Profiles of Hope
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magginMaggin finds relief from chronic pain with Hope Air’s help.

Maggin was at work one day when she felt a severe pain in her wrist. “It happened very suddenly. It was so bad that I couldn’t do anything,” she says. The pain didn’t go away over the next several weeks – on the contrary, it got worse. “First the pain was in my wrist, but it spread to all four limbs,” she says. Maggin was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic condition with no known cure.

“I’m in constant pain, twenty-four seven. It is prolonged excessive pain,” she says. Maggin was living in Kelowna at the time, but because of the constant, excruciating pain in her arms and legs, she moved to Prince George to live with her parents, who could help care for her.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can have a variety of causes – Maggin’s doctors hypothesize that the repetitive motion involved in the tasks at her job may have triggered the condition in her case. The disease typically affects one or two limbs, but because Maggin’s condition spread quickly to all four limbs, she required a more specialized type of care. “For one limb or two, they can target the specific places they need to treat, but with four limbs, it’s too much, the doctors in Kelowna and Prince George didn’t know how to treat it effectively,” she says. “It’s out of the realm of what they know how to do.”

Pain medications had no effect on Maggin’s condition, so she looked for a pain specialist who could provide her with a different treatment. She found a doctor 800 kilometres away in Vancouver who could treat her.

In Vancouver, Maggin met with a doctor who treated her with ketamine infusions – to Maggin’s relief, the treatment relieved her pain almost immediately. “It makes my pain go from a ten to a zero,” she says. “It is amazing how fast it works, however shortly after the pain starts to work its way back up the scale.

Travelling from Prince George to Vancouver to see her doctor was crucial for Maggin, but the nine-hour drive between the two cities would be unmanageable, as car trips of more than half an hour are difficult for her. “To go in a car, I would have to be able to lie down with a heating pad.”

At first, Maggin’s parents bought airfare for Maggin to get to treatment. “My parents are the kind of people who will do anything for their kid. My dad started working two jobs to pay for the Flights.”

Fortunately, someone in Prince George told Maggin about Hope Air. “A physiotherapist I was seeing found out I was going to Vancouver a lot and said to call Hope Air,” says Maggin. Since then, Hope Air has been arranging free Flights for Maggin to get to Vancouver for the ketamine infusions that help relieve her pain. “It took a lot of stress off of us. I have nothing but good things to say about Hope Air.”

Maggin’s doctor in Vancouver thought that Maggin would benefit from a higher dose of ketamine, which could be given in Toronto. Hope Air arranged Flights for Maggin to see doctors in Toronto for a five-day session that would allow ketamine to absorb into her system and keep her pain in a liveable range for up to a year when she supplements the injection with a very high dosage of oral ketamine.

Her successful treatment means that she now has much of her independence back. “I can live on my own now,” she says. “The treatment Hope Air helps me access has allowed me to move back into my own place because the pain is more manageable.”

Maggin will continue to see her doctor in Vancouver, who works with Maggin on a comprehensive plan for her care, and will hopefully be able to now make yearly visits to Toronto for the ketamine infusions that provide a measure of relieve for her pain. Of living with the condition, Maggin says, “it becomes a part of your life. Some people go into remission, but it has been six years, so I’m not holding my breath.”

She is grateful to her doctor in Vancouver for working with her to find the right treatment, and to Hope Air for helping her get to the appointments that have made such a difference. “Without my doctor in Vancouver and without Hope Air, I don’t know where I would be in my recovery. Thanks for being there for me. I appreciate everything. Thank you.”