A young woman who tried to chop off one of her fingers with an axe in a desperate bid to end chronic pain is due to undergo potentially life-changing surgery tomorrow.
Megan Cullen, 22, from Bantry in Co Cork, hopes the procedure to remove a metal rod from her injured finger will be the first step on her journey to a life without excruciating pain.
She has been told the operation has a 50:50 chance of success because she may have RSD — reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome — a rare and complex chronic pain condition in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an injured site.
Megan said if the surgery does not work, she will demand the amputation of her injured finger. “They’ve told me the operation could make it worse but I’m willing to take the chance. I just want to be pain free,” she said.
Megan hit the headlines in August when she spoke of living with chronic pain after her finger got caught in a car door two years ago.
She suffered extensive crush injuries to the finger but was unable, for reasons beyond her control, to seek immediate medical care.
It was months before medical experts were able to examine the finger and she endured months of severe pain before a metal rod was surgically inserted last November in a bid to stiffen the top joint of her injured finger.
Megan said this marked the beginning of her excruciating agony and the pain got so bad she felt she had no option but to amputate the finger .
She searched for DIY amputation online, sterilised her finger and the axe, iced her finger, applied a tourniquet, taped down her good fingers, and brought the axe down. But it struck the wire.
She was rushed to Cork University Hospital where emergency department doctors patched her up.
Shocked by her plight, they wrote referral letters for her GP and she is now due to undergo an operation in Cork’s South Infirmary tomorrow to remove the wire.
Throughout this time, Megan, who is a full-time carer to her mother, and who has a medical card, has been taking painkillers including Valium, which did not relieve the pain. She was recently placed on a morphine regime and heavy sedatives to help her sleep.
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