Back in October of 2013 I had just had my formal and was set to graduate high school. I was gearing up for Schoolies week at the same time. My last year at school was pretty good, I had loads of friends, great classes, was working on getting my red P plates for the car and had a pretty great boyfriend. Disaster struck in late October when my boyfriend became my ex-boyfriend unexpectedly. So, like most teenagers, I decided to have a night of drinking in the park with my friends to feel better. We ended up going roller skating first and then disaster struck yet again. While we were on the rink, my friend and I ran into each other and I flew straight over him and landed face first on the ground. Luckily for me, a friend’s mum was a nurse and took care of me while we decided what to do. She got me an ice-pack for my head and kept me calm. It was at this point that we decided it was probably a good idea to go to the hospital. So, a couple of my friends got me into the car and drove me to one of the hospitals down the road. Someone called my parents around this time and told them what had happened. They ended up meeting us at the hospital 20 minutes later. As soon as they arrived we went straight into the emergency room and was seen within, probably 15 minutes. The doctor diagnosed me with a concussion and advised me to stay overnight but I just wanted to get home and sleep, so he asked that my mum check in on me every 4 hours to see how my condition was. The pain sucked but thankfully is wasn’t any worse, like a fractured skull or broken eye socket. This first photo was taken on the night by my dad.
I got better pretty quickly, within a day or two. What was once a lump on my head turned into a huge black eye. I ended up going to graduation and Schoolies week with this black eye which ended in some funny photos and interesting conversations with strangers.
It didn’t bother me too much until I arrived at Schoolies on the Gold Coast when a strange girl grabbed me by the arm and started pulling me and yelling at me to get to a hospital. It took about 3 of my friends to actually get her off me at one point.
After the black eye went away, everything went back to normal. The only thing I had left was some serious and frequent headaches. I started TAFE in January of 2014. This was around the time that I met Gilly. I remember telling him to go and get an eye test done since he hadn’t really ever had one before. When I finally convinced him to go, I decided to get one since I was there. It turned out that Gilly needed full-time glasses and I needed reading glasses as one of my eyes was working faster than the other. This was the first sign that I had more injuries than originally thought from the accident. My headaches were still frequent and I ended up getting an MRI done but it came back clear. I still have the headaches a year later but I had started to learn to ignore them by then.
Fast forward to February 2016. I had just started my Certificate II in Animal Studies and was working at Grill’d Healthy Burgers in the CBD. I remember working one evening, it was only a basic 4-hour shift. I was taking orders and working the till for the full 4 hours, and on my tiptoes due to my short stature. I had done this same shift more times than I can count but for some reason, this shift was different. Work was only a 6-minute walk from mine and Gilly’s apartment but by the time I got to the halfway mark on this day I was holding onto my shoulder in the hope that it would ease some of the pain that had just hit me like a truck. I thought that I might have collapsed in pain if I didn’t keep holding myself. I hadn’t been in so much pain before and I almost called Gilly to come down to me and carry me the rest of the way home.
The pain came and went every now and then but I didn’t think too much about it until my brother came to Brisbane for mum’s 60th that May. He had mentioned at one point that he was seeing a physiotherapist for his shotty knees. It got me thinking, maybe I should give the physio a try, and a week later I was at my first physio appointment.
The physio had a look at me and diagnosed me with whiplash in my neck, scoliosis, rotator cuff injury and also found a strange pressure point in the bottom left of my back. I went for an x-ray the next day to confirm his suspicions and also to check what was causing the pressure point. It was initially thought that I had floating ribs that had moved badly or that the muscles in that area were dry and rubbing together. No doctor believed how much pain I was in, some didn’t believe there was anything wrong in the first place. I eventually went to back specialist, which turned out to be a waste of time. He told me that my pain was caused by sticking my butt out like a ballerina. I was in so much pain at this point that I refused to believe that all of this pain was caused by my butt.
I was in and out of different doctors every other week. Eventually, one doctor believed me but told me they couldn’t do anything and just gave me a prescription for painkillers and sent me on my way. They worked for a bit but not as much as I would like. I took them with me everywhere I went in case the pain came back.
Fast forward to July 2017. I went back to the physio to talk about my knees. I had been struggling with knee pain whenever I kneeled down. I had an x-ray but that came back clear just like everything else had. They had an idea of what it could be but some of the other symptoms associated with my knees didn’t add up or match that diagnosis, so I am now in limbo. I can’t actually kneel at all anymore. I actually worse knee pads that skateboarders wear to work. I was running out of ideas. This is around the same time that I started having trouble walking or standing for long periods of time. So, my next stop was a podiatrist. He diagnosed me as flat-footed, but only when I stand. I ended up ordering some orthotics which have helped relatively well, although I still get sore after an hour or so, which is a lot longer than what it initially was. Before I got the orthotics, I could barely stand or walk for longer than 15 minutes.
Fast forward to now – December 2017. I still have some pain but not as much as I used to. I started going to the gym which helped to build some muscle in my back and legs. I still carry my painkillers wherever I go but I very rarely take them now. It’s a start but essentially, I will always have a chronic pain condition and will have to live with it for probably the rest of my life. It has impacted me quite a bit in the last year or so. I have had to give up on different dreams or careers as they are too physically demanding for me. I won’t ever be a police officer or an anthropologist or a good vet nurse. I am still looking at what I really want to do but I have to limit my options now so it is a bit harder. My anxiety flares up more now than before because I worry so much about whether or not I’ll be able to do something or go somewhere without pain, and what do I do if I do start getting pain. It’s a long road, it’s not a fun road but it’s something that you get used to and learn how to deal with.