How the NHS failed me and mine.
What it did, to the most important person
in my life and how it could happen to you unless
we do something about it!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Difficult Year

So 2009 draws to close, punctuated by snowfalls and freezing weather that, for me, illustrate the malaise, in most of the machinery of the state. In these annals I tend to highlight the shortcomings of the NHS and Healthcare. But, the sickness in Society (which according to Maggie doesn't exist) is more widespread. It penetrates Central and Local Government and Governance. Certainly, MP's have filled thier pockets with taxpayers gold, as have many Civil Servants including Doctors. But more; the widespread hubris of all dominates. They feel they are both being effective and successful when in truth they are believing their own rhetoric.

The NHS is the focus of my anger, but it is deeper; I am angry with Doctors who abdicate their role as the healer, to become the druggist. They fail to shun the rubbish claims of the most powerfull industrial conglomerate in the World, rivalling that of the Oil Cartels; the Pharmaceutical giants. Whilst the small and universally shunned groups scream foul, they largely sit in their ivory towers, dispensing what some truly believe to be the best for their patients, undertake procedures that both threaten and take lives in the name of best practise, when it patently isn't. At Consultant level they cherrypick patients with the cash to pay for the nanny and the Volvo for their fragrant spouses. They take the gold of the Taxpayer for part time work, to give them an inflated pension and care for them if they ever fall ill themselves. It has been this way for sixty years and despite some effort by Government to change the culture, it remains that way today. Well shame on them I say. Running with the hare and the hounds is unaccepable and needs to be kurbed. They should fulfill their roles for the NHS or get out and ply their trade in Private practise, I do not believe they can be in both camps.

It is sadly deeper even than that. Medicine has been corrupted as to be unrecognisable with that of thirty years ago. Invented illnesses predominate just so Big Pharma can peddle a pointless, expensive drug to the gullible or worse, greedy physician who sees a new cohort to treat for which he/she can extract more cash from an already hugely expensive system. Test regimes are devised to check for obviously frightening illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease but, there has been no discernable impact on mortality for those actually diagnosed (as opposed to those tested) and an alarming number of false positives have been found and treated to no good purpose. In fact, a significant number of scientists are now of the view that most screening of the population, has been counter productive and expensive.

In other areas, we also find the apparatus of the State failing in the provision of that which they exist to provide. The Police seem to universally fail to help in situations where they are the only agency capable of so doing. Leaving people who are vulnerable, to fend for themselves against the feral minority of Society that hounds them to death or to an action that is then unlawfull in it's desperation. Utility organisations that provide infrastructure at what seems to be a high price to the user, singularly failing to give us what we pay for and who are then found guilty of significant fraud against their own customers. The list is in fact endless including the great 'sell off' at bargain basement prices, of the state machinery we all worked so hard to pay for, including now all the Nuclear Power Stations to EDF, part owned by the French Government.

Where is Government in all of this ? Waiting in the wings with it's hand outstretched for the quite large crumbs that fall therein in the form of jobs, expenses, sponsorship of the ludicrous talking shops they are always arranging, in fact anything at all that gets the enormous cost of Privatisation out of the Chancellors ledgers, even if it does cost twice as much in the long term. This cynical manipulation or 'spin' of everything has rendered the citizenry impotent. There is nothing to choose between any party except a name or a younger face.

It is Government that has allowed the fat cat salaries, especially in Healthcare, to spiral out of control. There are I believe 144 separate agencies involved in NHS governance alone, and to what purpose ? They are singularly ineffectual in achieving higher standards of care or safety and seem to be a money pit to perform another tick box function that gets us nowhere. The MOD is just as disfunctional, incapable of supporting the cannon fodder they continually send to their untimely deaths in a far away country, that has never been subdued, by any who have tried in 300 years. It is time for them to go and yes I voted for Blair, because I thought he was a breath of fresh air in stale and smokey club. How wrong could I be !

Looking back I see myself as I was and as I am, burdened with debt, depression and post traumatic stress and some physical ailments that those are heir to. My life has been turned upside down and my wealth for retirement all but destroyed. I live in a constant state of anxiety as to the health and well being of my love and myself, all due to the machinery of that State failing me on the very few occasions I have asked it for help. The last of which nearly left me alone for the rest of my days. I have always paid my taxes of which there is an abundance, followed the Law and helped those I could when the chance arose.

Lack of care has killed my best friend, nearly killed my love, destroyed a friends career, almost lost an employee a leg, my sight in one eye. Yet that same State I now berate saved two of my children from certain death at birth way back in the early days of the NHS. It wasn't good the NHS then, but it was effective and CLEAN. I know not what to do to change things, some are now history and nothing can change them but surely people will see what a terrible legacy we are leaving for our successors. The gravy train has to be stopped. I with others have to commence to build the buffers. Since beginning to write these blogs I now know at least I have good company. Salutations to all; you have probably saved what's left of my life and for that I thank you.

