A LIFE of chronic pain was not the path Simon Todd had chosen for himself.
But it is the reality the 50-year-old has been forced to live after a horrific incident that left him in agonising pain almost 15 years ago.
The former traffic controller was hit head-on by a car whose driver then got out to assault him.
His boss managed to restrain the man, but while Mr Todd tried to call the police he was struck two more times by the same car, this time by the man's wife now in the driver's seat.
His back was crushed in two places, four discs in his neck severely damaged and his left ankle blown out.
Since then the father of now four children has had multiple spinal fusions, rods stuck in his back, and internal damage to nerves in both hips and legs that were "electrified and microwaved," he said.
A cocktail of medications from morphine and Tramadol to Lyrica and Valium are part of his everyday routine to not only manage the pain, but "to give him a life".
He said a sudden crackdown on opioid prescriptions about 18 months ago forced him to go "cold turkey" for two months when local doctors stopped prescribing these medications, causing his pain to go "through the roof".
Now, as more restrictions for the use of opioids are rolled out this month, Mr Todd has had enough, challenging the people behind these decision to feel the suffering someone with a chronic pain condition endures rather than handing down blanket rules.
"Soon after my accident, my wife - who had two children before our marriage - and I had our first child together. I was scared to pick him up because ... my strength was bad and I couldn't do things with my kid," he said. "Even today, I can't kick the soccer ball in the backyard with my kids because I end up in pain.
"I have become a person who is on the disability pension trying to survive and give my kids what they need and sometimes what they want.
"It is hard enough and then they want to rein you in, cut back and make you get a second opinion on your opioids."
The new rules - including reduced pack sizes for short-term pain and restrictions around prescribing - are part of a range of changes for prescription opioid medications to be phased in over the next year.
It comes in response to the growing number of deaths involving opioids in Australia. Twenty-six people died of unintentional drug overdoses in Wagga alone in just five years, according to a Penington Institute report released last year.
Mr Todd said he understands there are people misusing or abusing these types of medications, but there are also many people who need these prescriptions.
"One bad apple spoils the punch," he said.
"I wasn't abusing it. I stayed with the same doctor, same chemist, I follow the rules and jump through the hoops, but yet I was still punished."
But his biggest fear as they tightened the reins on opioids was his reputation.
"I didn't want to be called a doctor shopper," he said.
In other news:
This is when a patient consults multiple doctors on the knowledge that the prescribing doctor is unaware that they have already obtained a prescription for the same or similar drug.
Mr Todd said he was forced to call doctor after doctor to find someone who could prescribe the medication he needed to live his life as normally as possible.
"I think I have done well because I have come down off my morphine and I still attempt every seven months to come off my Tramadol to see if I can survive," he said.
The new restrictions for patients with a chronic pain condition will require the person to try other types of pain relief before being eligible for high-strength opioids. And where use exceeds 12 months, the patient must seek a second opinion to approve ongoing prescriptions.
From his personal experience he said he didn't believe a second doctor will make any difference, but only make it harder because he struggled to find even one doctor willing to make an appointment.
Mr Todd also has concerns that the second doctor will not have a full understanding of someone's medical history.
"I don't believe the first appointment is going to be a proper or researched visit. They won't know what has happened in their life, how they end up like this, what treatment they've tried, what medications and alternative measures they've already taken," he said. "They aren't going to know and they're not going to be bothered."
Mr Todd said most people, including himself, just "want a doctor who cares" about their patients, which is already challenging to find in Wagga, but now people need to find two.
"Some doctors class you as a number in and out, in and out. But I want to establish a rapport with my doctor," he said.
"With my current doctor we have a chinwag about what we are doing at home and if there was anything she could help me with. That's what I want in a doctor, but also one that will tell me ... 'wake up to yourself and pull your head in' whenever I do the wrong thing."
Mr Todd said people in his position were not there to hide their use of opioids and other medications. In fact, he said he was the first to "put his hand up" and admit when he has done something wrong.
Mr Todd said it was time for the people who made these "blanket rules" to "pull their head in".
"At least experience what chronic pain sufferers go through. Visit these people and realise he actually needs this given to him, not to have it taken away," he said.