Cape Breton man can't find family doctor despite pain he calls 'living hell'

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Cape Breton man can't find family doctor despite pain he calls 'living hell'

Cape Breton man can't find family doctor despite pain he calls 'living hell'

A man in Glace Bay, N.S., who is in constant pain and suffering a "living hell" says he cannot find a family doctor to manage his complex health issues.

In 2014, Shannon MacLeod was diagnosed with adhesive arachnoiditis, a rare, debilitating and extremely painful condition caused by an injury to a layer of his spinal cord.

"I noticed my vision wasn't right. I'm losing my teeth, they are just falling out," he said. "I have tinnitus now and my equilibrium is starting to fail again."

MacLeod's health troubles date back to 2005 when he suffered a ruptured disc. Then in 2007, he developed an  autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), that caused weakness and paralysis.

He still suffers some residual affects of GBS, but his greatest pain comes from his most recent diagnosis of arachnoiditis.

Agonizing pain

"My spinal cord is being crushed, the pain is agonizing," MacLeod said.

The man has been treated at the Pain Clinic at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, but needs a family doctor for ongoing care.

MacLeod said pain specialist Dr. Robert MacNeil does all he can and has prescribed several medications, including hydromorphone, but pain is still unmanageable and flared out of control last month.

"It was a pain explosion," he said.

"I called Nova Scotia Health and Wellness, I called 811, I called the Regional, Cape Breton District health care, Capital Health care, the list goes on and on."

He didn't get any help.

"I tell them I am going downhill fast and basically the buck was passed. I guess I am a hot potato and nobody wants to touch me."

MacLeod said he contacted several physicians asking to take on his case, but he was turned down.

He thinks it is because of his need for opioids for pain relief.

"The first question they ask is if you are on opioids, and then they say 'I can't help you there' or 'we are really full.'"

Doctors can't be forced to take on patients

The Nova Scotia Health Authority cannot force doctors to take on patients, said Greg Boone, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Health Authority's Eastern Zone.

He said MacLeod has the option to complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia about his situation.

"Physicians are independent practitioners and we are not in a position to direct them to accept patients into their practice."

MacLeod said he hasn't complained to the college.

"What's the point? I don't know where to go, I don't know what to do. I'm lost. I'm completely lost. I'm desperate. It's going to kill me," he said.