Monday, 21 December 2009

C6 H12 O6 and Diabetes

For those of you curious as to what this title means, it's the chemical number for the enemy of all Diabetics, glucose. Type 2 diabetes or NIDDM is generally due to a surfeit of this simple sugar and as I have previously said, we are in the midst of an epidemic of this condition. High levels of blood glucose are responsible for hyperglycemia, which can and does cause peripheral problems, to the human body in the form of blindness, circulation loss, heart and kidney problems and even limb loss. The drugs prescribed can cause obesity, kidney failure, heart disease, gastric upsets, headaches, and many other side effects, that at certain levels, can be as dangerous as the problem for which they are prescribed. The diet generally recommended for NIDDM sufferers can also contribute to the spiralling of the problem on a downwards path towards even greater co-morbidities.

My view is that, going backwards in time with our diets, is the sensible way for diabetics to exercise control, than is ever likely to be the case with drugs and the 'balanced diet'. Changing all of our diets would also likely decrease the incidence of diabetes or 'syndrome X' as it was, and is still called in some places, more than any other lifestyle change. Why one might ask ? Well, it isn't that complicated. Carbohydrates, figure quite highly in the diet you are told to adapt to, cutting out saturated fats and oils, eating fruits and vegetables, grains and low GI carbohydrates. Well carbohydrates, low GI or not are starches (C6 H10 O5). Starches are glucose waiting to be hydrolised (water to be added). See the numbers at the top ? Add H2 O and what do you get ? Yeah, that's correct, GLUCOSE, but worse, you now have 111g of glucose for every 100g of starch consumed. You have therefore now increased your calorie intake by 11%, simply by allowing your body to digest it in the only way it can, by hydrolysis. Frankly, you would be better off eating table sugar (sucrose) than starches, because water only adds 4% its calorific value.

A simple biochemical reaction. But, one that increases the glucose burden of a diabetic, so why do it ? It certainly has no sound scientific basis and prior to about 1980 the diet of a diabetic was largely bereft of carbohydrates. But, as over time, greater reliance was placed upon control with hypoglycemic agents (drugs), a diet form, populised by the stupid and completely incorrect view, that fat makes you fat, was adopted. Well, we once believed the earth was flat, because it was intuitive; look around and the ground around is, so that was the held belief. We know of course, that it isn't, but we know a lot of other facts that our eyes cannot prove. Obesity is often labelled as the disease of the lazy over eater, but I know this to be untrue because, I have read the scientific evidence, that shows it to be contrary. And of course it is biochemically impossible.

There is of course the other ghost at the feast, 'Big Pharma'. They fund most of the Diabetic organisations in the Western world and heavily promote their various products as the best method of Diabetic control. The inherent laziness of Doctors and the effect of their views on the patient cohort does the rest. It's simple to write the prescription for Biguanide (metformin) and tell the patient to book an appointment with the nurse, rather than putting some effort and time into discussing options and treatments, together with lifestyle changes. But, it places the patient into a group, that then abdicates responsibilty for understanding and being responsible for their condition. Far better to take another path to a better understanding and consequent long term prognosis.

How ? Well base your diet on the primitive one. Restrict your carbohydrate intake to as little as as possible, but more; increase your intake of fats and protiens to compensate. Restricting starches to 20 grams per meal or 50 - 60 per day as your goal. Together, with basing most intakes of food on a high fat content, together with protiens at reasonable levels, will rest your tired pancreas, satiate your appetite and improve your weight and general health. Shun all soft drinks, low cal or not because they contain fructose or polyols (sugar alcohols). Despite the view that these sugar substitutes do not raise blood glucose they are still carbohydrates and will, to some degree act as such. They also give you the 'trots' and can damage the liver and kidneys at high sustained levels.

To contain your Diabetes take some exercise. The Insulin reaction you have to all food intake, except for fats, which provoke no insulin response at all, is now limited. To burn off your glucose your muscles need to work and the best way is to walk, briskly or even do 'interval training'. But, if your exercise is compromised, you can still take some form, however light. Even a short walk will cause your muscles to take up some of your circulating glucose and can bring you down by 3 to 4 points.

