Published on: June 11, 2011

Some things, like pain, know no borders. The reaction of insensitive doctors to someone else’s pain is another.

Ruth (not her real name) had grown up in USA. After she lost her husband to cancer, she migrated to Thailand, and worked as a Professor. Unfortunately, she had a fall, and there followed physiotherapy which included some form of electrical stimulation.

One day something went wrong. An accidental high strength of current, her leg shot up, out of control and she had agonizing pain.

What followed was a nightmare – doctors refusing to believe that she had pain, eventually finding that she had damaged nerves (during the abnormal muscle contraction following the electric current, she believes) and yet would not, or could not, relieve her pain.

Eventually she got to the pain management team at Siriraj Pain Center in Bangkok, run by Dr Pongparadee Chaudakshetrin, where she got some relief, enough to start working again. She still has to take opioids, along with physiotherapy and complementary therapy, but now she is earning for herself and building herself a life again.

There has to be a way by which stories like hers should be common knowledge to medical students and doctors. That would be at least of as practical educative value as the latest in the neuroscience of pain!

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