My story - Fran

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Hi, My name is Fran and this is my story. I have suffered a constant headache for a little over 17 years 24/7.  I had tried different medications, too many to mention and had been on opiates for more years than I care to remember and even weaned off them as they were not helping and my G.P.suggested  they could be causing the headache. I had also tried alternative treatments without relief. As you can imagine this caused  bouts of depression over time. Goodness knows how but I managed to hold down a professional position in local government managing Sheltered Housing Schemes for 16 years.

Over the years I had several scans and saw different consultants and finally In 2013 I was diagnosed with Cervicogenic Headache by a Neurologist who increased the dose of a medication I was taking for Neuropathy which was a result of Diabetes. She said the headache was being caused by Cervical Spondylitis from a whiplash injury in March 2004.  Other symptoms not related started to appear and I was finding work more of a struggle battling with fatigue sometimes falling asleep at my desk or important meetings or feeling very drowsy driving home at the end of the day.

In November 2016 I spotted a post on Facebook for Northamptonshire Chronic Pain Support/Away with Pain and decided to go along. I was given a warm welcome from Lou and a chap named David who was from a charity which has since ended, called Away with pain. It was interesting and in a way comforting to know other people of different ages and walks of life were suffering like me with chronic pain for various ailments. Lou, then was given space in premises for free which was provided by a local authority which was a hub for other support organisations for 1 a day a week. It was buzzing and people enjoyed dropping in  for a cuppa and a natter as well as different tasks that Lou would set us to teach us different coping skills. The lease ended on the premises and then the Pandemic put a stop to physical meetings but that didn't  stop Lou. We had two Zoom meetings a week during the lockdown. Thursday was mostly reaching out to those who were feeling isolated plus continuing with coping skills and the Sunday evening was a games night  playing bingo and quizzes hosted by Mandy, Fred or Janine.

As I mentioned above about new symptoms developing. I no longer felt in control at my job and my confidence was spiralling downwards. I went on long term sick and was being treated for stress and depression. After a while I was sent to see the Occupational Health for work who declared I was fit for work. I started to panic there was no way I could return to work and was waiting for further investigations.  I decided to retire 3 years early from my job in August 2018 with the much needed help and support from Lou having 121’s.  Lou also helped me to complete Benefit forms as I would not be able to live on my work pension alone. NCPS has made such a difference by way of giving me coping skills and training to enable me to go on to  help others as a voluntary Peer Support Worker.