I would also urge investigation of some simple herbal agents such as gymnema silvestre or other ayervedic agents. They work quite well for some and are relatively benign, so far as side effects are concerned. Doctors will say 'not proven' or you don't have any idea of the the content of the product you are buying. I say herbs are the foundation of all medicines and have been used to good effect for centuries and so long as you are carefull, do your research and pick a quality product, little harm can result. After all the first line drug, metformin, a biguanide, is a synthetic form of French Lilac (galega officinalis) and is galegine and guanidine. It's just that you cannot patent that and make lots of money off its sale. So no point in recommending that !

A combination of diet, exercise and a few herbs and vitamins has enabled Mrs B to achieve an Hba1c of 6.6 from 8.8 within a few months of diagnosis. She works hard to contain her condition and never did have a sweet tooth. But it does require a degree of effort, some are not prepared to give. But, any reduction of carbohydrate intake will reward, even if you are already on drugs or even insulin. It may allow a reduction of the drug regime or even allow some respite completely.

Discuss it with your Doctor (not the nurse). Make your own informed decision. Take control of your life; medicine is supposed to be a healing process not a vehicle for prescribing drugs alone.

This information is general. It is not meant to address individual needs or problems. Do not change what you are doing without checking with your Doctor or other Physician or being certain of your own research. Trust me, I'm not a Doctor.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Magic of 7

The goal of all Type 11 Diabetics; 7.00 mmol/L as the fasting blood glucose figure in a morning and 7.0 or below for the regular Hba1c test. These represent the goals that most strive for because below them you are close to being 'normal'. Of course if you are one of the 2.6 million Diabetics the NHS alleges to treat you are unlikely to ever be normal per se, but if you can get below both of the figures on a regular basis then you are controlling your condition.

I say condition because it isn't an illness, it isn't infectious or contagious. It is a combination of problems with the basic biochemistry of the human body; the inability to readily store glucose from carbohydrates and protiens; 'insulin resistance' and a deficiency of the pancreas to manufacture insulin. Well, this last is not quite true; in the early stages of NIDDM you make more and more insulin as you become increasingly resistent to its properties. This in turn exhausts the romantically titled 'islets of langerhans', which then lose their capacity to produce sufficient for everyday needs. It can be a downward spiral and it is associated with obesity that is certain. How this comes about, I believe is the important element that is often overlooked.

OK, Diabetics are often overweight or obese, but some are not. However if you have a history of weight gain as you get past forty it is likely you could become Diabetic. Why ? Because I believe it is the early stages of Diabetes, termed 'metabolic resistence' that causes this weight gain. As your weight spirals upwards it becomes increasingly difficult to control even if you eat less and less. This is generally because most of your calorie intake is being stored as fat; you become rapidly hungry post prandial ( medics term for after eating) and the instinct of our brain tells you to eat again. This is due to the high levels (at this stage) of circulating insulin, metabolising the glucose in your blood. As your muscles are resistent by now,  the only place to go is the adipose tissue (fat).

As this progresses these cells become laden and other cells, which are marked as preadipose, are 'recruited' for the additional storage required. Once such a cell becomes adipose it is forever; it cannot go back, so it becomes harder and ever harder to lose weight even at calorie intakes of 1500 or less. Yet, because of your  overall tiredness, weight gain and reluctance to exercise, you will be universally branded as a 'couch potatoe' or worse. Finally you will be diagnosed as Diabetic, probably after some years on this slope of weight gain and you will be entreated to lose wieght, eat a 'balanced diet' and take exercise. But the diet you will be put on will to all intents and purposes, both exacerbate your problem and make you feel just as tired as before and likely permanently hungry.

As your pancreas is 'knackered' you would think that some effort might be made to 'give it a rest' but no, the drugs usually proffered will generally at first stimulate the poor bloody thing to even greater efforts. These will of course, likely make you gain more weight (metformin may not but that's the only one), as you are still on the slippery slope to Insulin injections, which will make you fat for sure.

Firstly it isn't really your fault you are fat. It is all of our fault in general, the NHS in particular and the food and drinks makers for sure. Your 'balanced diet' will  include a high level of carbohydrates; complex or not, these will be rapidly converted to glucose, causing high levels of circulating blood glucose. This is the one thing you are trying to eliminate, as that is what causes the cellular damage symptomatic of your condition. Society needs to get a grip and Diabetics need to take control of their own destiny and that means eliminating the foodstuffs that cause the problem. Base your diet on fats and protiens, including saturated fats and you can achieve control without weight gain, without drugs and certainly without Insulin injections.

Leave out ALL carbonated drinks, especially one's with 'natural sugars', they are the worse. Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup are the sweetening agents in use today that are rapidly metabolised without insulin. Instant fat ! And no, fats don't make you fat, it is biochemically impossible. Fats were the mainstay of the food store of  Primitive Man and still are, for the races left on this planet who are still hunter gatherers and they universally do not become Diabetic. That is, unless you start feeding them cornflakes and coke, then they succumb in less than a decade !

