Steve’s Story

Steve, 42

“I was a cop for 20 years, mostly in plain clothes. 

“In 1995, I was walking along a footpath, when a four-wheel drive ran off the road and pinned me against the wall with its roo bar. It was an accident. 

“An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) revealed disc protrusions in my lower back. The constant pain was excruciating, I had pins and needles down my legs, I had to hobble and couldn’t bear to sit because of the pain. 

“I was advised not to have an operation, as so many people end up crawling around in more agony after failed back operations – so I learned to live with it. 

“I used to run half-marathons, now I couldn’t run around the block. I ended up addicted to a cocktail of morphine-based pain-killers, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, plus I was drinking heavily – anything to stop the screaming pain. 

“My life became a nightmare. I went to physiotherapists, chiropractors, tried acupuncture, a TENS [transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation] machine that buzzes electrical impulses. Nothing worked. Many days I never got out of bed, just lay there focusing on my pain, bitter and twisted, feeling suicidal. I was on an emotional rollercoaster. 

“When I started the pain clinic PMRI ADAPT course, I was devastated. I’d expected rocket-science magic; they’d stop my pain. It took me a while to realise that instead of wanting to beat the pain, I had to accept it, make it part of my life, but not let it rule my life. I was like a bull at a gate, wanting to get better, so I overdid things at first, and had to learn to slow down and pace myself. “I started swimming, then got a job as a swimming instructor, and another job as a site manager for home units. 

“It’s been a long road, but I’ve just taken up scuba diving- I get help to put the tanks and belt on when I’m in the water, so it’s weightless. Sometimes I think, ‘Hey, look at me now.”