With retirement only a few years away, Bonnie Cameron dreamt of enjoying it with her husband, Sonny. But that dream came crashing down as a 1,500-pound shed the couple was moving into their Bethune backyard fell on top of her.
“I couldn’t breathe and all I could hear was my husband screaming, ‘Bonnie! Answer me!’” she recalls.
With the kind of superhuman strength you sometimes hear about during emergencies, Sonny lifted the shed up twice so Bonnie could breathe. Then, with help from neighbours, it was jacked up and Bonnie crawled to safety. Emergency medical services took her to Regina General Hospital.
Bonnie’s back discs were bulging, she had a broken vertebra and four dislocated ribs. The neurosurgeon thought surgery was too risky and the chance of permanent paralysis too high. Instead, Bonnie required physiotherapy to help her stand and walk. In all, she spent about a month in hospital before going back home to Bethune to further recover.
Two months later, Bonnie went back to her job managing medical imaging in the hospital, despite still being in extreme pain. After working all day, she found she couldn’t do anything else. She couldn’t clean her home or go for a walk. One day, nearly a year-and-a-half after the accident, a doctor in Bonnie’s department noticed Bonnie visibly upset.
“It’s this pain,” she told him. “This pain is unbearable. I take high doses of painkillers; I’m in a fog all the time and I can’t concentrate. I’m irritable and depressed.”
X-rays couldn’t explain Bonnie’s pain, so the doctor determined it was nerve-generated pain. He had a potential solution. He wanted to freeze the affected nerves in a rhizotomy, a non-invasive procedure in the interventional radiology (IR) suite at Regina General Hospital. The first step was to inject Bonnie with freezing to determine if she was indeed having nerve pain.
“It was unbelievable because within 10 minutes of having the procedure done, I couldn’t feel any pain whatsoever,” Bonnie remembers. “Those first few days, I was almost a new person.”
The freezing was only temporary, and within a week it wore off and the pain returned. Bonnie had to go back for the actual procedure – an injection of pure alcohol, which would kill the inflamed nerve endings. It was also successful, and would last much longer. Now Bonnie’s dream has come true. Today, she’s enjoying retired life, pain free, with her husband.
“My husband says, ‘Bonnie’s back!’” she says. “I have zest for life and energy. I have to do things within limits but there’s nothing I can’t do.”
Bonnie will continue getting this procedure, as the nerves will begin regenerating and the pain will return. Bonnie credits Regina General Hospital’s IR suite with not only eliminating her pain, but changing her life.
“More than 4,000 people are helped at Regina’s IR suite annually, for anything from cancer treatment to blocked blood vessels to pain management” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “By investing in the latest technology, people are able to be treated and diagnosed in a way that allows them to go home sooner to their families.”