Published: 00:01, 07 August 2014
A mum who suffered excruciating pain since having a gastric bypass operation died after accidentally overdosing on painkillers, an inquest heard.
Maxine Ovenden, who would have turned 40 this summer, died on January 14, five years after undergoing the procedure to combat weight problems she’d battled since childhood.
Speaking at the inquest in Folkestone, Ms Ovenden’s mum Dawn Sharp said her daughter had overcome a number of issues and things were looking up for her.
Mrs Sharp, of Riverside Close, said: “Previously Maxine took alcohol with painkillers because if she got into that state the pain wasn’t there – it was a different place.
"Maxine had had a problem with alcohol but it had stopped and she was happy.
"We’d booked a holiday, she’d moved to a much better area and was taking her daily exercise. She was on the up.”
Ms Ovenden lived with her son Charlie, 20, but it was her mum who found her at her flat.
She said: “The lights weren’t on but the telly was blaring. She was lying on the sofa, normally, like you would. I shook her and said: ‘Come on, wake up.’ That’s when I realised she had died.”
Ms Ovenden’s GP at Sydenham House Medical Centre, Mill Court, Dr Edward Klim, said his patient had suffered from nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain since the operation and had been diagnosed with clinical depression.
She had undergone numerous tests and procedures in an attempt to find out what was causing the problems.
Dr Klim said he was unaware Ms Ovenden had been due to have an operation in London that may have eased the pain but family members told the inquest that this was the case.
When asked whether he believed Ms Ovenden had been suicidal Dr Klim replied: “I can’t say I have ever assessed her as being suicidal although she had two overdoses, in March and July 2013, when she attended A&E.
"I saw her the day before she died and she did still seem low... but if anything her mood was better than it had been before. In my professional opinion it was an accidental overdose.”
In August last year Ms Ovenden, of Watercress House, Hillbrow Lane, fell between 25ft and 30ft from a balcony onto a road, fracturing a bone in her face among other injuries, the hearing was told.
Community psychiatric nurse Brian Viney, who saw Ms Ovenden from July 2013 until her death, said it was not clear whether the fall had been deliberate or an accident caused by her being drunk.
But her mum said the fall – “as stupid as it was” – had shocked her daughter into turning her life around, adding she did not believe Ms Ovenden had intended to take her own life.
She said; “I think it was accidental. I think she just took one too many. She must have woken up, got the time wrong and taken one more.”
Mr Viney admitted Ms Ovenden had been a difficult patient to deal with because she presented most signs of having mental health issues when she was drunk and could not be properly assessed.
Pathologist Dr Miklos Perenyei said a postmortem examination revealed Ms Ovenden died from an overdose of morphine and fentanyl – both painkillers.
Coroner Rachel Redman accepted that Ms Ovenden had started to “take more responsibility for her life” since her fall and that she was “off the alcohol” and had “everything to live for”.
Mrs Redman said she was concerned about the medication Ms Ovenden had access to but satisfied the surgery had tried to reduce that medication.
The coroner gave a verdict of accidental death.
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