Is it not prophetic that as we all become 'five a day' eaters, consumers of grains (cattle food) and eat 1500% more sugar (sucrose) than we did in Victorian times, exercise more (yes we do) and live longer, that we have become significantly less healthy. Those of you, that aren't yet Diabetic, who are over 40 and gaining weight, get a test ! You can take steps now that could prevent it becoming a reality. All of us, need to review our lifestyles, some more than others and don't fret about a little weight. Statistics show that slightly overwieght people are more healthy, resistent to heart disease and stroke and colds and 'flu, than us skinny buggers. But slightly is good, obese is not. Each of us is different, with different metabolisms and our bodies response to inputs is varied. I will not ever condemn anyone who is overweight, nor should society, especially DOCTORS.  Some can remain so all of their lives and be perfectly healthy, but if you see in yourself this gradual weight gain, as you age, then check it out !

I will go further into how to live as Diabetic, without drugs, another day. It is possible and the results are rewarding.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Survival in the NHS

The situation in the UK has become so fraught with danger, that for each of us to survive the vagaries of illness or trauma within the NHS it has become a need to aquire at least some basic knowledge of medicine and drugs. In my view, it is really a duty to understand this complex biochemical factory we call our body. We've all got one, so at least satisfy yourself that it is working correctly and when it is'nt safegaurd yourself from interventions that may harm it further or be ineffectual.

You should know about the basics, such as antibiotics will not cure viral infections but, if you have a virus for a long time, say longer than two weeks, then you may have aquired some bacterial infection that is prolonging or exacerbating your symptoms. The reason is that prolonged chest infections can migrate to vital organs and although rare in modern society, but not so prior to antibiotics, cause heart damage. My own father died of the heart damage incurred due to rhumatic fever in the late 1930's. It took nearly 50 years, but got him in the end. At the other end of the spectrum some patients continually pester their GP's for 'something for the cold' or the 'flu. Well basically there isn't really anything, so don't. You may need that antibiotic one day to cure something really serious or potentially fatal and there are not many left that bacteria are not becoming immune to.
MRSA is one of these and its spread is partly due to over use of drugs for routine procedures when better standards of cleanliness would have obviated the need in the first place. Responsible GP's will not pander to the pressure to do something but a lot do. Do not be one of these who require every little ache or snuffle to be diagnosed by a physician, most of the time their guess will be pretty much the same as yours. You need to learn the basics to prevent unneeded interventions and safegaurd yourself from the evangelistic zeal of some GP practises to treat you for the ailments of the 'worried well'. Arbitary levels for hypertension and lipids are the buzzword interventions of now and doctors do get paid extra money for achieving certain percentage lowering or at least prescribing . So, do not feel their concern for your cholesterol being higher than 4 is entirely altruistic, it isn't. And they didn't set this level, the drug company did, in the US, in 1987 and it was a flawed hypothesis then and even more now. The treatment, drugs and tests costs the NHS £2 billion a year. So if your GP tells you you need this or any other 'lifestyle' drug then ask why, and more important if its needed, what lifestyle changes can you make to obviate the need. Otherwise you could be taking money off a patient that really needs the money for essential treatments.
I would heartily recommend Dr. Liz Millers blog 'teach yourself medicine', if you found this you will find that. Your own health requires a little diligence so practise some!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Liz Says No

Dr. Liz Miller, well known and much admired by me and many others in the Blogsphere, is quoted in Pulse yesterday as being opposed to both recommending and not wanting to receive the H1N1 'flu vaccine. This is in concert with many Physicians and other Health care workers who, as reported widely in the press (but not so widely on television) feel that the vaccine is both untested and potentially harmful. This seems to be mirrored in the public at large, at least those with their brains in gear, with quite a low uptake in the so called 'at risk' cohort.

The Government, as ever, seems to have handled this debacle particularly badly. Going against the advice of eminent Scientists both on its own advisory panel and throughout the World. No change there then! Worldwide 'Big Pharma' stands to make about $50 billion from this 'pandemic' and this time there will be no downside, as both US and UK Governments have given indemnity against prosecution for any adverse effects that may arise from their wares. Get out of Jail free card?

Are we all being paranoid, or are there genuine scientific concerns that need to be aired? Well most concerns seem to about the adjuvants used in these vaccines rather than the concept of a vaccine per se. Adjuvants the 'dirty little secrets' of most vaccines were discovered (as usual) by accident. It was found that early vaccines made in vessels that were less than clean (dirty) were more effective than those that were more quality controlled. The view being that the contaminants created an autoimmune response that allowed the vaccine to be more effective, in simple terms. That in turn led to the addition to most of a controlled adjuvant that would 'kick start' the immune system into a response to the vaccine that would give the needed acquired immunity. Where the problem arises then, is when these components of the vaccine have properties that seem dubious or dangerous even and arouse concerns by doctors and scientists not involved in their design or manufacture (ie; not paid by Big Pharma).

