William McLoughlin. the national secretary for Chronic Pain Ireland:
William McLoughlin Video Transcript:
My pain started around five and a half years ago – I remember to the second. I was really involved in sports and played a lot of rugby. I was playing rugby and I got tackled – it was a bad tackle – and like that [clicks fingers] my body went numb. I went home, went to bed, and woke up a few hours screaming in level ten pain. It was horrendous, it was like my own personal Saw movie. It took me hours to get to my phone to call an ambulance and was effectively house bound for three months until I got surgery.
The surgery went well, but unfortunately I suffered nerve damage so as a result I have chronic pain and nerve damage since then.
I suffer from pain on a daily basis and it’s not one particular type of pain, it’s a combination of different types. Unfortunately my main problem is pain that feels like a stabbing knife in my back, and it feels like it’s inserted into my spine and twisting. And it causes immense pain when I twist or turn. I also sometimes get shooting, electric type pain, shooting down my legs, it’s like sciatica type of feeling which is very intense. And then, the worst kind, the worst kind is, what’s been described as nerve damage where, I get what feels like a freezer burn. Like a really bad ice burn on my feet, and I could be sitting at home in front of the fire with a blanket on, thermal socks and my feet feel like I’m actually stuck in a freezer. And it just won’t stop. But I’ve learnt to deal with it, I’ve learnt to adjust to it and I’ve learnt to find my own way of dealing with it. And although I have chronic pain it’s not the end of me, I’m finding that I’m able to deal with it a lot better now and my life has improved a lot because of it.
I manage my pain on a daily basis dependent on how each day is. I have to take every day as it comes. Some days are good. Some days are bad. Some days I require medication, some days I don’t. I practice mindfulness and I try and do a lot of relaxation techniques. I notice how my body is, and how it reacts. For example if there’s a breeze or a change in temperature, that can set me off. So I notice this as early as possible and react. So an extra jumper, you know something simple like that. But what I find most important is staying positive about it. About keeping a positive mental attitude, and not letting it get you down. Because I, myself and other people have gone through phases where its, it’s only the pain and that’s it. But there’s so much more to life. And people can get over it, and – it’s been a journey for me and everybody is on their own particular journey. But for me, I found that it’s very rewarding once you get past the initial difficult stage of it, and learn to adjust and learn to just enjoy life again.
My advice for people with chronic pain is to stay in regular contact with their doctors and practitioners. They’re their first port of call obviously. But there’s so many resources out there for people. Voluntary organisations like Chronic Pain Ireland, support groups, health groups, there’s so many things out there. And my main piece of advice is - don’t let it get to you. Don’t feel that there’s nothing out there, don’t give up hope. There’s always hope. And there’s always other people going through it and all you need to do is just get in contact with them, share your story, listen to other people’s stories and you realise you’re not on your own.
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