Wednesday 27 March 2019

'It does affect my quality of life' - This is what Ivan Yates has to do to ease his intense back pains

Ivan Yates launches a national campaign aiming to raise awareness of back pain. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Ivan Yates launches a national campaign aiming to raise awareness of back pain. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Jason Kennedy

Broadcaster Ivan Yates has revealed exactly what he has to do to ease his back pains, which have troubled him in the last few years.

The Newstalk presenter says sometimes he just has to lie down on the ground to ease his aches, no matter where he is.

"If I'm in the Olympia, after around 30 minutes, I always go to the top back row and stand. If I'm in the cinema in Stillorglan, I lie on the floor.

"In Newstalk, I don't have a desk, because I can't sit at a desk. I just lie on the floor."

The former Fine Gael TD was speaking at the launch of the 'Mypainfeelslike...” campaign, which aims to help chronic pain sufferers describe their pain by offering pictures to represent symptoms like “a burning fire under the skin” or “sharp needles travelling through the back”.

There, he spoke about the night he woke up to find he could no longer move the lower half of his body.

"It really was quite scary. My system went into a physical meltdown. I was in agony," he said.

The incident caused lasting damage to Mr Yates, who still has weakness in his left leg, where he sometimes gets pins and needles or loses sensations. He can no longer sit for prolonged periods of time.

The Wexford native says he no longer cares what people think when they see him lying on the ground.

"People think 'oh my God, is there a problem?'. Everyone gets used to it," he said.

"I find it's not my problem. I'm well over my dignity. You just would do anything to get over the pain.

The former Agriculture Minister is encouraging people who are also in pain to seek help while there is still a chance they can be successfully treated.

"It's absolutely critical not to grin and bear it, because you may be doing permanent damage which could leave you disabled."

Over half of Irish sufferers of chronic pain feel frustrated when trying to communicate their pain to a doctor, according to a survey conducted on behalf of Grünenthal Pharma Ltd.

Some 26pc of patients said they delay discussions with their doctor because they struggle to describe their symptoms.

“Mypainfeelslike...” aims to facilitate better communication between patients and healthcare professionals by offering a questionnaire and a set of images that can be referred to when discussing pain.

There are an estimated 1.65m people in Ireland suffering with pain, with 21pc reporting living with pain for 10 years or more.

The “Mypainfeelslike...” campaign is a collaboration between Chronic Pain Ireland and Grünenthal, and supported by Multiple Sclerosis Ireland and the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland.

The images will be displayed around Dublin and in GP surgeries across the country.

For more information, visit the website here.

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