plea  | 

Mum suffering so badly from chronic pain she 'doesn't know how much more she can take'

'I had a great life, I had a great job and I had a master’s degree in business admin... Why would anyone make this up?'

Anne Haigney this week

Steven Moore

A woman says she's suffering so badly from chronic stomach pain she doesn't know how much more her body can take.

Ann Haigney says her life has been "destroyed" by pain but says doctors think she's making it up.

The 49-year-old has barely left her house in two years and had to give up her well-paid job of 25 years as a logistics manager after being diagnosed with the bowel infection cryptosporidium year ago.

Now she's making a plea to the Northern Health Trust to take her pain seriously.

"I can't live like this anymore," says Ann. "I'm begging for help because my life has been completely destroyed.

"When I eat anything the pain is horrific, it's like all my flesh is being pushed and stretched, it feels like there's razor blades slicing my insides.

"There's been a constant taste of rot - that's the only way I describe it - and you can smell the decay when you are around me.

"But it's got much worse in the last three years. Because of the condition I ended up with herniated discs in my neck and I'm on the emergency list for surgery, though I've been on that for two-and-a-half years now.

Anne says she sleeps on her sofa

"My whole body can ache, even my feet get so sore you can't touch them. I honestly don't know how much more my body can take."

But the mum of one says while doctors have carried out dozens of tests and treated her with various medication, they've been unable to get to the source of the problem.

And because they can't diagnose the primary issue, she says they seem to be suggesting the issue is mental.

"Why would anyone make this up?" she says. "I had a great life, I had a great job making over £600 a week and I had a master's degree in business administration.

Anne Haigney

"Now I'm on Universal Credit and am unable to work. I hardly get off the sofa. I even sleep here rather than going upstairs in case I take a bad turn and need to get to hospital.

"I'm originally from Omagh and I used to travel back home to visit family regularly but I haven't been back in ages because I can't drive anymore.

"My neighbours can't believe the way I am. They say to me how I was never off the go. I'd be out washing the car or going visiting people. I had a great life and now I have nothing but pain and misery.

"What makes it worse is Antrim Area Hospital being unable to diagnose the underlying issue so they basically accuse me of making it up. Nobody would want to live through what I've lived through. It just makes it worse that they don't take it seriously."

Ann's troubles started 15 years ago while she was on holiday in Spain.

"I woke up in the middle of the night in horrendous pain just below my rib cage," she explains.

"When I got back home the GP did stool samples and I had CT scans and eventually after about ten months was finally diagnosed with the cryptosporidium bowel infection.

"I was told nothing worked on it at the time, though I now know that's not correct. I got penicillin from the GP but I could hardly eat. I lost two stone and was down to just over seven stone."

Ann says over the next 15 years she tried to live with the pain and was making regular trips to the GP and to Antrim Area Hospital when the pain became too much to bear.

But things deteriorated in the last few years to a point she's no longer able to manage the pain.

"The pain in the stomach is so severe I can't even touch the skin where the pain comes from," she says.

"Doctors are at a loss. They fire me antibiotics and antacids which worked for a while but they don't last and the pain comes back.

"My son could smell the decay around me. It's the smell of rot or poison coming from my stomach up into my throat and mouth. It's disgusting.

"In 2019 I hit rock bottom when I woke up and had a shooting pain in my arm and back. I got a taxi to hospital and was lying on the floor screaming.

"I got to see a physio who told me he couldn't touch me because my discs were all out of place in my neck.


"I paid for an MRI which showed I had herniated discs and I'm on the emergency waiting list for surgery but I believe all this is caused by the problem in my abdomen.

"There is an issue - even if it's not what I'm saying it is there's something seriously wrong, but the hospital has given up on me.

"It's so frustrating they would think someone would go to these lengths of making their own life a misery for nothing. I'm well educated and there's no history of mental illness with me or my family.

"I'm completely exhausted by it all and I'm not sure how much more I can take. I'm actually scared because if nobody can help me then what kind of life am I to have?"

Northern Health and Social Care Trust official said: "We do not consider it appropriate to make public comment."

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