Squalene and polysorbate 80 are some of those used and whilst these can be ingested with little harm there can be adverse reactions when injected, as with many substances. It is the lack of testing of these adjuvants that forms the backbone of most concerns and their potential for harm, in the main the potential for Guillian-Barre syndrome that in the swine flu outbreak of 1977 is alleged to have been responsible for 25 deaths and 500 severe cases in the US. Given the lack of any real testing of the current batch of vaccines (except in the community) those concerns are very real and seem to have been communicated to the public DESPITE the propaganda and spin of the Government and DoH.

It is also thought that people born before 1950 already have an acquired immunity to the virus and in the main it is a lesser illness than seasonal 'flu anyway. Make up your own mind. Don't be pressured by Government or your GP practise. The latter get 'free money' for doing this (Liz Millers words) and the former seem not to understand the 'Law of Unintended Consequences'. People would be better to build up their immune systems with supplementation of Vitamins A, C and D3 than to consign themselves to this dubious scheme to fill the coffers of Big Pharma and GP's. Make your own (informed) decision.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Fat Summit

On the 3rd of November there is to be a conference on Obesity at the Institute of Child Health in London (where else?). Various aspects of the phenomena will be discussed including why poor people have poor diets (statement of the bleedin' obvious).

This is a joint conference with Dept of Health (sic) and the Association for the Study of Obesity. They will no doubt be telling fatties everywhere that it's all their own fault and they should stop eating so much and take some exercise. That's pretty much the bollocks talked by all these dietary pundits who usually fail to read the science and trot out the same advice, even when it's all been shown to be false.

Obesity is a relatively modern phenomena largely brought about by far too much reliance on carbohydrates as the backbone of the Western diet. It has been exacerbated in recent years by the huge increase in consumption of carbonated drinks and snacks high in sugars and now high fructose corn syrups (cheaper than sugar - sucrose). These are rapidly metabolised in the human and are responsible for the excess fat storage redolent of the obese.

Primitive man didn't have 'pop' and crisps or white bread or pot noodles. Primitive man consequently was rarely fat. The interesting aspect of this particular 'talking shop' however is its sponsors. Coca-Cola GB and Kellogs ( Walkers Crisps). Who better to tell us how to contain obesity than the architects of the huge rise in the consumption of 'empty calories'. Pretty much sums up the Dept of Healths concern for the well being of its constituent.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Return Of An Old Friend

Black by name and by nature I suppose. As the clocks ticked down to the end of Summer Time, an old but unwelcome friend came to visit and I hope not to stay. Blackdog has been with me on and off for some years now. Slinking away to the shadows on the good days but leaping up with snarling countenance on the bad. How he came to haunt me I am unsure. Many things in my life have conspired to unleash this troublesome beast but no single one has proved to unleash it, at least not to my knowledge. Maybe its just the accumulation of failures of expectations or the erosion of well being by the contemplation of life's mistakes.

I seem to have failed quite a lot. I seem to have lost quite a lot; money, friends, the respect of my son, a wife and more. A few things might just be bad luck, but so many seems to be bordering on careless. I used to think I was mad or bad to be so profligate with my lack of care for the precious things of life; brought up as I was by a Catholic mother and a father steeped in the austerity of the non-conformist chapels; it had to be my fault. Despite clear demonstration in therapy that this was not the case, it continues to be my mantra. Blackdog is my alter ego, the name given, by me and many before me, to my chronic depression.

Many traumas down the line, the last, was the tipping point into a misery that I had never dreamed could be so terrible. So completely, all embracingly Stygian that it seemed it would never end. Even now it returns to petrify, debilitate and emasculate, often with no warning. But it's less in intensity than it was. I can visit the scene that started it all without complete breakdown, see a blue light without too much dread. I used to hide my depression when it came by; pretended to be normal as much as I could. But this; no way. It was beyond my control, I could not function as a person, only as some robot performing life's tasks.

