A NURSE who transforms the lives of patients living with long term chronic pain has received a prestigious national honour.

Donna-Marie Lord has been awarded as a Queen’s Nurse at a special ceremony in London.

This highly esteemed accolade has only been granted to 1,700 nurses in the UK who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient care nursing practice.

Donna-Marie is the only pain nurse working in the community to have received such acclaim.

“It is a big honour,” said the mum-of-three, who lives in Knutsford and works at GP surgeries and clinics across Northwich, Winsford and the surrounding areas.

Donna-Marie is the clinical lead for chronic pain in Mid Cheshire South & Vale Royal NHS.

She leads a multi disciplinary team of specialised clinicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and therapy assistants.

“My speciality is complex opiod addiction, helping people come off their medication,” said Donna-Marie.

“Traditionally, chronic pain was treated with high levels of opiods but there is a lot of evidence to show that this can be harmful.

“It is a long journey but it is very rewarding when we can help patients to get moving and functioning.

“At first, patients are angry with me as they feel that they own their morphine.

“But, when they get the lightbulb moment, they become completely different people. It’s wonderful.”

Disabled patients who spend days in bed with agonising back pain find they can walk with much more comfort and confidence.

“We see young people in wheelchairs, on crutches and using stair lifts,” said Donna-Marie.

“We help them to understand movement and teach them mindfulness and how to relax.

“I’m not saying we take their pain away but we give them their lives back by being able to exercise, function normally and go out socially.

“People get very depressed when they are in pain.

“We look at all the physical impact of pain and also help them with any excess smoking and drinking.”

Goals are set as weaning a patient off strong drugs is a long, gradual process.

“If you are taking a very high level of medication, you can’t reduce it fast,” said Donna-Marie.

“We get a connection with the patient. That is why it is a multi-disciplinary team. We all work in harmony with each other.

“We tell them we can get your life back to where it was before and help them to socialise, move and function.

“We give patients the tools but they have to do the work.”

Donna-Marie has come on a remarkable journey herself.

At 17, she trained as a cadet nurse in Wythenshawe Hospital.

Afterwards, she specialised in operating theatres and intensive care and worked in all the Manchester hospitals.

Donna-Marie then decided to become a pain clinician and embarked on a master’s degree at university.

“It was a very tough time,” she said.

“I was a single mum with three children, working full-time doing 13-hour shifts in theatre and studying on my days off.

“I graduated when I was 49 and am really proud to have achieved it.

“It has been very rewarding.”

Donna is now married to husband Adrian, a classical pianist and composer, and shares her specialist knowledge of chronic pain with medics at seminars and conferences.

“To start off as a little cadet nurse when I was 17, I have worked really hard to get into this,” she said.

“I am now invited to go everywhere and speak about chronic pain.

“I have taught trainee GPs and last year spoke at the British Pain Society scientific meeting.

“If you work hard, your dream can come true.”