On the brink of my big bang’s 14 year anniversary I have a very exciting announcement:

‘I have arrived!’

‘Where?’ you ask. And you would have the right to wonder!

With my needle and thread returned to its place in the sewing basket (yes, I have one!), I arrive and declare:

‘Life is finally stitched back up again!!!’

Everything that chronic pain had undone in the first nine years of this 14-year nightmare, Theo and I have managed to finally mend.

Stitch by stitch, we made a new house, founded a new livelihood, purchased a more comfy car, made new friends, welcomed a different breed of fur child and all of this in a new (unfamiliar) town. It’s a rebirth!

All of this, driven by the hunt for pain management after a ball pop, drop and a bang.

Or was it…?

Yes, we made a few thousand failed attempts to adapt to chronic pain’s demands in the first nine years – a routine of; receiving treatment, being overly optimistic, restarting our business, realising I couldn’t manage, shutting the business down… and all the while, endless home renovations, Theo trying various jobs, all in an attempt to find a way to comfortably live and work. Theo and I chopped and changed everything, even our VW rumbly little rocket car was sold – it was too hard for my pelvis and vibrated far too hard for my fussy nervous system.

Life continued spiralling down and falling apart.

I look back at the lovely life we had and it isn’t the rewards that made it… oh, wait, hang on, yes actually, the rewards did make it!

We’ve always had a ‘work hard/play hard’ approach to life. I could have counted the days I ever had off work on one hand up until the fitball burst. Both Theo and I worked long hours, dedicated to our beautiful clients so we could reward ourselves.

Our warehouse home/office was beautiful and our lifestyle was full – we dressed well, dined well, enjoyed cultural experiences, travelled and shopped. It was not a simple lifestyle but not an extravagant one either. It was just right.

It’s been a work in progress making our way to some form of that lifestyle over the past 5+ years.

The core of the problem – not chronic pain and not the complexity of pain management, but rather WorkSafe.

I’ve learned a lot about insurance these past 14 years. My WorkCover insurance experience was difficult, traumatic and gruelling. Very often, my support was pulled from underneath me and this has left gaping holes in my income and finances (along with being unable to work).

In 2014 when I declared a part-time capacity, WorkSafe and their groupies ceased all my support instead of continuing to top up my full-time wage. Treatment support ceased also.

I fought. With no wages, I fought! As the system tried to bury me I began writing to Ministers my voice rising above, my experience documented in the Victorian Ombudsman’s (second) report (mind you, with additional info that the insurer withheld from me – illegal!).

Even after the Medical Panel ruled in my favour, the insurer was able to deny my earnings. WorkSafe did nothing about it. The Accident Compensation Conciliation Service – the organisation which is meant to provide some kind of fairness and justice also failed to help me (as it did and does others). WorkSafe, as the regulator, continues to do nothing about it.

I won’t stop expecting the return of my funds, and an apology to Theo and I for being left to stitch up life while my insurance was in the pockets of WorkSafe and their ‘friends’.

Sink or Sew

In 2014, a serendipitous house swap scenario, saw us planted away to work things out. Far away where we could not be influenced by the life we loved and grew.

‘How do we start again? How do we work with this beast?’

We dissected ourselves, our talents, our abilities and especially inspected our limitations and how we could work with them.

We made a grand plan! And we committed everything we had to it, the first stitch sewn in a seaside town far from home.

This week, with the arrival of our new car we have sewn the last stitch. House, work, town, friends, car, pavement, finances, and everything in between has been replaced.

We find ourselves in a life re-established. It’s unrecognisable in comparison to the life we had before but it is great.

CV-19 has added another complication, but we’re not afraid. We’re fearless now and it’s easy to be so when there’s financial help – JobKeeper, JobMaker, Grants, loan interest exemptions (all the support that injured workers need and are denied).

It took a pandemic for my insurer to act (or was it my pushing and shoving?). Finally, the world understands what it means when people can’t work.

Of course, we’ll be fine!

Don’t confuse our positivity. Smiles, camera poses, uplifting blogs, a beautiful place to live, a new fur child, a new home, a new car. No matter how good it gets, we’ll always miss home and we’ll never feel ‘local’ – forever far away from our families. All of it arisen – not from my injury or the complexity of pain management, but totally from the unjust treatment of the Victorian WorkCover system.

It’ll always be a restitched life with the life beneath becoming a greater and more distant beautiful dream.