NHI: 20+ yrs of Crohn’s … pain is all in your head ?

Mother-of-three died in agony from Crohn’s disease after doctors said she was ‘imagining most of her pain’


A woman who visited hospital 50 times in the lead up to her death was told by medics the chronic pain she suffered was all in her head, her husband claims.

Michelle Ashby, 43, spent three years in and out of hospital suffering from inflammatory bowel disease Crohn’s.

The mother-of-three from Gillingham, Kent, died on January 18 last year.

The cause of death was first given as pneumonia, caused by Crohn’s disease.

But a post mortem examination revealed she actually died from multiple organ failure stemming from a perforation to her bowel.

Her husband David told an inquest into her death that doctors at Medway Maritime Hospital said his wife was imagining a lot of her pain.

On one occasion, a nurse threatened that if she did not stop screaming out in pain, she would be discharged, he claims.

‘We had around 50 admissions to Medway hospital. We were in and out for the last two years of her life,’ he said.

‘We had an ambulance outside our house every week – the paramedics used to come in for a cup of tea.

‘She was in constant pain and she never got better it just got continually worse.’

Mr Ashby added: ‘None of us expected what happened to her. We were not told her condition was life-threatening.

‘I was told a lot of the pain was in her head and that she was imagining it.’

Mrs Ashby was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1992 and has spent the past three years in and out of hospital.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system or gut which affects millions of people worldwide.

Its cause is still not known and there is currently no cure but the condition is often managed with diet and sometimes surgery.

But serious complications – including perforation of the bowel – can occur.

 Michelle Ashby, pictured in October 2014 with a swollen face and later on life support (right), died after spending three years in hospital with Crohn’s disease

Mother-of-three died in agony from Crohn’s disease after doctors said she was ‘imagining most of her pain’


She spent two years in and out of Medway Maritime Hospital but died at Darent Valley Hospital after the family lost all faith in the care she was getting at Medway.

She leaves family including three children – aged 24, 12 and five – as well as four grandchildren.

Assistant corner Kate Thomas concluded on Thursday that Mrs Ashby’s death was due to natural causes.

She said: ‘I find there is no evidence that had there been either a multi disciplinary meeting to discuss her case, or if Mrs Ashby had had surgery that the outcome probably would have been different – possibly but not probably.

‘Surgery itself in relation to Michelle would be major and complex and there would have been complications which would have detracted from her quality of life and surgery was the last resort.

‘It was a balancing act. There was always a risk of perforation and the disease becoming worse.’

A Medway NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: ‘We’ve noted the Coroner’s conclusion that Michelle Ashby died of natural causes.

‘We would like pass on our thoughts to the family of Mrs Ashby at what is clearly a difficult time.

10 Responses

  1. This is why I no longer bother going to the ER. Since I have a DSM dx, I am immediately written off, shoved to the back of the line. One day I had a life threatening reaction to a medication, and the front desk “girls” sat there laughing because I couldn’t talk. That was because my tongue had swollen so huge it wad blocking my throat. I couldn’t even scream. I was drooling because I couldn’t swallow my own saliva. But you know, everyone with a DSM dx is a drug seeker, right? The situation is growing desperate.

  2. i believe this happened in England. NHS is their National Health Service…the One Payer system the progressives want so badly over here. I have read more horror stories about healthcare lately in England that you CMTSU. Their system is broke and a disaster. Why do you think those who have money over there come over here for care still even as messed up as our system.has become. Family cant sue….there is practically no malpractice there because majority of the healthcare workers work for thr government. Socialized medicine at its finest. Prayers for her family.

  3. My heart breaks for Michelle and her family. All too often we are told that pain is “in our head” when in reality it is real and often nowhere near our head! That hospital needs to lose its license!

  4. This is so tragic. I don’t believe for a second that earlier intervention would not have saved her life. It’s B.S. and Doctors covering for each other.

    I went to ER for horrific sciatic pain. I was discharged as a drug seeker. The next day I was in emergency surgery to release the compression on my spinal cord. NeitherThe E.R. M.D, nor the nurse bothered to do a simple neurologic assessment, or any other assessment other than “drug seeker”. Had they bothered to assess the pain, they would have found a paralyzed leg and foot drop.
    When did medical professionals stop assessing patients simply because they complain of pain? Pain is a symptom that something is WRONG. It is what usually brings patients to the E.R.
    Go ahead and think “drug seeker” but keep it to yourself as you assess the patient!
    That hospital and everyone who dismissed this poor woman is responsible for her death.
    God help us all.

