“If I could do one more thing, it would be to raise awareness of invisible illness", Nicki Quick
Volunteers are vital in the care and services we deliver to our communities. Nicki Quick, a volunteer for Solent’s Persistent Pain team, shares her story.
Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after 7 years of testing, Nicki was in constant pain and attended Solent’s pain workshop, where she learnt techniques for managing her pain. She is volunteering in spite of her pain, not because of it, and believes that working in a peer support capacity has given her a great boost.
Talking about the 10-week intensive programme, delivered by our Persistent Pain team, Nicki said: "If I help just one person, it’s worth it. The workshops give people the tools to live life to the full. I’ve seen the difference being a volunteer makes to other people, and we know that workshop attendees stay the course when they are supported by someone with lived experience. We know that the education being provided is invaluable.
"If I could do one more thing, it would be to raise awareness of invisible illness. If someone has a broken leg, you see the plaster cast, but with a condition involving pain, quite often it’s invisible. So, if you see someone parking in a disabled bay who doesn’t necessarily meet your view of being disabled, think again. I can’t recommend the workshop enough to people and I personally think everyone should gain an understanding of long-term pain conditions and chronic fatigue."
What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
Fibromyalgia Syndrome is a lifelong condition that affects muscle and soft tissue, often displayed as by chronic muscle pain, tenderness, fatigue and sleep disturbances. Treatments are available to help manage condition but there is no known cure. It is typical to be diagnosed between the ages of 35-50, although many people report symptoms from an earlier age.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME is a long-term condition with a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness. It can affect anyone, including children. It's more common in women, and tends to develop between your mid-20s and mid-40s.
Pace yourself and do what is right for you. Friends, family and employers may not always understand how tired you may be, but you must listen to your body to prevent flare-ups. Do gentle exercise, such as Tai Chi or swimming and teach yourself mindfulness techniques, which can help to 'take you away' from your pain. Make a flare-up plan, so that others can support you when needed and you have help to hand. Contact your GP or pain consultant to ask to attend the pain management programme.