Adrienne Crowder, 44, from East Kilbride in Scotland, was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, which caused her to lose balance and fall over
A former lifeguard has died in her sleep after self-medicating with powerful painkillers to combat a rare ear disorder.
Adrienne Crowder, 44, from East Kilbride in Scotland, was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, which caused her to lose balance and fall over.
She was found dead at her home last April with toxic levels of morphine in her system.
Miss Crowder, who was originally from Bolton, was found next to packets of the prescription painkilling drug cocodemol.
An inquest into her death in Bolton, revealed that Police Scotland did not investigate where the drugs had come from or where they went.
It emerged in the three weeks before her death, Miss Crowder had been in a car crash and needed crutches to get around.
The hearing was told former foster parent Miss Crowder – who was described as ‘the life and soul of the party’ – had grown up in Bolton and worked as a lifeguard at a leisure centre in Wigan, before moving to Scotland to be with her new partner.
But she had various health problems and aged 19 she was diagnosed with epilepsy and then in 2007 was told by doctors she had the heart condition dilated cardiomyopathy.
She began taking medication for it, frustrated that it impacted her sporty lifestyle.
More recently she was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, which caused her to suffer from vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus and suffered from sciatica.
Her sister, Joanne Howcroft told the inquest: ‘Adrienne always wanted to have children, and I think her looking after and fostering children confirmed that for her. She was desperate to be a mum.
‘Her diagnosis had an effect on her quality of life and had a distressing effect on her, and she gradually descended in to depression and was struggling to cope sometimes.
‘Her life had not gone the way she had planned. She met a man and moved to Scotland with him.
She was found dead at her home last April with toxic levels of morphine in her system
‘Our mum has family in Scotland so she wasn’t by herself. She was buzzing because she was about to move into a bungalow, she was very excited and the last thing we spoke about was me coming to visit once she had moved in.
‘I think that she did have a high tolerance to pain medication and she could have been self-medicating. Adrienne was making plans and things for the future. She had her dog Pepe, and she would never have left him.’
Miss Crowder’s mother Ann said: ‘Adrienne was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 19, which was controlled by drugs, but the seizures happened when she slept which made her scared to sleep.
‘It made her frightened to sleep and she never slept well. We had an agreement that she could always call me if she needed me; I was there 24 hours a day for her. She would always put on Facebook if she was struggling, calling it her ‘having a head wobble’ which became something we all said.’
Miss Crowder, who was originally from Bolton, was found next to packets of the prescription painkilling drug cocodemol
In a statement, Miss Crowder’s GP, Dr John Gum said she had made various appearances at the surgery in the six months before death for repeated falls. During her last appointment she expressed that she was feeling stressed about moving house and had been upset by the car crash she had.
A post mortem examination in Scotland showed Miss Crowder had therapeutic levels of pregabolin, fluoxetine, zopiclone, diazepam, codeine, co-codamol and an antihistamine in her bloodstream.
A higher than therapeutic level of morphine was found in her system, which was at a ‘toxic level.’
Pathologist Dr Emile Salmo who carried out a second mortem in England said: ‘There was a higher than therapeutic level of morphine could have caused or contributed to the death. But without the full toxicology report it is hard to say where the morphine came from, but it seems to be the kind that is used for pain relief as no adulterants were found.’
Recording an open conclusion, assistant coroner Tim Brennan said: ‘I have heard in a report from her GP that the deceased had a history of dilated cardiomyopathy, depression and anxiety caused by ongoing pain that was caused by the consequence of a previous hip fracture, sciatica and Ménière’s disease.
‘She was found in an unresponsive condition in her bed in East Kilbride where it was decided that she was beyond resuscitation and was declared dead at the scene.
‘In terms of the how and the why, we did not have access to the toxicological evaluation, and could not back calculate the amount, and this inquest was hampered by the sparsity of information.
‘This court was hampered by the quality of evidence, and the limited information that was received from the procurator fiscal office in this case.
It means regrettably that mystery still envelops the precise circumstances of Miss Crowder’s tragic early demise.
‘It is clear from this inquest that she left an impact on many people in her 44 years and she lived her life to the full.
‘I was very impressed to hear of her work as a foster carer and it is clear that she was a full, vibrant and active member of the community.’
Speaking after the inquest, Miss Crowder’s sister, Joanne said: ‘Adrienne was full of life, and even after she was diagnosed with the condition she didn’t let it hold her back. She was bubbly, the life and soul of the party and she was amazing. She had some rough times but so does everybody.
‘It was a shock for us all to hear that she had died, my mum spoke to her every day on the phone and we had only spoken to her the Thursday before. She would come down and we would see her regularly, she would watch me play rounders but get frustrated that she couldn’t play herself.
‘The heart condition is something that can just sneak up on you, and it can be triggered by a lot of things end up being fatal. She was a brilliant, amazing person who will never be forgotten and will always be loved.’