B.C. woman left waiting in agony over bladder treatment referral

A Port Coquitlam woman in severe pain says she wishes she would die, after waiting months to be treated for complications arising from bladder surgery.

Doctors say Shalini Narayan is not alone in falling through cracks of B.C.'s fragmented health care system

Shalini Narayan says she cannot get anyone to treat her 2:22

A Port Coquitlam woman in severe pain says she wishes she would die, after waiting months to be treated for complications arising from bladder surgery.

Shalini Narayan had a bladder lift procedure at St. Paul's Hospital in January after undergoing a hysterectomy, but was left in constant agony afterwards. 

After being referred to B.C. Women's Hospital pelvic pain clinic, Narayan received a letter last month saying she is not eligible for treatment there because there were complications with the mesh used to lift her bladder.

"I don't want to live. I wish for death every day," Narayan said. "I'm not a coward that I will go and do anything, but if I feel that I cannot be treated. Why would I want to live with this pain?"

Narayan's bladder surgery was supposed to take 12 weeks to heal, but five months later, she is constantly taking painkillers to control her symptoms.

"I'm deterorating, I don't know what to do. I've tried every avenue gone to numerous doctors," she said.

"I was just waiting to get healed and it never did. It became complex and complex. I'm at a point where I feel that today I'm limping. Tomorrow I'll be in a wheelchair."

Narayan is now receiving disability benefits and is confined to her home because she needs to use a washroom every few minutes. 

'We're bursting at the seams'

B.C. Women's Hospital pain clinic also told Narayan there were long waitlists and limited resources.

After CBC News contacted the clinic, officials there said Narayan should be going back to St. Paul's Hospital for further treatment.

None of that was communicated on the rejection letter Narayan received from B.C. Women's Hospital.

Meanwhile, Dr. Stephen Wiseman at the Complex Pain Centre at St Paul's Hospital says their resources are also stretched.

"We're bursting at the seams," he said. "We have to compete for resources, funding and attention."

Narayan isn't alone  doctors say the confusion and fragmentation in B.C.'s health care system means patients in pain are navigating a complex and confusing web of specialists, clinics and hospitals.

Wiseman says there is a lack of communication between the caregivers and care providers.

"There's very little in the way of coordination, frankly in the way of communication, and we see patients suffering because of that a lot."

Dr. Brenda Lau with the Change Pain Clinic says as a result of little communication and coordination, many patients are left to fend for themselves.

"You often have to advocate and fight for the resources for yourself," she said.

"If you've got really supportive friends or spouses or family, you feel some ability to get some support where you can."

Narayan is now in the process of getting a referral back to St. Paul's Hospital where she was originally cared for, in the hopes that something can be done to ease her pain.

With files from Bal Brach


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