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Pain Chronicles: The Additional Cost of Being Disabled

Pain Chronicles is a monthly(-ish) column from Caroline McDonagh-Delves about coming to terms with living with a chronic illness. It will include funny stories and brutal honesty, with some thrown in chats with her mum Shaz, and other friends too, along the way. 


Caroline’s note: I’ve written this month’s column along with my mum, Shaz. You can find my bits in regular type, and hers in bold (because she always is). Hope you enjoy.

I’ll always remember the doctors’ note I got at university so that I could type in exams rather than handwrite. The doctor mentioned I’d been doing the same in ‘A’ Levels. Inverted commas and all. I can’t quite remember how much it was, I think around the £30 mark. £30 so I could access the same education as my classmates. And disabled students’ allowance may have covered that, but the forms were arduous and I really didn’t have it in me to do it.

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Pain Chronicles: Right Now, I Need the Sunflower

Pain Chronicles is a monthly(-ish) column from Caroline McDonagh-Delves about coming to terms with living with a chronic illness. It will include funny stories and brutal honesty, with some thrown in chats with her mum Shaz, and other friends too, along the way.


When mask wearing became mandatory in July last year, I was mostly still not leaving the house. We’re a high risk family, and I felt the government were too hasty in unlocking everything.

When I did have to pop to the shops, I’d don a reusable mask (trying to combat waste) and more often than not I’d only just finish my shopping before having to run outside to fresh air to stave off a panic attack. Face shields were slightly better, although they did elicit some funny looks, and there was still an issue with allodynia where the sponge rested on my forehead.

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How Lockdown Helped Me Reclaim Activism As a Disabled Person

Tw: prison, prison cruelty, corporal punishment, police brutality, murder, eating disorders and mention of the Sarah Everard case.

I love learning about the Suffragettes. About how the name was originally meant to be an insult to them and they took ownership of it. About how their actions lead to my right to vote. About their ownership of green, purple and white. And I can’t thank them enough.

I even try to educate myself about the not so nice bits. Death and destruction. Poor Emily Wilding Davison under the King’s horse. And Holloway prison. Awful conditions. Hunger strikes and force feeding. And I shudder.

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Pain Chronicles: Rosie Jones and Straddling the Intersection

Pain Chronicles is a new monthly(-ish) column from Caroline McDonagh-Delves about coming to terms with living with a chronic illness. It will include funny stories and brutal honesty, with some thrown in chats with her mum Shaz, and other friends too, along the way.

Rosie Jones and I have a few things in common. We’re both Northern. We’re both pricks. We both have gigantic tits. And we’re both disabled lesbians.

And when I saw her walk on to the set of The Russell Howard Show and said she couldn’t process those ideas, she could only fit one “different” thing in her life, and therefore she believed she wasn’t gay, I understood where she was coming from. Sort of.

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NICE’s Worrying New Chronic Pain Guidelines

It’s the summer of 2012. I am still at university, using the very last of the term-length pool membership I’d bought. I swim 2 miles. That’s 128 lengths of a 25m pool. The walk back up to the main campus is hard, steep and my bag is heavy with my wet costume. I collapse onto my bed. My hands hurt, but four or five doctors can’t tell me why that is. My knees hurt, but after three doctors, I saw one specialist who said it should clear up by the time I’m 20, which I turned last month. I swallow a dihydrocodeine and sleep for 8 hours.

The NICE guidelines released on 7th April recommend analgesics not be used for primary chronic pain. What they do recommend is exercise, antidepressants, acupuncture, and psychological therapies. Paracetamol and ibuprofen, possibly some of the most widely taken drugs outside of penicillin, that usually cost about 20p for a box of 16, they also can’t recommend. 

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Your Platitude Isn’t Helping my Mental Health

Trigger warnings: Suicide. Mental health disbelief. Mention of medication/addiction.

Talking about mental health is important. It’s the first step towards getting help. It helps reduce stigma. It can help you find people who can support your recovery.

But talking to the wrong people can be nothing short of disastrous. People who are dismissive. People who are laissez-faire in the extreme. People who – be they trained professionals, public figures, or strangers on the internet – give awful advice.

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My realisation that the opposite of self-care is self-harm

TW: Self-harm, mentions of being overweight. 

This summer it got really hot. It was about August and we had a proper heatwave. In our land of stiff upper lips and no air conditioning, I would sit on my bed in my birthday suit and try to be still, to not expend any energy. And I developed a rash.

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Why it’s Even More Important Than Ever That You Get Your Flu Jab

There’s been a lot of talk about the new vaccines popping up for covid, and rightly so. This disease is running our lives at the moment – those lives that it’s spared. But there’s something else you should be vaccinated against – the flu.

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