everybody. Has a solution for back pain. Oh, oh yes. I’ll be, I’ll be standing there saying, yeah, I’ve got, you know, I’ve got a sore back and I’ll get everything thrown at me a hundred times. You know, you’ve got to try yoga. You’ve got to try Pilates. You’ve got to change your diet.

You’ve got to go see this doctor. You’ve got to go see a chiropractor, go see a physio. You’ve got to do these kinds of exercises. It just goes on and on and on. And there’s a point. Where I just almost pretty much tune out and go I’ve tried a number of things. I need to work through what works for me. And I kind of try to some degree, try and shut that down.

Is that something you experience through your community? 

Deana: Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s one of the common threads is the frustration, not only around the sheer number of appointments, you know, you go to, but then on top of that, all these suggestions coming through for those who perhaps who don’t understand.

what you’re going through. So yes, it is very common, very frustrating. And the interesting thing is, really, everyone’s going to experience, experience pain at some point. Just like you said, pain is a part of the human experience. Pain is there to protect. So yes, we’re all going to experience it. But again, once it becomes chronic, then that’s when people who don’t live with chronic pain, think they know pain because they’ve had acute pain, but they’re very different.

So it can be frustrating for sure. 

Jewels: I definitely agree on that one. I thought I knew pain until the first time I had a complete collapse. And it just went from, you know, my old, you know, nines or tens suddenly became a two. And I had, I just experienced a brand new level of nines and tens and sometimes 11s and 12s, right?

So it’s, so it is, until you’ve experienced it, it is quite different. How do you work with people on that communication aspect? You know, telling their story and, and keeping the dialogue open. Where does one start when it’s, you know, how do I communicate with family? How does one communicate with, well meaning onlookers.

Deana: Right. That’s a great question. It’s a big question because communication is key. I do find our community tends to, like you’ve said, you’ve been there yourself, not really want to open up too much about it and not want to talk about it all the But then there becomes a point where there’s this complete avoidance of talking about it and feeling like, no, I’m going to be fine.

I’m going to get through this. And then they suffer for three days in bed as a result of not communicating, perhaps, what they’re feeling. I do think it’s good to understand what your health boundaries are. So, you know yourself more than anybody else. You know your pain levels. And so, I think it’s really important to sit down before you go out to these events and think through.

All right, what is it that I’m going to say to someone if they say to me, Hey, is everything okay? Are you good? You know, we can be really succinct and just say, you know what? I’m, I experienced pain and I’m just taking a moment to pause, but I’m fine. You know, I’m good. And then we ended there. We don’t want to have to get into too many details, but again, everyone’s going to be different as to what boundaries they set.

But I do think it’s a good exercise to go through that thought process before you actually go out, so that you can think through what it is you want to say, or not say. I mean, you know, it could go either way. 

Jewels: Just on the theme of communication, in your own words, you’re a small company with a big vision.

How do you get your word out? How do you spread the word? How do you communicate? What formats? You know, makes sense for you. I just talk 

Deana: and talk and talk and talk. Yeah, it is. I just got off a great call today with another chronic pain care. Provider who is not a physician and it’s a real struggle to get our message out there because we are battling against the medical system That has a very strong powerful voice.

I mean they are important not that we’re against the medical profession But we’re just looking to work with them. I get my message out by doing podcasts, you know Any sort of YouTube videos Facebook blog posts having conversations with people I do find it is an interesting conversation piece So I do find I’m talking about a fair amount, but we have a big uphill battle to really truly tell the chronic pain community that there’s just so much more to pain than what they’re hearing at this point.


Jewels: so with all those formats, and I’ve, you know, I’ve read some and heard some, which are all fantastic. Well done. And I know how much effort goes into sort of that aspect of the business side. Can you tell me what impact, if any, has that, you know, concerted effort to get out there and publicly speak, whether it be through whatever format that may be, and what impact may have that had on both your business and the message that you’re trying to convey?

Deana: Oh, I love this question. So, on my business, I would say it’s been a slow process as far as Getting that message to be heard. So, I do weekly podcasts, not necessarily my own, but with others, combined with my own. And I would say I’m two years into it now, and I finally feel like there is some momentum coming through.