Contemplating regrets more than dreams is a bitter pursuit, but it has been one I have followed all too often in my long life. I seem to have taken more than I have given, yet others tell me otherwise. There often seems more I hate in life than that which I love. But when the sun shines and I feel well, I can at last saviour the moment. They don't come easily or often but they do come. At last I see in the flowers and shrubs nurtured by my love, in her garden, a beauty I never saw before. The simple pleasure she derives from these, has begun to impinge on my soul. I see no God in this, or indeed in anything else, but there is a pattern; perhaps the only one I will ever see.
I would like to say I see hope, but Blackdog follows me around at present even when the sun shines. I am not my depression, but it is a constant battle with Blackdog snapping at my ankles to get through each day with hope. They say it springs eternal; I'm unsure. I can but keep trying. I do have the undeserved and unconditional love of someone so precious to me for it to hurt and that is a gift few can boast. It should be sufficient for anyone.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Caring; A Role for Life

My life as a carer began only just over a year ago. Time has given me some perspective and some relief from the more onerous aspects of the role. J can manage most of life unaided given a few measures like an automatic gearbox and a higher seating position in driving. As my eyes get worse it may become a need and the role may be reversed a little.
But caring is more than just a functional need fulfilled. It was at first a role consumed with a voracious appetite; a need to assuage the guilt of the survivor. To pay back the years of devotion, patience and unconditional love heaped upon me, mostly undeservedly, that although returned, was often tinged with hubris.
The accident was for me, one who has escaped physically unscathed from some terrible events, a mountain of sheer terror, that became a prolonged trauma. Building as it did from the first moment to weeks later, I became almost unable to function. Except of course when it came to fulfilling this role of caring for someone who I realised was more important to me than life itself. Somehow through the dysfunctional anguish; the uncontrollable tears, there sprang just enough strength to push that wheelchair, cook the meals, get J in and out of the van I took to driving, to carry the needs for someone learning to walk again. Where it came from I never will know. Although pain from my arthritic joints intensified with the burden, it was never one that could not be endured and certainly not one to be reported.
As the weeks became months the tasks became lighter, my role less intrusive as she coped, sometimes so well, that I resented the loss of dependence upon me. It seemed my role could be ameliorated and I became depressed about her independence; her need to assert her desire to be such, made me fear for her safety. I took to checking up on her, all the time and entreating care and caution in every endeavour. Her desire to be 'normal' became a burden and as it did my depression deepened.
I constantly relived events that traumatised, some even from my youth. The airplane crash, my fathers death, the cancer scare, the nuclear incident; all now seemed so real and terrible, yet I had ridden through them with a resilience I could not understand now, looking back. Worst of all was the realisation, that I had nearly lost that which I needed more than anything else and the picture of events that played in my head of this, intruded more than anything else.
When I did find help it unleashed a torrent of tears; a staggering explosion of emotion unknown before. I had been given permission to be like this. It was to be expected. I wasn't mad or bad. I was just traumatised by the possible loss of the one thing I had been able to salvage from a life filled with duty, caring about others and most of all guilt at not being there when she needed me.More terrible, was the knowledge that it wasn't all my fault, because in my world, it had to be.
She still needs my help. I am still a carer and sometimes still in fear for her safety. I continue to fight for justice and candour, as to how we came to be here and will do so now for all of my days. It's the loss of the days before that fill me with guilt and resentment. James Dean said it, "dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today"

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Killing Fields?

The recent and tragic death of a schoolgirl, after being injected with the vaccination for the Human Pappiloma Virus, raises a number of concerns about attempts by our political masters to prevent diseases in the future. Be it long term or short, a duty of care exists, to ensure that society is not put at greater risk by participating in these protocols, than by taking their chance with the disease or infection by not doing.
Currently the NHS is rolling out the seasonal flu vaccine, swine flu in the near future and the huge campaign to allegedly safeguard young women from cervical cancer with these Hpv vaccines. We are told in all cases that these vaccines are well tested and safe to use, but as studies show all is not quite as we are led to believe.
Adverse reactions have been recorded widely in the USA and even GlaxoSmithKlines' own document shows minor reactions in 10% of all recipients. It is further alleged that inadequate field trials have taken place and that such a huge undertaking, to vaccinate all girls prior to or at puberty, should be approached with more regard to health and safety.
Independent trials seem to be a thing of the past as Big Pharma peddles its wares throughout the civilised world with Government even commissioning (with swine flu) specific medications or vaccines targeted at perceived threats, often as a knee jerk reaction to sensationalist headline illnesses, that when investigated are somewhat less dangerous to the populace than the Daily Mail would have us believe. It is surely a given that offering gold to a snake oil salesman, will elicit a new and better version of his wares.
But Government wants it both ways; it is a well known fact that most victims hospitalised for swine flu had underlying co-morbidity's. And, the illness presents less of a threat to the average adult than seasonal flu, yet it persists with roll out of a hastily prepared and untested vaccine (tests start this week) that will effectively be field trialed in the population. At the same time it is urging mothers to protect their daughters with Cerverix (or the other one) but when one terrible problem occurs it is played down with the inference that an underlying co-morbidity was responsible. There is hypocrisy here.
The same hypocrisy that pervades all politics at present, that primes us all for the cuts to come, yet fails to address the issues of regulation of the very architects of the need for any.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Diabetics-Do No Harm ?

