By Sharon Perry – Liverpool, England
Hello Everyone, my name is Sharon, I am 37 years old and I am a chronic Pain sufferer. My Husband John, who is Editor of this newspaper [at Disabilities.AFreePress.com] has been asking me for a while to write an article about my struggle with chronic pain. After reading the “Always in Pain” article, I decided to have a go!
In 1998 I was diagnosed with Osteo-Arthritis of the lower back and neck. I remember saying to my G.P. how can I have this; I’m only 30! I was given anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy and a warning to keep mobile, even when in pain! As well as being in pain I felt depressed and nauseous. I found that I could no longer cope with working and was forced to give up my Job due to lengthy periods of sick leave.
This made me feel isolated and useless and left me feeling more depressed. At one point I even thought about suicide as a way out. But I could not do that to my family so I went to see my G.P. again.
He sent me to see an Orthopedic Surgeon to see if there was an operation that could help. There wasn’t and after a series of tests I was diagnosed with another condition on top of the Arthritis called Fibromyalgia, which causes extreme fatigue and muscular pain all over the body. He said that there wasn’t any cure and that exercise and pain killers were the only answer. I had difficulty accepting this and difficulty in accepting that I was Disabled and went into a downward spiral of depression and self loathing.
Over the years my pain has increased and since 2002 I have been in pain every day. Some days the pain is manageable and other days it is excruciating. I find it difficult to do the normal everyday things such as getting up, dressing and housework. I have even been admitted to hospital on various occasions to be given Morphine to help numb the pain! I have attended a pain management course which taught you how to cope with pain and what strategies to use to help you do this, such as Relaxation, Breathing Techniques and gentle stretches and exercises. All this helped but the pain was always there.
Recently, I was given steroid injections in my lower spine. For 5 weeks I did not have any pain; heaven! I could not remember what it was like to have no pain. But now it has come back with a vengeance!
What have I learned so far and how do I do to cope? Well I take each day at a time. I remember that I am not Superwoman and that I have to do little bits and then rest before carrying on; what’s the rush! It has taken me a while to learn to pace myself, but I think that I have mastered it now. My Occupational Therapist told me to listen to my body. I thought she was joking at first but now I know what she meant! If doing something feels wrong, like carrying a heavy bag or bending in an awkward position, don’t do it.
I have also learned not to isolate myself from others as this makes me feel worse. I try to explain to my family and friends how I feel and how pain affects me. Don’t forget pain cannot be seen and your family and friends aren’t mind readers!
But what I have learned the most from my experiences is that you should not be afraid to ask for help. At first I couldn’t do this as I felt that it was a sign of weakness. But with the help of my Husband, family and friends they have made me realise that we all depend on each other to a certain degree, whether we are disabled or not and that it is O.K. to do so.
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