I am a 51 year old male and have always considered myself to be physically fit and healthy, my journey started about eight years ago.

I had been a keen runner, entering 5 and 10k road races then building to the Great North Run, I was feeling great.  The Great North Run went well, I hadn’t felt this fit and strong since I was a teenager I enjoyed the challenge so the next logical step was to go for a full marathon, but this is when things changed.

I noticed some discomfort in my right foot, I was still running 15 miles a week so I reduced my running to see if this helped.  It didn’t so I went to my GP and physiotherapy was offered, this was painful and ineffective.

Things started to get progressively worse with widespread pain, I returned to the GP. Blood tests all came back clear, in fact my inflammatory markers were very low.  At this point the possibility of Fibromyalgia was mentioned and/or Chronic Widespread Pain disorder. I was prescribed medication and some exercises. I was now on Celocoxib, Omeprazole, Paracetomol and Vitamin D3.

I then began experiencing massive dips in energy levels and trouble sleeping and was prescribed Amitriptyline.  This helped with the sleeping but the loss of energy and the pain were still debilitating.

I was recommended a therapist specialising in pain relief, I contacted Belinda Clair.  After the first consultation lasting approximately 1 hour Belinda said she would be able to help.  I embarked on a series of massage sessions working on the most painful areas, to my surprise after the first session I actually felt less pain and the stiffness was much better.

Finally something that HELPED so we continued with the massage sessions for several weeks. Belinda then started introducing me to the idea of SIRPA and recommended that I read Georgie Oldfield’s book –  Chronic Pain, Your Road to Recovery.  After reading this book and talking to Belinda I started to get the idea that my pain may be as much about my psychological frame of mind.  I am cynical by nature but I opened up my mind to the possibility.

It’s been about four months since my last visit to Belinda and I can honestly say things have improved. I can now run for several miles without too much of a problem, my energy is much improved and I feel about 70% better than before I started my journey.  Importantly I now take NO medication, I can go several weeks with no need for pain relief and when I do, it’s just Paracetamol.

My journey is not over but now there is hope and using the SIRPA method has helped me and will continue to do so.

I would like to finish by saying thank you to Belinda who has opened my mind to new possibilities.  For anyone struggling with chronic pain, what have you got to lose? Open your minds and give it a go.

– Derek Ditchfield

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