Woman with chronic pain missing treatments as staff redirected to Winnipeg Children’s Hospital

Medical staff are being pulled to help with the surge of patients at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg and that’s causing one woman living with chronic pain to miss out on her treatments.

Stephanie Sanders is 23 years old and suffers from severe endometriosis, a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, the endometrium, grows outside the uterus.

It leaves her with debilitating pain and exhaustion. She says treatments and medications have been a part of her life for more than a decade.

“Very extreme pain which affects my day-to-day life,” Sanders told Global News.

Read more: Canadian endometriosis patients face ‘substandard’ quality of care, experts say

Due to the level of pain she experiences on a daily basis, she is unable to work.

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“I’m not physically able to do a lot. I’m not able to hold down a full-time job because of the pain.” 

Sanders had been getting lidocaine infusions this fall at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC), which she says afforded her a quality of life she’d never experienced.

“To be able to have some quality of life at 23, it felt like I was kind of human again.”

However, last week she was told by HSC that it was cancelling her upcoming appointments because staff were being reassigned to another unit.

Staff at the pain clinic are temporarily being reassigned to help at HSC’s children’s hospital due to a wave of patients showing up with respiratory viruses, a Shared Health spokesperson said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'More sick kids at HSC Children’s Hospital'

More sick kids at HSC Children’s Hospital

“The provincial health organization is ‘actively exploring staffing models’ that will allow them to support more lidocaine infusions,” they said.

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In the meantime, the number of patients who can be treated at the pain clinic is being limited and Sanders doesn’t know how long she will be waiting until she can receive her treatments again.

“I was heartbroken and devasted because, for me, that’s been one of the first treatments in about 12 years that have given me such a drastic decrease in my pain levels,” Sanders says.

She says she was spending her days helping out on the farm and seeing friends and now she fears that will come to an end.

“That day is coming where the pain is going to return, and it scares me. I am terrified of it because of how much the pain does affect my life.

Read more: Endometriosis — Why Canadian women are flocking to a clinic in Bucharest for surgery

Without these treatments, she will have to start taking a higher dose of pain medication, which she says her doctors don’t want her to do as the medication is a strong opioid.

“It’s not a good long-term medication. So it’s not realistic because it’s hard on your body too.”

Sanders says she understands that kids are sick with flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) right now and there’s a staffing crisis but she is asking health-care officials to find a better way instead of making cuts to a program that so many people rely on.

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“It’s hard knowing how many of us will or might go back to the pain we were dealing with before because of not getting this treatment.

“I’d love for them to reconsider and realize that it’s more important than they may realize.”

— with files from Global’s Rosanna Hempel

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: Endometriosis diagnosis a struggle for many'

Health Matters: Endometriosis diagnosis a struggle for many

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