November 28, 2020

My Mother's Story

My mother Anna is 87 years old, and I can’t remember a time when she hasn’t suffered with chronic pain. Sixty years ago, she was a young migrant mother. Our father had a successful business and worked seven days a week so she was left to raise the family.

She often recounted the story of when she tried to move a heavy tree branch for my sister as a toddler, she hurt her back, and never recovered. 

She saw the doctor straight after, however he couldn’t really help her and she didn’t know about physiotherapy or chiropractors. After school, I would find her in her room, lying flat on her back as an escape from the constant lower back pain and accompanying migraines.

Arthritis runs in my family, Grandma was riddled with it and so is mum. Her management plan for her arthritis, back pain and systemic inflammation were painkillers, Celebrex and eventually a walking stick. Unfortunately, that was the extent of her care plan back then. The pain level definitely impacted her life in many ways, from limited energy and activity to mood changes and eventually depression. 

Even though her life was overshadowed by pain, we all received unwavering love, care and support. Anna is very intelligent with a curious, worldly mind, an avid reader and cooked gourmet meals from around the world, to focus on the positive aspects of life, other than her aches and pains. Our dinner table was the envy of friends.

Thirteen years ago, she suffered a massive Ischemic stroke and it was a miracle she survived. She is now non-verbal and paralysed on her right side. Witnessing my mother trying to come to terms emotionally, that the life she knew, was changed forever within minutes, will never leave me. Adding to her previous list she now lives with a high level of nerve pain and partial vision loss from the stroke.

Still alert and intelligent, her body has become a prison trapping her inside. Unable to express herself, care for herself or advocate for herself or make meaningful connections to others, compounds her depression from loneliness. She resides in a high care nursing home, yet my sister and I need to visit almost daily to advocate for her. 

In the earlier years, her determined, courageous spirit to learn to walk and talk again from physiotherapy and speech therapy was admired by all, unfortunately she never regained those faculties.

Chronic Pain has impacted her entire life, yet she still smiles, laughs and has passion for life.

Her experience is one of the driving forces behind the creation of my app - Onus. A place to share you health story, make connections, get support  and find expert help.

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Written by: Rita De Michele
Rita is the Founder of Onus App and is empowering people to share their health stories and live a better life.

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