Woman loses 'lifeline' in burglary

CATE BROUGHTON
Last updated 10:55 14/08/2014
Rebecca Jacques
Richard Cosgrove/Fairfax NZ

'I FEEL VIOLATED': A spinal cord stimulator that helps Rebecca Jacques, 22, manage chronic pain was stolen two weeks ago.

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A Christchurch woman is distraught her "lifeline" has been stolen.

A spinal cord stimulator that helps Rebecca Jacques, 22, manage chronic pain was stolen two weeks ago.

"I'm feeling really really angry because this device - it's not valuable to anyone else but it's literally my lifeline," she said.

Police want public help to find the medical device, one of only three in New Zealand.

On Thursday, July 31, Jacques found the device had been stolen when she returned home from her work as a personal trainer.

She initially thought her flatmates had moved her gym bag, which contained the device.

She went to work without it and when she returned that night she was told the house had been burgled.

"I feel really really violated to think I was sleeping in my house and someone came in, and I feel really annoyed that if my health deteriorates any more I will lose my job," she said.

Jacques was diagnosed with nutcracker oesophagus, a type of oesophageal spasm, at 16 but said the condition had started five years earlier with "immense pain" in her chest.

When she was 18, doctors suggested she could try a spinal cord stimulator to relieve the pain, but it took another four years before she received the device.

Jacques said an electrode inserted into her spine was activated by a remote device.

"I finally had it done last year and it changed my life; it really did."

Before the stimulator was implanted, Jacques said, she had to take 62 pills a day to manage the pain, but had been able to cut that to 12 a day.

Everyday activities such as eating, exercising and sleeping were affected by the chronic pain associated with the condition.

The device allowed her to activate programmes to help manage pain associated with different activities, she said.
Now she would "just have to make do".

Since the device had been stolen, Jacques was able to sleep for only two hours a night.

She was concerned about the effect this would have on her ability to work.

"I have migraines and when I don't sleep I have seizures, so my job is on the line," she said.

Anyone with information should call the Christchurch police on 363 7400.

Information can also be given anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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