A woman who suffers from the same condition as Lady Gaga has found a novel way easing her pain – taking on daredevil challenges like wing-walking and sky-diving.
Victoria Hotson, 41, has driven an Aston Martin round a track at 200mph, completed a tandem sky-dive and is planning to take on a wingwalk next month.
She discovered that the risk and fear involved leads to an adrenaline rush which helps take her mind off her chronic condition, fibromyalgia.
Victoria suffers from chronic pain 24 hours a day which is so bad that it feels like she is being constantly stabbed with a knife.
Her other symptoms include fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
But to make things worse, Victoria also suffers from spasms which she likens to having her back “tightened in a vice”.
Victoria, from Hoghton near Chorley, Lancs., previously enjoyed golf, squash and football but woke up one morning 14 years ago in crippling agony.
She was eventually diagnosed three years later in 2008 with fibromyalgia which is so painful that Victoria is often left bed-bound and has to take up to 30 tablets per day.
Since her diagnosis, Victoria has tried acupuncture, general massage, hypnotherapy, had 40 steroid injections, and Reiki which is a method of spiritual healing.
But there is no medication or treatment in the UK which takes away the pain for any length of time which has even forced Victoria to retire early from her role at United Utilities on ill health.
The best option so far was Vedic treatment at Sanjeeva Ayurveda Wellness Spa in India which cost around £2,000.
However, close to home Victoria has discovered that adrenaline helps to rid her of all the painful symptoms – and is now working her way through a list of daredevil challenges.
She said: “The pain can be dull but very noticeable and sharp. It just feels like someone is stabbing me in the back constantly, all day, everyday.
“People who suffer with this condition have certain ways of helping them cope, with mine it’s having an adrenaline rush. Sounds completely insane but this adrenaline just takes the pain away.
“The only time when I’m pain-free is when I have a bit of an adrenaline rush. When something distracts me and I can focus on something else.
“My husband bought me a race track day experience driving an Aston Martin which is great because I got up to 200mph. I was on pure adrenaline, I couldn’t feel any pain.
“It’s like euphoria and it’s like I’m in a bubble because I’m not doing something that isn’t in normal reality. It’s that big rush of excitement and the risk and fear of it.
“Any activity which gives me an adrenaline rush or experience of doing something at speed makes me happy as all other emotions go into oblivion.
“I can’t put my body through anymore pain so I say to myself I might as well do it. I know my parents and husband worry, but to me, it’s a temporary fix.
“I’m always thinking about what I can do next. I’m that distracted by something else, it’s restarting my brain.”
Victoria is next taking part in a wing walk with Into the Blue at Breighton Aerodrome, near Selby, on July 6, to raise money for Lancashire Mind.
She also hopes to swim with sharks, whizz down the longest zip line in Wales, drive an Aston Martin down the Autobarn in Germany and rally driving.
Victoria was previously a fit and active woman but recalls waking up one morning and her whole back feeling sore.
From there, her pain progressively became worse until she was eventually diagnosed at Royal Preston Hospital in 2008.
“Nothing happened at all, if I’d have been in a car crash I could rationalize it,” she added.
“I just woke up in bed one morning and my whole back was sore. I was driving quite a long way at that time to my workplace so thought it was just a niggle in the back.
“It never went away and then, unfortunately, I kept going to see doctors and consultants and they did blood tests for Rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis itself, and other conditions.
“Doctors have never said why it developed from a bit of back to the extent it is now, that’s the biggest challenge.”
She added: “You don’t know how you are going to be each day, if you have a broken left or arm, you can guess how long the pain will last but with fibromyalgia it’s just a struggle.
“I’m not able to do the things I used to do, I’ve had to totally adjust my life and so has my husband. I definitely feel it has restricted my life a lot.
“I have to use different aids around my home to make life a little easier e.g. uses a plastic jug, lighter pans etc
“I may have all the support in the circle of loved ones, family and friends but this doesn’t take away the pain, spasms, fatigue, feeling helpless.
“I know a lot of people have it worse but no one can truly understand how you feel physically, emotionally and mentally as each person’s threshold and capabilities are different.”
To help Victoria raise funds, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/victoria-hotson3