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My Story – A Journey into Chronic Pain

Posted 8/11/2017

Having written a few blog posts about what I do, it seems to me that it is about time I shared a little about myself, about what drives me, what inspires me.

It’s pretty simple really – chronic pain (Yes, I know the title of the article was a major spoiler…sorry).

Up until 2013, my life was pretty text-book ordinary.  I had a great job, that I loved even though I acted like I didn’t.  I had a big house, a sports car, nice clothes in a dress size I was pretty happy with, a cute son and a fulfilling marriage.  The picture that accompanies this post is me back in the days when this was my life.

Three breast lumps that eventually turned out to be nothing to worry about, a burglary whilst we slept upstairs and bit of a breakdown later, I started to experience abdominal pain.

It started as cramps, the doctor muttered menopause with disinterest and referred me for a scan which revealed nothing and I was cast adrift by the medical profession and told to take ibuprofen as required.

As the months went by, the pain got worse, and shifted to my left side.  By the end of 2014, the pain was excruciating, waking me in the early hours and causing total disruption in my life.

I was eventually referred to a specialist who examined my abdomen and felt what she believed was a mass in or around my uterus.  She referred me for a laparoscopy and cystoscopy and told me I had to wait three months for the procedures unless I went private.  Three months felt intolerable and thanks to the good job that I was just about clinging on to, I went private and was seen less than two weeks later.

By this point, I was so desperate that when the surgeon came to see me before the operation, I pleaded with her to remove whatever she needed to in order to make the pain stop.  I signed the permission form and drifted off to sleep in the full expectation that I would wake up without a womb, ovaries, whatever it was that was causing the pain.

I came around a couple of hours later and the surgeon was in the recovery room waiting for me to wake.  I will never forget the desolation or desperation that I felt when she told me that she had found nothing wrong with me at all.  Nothing to explain the pain.  No mass.  No cyst.  Nothing.

I sobbed.  My husband took me home and I sank into a deep depression as the pain continued and I could see no light at the end of the tunnel.

Somehow I made it back to work a few weeks later but the pain was debilitating by now, my sleep was so broken that I was exhausted and my ability to concentrate was severely compromised.

A doctor finally agreed to prescribe me something to help in late 2015.  I was put on an anti-depressant which is no longer used to treat depression but is regarded as helpful for chronic pain.  The doses were slowly increased and the pain reduced fractionally.

The biggest problem though was sleep – I was always asleep.  The drugs made me exhausted, numbed every emotion and hammered the final nail in the coffin of what was the old pre-pain version of me.

I was gone.

By the end of November 2016, I was no longer working having had to quit in the summer due to my inability to walk (my hips had effectively seized up and I was restricted to just a shuffle).  I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, gained over 20lbs in weight and I was lost in a haze of depression and self-pity.  Oh, and I still had the abdominal pain!

After a long talk with my husband, we decided that if I was still getting the pain anyway, maybe the time was right to try life without the pills again.  It was time to find out how much of how I felt was me, and how much was the medication side effects.  It was no longer clear to either of us who I truly was.

I wanted to try and find myself again.  I knew that somewhere, buried deep in the over-weight, exhausted, fuzzy minded version of me that I was living with, it was still possible that I was in there.

More next time…..

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