“It feels like someone is stabbing me repeatedly in the abdomen.
“I get a constant burning pain.
“There’s an aching that starts in my lower back and comes right down through my legs,
“And it feels like there’s a bowling ball in my uterus.”
This is what life is like for Jess Hirst, 28. She is one of 3.25 million Australians living with constant chronic pain, according to the latest Pain Australia report.
“If I get my pain down to a 5 out of 10 that’s amazing, that’s like a zero to me,” she tells Mamamia.
Jess has stage four endometriosis. She has been in pain since she was 11 and got her first period.
For most of us, the worst our period does is embarrass us. Post continues after video.
“It was horrific, it was so excruciating. I spent a few days in bed after it started,” she describes.
Over the years, Jess’s pain has just gotten worse and worse. Now, 17 years after that first experience Jess can’t work, and relies on her husband who is her full time carer.
“He has to help me shower. I get quite dizzy and the pain gets really bad, so I have a chair in there and he helps me in and out.
“He helps out with dinner and that type of stuff. He drives – because we have a manual car and I can’t use the clutch because of my nerve issues.
“If can’t lift my son, he does.
“I don’t know where I’d be without him,” Jess tells Mamamia.
Both Jess and her husband rely on government money right now. Her pain, and their son’s needs mean they are both at home, and relying on Newstart payments to get by.
But this Melbourne family isn’t alone.
The Pain Australia report warns that chronic pain is crippling the nation.
Over three million Australians face a life cut short, as they struggle with the limitations chronic pain places on their lives.
Cost wise, in 2018 it was estimated chronic pain is costing taxpayers $139 billion.
But in Jess’s case, she wishes she could work and provide for herself. She worked in sales, and loved it, but kept getting let go from jobs because of “too much sick leave.”
“I had lost 27kg without trying, I was throwing up every morning. I was almost off probation, but I was told I wasn’t physically fit for the role,” she said of the last role she was in, before the pain got too much and she turned to Centrelink instead.