Anne participates in the feasibility study.
My back pain started about 25 years ago. I was told I tore a muscle in my lower back. But unfortunately, it took a while to get this diagnosis. I tried physiotherapy, a chiropractor and acupuncture, and although these helped, they didn't take away the pain completely. They just made it more manageable and helped me cope better with it on a daily basis.
But, the pain eventually stopped me from doing very basic things. To make the bed in the morning I had to walk around the bed on my knees. I couldn't stand over the sink to wash my face; I couldn't vacuum; I couldn't sweep the floor. At work filing documents would even hurt my back, I couldn’t straighten up when I had finished.
Eventually, I didn't want to do anything to avoid the risk of experiencing more pain. It was just easier to sit in a chair and do nothing. After a while you get used to not exercising, not walking, not doing anything and I became very depressed. I felt like a liability, to my husband and to the people at work. That's not what I wanted. I wanted to be part of a team at work and at home with my husband. I wanted to be actively involved.
Two years ago, I saw an advert for a study that was taking place at a nearby hospital. At this stage I had tried everything and I was not getting any relief. So, I applied and after several tests was accepted to join the study. It consisted of having a small device implanted in my lower back that had leads that connected to muscles to make these muscles work. The theory was that these muscles had forgotten how to work and using the device would encourage them to work again and hopefully relieving my back pain.
A week after implant, after a check at the hospital, I started using the device twice a day for 20 minutes. During this time it would stimulate the muscles in my back. It was easy to use because all I had to do was lie on the bed with a pillow under my stomach, switch on the device and just lay there.
In the beginning it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences, but I got used to it. And as the months went by, I realised that my back was starting to feel better, bit by bit.
I have had the device for two years now, and, for quite some time, I have not been using it every single day because it has improved so much. Before I started the study I would rate my pain at about a 7 or 8 on a scale from 0 to 10. Now it would have to be a 0.
It has made a huge difference to me. Before, with my back pain, I was depressed, I was someone who just sat in a chair. Now I've got my life back! I got my confidence back. I have joined the gym and have lost 3 1/2 stone (22 kg). But the main difference is that I can do normal everyday things without having to think twice about it, which might not sound much, but it is a heck of a difference.