Finish Line™ Story: Georgie Amott-Stewart
When Georgie Amott-Stewart first presented to the POGO physiotherapy practice in 2013 she was broken on a couple of levels.
After an incident at work, the cancer care nurse experienced debilitating back pain on and off as a result of a herniated disc.
What she may not have realised in the early stages was the impact that chronic pain would eventually have on her normally positive outlook on living an active life.
Having now emerged from what was sometimes weeks at a time of aching back pain and uncertainty, 32-year-old Georgie has nothing but praise and admiration for her “POGO family” she says helped to heal her holistically.
“I can’t tell you just how much I love these guys,” she says.
“As a person who works in the medical space … there are a lot of practitioners who don’t realise just how important the psychological and emotional side of the equation is. The more stressed and anxious and down you are with what is happening, and your physical ailments, the less motivation you have to do something about it. You can kind of give up on yourself.
“For example, I went to an osteopath who told me ‘some people with disc bulges have pain and some don’t’. I said ‘that’s fine … but I do’.
“That’s what sets POGO and Brad Beer apart. They are good at what they do in a practical sense, but also understand the whole person. To me that was everything.
“Obviously the physical rehab was important for me but to be honest most of mine was ‘upstairs’ rehab and Brad identified that early.”
Brad says the POGO mantra is to take a holistic approach, first and foremost to treat the individual.
“Good healthcare extends well beyond the dimensions of a patient’s physical pain or limitations, it encompasses the overall wellbeing of the individual,” he says.
“Sometimes just pausing amidst everything that needs to be done in the confines of the session, looking a patient in the eye and asking ‘how is this making you feel?’ can be very therapeutic for someone on an extended rehabilitation journey.
“There may be many low points psychologically during a rehab process and being assured that people are with you can be powerful.”
Georgie traces her physical issue back to a nursing shift.
“I’d caught a patient who was falling, even though you’re not supposed to. It was just natural instinct I suppose,” Georgie says.
“I had some issues with my back on and off. In 2012 I had a real flare-up, but I’d ignored it and hadn’t done the rehab that I should have.
“I was doing some Pilates which helped. I started seeing Brad and was immediately impressed. Not only was he fantastic and really knew his stuff, he also understands that a big part of rehab is psychological and that for me was really important.
“I was just resigned to the fact that this pain was an issue (that I’d always have). And to be honest I was not in a good place mentally about that.
“He helped me realise that it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Georgie became a regular face at POGO Pilates classes – particularly those run by Emily Georgopoulos who “pushed me to my limits” – as she worked on improving her core strength.
“If I did certain bending or lifting in the wrong way at work it would just flare up. And then I’d be taking painkillers and anti-inflammatories for a week or two,” she said. “Every time it happened I’d think ‘oh no, here we go again’.
“One time I did something really stupid when I was over in Thailand … diving through one of those burning hoops and landing on my back. I came back to the Gold Coast, I was not in a good way and sheepishly went to POGO.
“Brad said something like ‘setbacks happen, you’ll be right, we’ll get you right’. So I feel like he’s always been there for me.”
Georgie left Queensland, returning to Melbourne to study teaching as the physical and emotional demands of nursing took a toll, and the spectre in the background of a troublesome back chipped away at her self-confidence.
“I had a few little flare-ups over the years but stayed positive, remembering what Brad had told me,” she says. “And I kept up Pilates and that’s something that has helped me all the way through.”
Having made the decision last year to return to the Gold Coast, Georgie had yet another flare-up in August but decided to tough it out.
“I just thought to myself ‘I’m just going to get through this and get back up there and I’ll go and see Brad’. Unfortunately the drive up here really tipped the lumbar herniation over the edge and I ended up with severe sciatic issues on the left side.
“I made a beeline for POGO and Brad suggested I see a specialist because maybe surgery was the best option.”
Although in the public system, Georgie says she “got lucky” and about six weeks later in mid-January this year found herself emerging from a general anaesthetic having undergone a microdiscectomy to trim away problem areas compressing the nerve.
“The pain ruined my memory for a good few months,” she says.
“The minute I woke up from surgery and wiggled my toes I thought ‘sweet, this is better’.
“I had been on so much medication, which I hate, leading up to the operation and while I was comfortable it didn’t really take the pain away.
“It was just a pleasure dealing with everyone at POGO. I started the rehab, they all communicated so each of them knew who I’d seen most recently, where I was in my program and how I was progressing.
“That became my entire focus, go and see POGO, and knowing they would get me through.
“I spent a lot of time there and I was mentally relying on them to keep me sane. But they’ve encouraged me to try new things and I now have confidence to do that.”
Georgie is now in the final stages of completing her Masters in Teaching, still working part-time as a nurse on the Coast and helping a naturopath in supporting clients with gut health with Helminth Therapy which has also become something of a passion.
And while running is not really her thing, the keen swimmer has aspirations to tackle the Noosa Triathlon later this year.
“Whether I actually complete it or not is yet to be decided but I will be there for the weekend, that’s for sure,” she says.
Physio With A Finish Line
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