I had the pleasure of meeting (remotely) and chatting with Barbara McLullich recently. She is inspirational and she kindly agreed to share her back pain story with me, and how she came to set up her award winning blog, all about back pain. So I have pleasure in including her story below:
My 38-year journey with back pain
(… and how the ‘therapeutic’ writing of blogs, like this one, should be recommended by the NHS for chronic-pain management)
By Barbara McLullich, multi-award-winning UK back-pain blogger
Back in 1983, when I was in my late 20s, I ended up in hospital on traction for a disc bulge. I left hospital no better and with permanent nerve damage to one of my legs. Over the following five years I visited osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists who all tried their best to correct my significant trunk shift.
Eventually I was seen by a neurosurgeon who found I had Spina bifida occulta, disc herniation and canal stenosis and I was advised to have surgery sooner rather than later. The timing could not have been worse as I had just relocated from Cheshire, where all my family lived, to Nottingham for a job move for my husband.
My children were aged four and seven and the recovery was slow and at times extremely difficult, but somehow I got through it. Two years later I started to develop problems with neck pain and, after a myleogram showed serious cord compression and another prolapsed disc, I was rushed in for emergency surgery. I had a two-level fusion in my neck and the pain relief was instant and recovery very quick, but I was never completely without pain.
The following nine years were a haze of good and bad days seeing various people from complimentary therapies to pain consultants. I also ran a couple of my own businesses, but I had to close them both due to my health. I told myself that my businesses had not failed, but that it was my own health that had failed me. It was far from life-threatening, just life-changing.
By the late 90s I was prepared to try anything to help with my pain and I underwent two further spinal surgeries to my neck and lumber spine in a bid to get pain-free. Unfortunately this didn’t do the trick, so I made a conscious decision that I would never have any further surgery.
Pain relief from then on was initially injections until one went badly wrong and nearly killed me. It was quite a while after that incident before I could even put my foot through any hospital door, but eventually I went to see an amazing pain consultant who seemed to take me under his wing and cared for me, treating me with different types of injections, medications and therapies available to me on the NHS.
I kept many a diary over the years and it was reading through them one day that gave me the idea to start writing a blog on my back problem. I think initially it was an escape route where I could go and chat to other people with similar problems. I decided to learn all I could about pain management and I took a home study course and started blogging more regularly. My blog was growing from strength to strength and I started winning awards for it, which for someone who only left school with two GCSEs was quite an achievement.
I started to write a few other blogs and they became part of my everyday life. Being able to write anywhere and at any time fitted in with my pain perfectly. I have made so many friends from all over the world through my blogging. I’ve met people like myself in chronic pain, I’ve tried different products that have helped with pain relief and been introduced to many supportive individuals, like health ergonomist Nichola Adams, to whom I am grateful for this opportunity to share my story.
To me, blogging is like travelling the world without leaving your house. I think it should be included in the NHS list of how to cope with chronic pain. I have found writing my blogs very therapeutic. If anyone reading this would like to follow me, or join in any conversations on my posts, then please head over to my main site https://backpainbloguk.com or my personal website https://barbaramclullich.co.uk as this site also has all my other blog posts on it and they both have links to all my media sites.
Thank you and, whatever journey you are on, whether you’re managing your own back-pain issues or just learning how best to avoid the risk of back injury, at work or at home, I wish you well.