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Rebecca Barnard

2016-08-25 10:37

Nichole’s Story

My name is Nichole. I am coming up for 26 in September; I have been experiencing constant pain for nearly 2 years.

The pain started for me when I damaged the tendons in my feet in 2008, I was 17 and it was due to regularly wearing 3-inch high heels. I didn't have any accidents in them, I just got unlucky. The doctor suggested I have surgery on the almost torn tendons but also said it might make things worse. I was on crutches for 2 weeks.

I was ok and pain-free for 4 years, and because I had no problems I decided to start wearing my heels again – unfortunately this further damaged the tendons and I was on crutches for 5 weeks this time. Since then wearing heels would sometimes trigger the problem and sometimes it wouldn't and so I have been very careful. Once, ice-skating triggered it, which was a little odd.

From 2012 up to the present date I have been on and off crutches, each time I have needed them it has been for longer than the time before. In September 2014 I started to get pain in the same area again, which confused me because I hadn't done anything to trigger it. I went to the doctor and she said the pain was now being caused just by walking, of course in my mind I was thinking 'I love walking and I can't fly so what on earth am I to do?!'. That time the pain faded and I forgot about it for a few months, but then it happened again in February 2015 and this time I was on crutches for 9 months.

I finally came off of crutches but have had problems with one of my knees ever since, and a lot of swelling in the balls of my feet and across all of my toes. Wearing shoes on my right foot feels very tight and so these are painful to wear, and sometimes the swelling can be so great that my toes don't touch the floor. I can barely move my toes now and the stiffness in them is so frustrating because I feel like my foot is preventing me from doing basically everything I love to do.

Every day is different, sometimes I can't walk so I either stay in bed until the pain fades a little bit or if I'm already out, I have to walk very slowly, sometimes having to get the bus to places that are no longer than half an hour walk away. Because my knee has been quite a big problem I have to sit most of the time with my leg raised. Going to interviews on crutches is a horrible feeling because when I look at the interviewer I can tell they instantly lose interest. I have been told by my Job Centre coach, who is lovely and understands my situation that people don't want to hire somebody on crutches who has an issue they can't explain or predict. I can also only look for part-time work and jobs close to home which limits my options greatly.

My last job was as an Arts Administrator, this lasted up until January 2015 and since then I have been out of work. I finished doing part time study in Maths and IT in July and I volunteer at church and in a choir, I sometimes also do other work experience. I figured I can't stay on my bottom so if I can do things at my own pace why not do them.

I have tried different medications, but these have made me confused and have caused memory loss. The most recent of these was Gabapentin, it made me very ill for the first week, and I experienced dizziness, nausea, feeling faint, blurred vision, drowsiness, shaking, headaches and extreme travel sickness. These side effects eventually wore off but the drowsiness and nausea stayed for a while afterwards. A couple of weeks into taking the medication I was dreaming very vivid dreams every night. I sometimes got very confused with reality and had to ask if things had really happened or not because I was so confused from my dreams. I also noticed I was forgetting things I'd normally remember, I had to write everything down to remind myself. Luckily when I mentioned this to the doctor he said that this can happen, I was quite glad it wasn't just me and that I wasn't going crazy! Because of the side effects and lack of pain-easing I have decided to reduce the Gabapentin down from taking 6-a-day to 3-a-day and am going to start a new medication very soon.

In addition to the medication, I have also recently had a second round of steroid injections which make walking very painful and slow. A lot of the time I have to ask for lifts to places or help when I need to go to town, and standing up has almost become impossible without needing to sit down after a couple of minutes. On a couple of occasions have I needed to use a wheelchair because, depending on what I am doing, walking all day just isn't possible, in these situations a wheelchair is the better option. Sometimes the pain keeps me up at night or wakes me; I always have to go lightly.

My mother told me about Cloudy, I have arthritis in my right toe alongside the other issues with my tendons and I notice that when it is cold my toe is in a lot more pain than usual, also the swelling can get worse in weather that is very hot or very cold.

You can contact Nichole on HealthUnlocked via her username - Nichole77