Chris's Story

My names Chris & my chronic pain life started in 2006 when doing a seated leg press at the gym. My right groin gave way and over the next few months, with it still being painful, I grew increasingly concerned as a typical groin strain only takes around 6 weeks to heal. I saw a hip specialist and he assured me that time is a healer. I was training for the Royal Navy at this point and while the pain was there, it didn't prevent me from doing regular 10km runs to keep my fitness levels up to the required standard. My hip specialist also assured me this would cause no further damage.. After one of my runs I began to notice a sharp stabbing pain in my right hip joint that wouldn't pass. Over the next few weeks the pain got increasingly worse and I had to stop all fitness, putting my career on hold... An MRI/Arthogram later showed a bone impingement and labral tear in my joint resulting in the need for a hip arthroscopy (key-hole surgery) with an approximate 4-6week recovery period. With this procedure they shaved down some of the extra bone growth around my hip joint which had caused the cartilage in my joint to tear, they also repaired the torn cartilage. - I had this operation in the summer of 2009 and have been worse ever since. Prior to this I was able to work full time and lead a relatively normal life with bearable pain...

After the operation I was referred to a physiotherapist to help me with my recovery. As the weeks past I wasn't making any progress with my recovery and eventually, after 8 months with my physio, he said there wasn't anything else he could do for me. Over time, I tried many different treatments from acupuncture, hypnotherapy, more physiotherapists, hydrotherapy and an osteopath, all to no avail, then, in the summer of 2011 I started doing studio Pilates. After 3 sessions I began to notice an improvement, my limp had almost disappeared and I could see my body starting to re-align, I don't think I'd ever been happier. I got a new job as a support worker (the navy was completely out of the questions at this point - they wouldn't accept me now given my medical history) but it was too much too soon. It was my third shift after I'd helped lift a mobility scooter from the boot of someone's car when I began with increased pain around my hip. As the day went on I muddled through the pain but it spread all around my lower back and down both of my legs. My heart sank, I could tell it was serious - the sheer area of my symptoms when initially it was just my hip left me worried sick and increasingly concerned. Needless to say, I didn't have the job longer than the 3 days, I left as I didn't want to let them down with me having sick days when I'd only just got the job and I could sense this was no quick fix. I'd never had an emotional feeling like it and haven't worked a day in my life since. After this incident occurred i persisted with the studio Pilates but I couldn't continue. The pain worsened and while before I could easily plough through an hours session, 10 minutes worth left me bed-ridden and in total agony...

I became depressed, I was suicidal and it came to a point around February 2012 I just couldn't go on. The isolation, lack of understanding, the stigma towards chronic pain & depression, decrease in friends and loss of independence to name but a few all became too much. I slit my wrists and took as many pills I could. I didn't want to die l but I didn't want to live the pain either. I woke up to a bloody mess and sick from the tablets but I was alive. I was low and completely broken. I was referred to see a psychologist at the chronic pain team, but it didn't help. My pain was getting worse - I would find that I would adapt to a way of living and manage my pain then boom, an increase in symptoms and an increase in muscle waste, I could see my body deteriorating before my eyes. I was an emotional and physical mess. I did, however, promise myself I would never let my depression get a hold of me like that again...

For the last 3 years I have been completely house-bound, I'm 30 years old who was once so very active, yet now I struggle with the most simple of tasks. I was diagnosed with 'Chronic wide-spread pain syndrome.' (I can't help but see this as an easy diagnosis for conditions the medics have no answers for) and had another unsuccessful Hip Arthroscopy in August 2014. The deterioration continues to get worse and I fear for the future. I have good days and bad days and have a great support system around me with my parents and girlfriend (I'm not sure I would be here if it wasn't for them) but I find the lack of being able to relate to others in a similar situation to me really hard to deal with and the isolation is absolutely soul-destroying. I'm currently waiting to see if I can get a specialised wheelchair to allow me to slouch back as I'm unable to sit at a 90 degree angle, which is also why an electric scooter is no good for me as I can't reach over to the handle bars - I'm praying there's something as the outdoors is greatly missed...

My current symptoms are burning in both of my glutes and down both of my legs as well as sharp stabbing pains - the circulation has got so bad one leg is darker than the other and my legs are permanently freezing. I get back ache and tingling down the right side of my face. Pins and needles are a regular occurrence and I'm unable to pick anything up below waste height...

I find an escape through my writing but I'd be lying if I said I was coping with my health well. I'm forever getting worse physically no matter what techniques I try to help myself. I can't remember the last time I left my flat for pleasure and I'm now waiting for a referral to a different chronic pain team. I'm also expecting someone from the mental health team to come round to my flat. I have become the king at pushing people away, I fear they'll leave anyway so I do it for them and I can now count my friends on one hand, and as for my crutches - they are my enemy yet they strive so much to help...

I know this isn't a success story and I know you as a reader might think I'm in no position to help anybody considering my continued depression and ever decreasing physical state, but, I can. We can all help each other and I'm writing this in the hope it will help even just one person realise they are not alone. Being in pain is one thing and being house-bound is another, but both together they are the devil...

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