Daphne Fung . Esoteric Acupuncture. Photo Nev Madsen / The Chronicle
Daphne Fung . Esoteric Acupuncture. Photo Nev Madsen / The Chronicle Nev Madsen

'I was too scared to eat anything'


AFTER living with chronic pain issues, including migraines, for 22 years and having to try and test every prescription invented, I look forward to seeing the new national pain strategy to be launched tomorrow.

The strategy will be the first of its kind and calls for a national one-stop website to be set up to educate people about how to manage pain without drugs and where to find help. See story here: We've been wrong about pain all along

It also includes sending doctors back to school to be re-educated about treating chronic pain and patients to be given a Medicare boost - which I hope includes Medicare-covered chronic pain treatments such as regular massages, acupuncture, dry needling and dietician assistance.

My own journey to finding treatments that decrease chronic pain and illness that comes with fibromyalgia has led to a multiple treatment approach, including sticking to a gluten-free and lactose-free diet, trying to include as many anti-inflammatory foods in my diet as possible and others.

While I'm on a good path now after much trials and tests, there were many dark months where I was struggling to get through the next minute, not just the next hour or the day.

Struggling to stay awake an hour after starting work despite more than six hours of sleep the night before.

Too scared to eat anything for fear it would trigger an urgent trip to the bathroom while in the middle of an interview or meeting.

Trying six different types of medications to try and find some relief from the pounding migraine that has you curled up in a ball, hiding under bed covers in an airconditioned bedroom with no other sounds than the hum of the aircon and with tears streaming out of your eyes because the pain is unbearable.

Having multiple heat or cold packs and not knowing which one to use to get rid of that throbbing pain in your shoulder or neck or calf.

Waking up in the middle of the night with severe pain from cramps in your calves.

Restless legs keeping you from getting to sleep.

Anxiety and depression issues because you are sooooo tired from being soooo sick and in pain all the time.

Missing work because all of these things become too much, or the migraine simply won't let you move around without increased intensity.

Saying no to social invites because you fear you will let your friends or colleagues down because something will inevitable be in pain or upset.

This was what it was like for me prior to being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, having a doctor that understood chronic pain and worked with me on the medication side of things, and friends around me that knew someone that knew someone that had the same diagnoses and being able to tell me what worked for them.

Now, I've worked out what works for me, but I can't always afford to do all the things in the same pay cycle.

I try to get regular massages as these do help but money too can be a pain for those with chronic pain illness. So the massages get skipped more than I need because of lack of funds.

Dry needling has been effective in pain management of temporomandibular joint pain and sternocleidomastoid (a major neck muscle) pain. But again, funds are required.

Yoga assists, along with those other treatments, to reduce chronic pain levels and somewhat towards migraines, which I'm still having once a fortnight.

While I haven't tried it myself, I have heard there has been great success of medical marijuana for chronic pain sufferers.