Lorraine's story

Lorraine Havin, 76 "I'd had six major back operations - pieces of bone taken from my hip, braced to my spine, titanium screws put in, taken out.

"I was in such unbearable agony, I lay in bed crying all the time, taking pills, pills, pills. I contemplated suicide, bought the book Final Exit (about assisted suicide for the dying), and had the pills saved up.

"My friends gradually retreated - because they don't know what to do with you and no-one wants to watch someone in extreme pain. My poor husband has a heart of gold and put up with it.

"In 1997, I was about to have another back operation, but at the last moment they sent me to the Royal North Shore Hospital pain clinic, where Professor Cousins did tests and said I was suitable for a spinal pump implant.

"It saved my life. I could get out of bed, dress myself, walk, play bridge again. Before I had agony, now I have pain. But compared to agony, pain is nothing."