So, it is taking time. My YouTube channel So slow to take off, but finally, it’s very small, but it’s starting to build momentum. As far as getting to those who need to hear it the most, I’m not sure what kind of impact I’m having. Honestly, you know, that’s the challenge about being in the online space is you don’t necessarily know what kind of impact you’re making.

And so anytime I get any feedback, I’m over the moon excited because you just don’t know what you’re getting. But I do find that these conversations are happening so much more people asking questions, you know, people who have their own podcasts, who may also live with pain, but it’s not part of their podcast process, but they have questions, right?

Yeah. So, 

Jewels: And so you mentioned there that you’ve been doing it for a couple of years. Tell me about the strength. that it’s taken to continue for two years, knowing that for a lot of the, for, you know, potentially a lot of that period, nobody’s listening, nobody’s reading, nobody’s listening. How does that feel and why do it?

Why be consistent through and why keep going? Tell me. 

Deana: Wow, this is getting to my very core, this question, and I’m going to be completely honest if that’s okay. Please, yes. It has been such A slog to get up every morning and I enjoy it. So thankfully, I’m really passionate about this and I know that there is a huge gap to fill.

So I am motivated to get up every morning and do this. I haven’t paid myself in a very long time because I’m building this community and it’s taken a lot of resources and a lot of time, and I feel like I’m on this huge uphill battle cover, the David and Goliath story, where there’s the medical model who has a very strong presence, a very strong voice.

for over a hundred years, and then there’s this little person from Canada and all the other providers who are doing similar things that I am, you know, trying to get their message out there. So, if I didn’t think there was such a need for this, I would not get out of bed as excited as I do, and I wouldn’t keep pushing through with the podcasts and the conversations.

I do believe that we can change chronic pain care from within the chronic pain community, not, again, not, To go against what we have already, but to expand and really bridge the gap between the chronic pain warrior and the physician. 

Jewels: You mentioned that you’re taking on the big guns in the health departments, et cetera.

How much of it is, and clearly you’re passionate about your topic and it comes out just in the conversation, even in your tone, et cetera. So it’s, you know, it’s fabulous to hear how much of it is about taking on the big institutions or is it really about. Impacting even one or two people at a time and changing the way some people live like is, do we have to change the world as you know, I’m a small provider as well.

I’m putting my voice out there, but I know I don’t necessarily believe that I’m going to change the world, but I do believe that I can impact a select few and if that works for me. Then hopefully, you know, that kind of works for others as well. Where does your line get drawn over you? So, you know, are you going to change the world and create a change the health system, or is it really about helping the individuals?


Deana: no, it’s truly, truly about helping the individuals. I know that there is no chance of. pushing against the big Goliath. For me, I really just received so much joy from seeing those who finally get the information they need, they start applying it, and they’re getting back to living. It makes me emotional, and I do believe that it’s that one person at a time, or if we have more coming in, we can do more at a time.

But yeah, I would much rather have those small wins than feel like I need to change the world. 

Jewels: And so in that process of, you know, getting up, doing these podcasts, doing the blogs, doing the speaking, whatever that may be, I know how much effort goes into that. How much of it is sort of strategic and you sort of say, okay, I know I need to get to this sort of level and this production level and this sort of timely, or how much of it is just filling in the gaps in between everything else that, you know, a small business needs to do on a daily basis?

Deana: Right? Yeah, it’s such a juggle, isn’t it? Yeah, and really, the podcasts are, for me, just a very small part of what I do. It’s really just to get the message out there. So yeah, it’s filling the gap. The biggest part of my role is the coaching piece and the content piece. That content creation, you know, creating lessons, modules, video lessons, audio lessons.

Coupled with the coaching time that I would spend with, you know, those who are truly ready to do the work. 

Jewels: So tell me a little bit about the community. What’s involved in the community? How does that come together? What would somebody learn if they join the community? Tell me a little bit about that space.


Deana: So it is a membership site. We have sort of a two tiered approach where we’re trying to keep this as accessible as possible. So, and knowing we have millions around the world who could use some more care, we’re trying to keep it accessible. So. What I’m trying to do up front is get those who are ready to do the work to come in and the first thing we address is their nervous system.

