Young woman who couldn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes due to excruciating pain is finally cured – after docs embedded a battery pack in her waist.
A young woman who was in so much pain she hadn’t slept for more than 30 minutes for YEARS is finally cured – after doctors embedded a battery pack in her waist.
Ruby Chamberlain, 22, started to suffer with complex regional pain syndrome – a poorly understood condition that causes debilitating pain – when she was aged just eight.
It started in her left foot before spreading through her entire lower body, until she was in so much agony she couldn’t stand or walk without help.
Her body would go into spasm every day, she had to give up work, move back in with her parents, and needed help to do simple tasks like shower or go to the loo.
The cause of CRPS – also called the ‘suicide disease’ – is unknown, but it’s thought to be the result of the body reacting abnormally to an injury.
She tried more than 100 treatments including physiotherapy, aggressive painkillers and “brutal” injections, but nothing worked.
But she heard about a new procedure called spinal cord stimulation surgery – and raised £35,000 to pay for it through crowdfunding and fundraising.
She had a pacemaker-like battery pack inserted on the left side of her body, just below her ribs, which is connected to electrodes in her spine, in August 2020.
Now when she presses a button on a remote control, it sends signals electrical pulses to block pain signals going to her brain.
Now she’s doing yoga, back at uni, going for walks and is able to eat dinner sitting up for the first time in years.
Ruby, from Houghton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire, said: “I’m 22 and I couldn’t go out with my friends or see them.
“I had to leave my job on my work placement and it’s been a real strain on my life.
“Last year I had a spasm every single day which lasted for hours and hours,
“I couldn’t sleep for more than about half an hour so I never really got any sleep.”
“Now I’m a new woman!
“My pain levels have dropped by 80% and I’m doing yoga and finishing my economics degree, all thanks to the generosity of amazing people!
“It’s been incredible.
“It’s allowed me to start walking again which is the biggest thing for me, and I can sit up for hours.”
Ruby has had constant “excruciating” pain in her back, hips and legs for most of her life.
She went to her GP just a few weeks after her pain started, but it took years and at least eleven different doctors and pain clinics to get a CRPS diagnosis.
At one point she lost movement in her right arm and her symptoms worsened until she was in constant pain from her waist to her feet.
She said: “When you’re not really sleeping you have no energy to text or FaceTime so it’s very isolating, but I’m lucky to have an amazing family.
“Like with mental health, there’s so much stigma around invisible disabilities as people really want to think you’re lying, for some reason.”
Ruby had about a hundred different treatments including physiotherapy, aggressive painkillers and “brutal” injections that only provided short-term relief at best.
After she got home from work she would often have to lie down immediately until the pain eased – sometimes not until 4am.
She had to move back home to Leicester in January 2020, and give up work and uni.
In March, Ruby set up her crowdfunding campaign to raise £35,000 so she could receive spinal cord stimulation surgery privately.
She said her requests to get it on the NHS were rejected.
Ruby said: “For me, my pain was spreading so rapidly that if it got much worse the surgery would have been ineffective, so it was a race against time.”
Her friends, family and even strangers donated towards her surgery after hearing about her story via social media.
Ruby organised sponsored runs, cycles, a drag event and even a competitive eating competition, and her friends and family began sold cook books and plants online.
She met her target in three months in June 2020 and had her three-and-a-half hour surgery in August 2020 at the London Spine Clinic.
Just over a month after the surgery, Ruby went on her first dog walk in years.
Ruby said: “It’s allowed me to start walking again which is the biggest thing for me, and I can sit up for hours.
“I can sit and have dinner with my family as before I had to lie down to eat.
“I’m getting so much stronger it helps the pain as well, and the sleep is blissful, which has completely changed my life.
“I can’t put into words how much it’s helped!
“I’m super excited to go out to the pub again.”