My first taste of pain and injury was when I was only three years old.We had a car accident and I had my lower lumbar joints damaged as well as whiplash injuries to my neck. No one knew this at the time, though, and by the time I was nine I was having X-rays on my back to find out why I was in so much pain.
I remember all through primary school suffering lots of head and neck aches and having a lot of difficulty learning. I have since realised that I suffered a perceptual form of dyslexia, which, although this is a hereditary condition, may have been made worse by my neck injuries.
When I was five and a half years of age, I suffered a severe electrical shock at home. My Dad was leaning on the meter box on the front veranda and I was hanging onto his arm while we watched the thunder and lightning show during a summer storm in January. Well, lightning struck the wires across the road, ran down our power line, through the meter box and through my Dad. It picked me up and slammed me onto the floor. Boy, that really hurt!
As if I didn't have enough to worry about, now God was getting in on the act and smacking me too!
I went on through puberty playing sport, but not successfully, and the pain only got worse as I got older. My dyslexia meant I left school at 15 and I found that I was working like a slave because it seemed to ease the pain.
In 1985, while sitting at traffic lights behind the wheel of a small two-tonne truck that had seats that only came up to my shoulder blades, I was hit from behind by a fully loaded bus. As you can imagine, this went down well with my already damaged spine. I ended up with two compression fractures in my thoracic vertebrae and a lot more damage to my neck and lower back.
In 1997, I had CAT scans, MRI scans and an angiogram done because I was constantly suffering from what I thought was angina. The scans proved there was nothing wrong with my ticker and that the pain was caused by musculoskeletal problems.
The other scans proved the old compression fracture injuries and also confirmed that I no longer had any disc material in my L5/S1 joint and scoliosis of the neck, plus degenerative disc disease in virtually my whole spine.
When I overdo things or even if there's just a change in the weather, I end up with all the classic symptoms of a heart attack that usually put me on my back in bed. It is so hard to breathe, my "survival alarm" is constantly going off in my head, telling me I'm about to die and I get all the classic aching up the left side into my neck and jaw as well as down my left arm.
So, I usually just lie there and dismiss it. I fear that I won't wake up one morning because I have dismissed this pain once too often. But then that's another story - and one I am not going to bother worrying about.
The thoracic spinal injury involves all the nerves that go through to my heart, lungs, chest, diaphragm and other areas of the upper torso. This has not been medically proven but this pain is there every week.
I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia in early 2002 but after doing some research, I believe I have suffered this accursed pain condition all my life. And that includes all the pain/pressure points, swelling of joints, IBS, head and eye problems.
I have had lots of physio, which helps a bit. Chiropractic treatment was unsuccessful.
In my early 20s a doctor put me on Voltarin tablets and two years later I had a gastric ulcer. Since then, I have not been able to take anti-inflammatory drugs and have had all sorts of digestion problems.
In my mid-20s I had some acupuncture with an Australian certified Chinese GP who was an official with the profession's association in Australia. This man was near retirement and learnt his trade in China. Boy, did he know his work. Some of the needles were four inches long and although a bit frightening, they did the job – it felt so good. Unfortunately, I ran out of money and couldn't keep it up, but after six weeks of treatment the effects lasted nearly four months.
In the late 1990s, I had facet joint injections in my lumbar spine. What a wonderful feeling! But unfortunately the good effect only lasted a day.
In 2003 after taking what I thought were harmless painkillers (prescribed - Tramadol) a doctor put me on an anti-depressant. Within two weeks I put on 16 kilos and returned to the doctor saying I could barely get out of bed and felt like dying. They said it would subside after a while so I persevered.
I remained bedridden for the next nine months until my wife at the time took me to hospital in a pre-convulsing state. My brain was screaming at me and my arms felt like they were being thrown
around by a poltergeist. My body was jerking and I couldn't hold my eyes still. I felt like I was going to die.
The doctor decided I had serotonin syndrome and gave me another tablet that was supposed to be an antidote. I spent the next six days and nights pacing the corridors of that hospital without one second of sleep, I was so cerebrally irritated.
My body had gone through a most dangerous episode yet 10 days later I was sent home with no medication except what I decided to get from the chemist. Typical doctors!
So, since weaning myself off all those deadly drugs and thanks to the doctors who prescribed all those other drugs, all I can now take is paracetamol with a little codeine. Any whiff of a substance that works on the serotonin pathways or a little too much of any strong drug triggers another serotonin syndrome rage. The drugs I take now do very little to help my pain levels.
I have been trying to get into the Fremantle Hospital pain clinic for the last year but because I live in the country it has become a nightmare to organise and I am still waiting.
The effects the injuries and the fibromyalgia have had on my life have been profound.
I haven't worked since 2002. I suffered through a difficult marriage for 15 years, most of the problems stemming from my belief that I was no good as a man anymore. I am now middle-aged and my 88-year-old Dad is in better shape than me. Cheeky bugger!
I have lost friends and acquaintances who, when I say I can't work, look me up and down suspiciously. You can see they think I am a bludger and a sook or hypochondriac.
In the 30-odd years I was employed, I worked 55-plus hours a week, did most of the housework and all the outside work at home plus worked at my parents' house to help them out. I guess I was remaining active, because it was always too painful to just sit.
I am now the primary carer of my four kids aged 10 to 17. I do all the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, mending etc. The thing that hurts most emotionally is that I can't wrestle or play sports with my boys or run around with my daughter or go swimming with them. The pool in my town is just too cold for me. It isn't heated so I can't even use it therapeutically.I am not the kind of man who kicks his jaw around very much and I rarely ever get depressed. Although I don't like being judged and yes, I do feel guilty sometimes, I am of the mindset that I will eventually be able to work again one day.
If I can just get into this pain clinic.