Long lasting pain is something I’ve lived with on a daily basis since I was 15.
I used to get beaten up a lot after school by a gang of Black girls who didn’t like me because I was mixed race and because I couldn’t read or write. They’d call me ‘a half-caste idiot’ and a ‘black and white Minstrel’. What’s the point in going to school, they’d say, if you can’t even read?!
What’s the point in going to school, they’d say, if you can’t even read?!
I got in the habit of going home early to avoid them, but one day, not long before I left school for good, a supply teacher held me back. She didn’t know the price I was going to have to pay for that decision. I rushed home but hadn’t made it further than the bakery opposite the school when the gang cornered me and pulled me to the floor.
They kicked me in the head with platform shoes and injured me so bad I had to have my face re-built.
They kicked me in the head with platform shoes and injured me so bad I had to have my face re-built. The doctors put metal plates in my nose, forehead and the back of my head. My Mum had to go to court about it. Since then, I’ve always had headaches.
My scoliosis has also been causing me pain for decades. A lot of my family members have scoliosis and some of us have got severe scoliosis, like my son. I have it in the lower part of my back and it causes pain all day, every day, in my back and both legs.
If I’ve been on my feet for a long time my back tends to hurt me really bad and then I cannot walk no more, but when I sit down for too long it also hurts. I’ve dealt with pain all day, every day and as I’ve gotten older it’s become worse. When the doctors ask me what the pain is like on a scale from 1 to 10, I tell them it’s off scale, but they don’t believe me.
The doctors never listen to me because I have a learning disability I think. They don’t think that people with a learning disability know what we’re talking about. They need to understand that when a person with a learning disability is saying they’re in this pain, it’s true.
I was going to have a check up on my back at hospital in 2020, but the lockdown spoiled that plan and now I have to wait to see how bad it gets.
The doctors never listen to me because I have a learning disability I think.
The pain in my legs was made worse by an accident I had in 1986. When I was coming home from work on my bike, I turned into Hackney Road and crashed into a car door that a woman suddenly opened without looking. The impact severed a nerve in my left leg and I lost all feeling from the knee down, which causes me to lean on my right leg.
I’ve always wanted my left leg to be amputated because it’s almost useless and yet I still feel pain in that thigh. I can’t stand it. I told the doctors, but they don’t listen. They always say if you have your leg amputated you will still feel pain.
I don’t take anything for any of my pain though because I’m allergic to most medications. So the way I get through it is by meditating. I forced myself to learn to meditate when I was at school because of the bullying. The only way I could cope with it was to block it out.
There was an art teacher who used to meditate before he came to school. He told me meditation is a good way of dealing with pain and taught me how to do it. I still do it to this day. I go to my quiet space and think of relaxing things. I have a landscape inside my head and I go there often; it’s a peaceful place with no violence and it just has the colours I like, which means no green. I don’t like green.
And then I relax and get rid of it I also count back from 5 to 1 and that’s how I live with my pain.