29 May 2013

S4M-06746 Chronic Pain Services

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Elaine Smith): The next item of business is a debate on motion S4M-06746, in the name of Alex Neil, on ensuring access to high-quality sustainable services for people living with chronic pain.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I am slightly surprised that we have got this far down the speaking order without exploring in a more structured way that there is a large variety of pains and chronic pains. Jackson Carlaw referred to his migraines, Graeme Pearson referred to arthritis and other members referred to particular kinds of pain. However, the minister’s announcement of a consultation to look at three options—indeed, the consultation may throw up other options—is quite proper because there are so many different sources and effects of pain and chronic pain that there may not be as simple a solution as perhaps the Labour amendment suggests.

I will illustrate that point with a few examples, some of which are close to home and some of which are not quite so close. First, my mother, who as a youngster was an active tennis player, developed arthritis in her late 30s and early 40s. Eventually, she had to have her hips, where she was most affected, immobilised—it was before the days of hip replacement—and, ultimately, the muscles in her thighs cut to prevent movement. She suffered pain of an excruciating nature for the rest of her life. In our family we lived with that and with the reality in those days that relatively little could be done about it.

My mother was not miserable because of the pain: she lived with it and coped with it, as she had to. As a little lady of 4 feet 10 and a half, she ran around on elbow crutches for most of her adult life, but it was different when she got in her Mini Cooper S. I remember being with her on one occasion on the Baiglie straight up to Bridge of Earn doing 100mph—she was liberated by some technology—which was before Barbara Castle brought in the 70mph limit, just in case anyone thinks otherwise. We lived with that situation for my mother and there was no remedy.

When I started as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital as a fresh-faced, innocent 17-year-old in 1964, my first task was to go and see Jimmy in the corner. I was told, “He’s got a problem with his legs.” I asked Jimmy what his problem was and he said it was his legs. I said, “What’s the problem, Jimmy?” He said, “My legs.” Eventually, of course, I rolled back the sheets; there were no legs. Jimmy was suffering the substantial pain that amputees often suffer after the removal of the source of the pain. The treatment that someone in such a situation requires might be quite different from the treatment that someone else requires. In those days, it was simple: we simply gave Jimmy as much codeine as he wanted, as a result of which he was addicted to painkillers—that was very much the choice in those days.

For my part, I have had intermittent bouts of pain—perhaps rather fewer than some members, given what they described. In particular, I suffered pain in my neck for four or five months. That turned out to have been caused by a trapped nerve, and I was very fortunate in that a single session of manipulation relieved the problem. The pain has not come back in 30 years, which is terrific.

More serious, as an adolescent I had to have my torso flayed, to remove the outer surface of the skin. It took six months and was extremely painful. That was because my acne was so severe—oh, the things that I tell members; you won’t tell anyone outside the chamber, will you?

The reality is that there are many different sources of and treatments for pain. My father, who was a GP, used hypnosis to help his patients to deal with pain. Indeed, I was taught some hypnosis tricks to help me to deal with my asthma, and to this day I can deal with my asthma without using medication. I was lucky to get a top-up of my hypnosis skills and ability to control my pain from Yvonne Gilan—an actress who, incidentally, was once in “Fawlty Towers”—who specialises in treating people in the acting profession.

Jim Hume talked about young people and pain, which is another, quite different area. There is a huge variety of sources and types of pain, which need to be dealt with in different ways.

We should not talk down Bath too much. The city has 2,000 years of experience of dealing with pain. The Romans built a spa there, where both physical and mental pain were treated. Bath is probably a very good place to go; it is just a shame that we cannot move it a little closer to the patients who need help in Scotland.

We have not yet heard in the debate about pain at end of life. There have been great improvements in the management of pain at end of life through the hospice movement. Again, that is a very different issue to deal with.

We must remember that pain has a purpose: to prevent us from damaging ourselves further where damage already exists. Pain alerts us to that.

I welcome what the minister said and look forward to the outcome of the consultation.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP