Many of us in life are lucky – we might not have the ‘ideal’ life compared to those we see on our Instagram feeds or reality TV shows – but good health is a gift most of us take for granted.
However, this isn’t the case for Paige Howitt, who suffers from a rare, incurable disease, which leaves her in the most pain a human is able to endure.
After being diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in 2015, Paige spends her days in an agony, described as being ‘worse than childbirth’, which leaves her feeling as if she’s being ‘burned alive’.
According to the McGill pain index chart, CRPS causes excruciating pain worse than the amputation of a limb, breaking a bone and cancer.
Specifically, Paige’s pain is in her left knee. However, she also suffers from muscle spasms, swelling, and insomnia – sleeping for around four hours a night.
To combat the pain, Paige sleeps next to a freezer, with ice packs and a pregnancy pillow wrapped around her leg.
Speaking about the agony, she said:
I can’t even begin to describe how hard it’s been. The pain is always there, every minute of the day. It has effectively ruined my social life.
If people want to go out and get drinks, or go to the cinema, it’s almost impossible for me because the knee always has to be in certain positions to stop it being more painful.
I can’t sit on the sofa without it being propped up, and when I go to bed I have to spend hours getting comfortable. I have to use a pregnancy pillow to make sure the knee is straight, wrap ice-packs round it and have a freezer nearby.
That effectively numbs the knee but, as you can imagine, it’s not especially cosy. For the most part I tend to get around four hours, but I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights.
Even the feeling of the duvet against my knee makes things uncomfortable and placing any sort of material up against it causes pain, because it’s so sensitive.
I have a freezer at work as well, to stop the swelling and reduce the pain. At any one time, my knee is either blue from the cold or red from the burning sensation, and nothing in between.
Ultimately that doesn’t help too much, because it affects the circulation and means that, when the ice pack isn’t on, it hurts even more. But it’s the only way I can cope with the pain.
Paige concluded the most horrible thing is the pain never leaves – she’s looking to raise £25,000 for her own hyperbaric oxygen chamber after spending six years in 24/7 pain. Paige has now just passed the halfway mark, raising £10,908 so far.
If she can’t raise the money to buy the chamber she’s considering getting her leg amputated to end the agony.
To donate to Paige’s hyperbaric oxygen chamber, you can do so here. Let’s help her over the finish line.
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Tim Horner is a sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated with a BA Journalism from University College Falmouth before most his colleagues were born. A previous editor of adult mags, he now enjoys bringing the tone down in the viral news sector.