I recently turned 25 years old. I am a young woman who has lived with major chronic disabling pain for the past decade. I have had 2 major spinal surgeries (3rd one pending) and more hospital stays, surgeries and needles than I can count. I experience sciatica, numbness and tingling in my right leg due to a disc prolapse I had at a young age – with an unknown cause. Doctors dismissed my initial pain as ‘growing/period pains’ when I was complaining as a 12 year old and only helped when I pushed and advocated for myself. Things did get worse though, after a domestic dispute 3 days after my first spinal surgery at 16, resulting in failed back surgery syndrome when my former partner pushed me against the wall during an argument. I also have bilateral carpal tunnel (surgically corrected with little improvement) , tendonitis and bursitis in most of my major joints (shoulders, elbows, wrist, hips and knees), live with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

I have experienced ill health since birth - being born with a rare, but common (in premature infants) deadly infections called necrotizing enterocolitis, where I got life-saving surgery within hours of my birth and was incubated for months as a baby. Thus having had bowel and stomach pains all my life. Essentially, I have never experienced a pain-free, healthy life, and live with chronic pain on a constant basis, battling its challenges daily. At age 17, I had a thymus tumor removed from behind my sternum resulting in permanent numbness and pain on my right torso.

Regardless of the hurdles and my disabilities, I have grown up to be a strong woman, who is passionate about making a positive impact on the world and want to raise awareness about chronic pain and invisible disabilities! I would appreciate and would flourish the opportunity to work with Chronic Pain Australia to share my story and the ways I’ve overcome challenges, whilst dealing with chronic pain and poor health since the day I entered the world. I have passionately studied and worked within public and population health, currently working at an organisation called Women with Disabilities Victoria, working hard to empower and advocate for/with women with disabilities.

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