Letters to the Editor

Another call for better funding of chronic pain care

To the editor:

As everybody is well aware, the population of our wonderful Okanagan Valley is growing.

And I would like to join in the growing chorus of support for better options for the treatment and management of chronic pain in the valley.

I wholeheartedly support the campaign stressing the importance of having properly-funded pain management options available to seniors who play an important role in our community and in the lives of many Okanagan families. I am in my 30s and am one of the many younger people suffering the effects of chronic pain; in my case as a result of a motor vehicle accident three years ago.

I now understand that suffering chronic pain and headaches impacts every single aspect of a person’s life, whether it be the ability to enjoy activities and sports, take care of the garden and the house keeping, or even just the ability to get a decent nights sleep. Chronic pain does not compartmentalize itself in ones life.

For many, the ability to work productively becomes limited and for some, even the ability to work at all and contribute to society, has been taken away from them. I encourage the MLA (Norm Letnick for Kelowna-Lake Country, chair of the Select Standing Committee on Health for British Columbia) and decision makers to also consider the economic aspect of the impact of chronic pain, from the lost tax dollars, the unsold ski and golf passes and even all the dinners out and nights going to the movies, which no longer happen, because many people of all ages, are suffering from pain.

And the effects of chronic pain are far reaching and extend far beyond the actual person suffering the pain. The lives of children can also be serious impacted when their parents and care givers are experiencing on-going pain, whether it be difficulty pushing them on a swing, or not being able to take them tobogganing or catch them jumping off the side of the pool, or not being able to carve pumpkins with them at Halloween, or even just challenges leaning over to help with their daily homework.

Children can be silent victims of the impact of chronic pain.

I know first hand just how severely underfunded our system has become. With no coverage from our provincial medical plan for physiotherapy, chiropractic or massage therapy and patients being wait listed for two years or more before seeing a specialist.

And even once patients finally see a specialist, it often takes many more months for the prescribed procedure for pain management to take place at KGH.

Sadly, our broken system has become patient unfriendly, at times it seems to the point of patient cruelty.

Please understand my comments are not in any way a reflection on the doctors, practitioners and nurses in our valley, as it has been my experience that they are caring and compassionate individuals, doing their very best to work within a system, that is neglectful of patients in chronic pain.

For a short time, Kelowna did have the good fortune of having a top pain management specialist (Dr. Muendel), who has now left for Nanaimo (ironically a much smaller centre), due to the frustration of not having the proper facilities, equipment and procedures in place here, to utilize his extensive skills and help patients.

The Okanagan Valley is in desperate need of proper and appropriately funded medical services to help and care for the many people living here and suffering from chronic pain. Please join in by adding your voice to the campaign to acquire better pain management facilities for people of the Okanagan Valley.

Andrea Harte,

West Kelowna


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