And what I mean by that is, and I’m not a chiropractor, but we want to teach those to understand, those who live with pain, to understand what their states of R. So, you know, you’ve heard about fight or flight, you’ve heard about freeze, and you’ve heard about rest and digest. We are meant to be pretty flexible in that process, but when you live with pain, it can be very difficult to be flexible in all of those.

So we want to teach them first how to sort of work with the nervous system so that everything else can kind of fall into place. And then once that work has happened, and it’s some self paced learning, some coaching that goes along with it, and then group work, then we can sort of gently encourage them into the other space, the membership space, where we’re doing a bit more of the deeper dive.

So we do more of the typical lifestyle stuff, like meaningful movement. We talk about nutrition, we talk about, you know, all that stuff. Then there’s community piece, and this is where We really come together to celebrate wins, to commiserate, to not talk too much about the pain, but just sort of be with each other, mentor each other.

I ideally want the community to go through this process, and if they choose to, come out the other end and then mentor others coming in. So I really want this to be about reciprocity as well, giving purpose, you know, to those who perhaps have felt a lack of purpose. That’s an 

Jewels: interesting idea, the idea of purpose, because, you know, I’ve also witnessed firsthand my, my mother, for the last 10 years of her life, basically was chair bound, you know, she didn’t really get up out of a chair too much, she could walk, but, you know, barely with a frame, it was very slow, and as those, that decade sort of progressed, it kind of got worse, and she, you know, there was a point in time where she just didn’t want to do it anymore.

What does that, you know, I can’t do it anymore, idea or that phrase mean to you? 

Deana: Oh, I, that, yeah, I see it personally and I see it in the community as well. So, I’ll, I’ll touch first on the, the community. There are so many stories just like your mother’s who are feeling like they can’t do anything. But anything more and that makes me really sad and part of the reason I do what I do is because the very last words my mom said to me was, I can’t do this anymore.

She told me the day before she passed and I didn’t, it was sudden so I didn’t, would have known that she would have, was going to pass. She said to me, I just can’t do this anymore. And there was so much stress. In her life at that moment, and I was young, just got back from Australia, didn’t understand the full picture, and she passed the next day, so she knew it was just too much, and I don’t want that for our community, there are so many people struggling with the daily, with it.

Existence. And, you know, those words are pretty powerful and we just need to sort of nurture an environment where they feel safe enough that they can do something to build or bolster up that, that ability, that belief that they can do some 

Jewels: things. Do you believe, or is there any evidence perhaps that, that’s, that psychological, that mindset.

Of, you know, I can’t do it anymore. Is that the reason why they pass early? And is there, you know, is there a way to change that mindset, I guess, and have that purpose in your life? And will that give you some longevity that perhaps you may not have had? 

Deana: Right. Oh, great question. Yes, so, I believe, and I don’t know if there’s any research out there, and I’ve seen it with both my parents.

Both parents passed when they were relatively young. I do believe the human spirit is pretty good at judging when time is up. Not to say that we have that control. Maybe we have a little bit of control, I don’t know. Never done the research. But I think there’s a lot to be said about feeling like You’re done.

I just did a podcast actually with a gentleman all dignity and palliative care and end of life care and all that stuff. And I think it’s really important when we’re at that point to understand. That we’ve, in my humble opinion, that we have addressed everything. Meaning, we’ve been given all the options up front to make an informed choice.

Not just about end of life, but if you’re in that moment where you think, I don’t even know if I want to be here anymore. Have you been given every single option? And I honestly don’t believe they have. Yes, I do have a friend who just passed. She, uh, opted in to assisted suicide. Because in her case, absolutely, there was no hope for the future.

None whatsoever, and their quality of life was completely taken away. So I understand why people make that choice. But I think when it comes to the chronic pain community, last thing I want them to believe is that there is no hope. There’s no way out. There’s nothing they can do, because there 

Jewels: is. I think that’s incredibly powerful.

