'This is incredible,’ I said to my husband Graham, as we whizzed around on a motorbike.
Graham and I loved motorbikes, with me riding pillion. But I began getting back pain caused by a degenerative spine disease.
A retired nurse, I could barely stand, never mind ride a bike. I couldn’t bend to clean my teeth, carry groceries or pick things up.
On heavy medication, lying flat was the only respite I got.
I was practically bed bound.
In July 2018, I was referred to a pain management program run by the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation.
‘You have to commit to exercising daily for five weeks,’ the physiotherapist, Skye, told me and the group of patients I was with.
‘I can’t even walk, never mind exercise!’ I said.
‘Just do what you can,’ she replied, undaunted.
Starting off with stretching exercises, we lifted light weights while sitting in a chair. Luckily, this wasn’t too painful.
‘Write a list of goals you’d like to achieve by the end,’ the psychologist Tony said.
I’d like to stand in the kitchen without leaning on the bench, I wrote. And ride a motorbike again.
Back home I practised my exercises daily and I walked for 30 minutes a day as Skye recommended.
At first, I could barely walk down the street but to my surprise the pain decreased dramatically over time.
Each week, the group would be assessed.
‘You couldn’t do that last week!’ the others exclaimed as I lifted up my leg higher.
By the third week, I could stand in the kitchen!
I even started taking the bus – something I hadn’t done in ages as the jerky movement put me in agony.
After five weeks, my pain diminished so much I came off my painkillers.
Today, a year on, I still do my exercises.
Even though it’s the last thing you want to do when in pain, movement is key.
Each morning I stretch for 10 minutes, lift light dumbbells and walk. Now I can push a shopping trolley, and pick things up off the floor.
And best of all, I’m on the back of the bike again!
Whizzing around a nearby national park felt wonderful.
With my arms around Graham’s waist, I felt 30 years younger!
I urge anyone suffering to see if they’re eligible for a pain management program.
It has changed my life, and it could change yours.
To donate and help the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation support initiatives like the Pain Management Program visit: www.powhf.org.au
To learn more about the Prince of Wales Hospital Pain Management Program and whether it is right for you, speak to a medical professional or specialist.