Like most people I really had no view on the plight of Diabetics; that is until it impinged on my life. Shortly after my life's love had healed from her ordeal at the hands of the NHS certain symptoms and evidence in the patient file lead me to the view she had NIDDM (non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus). This was confirmed within a short time by tests conducted via the GP.
I researched the likely prognosis for this ailment, of which I had some basic knowledge from many years before, only to become increasingly alarmed at what the future might bring. It would have been nice to blame the Hospital for this but whilst I am appalled at their basic incompetence in diagnostics and follow-ups it was not something you could catch like MSRA. I could postulate that the trauma they subjected J to was instrumental in the diabetes coming to the fore after probably her being Insulin resistant for some time. I do blame them, for missing what was obvious to me, an old and very rusty biochemist and in doing so, putting her life at risk. But, as she survived that failure, there is no 'causation' so no harm then!
What however emerged from my intensive foray into the darker reaches of the debate about diabetes was both alarming and debilitating.

Most diabetics are obese (80%).

Most diabetics are insulin resistant to some degree or another.

Most are prescribed hypoglycemic agents in the form of Metformin or others both in isolation or in tandem with others.

Most decline in their control of their blood glucose levels to the extent that have to inject insulin as a means of control once the drugs cease to adequately provide it.

Most go on to develop co-morbidity's related to diabetes in the form of peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy and liver or coronary heart disease and usually hypertension.

Quite a litany of ailments, none withstanding the side effects of the drugs they take especially insulin which increases their likelihood of obesity still further and exposes them to hypoglycemic episodes which are life threatening.

So what to do?

I was not persuaded of the view that this was all that could be done as certain facts seemed self evident.

1. Attempts to increase pancreatic output of insulin by drugs of someone whose Islets are already exhausted seemed counter productive and counter intuitive.

2. To promote the idea of utilising a 'normal balanced diet' for nutrition which included quite a large percentage of carbohydrates seemed to not only be unproductive but insane!

3. To advocate within this diet an avoidance of fats especially the saturated type also seemed both stupid and unscientific in the extreme!

I have never believed in the Diet-Heart Hypothesis anyway, so I could not understand why there is an advocacy for low fat diets for anyone let alone the Diabetic,who probably only got to be so, by a diet with an over abundance of carbohydrates in the first place. Any fairly lowly biologist can tell you of the reaction of the human body to the intake of any carbohydrate; it invokes the supply of insulin to enable the muscles to take up the product and to some extent the liver too. If that person has both limited insulin manufacturing capability ie; Diabetes and/or Insulin Resistance then the end result is high levels of circulating blood glucose. This the very problem that the prescribed drugs are there to address! So why would you eat such a diet? It is the same as advocating an alcoholic to drink more alcohol!

It seemed that we were f****d. But, hold on, I remembered that the human body can and has often survived on ketone bodies rather than simple glucose and that grains and sugars are relatively new to the human diet. So I looked deeper into diet and health and found a substantial body of opinion well founded in science, that we can live healthy lives with less illness if we largely shun carbohydrate intake in favour of fats (no insulin reaction at all) and proteins (limited insulin reaction).

So that is what we did, both her - very low carbohydrate diet - and me - restricted carbohydrate diet. The result has been dramatic if a little protracted. In six months Hba1c down from 8.7 to 6.6, blood pressure down to below 120/70 and someone glowing with health and half a stone lighter. Me, I'm a stone lighter and my arthritis knows it! All without recourse to drugs and against the advice of the mainstream view.

So why is the NHS, Diabetes UK, the ADA and all these other bodies giving advice that counters this? I can only assume that the same influences that brought us statin drugs continues to profit from its perpetuation. There's not a lot of profit in it for 'Big Pharma' if we all stopped taking these drugs and controlled NIDDM with diet and exercise. A profit stream would be all but stifled and the organisations they support (and they do, in spades) would be relegated to a very small role. Many would lose their jobs and the NHS (the taxpayer) would save a fortune, and we are talking billions!

We continue down this road unsupported by the NHS even for the test strips although the GP has expressed delight in the figures even J's 25(OHD) levels which are good,(that's the vitamin D3 levels) which indicates good absorption from diet and sunlight.

