Wigan woman to help those with life-limiting conditions

Johanna Heslip graduating at University of Liverpool
Johanna Heslip graduating at University of Liverpool

A Wigan woman who developed a rare life-limiting condition in childhood has been offered her dream job at Preston Hospital after graduating with two degrees.

Johanna Heslip, from Up Holland, suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a neurological condition that causes severe and persistent pain.

The 25-year-old, who was only 10 when she was diagnosed, was forced into a wheelchair for many years.

“We are extremely proud of her,” said Johanna’s mum Sue Heslip.

“She has had such a struggle from the age of 10, in terms of being chronically ill, in pain and often unable to walk as a result.

“She spent so much time in hospital that she missed most of her Year Six at primary school.

“As for high school she managed one term in Year Seven and each consequent year she had a lot of time off due to hospital admissions.”

As a teen, Johanna was home-schooled until her final year of high school when she returned and completed the year in full.

Sue added: “She is a very bright girl and although she came out with few qualifications, she battled her way through college to gain a place in university and then finished that course with a first and gained a place in the University of Liverpool.

“Her dream has been to become an occupational therapist, and ultimately help children and adults who have problems like herself.”

At Edge Hill University, Johannah graduated with a 1st class BA Hons in early years professional leadership and practice, which ensured her a place at Liverpool where she attained a 2nd class degree in occupational therapy.

On graduation she had two interviews with different hospital trusts and was offered both positions.

However she took the one “closest to her heart”, which is working in pain management at Preston.

“Her dream has been to become an occupational therapist and ultimately help children and adults who have problems like herself,” added her proud mum.

“To have gained a job in a pain management clinic is the icing on the cake for her.

“Presently this condition is incurable and the consequences of it are devastating.

“We don’t know what the future holds for her but just live for the day and enjoy seeing her achieve her dreams.”

Despite the condition having been recognised by the medical community for more than 150 years, doctors remain unsure about the causes of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (also known as complex regional pain syndrome).

It is believed that some people develop the condition after suffering an injury such as a cut or burn.

According to research, more women suffer from RSD than men.

There is no known cure for the disease for the ailment but a combination of physical treatments, medication and psychological support can help to manage the symptoms.

Wednesday, November 7 marks “colour the world orange” day, an international awareness day of RSD/CRPS.

For more information about the event visit www.burningnightscrps.org/event/colour-world-orange-day/