April Keddy is a 31-year-old Port Willams resident who lives with the rare (she is one of 3 in Canada) and progressive disorder, Galactosialidosis, “that affects my whole body”. It was diagnosed when she was 3. Health problems include asthma, lung disease, migraines, thickening of the heart valves and leaky valves, and vision problems (corneal clouding).
She spoke eloquently at a recent news conference in Halifax against recent amendments to Nova Scotia’s Employment Support Income Assistance (ESIA) Regulations that cut back essential health benefits such as massage therapy.
She talked about how massage therapy for the past 5 years, funded by the Department of Community Services, has dramatically relieved her pain and suffering and improved her quality of life.
My health I have been able to maintain at home for the past 15 years or so with the help of my family and a wonderful team of specialists and doctors.
When I started getting more pain in my joints and muscles, combined with muscle spasms, more severe migraines and less sleep, my daily routines became more difficult. My low-energy levels as well as increased infections led to antibiotics which just added to my growing list of medications
At this point, I was referred to physiotherapy and remained there for a year with no improvement no matter what the therapist tried. I was then referred to massage therapy (MT), and after only a month there I have had a drastic improvement in my pain and quality of life.
Before MT, three or four times a week I had migraines that needed 10 mg of Maxalt After MT I had one migraine every 7-10 days and have had weeks where I go 14 days and my Maxalt medication was decreased to 5 mg or just Tylenol.
Before MT, my hand and feet spasms had been every week with intense pain. After massage therapy, spasms only once every couple of months or so with a decrease in pain with it.
Before MT, I was irritable and had mood swings due to pain and lack of sleep. After MT, the mood improved a lot with fewer mood swings.
Before MT, my sleep was less than 6 hours consistently and not restful because of pain wakening. After MT, I am able to sleep 8 hours consistently and wake up rested. Pain is not interrupting my sleep.
Before MT my asthma peak flows were 240-250 and breathing was more difficult. After MT, my peak flows were 280-300. My breathing improved.
Before MT, I was unable to do any walking – just around the house. After MT, I was able to walk 20 minutes and up to three 10-minute walks.
Before MT, my meals were irregular and just snacking. After MT, my meals became regular.
Before MT, I had no energy and I was tired all the time. After MT, I had more energy.
Before MT I was constantly having infections – monthly and even weekly visits to the doctor’s office. After MT, I still have infections but not as frequent.
Before MT, my blood pressure was low. After MT, my blood pressure is normal.
I have spent the majority of my childhood in hospital, I am afraid that without massage therapy I will spend even more time in hospital, and possibly need a long-term-care facility in the future.
I fear that without massage therapy I will be in constant pain and will have to depend on medications to manage it. Massage therapy improves the quality of my life and my independence and keeps my pain at a manageable level.
I am terrified of ending up the way my life was before or possibly worse.
I think it is unfair that changes that Community Services is making to the special needs program so that no one will be able to use these services anymore in the future will have a drastic effect on the people in the province who are in need of these services.
For more on cuts to essential health care for people with disabilities, read this story.
Watch April Keddy's speech here.