On a rainy morning in Fadden in 2000, Jude King's life changed forever.
She was being driven to work by her then husband. Another driver, trying to light a cigarette, ran into them. Jude was bending over to get her diary out of her bag right at the moment of impact. She suffered severe whiplash, damage to her neck and an injured left shoulder. Neuropathic pain developed in her left arm. There is sometimes a burning sensation or a heaviness, a tightness or pins and needles, numbing or shooting pain.
"There hasn't been a day since the accident when I haven't experienced pain," she said. Jude received compensation in 2007 but it was little solace."It was like, 'Boy, give me my life back'," she said.
Yet Jude, 58, does not want her life defined by her pain. She is telling her story because she wants people to be educated on their options, to not be forced to accept their lot.
And she is also welcoming a new development that may help some of the estimated almost 54,000 Canberrans who live with chronic pain.
Painaustralia, Australia's peak pain advocacy body, is on Tuesday in Canberra launching a new National Pain Services Directory to help people in need find specialised pain treatments.
Painaustralia CEO Carol Bennett said the directory provided a list of more than 200 pain clinics which treated all types of pain conditions.
"The National Pain Services Directory is a practical resource tool that is not only used by consumers but also by GPs and other health professionals who are looking for evidence based, holistic treatments," she said.
Painaustralia estimates 3.4 million Australians live with chronic pain, including 53,800 people in the ACT . The cost of chronic pain to the Australian community is $144.1 billion, including from lost productivity, with 68 per cent of people in chronic pain of working age.
Jude, who is now a pain counsellor with the Capital Pain and Rehabilitation Clinic in Deakin, says the directory will be a useful tool for people who are often told to put up with their pain.
She knows the feeling well, falling into depression when the pain meant she couldn't cut up her own food, let alone return to work in her former job in the federal public service.
"I'm one of these, 'Head down, bum up' people who can get anything done. But it didn't work with this. The pain went on and on," she said.
About a year after the accident, she was referred to the Capital Pain and Rehabilitation Clinic, where she found a team of professionals, from doctors to psychologists to physiotherapists intent on coming up with a proactive plan of action. She also came to understand her pain.
"Working with the team at the clinic I eventually developed strategies to 'function with pain'," she said.
Jude was so inspired by the team, she enrolled at the University of Canberra in 2007 to complete a postgraduate degree in counselling. She was going to become a pain counsellor. Incredibly, she tackled her studies while also battling breast cancer, including a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and the break-up of her first marriage.
She is now happily re-married and she and her husband share four adult children and a grandchild.
One of the strategies that has helped her most is mindfulness - being in the now, not looking back and thinking 'What if? and not looking ahead to wonder what may be.
A big breakthrough was accepting her pain but learning to manage it. She can work part-time. She can enjoy life.
"My saying is, 'It is what it is'," she said.