Today is Fibromyalgia awareness day, and although I dont have the specific condition I know partly what it is to live with chronic pain.
It can be a debilitating condition with the added disadvantage of being more importantly, invisible to those around you.
I was diagnosed with Chronic Regional Neurological Pain in 2015, after suffering with unexplained pain in my left arm for around four years.
All I wanted was a miracle cure that was going to take the pain away, and yet I went for countless hospital appointments and tests, and still they couldnt diagnose me with any of the typical conditions that are commonly associated with pain.
It was extremely hard on those around me as they didnt know how to help, and dare i say it, whether my pain was real.
I built my hopes up before every appointment with different consultants, hoping that they had perhaps missed something and would be able to diagnose and fix whatever was causing me pain, and after each appointment I came out a tearful wreck.
The only thing that kept me going was that I knew what I was experiencing was entirely real, and extremely painful.
Finally after a few years of Physical Therapy, which unfortunately didnt improve the situation, medical tests and consultant appointments all of the experts conceded that there was nothing else to be done and I was referred to a pain specialist.
This felt like an utter defeat, after all, my hopes had been pinned on getting to a pain free point with out the use of medication.
I went to see the pain consultant and I actually found it extremely helpful, not only was he the first person in the medical profession that had treated me as though what I was experiencing was real and valid, but he also took the time to explain the situation.
I found out that the body can in fact experience pain, with out there being a physiological reason why your body is reacting in the way it is.
So in short the nerves in my arm were in fact experiencing pain, but it is the fault of the brain as it is sending pain signals to the nerves.
So the next step was to try appropriate medication to combat the pain I was experiencing.
Again it is extremely unfortunate that everything I tried didnt seem to work, and I was very reluctant to pump my body full of drugs.
As a present I was bought a Tens machine, which doesnt sound like a very interesting gift, but you would be wrong.
It has been one of the most useful presents I think Ive ever had, using the Tens machine has meant that I can get rid of a certain level of pain with out resorting to taking medication.
This combined with being more active, and strengthening my body to help deal with pain has worked better than most things Ive tried over the years.
I currently feel lucky that over the last six months or so I have had a relative grace period from pain, but I know it is a very real possibility that it could get worse as well as improve.
These are just some of the things Ive experienced as someone living with a chronic pain condition, it can be hard, and it does change you, but until we find a way of stopping the pain, for better or worse, chronic pain sufferers we are united.