You don’t think about your body, unless it goes wrong. I mean, a normal person isn’t aware of their legs, because they just say: “Right, walk!” You know. Their brain tells them to walk and they walk. Whereas, when you are in pain, you are aware of them all of the time. I feel like my body has got an existence all of its own… …and if it doesn’t want to react in the way that I want it to then there is nothing I can do about it. It’s as if my body’s in two parts. The old good bit, and the pain bit. One bit works, and the other doesn’t. And when it’s bad and I can’t move properly, it’s like my body is not part of me at all. It won’t obey. It is like you are not the same person anymore. People think you’ve changed. People feel different towards you. They treat you differently when they’re around you. I think before I got a sore back I was a lot more cheerful and outgoing But it’s like living with this person who… …who follows you around all the time. You are cursed with her, and she gets in the way. She embarrasses me. She is unsociable, and sometimes downright rude. I know it is me, I know it is not ‘some person’, but… it’s not me. That’s not me. I am not like that. My pain makes me a pain. It’s that feeling of knowing that I must be a pain to others. I am unreliable. I’m totally unreliable. That’s how I feel. Everyone is missing out, because of me. I don’t think they know what it’s all about. They don’t understand me. They don’t feel my pain. You feel like you are unimportant, and insignificant. Like you are taking up their time. Like their time is more valuable than yours. Listen to me. Listen to what I tell you. (sigh) They don’t listen. They can treat livers and brains, so why can’t they do something for me? They can do so much that is sophisticated, why can’t they treat just a simple back problem? I just feel like I am being pushed around. They sent me to a Rheumatologist. That was no good. … and now they’ve ended up sending me to a pain clinic. I just haven’t got any faith really. I just want to find out what is causing this pain, all through my body. … and I just meet a blank wall. I feel like a shuttlecock. There was a new doctor that I never met before… …so there I am, talking to yet another doctor… …it’s the same old story. I have been through the test twice already, only to find myself in the same place I am. “Oh, we’re sorry, we don’t really know what the problem is.” “It’s clearly not in our domain.” Let’s hope it’s in someone else’s, hey? Let’s say, this person has a psychological problem. In other words, let’s push it into the realms of psychiatry. Each time you come, they tell you something different. I mean, who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? I’ll have friends that will come up to me: “Hey, you’re looking good.” Ah…and I am feeling absolutely the pits. I mean, just look at me… …can you see any of my aches and pains? My God, I look great, don’t I? So how can you believe me when I say: “This whole body hurts, all over, all of the time!” Nobody can point to anything, so that’s why people can say: “Oh, is it all up in her head?” “Can she really be in this much pain?” … and if I had a crippling arthritis or a disfiguring condition then things would be different… …but because my pain is something that people can’t see… I don’t feel it’s legitimate. I feel like I am always making excuses. Society in general will think that I am making excuses, because there isn’t anything that they can actually see. When I had a broken arm, it was wonderful. Everybody rushed towards me in the supermarket, to help. …and I don’t feel in the least bit guilty, because it was in plaster. Someone said to me… “Oh, you good so good. It’s impossible to see that you are suffering.” I feel like I should look groggy. …that my face should be gray. …that I should wear no make-up. …that I perhaps appear to be too strong. …and when you burst into tears and get upset people say: “Oh dear, it’s a depression.” So, you go in with a smiley face. I don’t think they believe you then, because… …you look too cheerful, you can’t possibly be in pain. I try to keep it to myself. There have been a lot of things I’ve had to give up. I don’t go swimming. I don’t go dancing. I’ve had to give up a lot of … ‘fun things’. I am old before my time. I worked in health insurance for a long time and there were a lot of compensation claims for people with back pain As far as I was concerned, back then, people with back pain were just, … well… bludgers and whingers. I do sometimes think: “Gosh, I hope people don’t think I whinge.” …and I do try, when people ask: “How are you?” to say: “Fine.” …but nobody really wants to know, do they? There was a colleague of mine…. …who had chronic back pain. …and you were frightened to ask: “How are you?” …because you would always get this …long… drawn out, kind of boring thing. My God, I never want to be like that. …but your body speaks to you all the time. You have to learn to interpret the signals. …become aware of your limits. Now, I usually pace myself with what I’ve got to do on a daily basis. I know what I can and what I can’t do. Unlike before, when I used to clean the house in a whole day. Now, I just do a little piece of work each day. …and if I have decided to do the cleaning the next day and I don’t feel well, then I’ll skip it. I think I demanded a lot more of myself before. When I finally did accept that, OK, I was going to have to do things differently…. I shifted my energies to the stuff that gives me pleasure. This has pushed me to take more control of my life. Sometimes it’s hard, but try to find ways to do what you want to do. Focus your mind on possibilities. That’s what I do. It’s easy to talk though. Isn’t it?