I think, I absolutely think there is. And again, I’ve seen it firsthand where my brother suffered from pancreatic cancer. And he was adamant that he was going to fight it. And as a percentage, he lasted several years. So as a, you know, as a percenter, he was in the top few percent because it’s one of those diseases that takes you very quickly in general.

But he was very strong minded and strong willed. And there were times when I saw him that he looked like he was, you know, already Had passed like he didn’t look very well at all and he went months and months longer and he just kept fighting it right to the very end and conversely I also saw my sister in law who had leukemia and she fought it for a while and then there was a point in time where the pain got too much that you know the whole experience got too much because you know you spend so much time in hospital so you In and out of care, you know, all those kinds of things and she got to a point where she said, I’ve had enough, you know, we went to see her on the Saturday and said, she said, I’m going tomorrow.

So I’m done. She just knew and she did. She passed the next day. So. To me, there’s such, there is a, there’s absolutely a, I can’t justify it and I have no research behind it personally. Um, um, possibly there is, but I just know that there is something in the psyche that helps us get through these things. So.

You know, and that’s part of the reason why I don’t necessarily like to talk about it too much is because the more I talk about it, it brings me down. So if I think about the good things, if I continue to do the things that I want to do, you know, go out and garden, go for a walk, you know, I’m never going to run a marathon.

I’m never going to climb a mountain again. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to. I guess, except that, over the years, but there’s so much that I can do and there’s so much to do. So, to me, the psyche is such a strong, powerful tool. Again, I see it, you know, I’ve got a friend who’s suffering from multiple forms of cancer and has done for over a decade, and he is the strongest person I’ve ever met.

And he’s still going and probably will go for many, many more years. I’m hoping he’s been so sick and you know, there are times when he, I know he’s suffering quite a lot, but he’s always positive. He’s always got a smile on his face. There’s 

Deana: so much to be said about that positivity, that stubbornness in a good way, like a good, healthy stubbornness, I really believe is a huge skill 

Jewels: set.

Yeah, I think the mind is more powerful than we possibly give it credit for. I do agree. Oh, I would like to switch context completely because you provided me an interesting. 

Deana: It was a good conversation. 

Jewels: Absolutely. But tell me about the time you met Geraldo Rivera in a brothel. Okay. 

Deana: I’m sweating this one a little bit.

It is a good icebreaker. I use this one sort of here and there, but. Yeah, I, I like to start off by saying to people, yeah, I am. Do you know who Geraldo Rivera is? He was a, by 

Jewels: the way, he was host was, do you remember him was like a television personality? 

Deana: Yeah. He was a journalist. Journalist. And he was back in the eighties, I think he had one of the biggest watched news cast.

He had the, gosh, now I’m forgetting it. Anyway, the mafia. Head guy. Right. He had a vault that they opened on national television and it was live. Of course, nothing was in there and it was a big flop, but it really turned the page around, you know, live viewership at the time. So anyway, my husband and I were on our honeymoon and we went to Pompeii and we toured around and of course we went to the brothel just cause you look around and see what’s there and.

There’s Geraldo Rivera, and I made the mistake of saying, Hey, now I can tell people I saw Geraldo Rivera in a brothel, and he was really not very impressed. Yeah, fabulous. Understandably. 

Jewels: Zena, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. I could talk to you about pain probably for quite a few hours. So, but in the interest of tying things up, where can the listener find out a little bit more about you and perhaps your community as well?


Deana: sure. Well, thank you for asking. So, you can head to my website. It is pain2possibilities. com That’s pain number 2 possibilities dot com. Lots of free resources on there. Podcast is there as well. YouTube channel is there if you want to. It’s all on the website. And you can reach out anytime. I mean, I’m always up for conversation.

So, if you have questions, feel free to 

Jewels: reach out. And of course, I’ll put those links on the podcast notes. Thank you so much. I appreciate you and I appreciate everything that you’re doing because I think we need more of 

Deana: it. Oh, thank you for this conversation. I had a lot of fun. 

Jewels: Clearly, I could have spoken with Dina for hours about pain and pain management.

What I learned is that communication is important to help others understand what you are going through and also to reframe what it is doing to you. Getting your message through to the people who need to hear it takes consistency, mental fortitude. So keep going. Much love, chat soon.

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