Friday, March 02, 2012

The High Price of Pain

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has led tributes from countless people who were shocked and saddened this week by the tragic death of PC David Rathband.  This brave policeman was brutally attacked by a fugitive from justice who had declared war on the police, Raoul Moat. Pc Rathband was shot twice by Moat, in the face and the shoulder, as he sat in his patrol car on the outskirts of Newcastle in July 2010. He spent 17 days in hospital and despite several operations to restore his eyesight he was still classed as being "black blind". Sue Sim, Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, said PC Rathband's life had "changed forever" when he was shot by Moat. "David showed outstanding bravery in what was a terrifying situation," she added. "He was a dedicated officer who acted in the best traditions of the police service."

What strikes me about the case, apart from the fact that David was the victim of a cruel and heartless attacker, was the discovery that he was also suffering immense physical pain since the attack.  I believe that it was this, combined with his devastating loss of sight, that brought him to an end of his resources.  As someone who suffered more than 15 years of chronic debilitating pain I feel great sympathy for this dear man who gave himself in the service of his community.

I hope that the manner of David's death, and the notoriety of his attacker (now also dead incidentally) will not detract from the memory of his self-less bravery and sense of public service.  I also hope that it will not discourage others who are coming to terms with sudden blindness or awful pain and who wonder if they can go on.  Above all, I hope that the publicity surrounding David's case will raise the profile of the problem of chronic pain and bring it back to the gaze of those who control health budgets and public purses.  Certainly in my case, the tens of thousands of pounds spent by my Health Authority to give me pain relief by means of a spinal neuro-stimulator has been a real life-saver - literally.