As originally reported in Global News.,New Brunswick teen Mackenzie Walsh will be 16 this week, but she doesn’t want a car or a sweet 16 party. She wants to go to the hospital to treat her Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a diagnosis she received five months ago for a neurological disorder causing her excruciating pain in her leg and foot. While intervening before the disease progresses could be crucial to saving her mobility, it’s a gift she won’t receive this week. As an immuno-compromised patient, the risk of coronavirus contaminating the one place that could give her relief is too high.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare chronic pain disorder that causes chronic pain in arms, hands, legs, or feet. The effected areas usually are characterized by intense and chronic pain, swelling, skin discoloration, and temperatures changes. Though the cause isn’t know, it typically occurs after a person has had an injury in the affected organ beforehand, and incurred damage to the central or peripheral nervous system. Severity and duration of the symptoms depend on the patients, but for many, they are mild and eventually ease. The disease mostly effects women, and on average occurs at age 40, though it can occur much younger.
For Mackenzie, the pain is in her leg and foot, causing incredible pain at the slightest movement. It makes any movement unbearable, as she describes it, “It feels like someone is drilling into your bone.” Her Mom explained how vital the treatment could be to maintaining her ability to walk, and time is of the essence.
The Chronically Ill, Hospitals, and Coronavirus
However, hospital visits for many chronically ill patients have been pushed off the priority list as coronavirus has wreaked havoc in the hospitals and healthcare systems. Hospitals are focusing on addressing the pandemic, and the easy transmission characteristic of the disease means these spaces are highly potent with the contagion. COVID-19 doesn’t present the same risk for everyone, it is particularly effecting patients who are already immuno-compromised like Mackenzie. The threat of the virus is too great for her to undergo the mandatory in-hospital treatments necessary for her to save her foots mobility.
Through it all, her optimism remains. She had been trying to raise funds to cover her treatments at a specialized facility, but has put that dream on hold until the future is clearer. Though it may be that she doesn’t regain her mobility, she still plans to be a doctor. Mackenzie said,
“I got this for some reason. There must be something good that comes out of it.”