10 years of terrible pain

Last updated 05:00 12/06/2014
Debbie Murray with her husband Glenn Smart, whom she describes as "wonderfully tolerant and calm".

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Reading the numerous stories about people battling daily with "invisible illness" I felt compelled to add to my contribution.

I am a 41-year-old female who looks perfectly fine from the outside in, but when it comes to the inside out, well that's another story. Sometimes I think it would be easier to look physically unwell as well as being physically unwell. But I am blessed with an incredible family, friends, work colleagues and management team.

At 32, I had my first bout of deep vein thrombosis and multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli. I then had a second bout five months later that resulted in substantial scaring in my lungs, particularly the right lobe, as well as being diagnosed with Tietze's syndrome, a severe version of costochondritis.

The scaring results in stabbing pains and breathlessness often, but the Tietze's syndrome has resulted in nearly 10 years of terrible pain - a searing, ripping, tearing sensation in my chest. The pain radiates pain between every rib both back and front, and down my arms. The severity often inhibits movement as simple as lifting a can of baked beans out of the supermarket trolley. It is consistent, and although the pain can be rather simplistically treated, the treatment options are not possible for me. I have to take anticoagulation drugs for life due to the clotting issues, and the clashing medications would be dangerous. The warfarin is a must so it wins out.

In September last year I had another bout of clots, and since then the pain has intensified further still with periods in which I can do little more than cry and take heavy pain medication.

But ... I will never let this beat me. I am a mother of four incredible children (I do try to keep the intensity of this away from them, it is not their burden), and a wife of nearly 15 years. I'm also an employee dedicated to my work and have never dropped behind in my responsibilities. I am blessed to have an employer that realises my periods of incapability do not equate to laziness or hypochondria. I have been set up to work from home, and on really bad days I call my manager and let her know I am working from home, and not once have I ever had a negative or nasty response.

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If I could put one simple message out there to anyone who is faced with a perfectly fine-looking person, who states they live with a chronic "invisible illness", believe them, support them, and know that they would give anything in the world to not suffer as they do. The judgment of others only adds to their pain, just in another manner.

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