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Theda Myint locked up at Fremantle Hospital after euthanasia attempt
Thursday 21 April 2011
Chronic fatigue victim Theda Myint locked up at Fremantle Hospital after euthanasia attempt
A Perth woman battling chronic fatigue syndrome was committed to the locked ward of Fremantle Hospital after an attempt to euthanise herself in a desperate bid to address her crippling condition.
Theda Myint, 34, has grappled with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) – better known as chronic fatigue syndrome – for 11 years. The condition has left her bedridden with crippling migraines, severe body pain and an extremely low tolerance to light and noise.
She and her mother, Carol Adams, have campaigned to raise awareness of the condition, which they say is commonly misunderstood in the medical world.
The pair have also lobbied the state government to subsidise her medical treatments, which they say must be administered in the home due to the debilitating nature of her condition, but their requests have so far been rebuffed.
Ms Myint was rushed to hospital by ambulance last Wednesday after attempting to end her life for the third time in five weeks.
Her mother Carol Adams said ambulance, emergency and intensive care staff were "fantastic" in treating her debilitating ME pain, and it wasn't until she was transferred to one of the hospital's medical wards that things took a turn for the worst.
Ward staff informed Ms Adams that they would not be able to provide food for her daughter due to her intolerances to potatoes, gluten, eggs, lactose and legumes brought on by her condition. In desperation, the family was forced to turn to highly processed food from a vending machine after Ms Myint went without food for two days.
While on the medical ward, a psychiatrist reviewed her case in light of her suicide attempt and made the decision to move her onto a locked ward, rescinding her rights and placing doctors in full control of her wellbeing.
"She was in so much pain. As soon as she was put in the locked ward, her ME needs were not being met," Ms Adams said. "She was in a nine out of 10 for pain, and she was being refused treatment for that.
"She asked to have a hot bath or shower to ease her pain, and she was told she couldn't because it would disturb the other patients.
"She asked to see another doctor, and she was refused. She then asked to be taken back to emergency, and that was also refused because she was in the psychiatric ward."
It was then that Ms Adams appealed to WAtoday.com.au for help. After a call was placed by this website to the hospital on Saturday morning, Ms Myint began getting the treatment she required and that afternoon she was released from hospital.
"It was only in desperation that we contacted the media, as our requests to the hospital had been refused," Ms Adams said.
A Fremantle Hospital spokeswoman refused to directly address Ms Adams' accusations about her daughter's treatment.
"We have every confidence in the care provided to Theda during her recent admission to Fremantle Hospital," she said. "We are unable to comment any further due to patient confidentiality."
Health Minster Kim Hames also declined to comment on Ms Myint's treatment at Fremantle Hospital last week, citing issues of patient confidentiality.
Now back home, Ms Myint is under 24-hour watch by her mother, who said she was deeply concerned that she may try to harm herself again.
"She is extremely distressed and she just wants to die," she said.
"She has just lost all hope. She doesn't believe anyone can help her anymore. She's had so many knockbacks and has been let down so many times, she's just frightened to have hope."
Ms Adams' previous appeals to the state government to subsidise in-home treatments have been ignored, with Dr Hames previously telling the family that he was "unable to direct any doctor to provide care outside what they consider to be standard medical practice".
Each in-home treatment administered by the family's GP costs about $350, and Ms Adams said her daughter would need the treatments on a weekly basis to see any improvement to her condition.
Ms Myint is now placing her hopes on an Indian traditional medical treatment known as "ayurveda", which Ms Adams said was "a desperate measure, but we cannot get the help we need in Australia".
Ms Adams said she was using the last of her superannuation funds to fly her and her daughter to India, where she hoped the alternative treatment would relieve Ms Myint's pain. But Ms Myint's confidence that she could recover was at an all-time low.
"She said to me, 'It would be good if it helps, wouldn't it mum. But I know that it won't'," Ms Adams said.
She said she was planning on lodging a formal complaint to the Health Department over her daughter's recent treatment at Fremantle Hospital, but said her lack of funds meant any legal battles could not be fought through the courts.
Anyone wanting help or counselling for mental health issues 24 hours a day should contact Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.
The above originally appeared here.
Please note: This article contains references to death. If you have feelings of helplessness, or of suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. Lifeline is an excellent starting point: Lifeline – Suicide Prevention resources and links.
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