For the past 20 years I’ve lived with a mixed bag of chronic conditions—fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal stenosis—but the pain only became unbearable over the past five.
I ended up using a walking stick and lost the ability to do simple things. I couldn’t do heavy housework and became increasingly reliant on my husband.
Even shopping—which I had always loved as I was once a Corporate Caterer—became something to be endured, not enjoyed.
My bed became a refuge, I lost my joy in life, and pain became the focus.
I visited my my GP in tears, and he took one look at me and said, “You don’t have any quality of life do you?” Finally I felt someone understood and together we worked out a plan.
After some hits and misses, I found a mix of Lyrica, Panadol Osteo and Norspan patches helped enormously. I sleep better and despite some breakthrough pain, I feel able to cope with life.
Although taking the medication means I am no longer able to drive, I am only a 10-minute bus ride to the city, I have a very supportive husband who drives me places, and I can use disability half-price taxi vouchers.
I’ve been using opioids for four years now, and I’ve been on the same dose for the past three. I guess I’m a bit of an opioid success story; I’d have no quality of life without them.
The painkillers are just one part of a holistic approach to pain management, which I learned in a pain management education program at the Pain Management Unit at Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Other strategies I use include daily meditation, pacing my activities throughout the day, taking short walks most days and being active in life again. I’ve even become a consumer advocate for chronic pain in South Australia.
I do get a fuzzy brain and occasional symptoms of depression due to the opioids, but I know how to handle it, I’m very self-aware.
My two small grandchildren have brightened my life immeasurably and can be guaranteed to lift my mood. When I’m with them the pain disappears like magic.