For as long as I can remember, I have lived with pain. During my teens I developed a number of health issues which later contributed to a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, a condition which means that for pretty much every minute of every day, I’m experiencing pain on some level. And so it was really quite unfortunate that, to add to my existing issues, I started to develop problems with my back, something which has deteriorated over time.
At high school, maybe in year seven or eight, I can remember a nurse coming into school to check us all for scoliosis, curvature of the spine. I remember lining up on the corridor to the girls changing rooms, where we were told to remove our shirts (I specifically remember this as, sods law, I wasn’t even wearing a crop top that day!), bend over and touch our toes. And two weeks later I can remember my Mum receiving a letter, a hand written letter, from the hospital to say that I had scoliosis and needed to go to the hospital for an X-Ray.
I wasn’t at all worried, I was simply excited to have a morning off school, and I had lay on the bed, had my X-Ray and, at the follow up, half listened as the doctor told my Mum that I should carry my school bag on my right hand shoulder to try to correct the curve, but other than that, it may simply straighten over time. And that was that.
The back pain probably started in my teens, waking in the night with stabbing pains in my upper back, pacing back and forth across the landing, unable to find a position which helped the pain, nor bend my arms in a way that meant I could knead the area where my pain was at its worst. By the time I hit my twenties I was relying heavily on pain killers, heat packs, hot baths and infra-red massage apparatus, bought from Argos, in a desperate bid to find some relief – all of which did nothing!
During my pregnancy with Lewis I developed sciatica, the worst, shooting pains through my lower back, down my leg and into my foot. For the last twelve weeks of my pregnancy I went to weekly physiotherapy sessions with the midwife who assured me that after I gave birth I would feel an instant relief, which I did.
It was only when I fell pregnant with Joseph, eighteen months later, that my sciatica returned. This time, I found the pain only slightly improved after giving birth and so, for the next few years, I managed on a cocktail of drugs from the doctor – pain killers, nerve blockers, back and forth to physiotherapy, but never really getting anywhere.
Just a couple of months after getting together with Gaz, during our first romantic weekend away, I had fallen getting out of the shower, slipped on the wet floor, and smashed my back onto the rim of the bath, breaking it in the process. And I have never known pain like it!
The recovery was long and frustrating, lay in bed for the first few weeks, taking massive amounts of pain killers, watching endless DVDs, with Gaz having to help me shower, dress and care for Lewis. If I hadn’t known it before, I realised then that he was a keeper, and we often joked that I had fooled him into thinking he was my boyfriend when infact he was my carer.
By the end of the year, after months of physio, I was pregnant with Eva, and my sciatica returned. And although I felt some relief after she was born, getting pregnant with Megan so soon after, whilst having to lug around a 6 month old baby, meant that the damage to my back was worsening every day.
So when I fell pregnant with Harry just three months after having Megan, my sciatica was at an all time worst. To add to that, at eight months pregnant, holding Megan in my arms, I had slipped at the top of the stairs, fallen right the way to the bottom, and broke my coccyx.
Given my history, and my fears for the safety of my baby, I refused all pain relief other than paracetamol and opted for acupuncture to try and cope with the pain for those last four weeks. The acupuncture gave an instant relief initially, although the effects lasted for only a day or two, but towards those final days I was in constant pain and in all honesty, I was utterly miserable.
Giving birth is painful enough, but throw in a broken coccyx, and a baby who is lying back to back, and it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences!! Afterwards, the recovery was slow, and I was passed from pillar to post in the hope of finding some relief.
Over the last two and a half years I have seen countless physiotherapists, orthapeidic doctors, chiropractors and even an osteomyologist. I’ve had months of hydrotherapy, relied heavily on pain killers, and spent hours in the shower with the hot water providing temporary relief. And in terms of the impact on my life, it has been huge, to be in that much pain, every single day, and still have to go about my daily routine, lifting the children in and out of their car seats, running the hoover round, lugging in the shopping bags from the car, the things that I once took for granted now such a struggle.
I think the biggest relief came from the chiropractor who offered a range of services from acupuncture, massage therapy, nutrition, autogenic and functional training. After each session I felt as though I could move a little more freely, that my pain was significantly less, that there was finally some hope of reaching a point where I would finally be pain free.
Unfortunately, and I should know by now that things are never straight forward when it comes to me, things have become a little more complicated. Following a series of X-rays and MRI scans, I have now developed bulging discs in my neck and spine, something which cannot be corrected without a more surgical approach. I am waiting to see the orthopaedic surgeon next month for my pre-op appointment and I am hoping that by the spring I will be well on my way to taking my first steps to recovery!
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