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'They don't seem to understand the severity of the chronic pain I am in'

Story by Noelle Finegan
'They don't seem to understand the severity of the chronic pain I am in'

Trim woman unable to work appeals to HSE for restoration of medical card

Friday, 27th January, 2017 10:45am


A Trim woman who suffers from two chronic pain conditions which leave her in constant debilitating pain and unable to work has appealed to the HSE to restore the medical card which was taken off her two years ago.

Anna Rice (44) from Mornington Heights is on 28 tablets a day and last year alone had two operations to insert an internal TENS machine to attempt to control the constant pain which she is living with. The amount of medication she is taking means she pays out €144 per month as well as having to pay for her hospital stays.

Anna explained that she had an accident 13 years ago at work where she got a kick to the face and while she wasn't badly injured at the time and was back at work after a week or two, the pain in her face started to get more severe.
"After a year I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. Over the years the pain has travelled down my neck and into my shoulder. I was able to work until 2010 but then I was made redundant as a special needs assistant and the same year my best friend died from breast cancer and the two shocks sent my body into shutdown. The pain exacerbated hugely and I haven't been able to work since.

The pain has got worse and affects my neck, face, head, eye, shoulder, shoulder blades and arms. I am in constant pain and on a lot of medication."
In January 2014, Anna was also diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome. She attends specialists in both St Vincent's Hospital and Beaumont Hospital.

Anna got a medical card when she was made redundant in 2010. She got married the following year and her financial situation changed as her husband was working so Anna explained she had to reapply and she was granted it again. She held a medical card up to December 2014 when she had to reapply and this time it was taken off her.
"I didn't qualify in financial terms but I didn't expect to and my circumstances hadn't changed from the previous time I applied," said Anna who believes the seriousness of her medical condition should warrant her being granted a medical card on the basis of her medical needs.
Anna has unsuccessfully appealed the refusal twice and feels that the HSE is not taking the severity of her illnesses into account.
"I am on 28 tablets a day and had two operations last year. I am paying €144 a month on medication.
"The illnesses that I have and the severity of them mean I can't work. I'd give anything to be able to work but I can't. I am in too much pain. When I get up I am in pain, when I go to bed I am in pain. It restricts what I can do.

"They don't seem to understand the severity of chronic pain. They are not looking at how debilitating it is and the amount of medication and the cost as well as the cost of hospital stays."
Meath West TD Peader Tóibín, who has been working on Anna's case, said: "It is clear that the different methodology in which the government is analysing the medical card entitlements of citizens is actually taking away medical cards from citizens and is reducing their access to healthcare.

This is a cut and if they learned anything from the medical card crisis a couple of years ago, they should know that taking healthcare from the most vulnerable is an absolute disgrace and won't go unchallenged. I would appeal for the Health Minister to judge these cases by their discretionary needs on the basis of how severe their ill health is and return the medical card to families such as Anna's."

When contacted a spokesperson for the HSE said they could not comment on individual cases.
The spokesperson said that "all requests for medical cards are assessed on a case-by-case basis on medical and financial grounds."

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