I have been in pain for 60+ years. I started to have severe back pain in my early teens. I remember sitting at my desk propping myself up to relieve the pain by resting my ribs on the desk. The pain affected me academically and sports-wise at school. I found standing and walking difficult and still do. My back pain was not correctly diagnosed until I ruptured a disc some 25 years later and it was then that I was diagnosed with Scheuermann`s disease.
My ruptured disc was removed and the surgeon told me my back was a mess and to go home to bed and stay there. Thankfully, I decided I didn’t want to do that so found a very good physio and did 3 sessions a week with her and aqua exercises every day for 3 years. I was partially paralysed in the right leg but slowly I began to walk again. She said I needed to keep moving and to keep fit which was very good advice! So, I decided to start farming as I had always wanted to do this even though you have to be mad to do it with long hours and very little financial reward! This was the best decision ever.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with arthritis in both hips and had both replaced. It has since appeared in my hands, spine, left shoulder and just recently it has been diagnosed in both knees. It makes moving around difficult, but I know I must keep moving or I will seize up. My hands cause problems due to lack of strength so opening bottles and so forth can be very frustrating. I am still working full time as this gives me the motivation to get out of bed each day and keeps me mobile. I have also been diagnosed with osteomalacia, bursitis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, Sjogren’s syndrome and neuropathic pain in both feet so my musculoskeletal conditions are wide and varied!
I have put together my top ten tips that I have found useful – I hope you find them so too.
- Keep pain where it is. Don’t let it get into your head.
- Don`t catastrophise. Pain is just an indication that something is not quite right. Don`t let pain be number one in your life. There are more aspects to you than your pain.
- Don`t ask “Why me?” as the answer is “Why not you?” More than 7 million Australians live with a musculoskeletal condition, so you’re not alone.
- Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do. Grieve over the loss but don`t dwell on it. Unfortunately, we all naturally lose function as we grow older which can be hard to accept.
- Take the responsibility for your health into your own hands. Get informed and be your own advocate. You know your body best as you live with it so speak up when you know something is not right.
- Eat well. You only have one body so give it the best care possible.
- Keep moving and keep those joints active. Pacing can help you get through the day.
- Learn to do things differently, e.g. lifting or getting in and out of cars. Try other ways of doing things to see what works for you.
- Each new challenge gives us a choice between being bitter or better. Bitter is soul-destroying and unpleasant for others. I choose better because I want to grow personally and to be my best self.
- Be grateful every day for something.
Our guest blogger
Liz got in touch with us after taking part in our 2020 national consumer survey. She kindly shared her story and her tips for living well with pain.