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In this new series, I invite Guest Bloggers to share their chronic pain stories and how they cope with chronic pain. The aim is to help understand how others cope with their pain and to share different pain management options that may be different to my own.?In this first post, entrepreneur and author, Jennifer Gilmour, talks about her back pain and the challenges she has faced on her chronic pain journey.
If you’d like to write a Chronic Pain Stories guest blog post, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Jennifer for being the first to share your story!
I am delighted to be on Alice?s blog today and for something I have never written in depth about before so it makes a change from my usual work.?
As soon as I saw Alice?s blog I knew I needed to invest some time in reading it, simply because I developed a back problem last year.?
So here is my back pain journey
In the beginning
August last year I started a bout of ill health, I had an engorged and painful breast which didn?t reduce with antibiotics. I had a breast scan and they found a lump, a sample was taken straight away which was also unexpected and the wait began. Thankfully it came back negative but whilst I was waiting I had developed a pain in my side, not knowing how it got there I was put on the waiting list for an MRI. The chemist had stopped serving me for Solpedine which had become my only way to be pain free for some weeks. I then went onto Zepain for a couple of weeks until I couldn?t bare the pain again as it wore off.?
One night the pain became so intense that I had to hold my breath to stop it from hurting. I have no idea why I do this holding breath thing but I do it whenever I am in pain. It caused me to not have enough oxygen to my body and so resulted in having an episode. I couldn?t move it was like I was stuck there and my brain had switched off. My husband called an ambulance and I was struggling, to the point where I couldn?t talk; I had lost control of everything and tears were streaming down my face. I didn?t know whether I was having a stroke and my husband was very concerned. They seemed to take forever and he was back on the phone to them to say I had gotten worse when I couldn?t catch my breath. Thankfully, they did come and they were lovely; they put me on the gas and air straight away as they knew what had happened. It took 15 minutes for me to start to regain my motion back and the paramedics weren?t happy with my cardio results. I went into hospital and I had some kind of episode; I actually woke up in resus. My body had gone into shock with dealing with the pain for so long, or that?s what the docs thought. I was diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus?(EBV) on top of all of this.
I came away going onto tramadol and a few weeks after, morphene, to deal with the pain as it wasn?t getting better and I had little sleep as I couldn?t get comfortable. I eventually had an MRI scan as pain had moved from my side to my back, and discovered a slipped disc! When I found out weeks later I laughed and cried! Laughed because it took so long for the pain to have an answer and I was concerned that it hadn?t gotten any better. Cried because I had an answer at last and relieved it wasn?t anything else so sinister. I was referred to the pain clinic. I was limited to what I could do and after a week, I was sent for a physical assessment and they had informed me my treatment was exercises to help it. I questioned it because I was in so much pain and I said I know this can help in the long term but asked what’s the treatment for the slipped disc. The lady insisted it was her exercises despite not being able to do them because of the pain. I felt like no one had listened to me and had no one to turn to. ?
Toward the end
I was in agony and in the end after getting no where I went for a second opinion and went private. They had informed me I have something called Disc Pain which basically causes the pain I am in. The disc is aggravated and as it had been a while since I had developed the symptoms and it wasn’t getting better, the consultant informed me that if something isn?t done about it then it could rupture and there’s no turning back from that. He said he would like to get me in for a procedure within the next couple of weeks. I booked it not caring about the fee; we couldn?t wait to be referred through the NHS because that could have taken a further 12 weeks just to be under the same consultant again. I had it done and it couldn?t come sooner. After a couple of days I started to feel the benefits and after a couple of weeks I was already reducing my medication and on my road to being pain free.?
What my pain is like now
I have to be mindful. If I go for a long walk I have to prepare that the next day I am going to be in some mild pain but it isn?t anything like what it used to be.?
I am completely off the big painkillers and only have paracetamol for those times I need some relief. I use my hot water bottle, heat wrap and heat lotion from Forever which all work a treat. There’s nothing like a hot bath as well.?
I was very thankful that my work is all home based because I was in so much pain that I would have had to take time out of a full time job. I never knew what kind of day I was going to have. Most of the time I am sitting for my writing work.?
You can?t put a cost on being pain free. I spent ?1,200 on my procedure alone and it was the best thing we did because it gave me my freedom back. I am now sleeping well and getting my old life back.?
Who would have thought a slipped disc could bring this much pain and disruption. In my eyes it seemed like a common problem that needed help.?
To the reader
Keep going if you are in pain, there is always an answer to help or reduce the pain you are in. The easiest thing to do is to give in but it’s difficult to come back from this if you do. I believe that everyone can be helped in some way.?
Born in the North East of the UK, I am a young, married mum with three children. I am an entrepreneur, running a family business from my home-base. My debut novel, ?Isolation Junction? was published in 2016.
Since this publication I have continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through my blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed.
My second publication was released in October 2017. I have put together stories told to me by survivors of domestic abuse. In this way, I hope to give a voice to their experiences and to raise awareness of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse. Thankfully the law has changed to incorporate this kind of insidious behaviour but still far too many people are trapped, isolated and afraid or unaware of how to escape. I hope that this anthology will give them the courage to take that first step and will raise awareness for those who can help them.
Thanks again to Jennifer
Thank you for your honesty about your back pain journey. I also suffer from a type of back pain, so I can empathise with some of the challenges and struggles that you talk about. I agree with the advice to ‘keep going’ – it’s not easy but small steps every day can really help.
I share some of my own tips and advice in my post?10 ways to cope with chronic pain.
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