Prior to becoming a chronic pain sufferer, that is, someone who experiences daily pain for three months or more, I had led a busy life. Post pain, it has been devastating to have to adjust to a vastly different life.
The onset of excruciating back and pelvic pain occurred suddenly in 2005, its causes having various doctors baffled.
In the early stages of being in pain, large doses of various over-the-counter pain medications and the prescription drug Panadeine Forte did not help much, and Endep (an anti depressant) did not help with sleep but seemed to increase my agitation.
A GP prescribed Digesic, so, with 12 or more of them daily (later reduced) and a small dose of the anti depressant, Avanza, I was able to sleep at night.
I do recall that one day a specialist who'd noted this dose, said something like: "Hell! It's a wonder you're still standing!" It certainly was a lot for me because, prior to the pain, I rarely used any pain medication.
I was also prescribed antibiotics on the basis that I might have osteitis pubis (inflammation of the pelvic area), as well as Naprosyn, Colafac, Buscopan and Tramadol.
For well over two years, I had many bad days, propped up by Digesic and/or antibiotics, feeling desperate as I visited numerous medical facilities.
After consultations with GPs, gastroenterologists, gynaecologists, consulting surgeons, an infections specialist, a sports medicine doctor as well as complementary and allied-health practitioners, and having myriad blood tests, three laparoscopies, two colonoscopies, a gastroscopy, a cystoscopy, a bone scan, six pelvic and/or abdominal ultrasounds, four CT scans, five MRIs, four x-rays and a gallium scan, doctors could not identify anything sinister.
I felt frustrated at getting no real answers. It was as though I 'lost' several years of my life immersed in pain, when preparing a meal was the most I could do, and books were my escape.
By late 2007, constant pain was making my life grim. Then, based on 'advice' from one of my sons who had been searching the internet, in December 2007 I had an initial consultation with an innovative gynaecologist from Sydney's Prince of Wales (POW) Hospital who works with a multi-disciplinary team, comprised of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.
My condition was diagnosed as pudendal neuralgia (a painful neuropathic condition caused by inflammation of the pudendal nerve).
Finally, I had a diagnosis and some treatment options, the most effective being the medication, Lyrica; a surgical 'release' of the pudendal nerve; and trigger point injections.
Since that time, medical treatment, advice and support from the team at POW have helped me enormously in managing my condition and not being as 'fearful' of pain as I had been.
As well, I have been able to undertake some work and feel more 'normal' again, and am grateful to have regained some quality of life.