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Chronic pain therapy cut would be devastating: advocate

Troy Shantz Expect a rise in local suicides if Ontario cuts funding for certain pain injections, an advocate says.

Troy Shantz

Expect a rise in local suicides if Ontario cuts funding for certain pain injections, an advocate says.

“The medication doesn’t end the pain, it makes it tolerable,” said Lorie Chevalier, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Chronic Pain Support Group.

“Without it, people are going to kill themselves. It’s that simple.”

Chevalier was responding to published reports the Ford government has assembled an “Appropriate Awareness Group” to identifying medical services deemed unnecessary, overused or inappropriate.

Certain injections for pain relief are among the services under review by the group, which is comprised of Health Ministry officials and physicians from the Ontario Medical Association.

Chevalier said if the injections are cut or reduced it would have a devastating impact on many of the 200 chronic pain sufferers she knows through the support group.

“The quality of life is going to decrease immediately,” she said. “They help you function and just get through your day.”

A car accident in 2004 turned Chevalier’s own life upside down. The resulting injuries left her in constant pain, making personal relationships difficult and eventually forcing her to walk away from a promising nursing career.

Depression set in, and she grappled with suicidal thoughts for four years, she said.

According to the Toronto advocacy group Give Pain a Voice, the suicide rate among pain patients is double that of the regular population.

“It destroys relationships. It ruins careers. Livelihoods end. It’s like you grieve the life you had,” Chevalier said.

She balances her own pain management with chapter commitments, including monthly meet-ups. She also researches the latest on pain management and reports it back to members. She jokes she still has the mind of a nurse and commitment to serve others.

According to documents obtained by CityNews, the working group has been given until May 1 to find $100 million in savings, and until Sept. 1 to save an additional $360 million.

The government has backed down on proposed changes to sedation for colonoscopies, which are no longer under consideration, the network reported.

The Sarnia-Lambton Chronic Pain Support Group meets the last Wednesday of each month at the Coffee Lodge, 49 Finch Dr.

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If you are in distress, call the Lambton Mental Health Service Distress Line, available 24/7 including holidays, at 519-336-3445, or the Lambton Mental Health Crisis Service at 1-800-307-4319.

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