I’ve learned that you have to control your pain; it can’t control you.
I was 12 years old and in Year 7 when I fell on a wet floor in a shopping centre. I fractured my coccyx and ended up with chronic back pain, as well as nerve pain that radiates into my legs and feet.
For the first year it didn’t bother me much, but overnight it worsened. My parents didn’t know what was wrong, so they took me for lots of tests. Eventually we were able to see a paediatric pain specialist privately. We had to wait three and a half months for the consultation. We also saw a neurologist privately.
It cost my parents thousands of dollars. But in the end we got a diagnosis: chronic pain, with no cure.
I missed a lot of school and couldn’t go on camps. I couldn’t play sports or socialise outside of school with my friends; even going shopping or to the movies was exhausting.
My dad would have to drive me to and from school, so it limited my independence too.
By the time I got to Year 12, I had to drop a subject. I took Wednesdays off school altogether, just to rest. My school was very supportive.
It was very difficult to comprehend for a young person, and I’m grateful for the help I received from a psychologist when I was in Year 10, who taught me how to cope with the pain.
I still use those techniques, and I also do intensive physiotherapy, some of it in the pool, to help me strengthen my body.
The ongoing stress of pain weakened my whole system, to the point where I would collapse spontaneously. Some days I could hardly walk, but with the help of physiotherapy, I’ve managed to control it.
I’m now studying at the University of South Australia doing a Bachelor of Laboratory Medicine. I don’t believe in giving up.