  5. Tis is appalling

  6. This is horrific, and happening here, also. And now CDC has hired doctors who view pain as a mental health issue (all in your head) to teach primary care doctors how to treat pain. Govt. funded and sanctioned promotion of torturing the most vulnerable people among us, in my view.
    This has got to stop!

    • this is why ,jmo,,I think it is now useless to try and negotiate w/our government,,Thier to far gone,,,We have commented to the cdc,we have done petition after petition,we have written our letters to the dea,congres,the President,,the Surgeon general,,all of them,,and they outright refuse to hear our crys to stop the inhumane torture they have done to us,,,These comments are heartbreaking,,,,,and should NOT of happen’d to any of us,,in 2016,,,in the so-called civilized society of the United States..Greed,,,has taken over the mindset of those in charge of our welfare,,,data that is a complete lie,,,I fear are only hope is to go outside of the United States,,and use the United Nations Legal International Court,,,,Our aclu ,,has failed us,,our government has definitiely failed us ,,human rights watch has failed us,,,our governemt outright refuses to hear us,,and stop this cruelity,,,,jmo,,,,”we the people,”should try the U.N ,by filing formal charges against our government for willfull torture and genocide I believe is are only hope,to stop this inhumane torture and genocide,towards the medically ill,,,maryw

  7. This is just horrific and (unfortunately) has happened before. I don’t have Crohn’s though I so understand that it is horribly painful. However when I was 19, I had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured within my right tube along with ruptured cysts on my right ovary. Our ER sent me home that night after ER dr. thought I was “drug seeking.” By the next morning, I was back in the ER in stage IV hypovolemic Shock being prepped for emergency surgery (while getting papers shoved in my face to sign). I had bled almost half of my body’s blood supply into my abdomen. Had I waited just a little longer (we wanted to go to a bigger hospital about an hour and half away, but had no time), I would have died. (This is what the surgeon told my family). Surgeon removed my ovary and tube. The reason I’m writing this is to say that I literally can’t imagine the pain this poor lady endured – not just over the years, but right at the time of her rupture. A rupture of any kind within the abdominal area is almost indescribable. It’s difficult for me to even explain the type of pain I was in by that morning. I can remember bits and parts, mainly having problems breathing and not being able to control the involuntary contractions my entire body was having. I couldn’t lie flat, couldn’t sit up, recline, roll over, or even comprehend what was going on. I hope this family sues the ever-loving piss out of this hospital. I would give anything to sit on this jury. Thinking of what this lady endured makes me sick!

    • I can totally attest to what your describing about this and the pain she endured,,I as well had an ectopic pregnancy in 1973 and had min to live ,,I did lose most of my blood volume,,just 1 and 1/2 years ago I had a blockage in my bowels that almost killed me,,I laid in that Hospital for a few days in the worst agony of my life besides the tubal pregnancy,, because they treated me as well as a drug seeker as I was on medication at this time, but brought my bottles with me to the Hospital,,they did not give me anything not even my own Meds and they were all there count wise,,I ended up losing 14 ft of my intestines and now a colostomy on top of it all ,,anyone worst nightmare all because I was not treated with respect not even treated or checked for the blockage,,they sent me home with a drain in my back for another week and I literally almost died from infection,,all because they thought I was there as a drug seeker,,This is a Travesty and I do as well know this poor Woman suffered more than any Human Being should ever ever suffer,,Have Mercy on all of us This is Heart Breaking

  8. This is a true epidemic,,,this poor lady,,the other women in florida’s e.r/,,who died in the parking lot after being kicked out of the e.r.,,because she was a chronic pain humanbeing..I myself,,went 2 ce to our rural e.r/,,they literally told me I was full of shit…as to why my belly was sooo descended,busted blood vessels all over my skin,,,because of my measly bit of pain medicine,,,in reality,,my pancreatic/bile duct were closed,/clogged,my internal organs were swelled to 3 times their normal size,,my gallbladder was shot,calcified ,literallky full of stones,scarring my pancreas,and liver,,,and I had 50 pounds of edema thru out my body,,dam near died,2ce under anesthetic,,,my lipase level was at 1800,,,.When my doc asked for the ct scan they tried to take at our rural hospital,,which I told them I was allergic to contrast,,no matter,,gave it to me anyways,,,they mysteriously couldn’t find the ct.,,thank god the nurse had a syringe full of Benadryl ready.I should of been life flighted,,,,fyi.,…u have 90 days to file a suit,,or u can’t do nothing,,,,Point being,,this cruelity is happening everywhere to chronic pain patients ,,,we r again,,literally being murder’d,,,maryw

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