I'm still holding my breath about all of this; I am a pessimist still sometimes mired down in depression but all indications are that with a little more effort J could become a 'latent' type 11 diabetic and some increase in pancreatic output could occur with a lowering of her Insulin Resistance. But this is now and maybe that's too much to hope. It is a way though, one pioneered by Atkins for weight loss but always advocated by him as the best way of Diabetic control. I also owe my thanks to Barry Groves for his excellent advice and informative writings and Gary Taubes for his.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Safeguarding Our Children?

Once more the Government is stepping into our lives to ensure that we do the things it believes we do wrong in a controlled and regimented manner. I have no qualms at all about teachers and education workers being 'vetted'. It is a simple security measure in which I have been involved myself for the necessary security of our country. But to set up yet another body to oversee simple practises of parents involved in giving lifts to other parents children is a 'bit of a stretch'.
The worst aspect for me is the institution of yet another body to carry out these activities, probably in glorious isolation from those that already exist. The Police vet employees, contractors and others as part of their brief. the MOD vets anybody who works for them or is in the Forces together with companies who work for them or makes things for them from uniforms to battleships. The Security Services vet people who come into contact with strategic assets or politicians sometimes on behalf of the Police. The Nuclear Industry vets people who work for them in a similar way. All of these organisations employ numerous people for this task ALL OF WHOM DON'T TALK TO EACH OTHER!
Talk about joined up Government and that's all we do; talk about it. So if you work as a contract cleaner and clean the offices at a Nuclear Power Station, then go down the road to Police HQ to do the same. Followed swiftly by washing the floor at the Army Recruitment Centre and occasionally you have to fill in at BAE's offices or perhaps the Job Centre you will probably be vetted by four different agencies none of whom take each others word for it as regards your safety and security. Now if you take a party of local kids along with your own to a swimming school or something of that ilk in your spare time you will have yet another agencies hoops to jump through.
Gordon, my friend, if you want to save money, for heavens sake look at some of these monsters you create and integrate their activity so the same ground is not continuously covered by different people all with same goal! And whilst you are at it stop the proliferation of intrusion into the lives of your citizens on the excuse of safety and security or their health. Most of us are grown up now and can chew solid food. Stop that damned Food Standards Agency from telling us what it should be. They are f***ing clueless; they speak without authority or proof that they have read the science let alone understood it and anyone listening could do themselves harm from heeding it. Unless of course you want to pay for a million more Diabetics.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The View ?

The title of this blog was conjured from the place I live, looking down from the hill to the Teaching hospital that has been the source of most of my of my fears, misery and trauma. It also lends an air of an overview of life
That place is one that I avoid, like the plague. In fact I go to quite considerable lengths in this endeavour, often driving a circuitous route to do so, such is the effect it has on my state of mind. Yet it continues to intrude. Letters keep arriving for appointments for this Clinic or that Test for my lovely J to attend, in the very place that treated her so badly as to her never wanting to go there ever again
This made me think as to why the NHS wants to intrude in the lives of us all so much, as to book appointments out of the blue and then entreat us to attend with an attitude bordering on that of the bully. Often this is for mammography, blood tests or Retinopathy tests, all in the interest of disease prevention. But is it?

The NHS spends a huge portion of its budget finding things to test its patients for. Some of these are without doubt both important and non invasive but many are not. Cancer figures highly on the list and yet real outcomes have altered little in the years that most of these tests have been around and some, such as the exercise to perform mammography on women between 50 and 70 years has had little impact on the incidence of breast cancer. In fact the scheme itself has been shown to be positively dangerous for women who have cancerous growths because it can exacerbate the spread of these and speed progression. It also has an alarming number of false positives that cause fear and suffering to no good purpose. Other detection measures such as self examination and thermography are likely to be less intrusive and give back to women the right to make their own informed judgement as well as exposing them to less radiation, which in itself can be a cause of cancer. This is especially true of J who will have one or two X-rays a year to monitor her prosthesis together with a DXA scan for osteoporosis every two. Mammography itself exposes women to at least 1000X the dose of a normal X-ray, more if you have to return for a repeat in the event of an abnormality.

So why do we do it and more importantly why are bullying tactics employed for this, for blood tests we didn't know we needed, to check our cholesterol, eye tests we've already had at the optician but the NHS feels now only they can perform adequately ( the opticians used to do them but it was taken away). Letters now that not just request you ring for an appointment but tell you one has already been made! This is just the same as the clauses in contracts that you have to positively opt out of instead of opting in. Not only are they spending our money on dubious test procedures they are telling us often that we will fall prey to some awful disease or condition without them!

This is disease mongering and as Big Pharma seeks more markets for its often dubious products, some of which are a rehash of one that didn't quite work in its previous role but will be successful in a new persona for another ailment. So it invents diseases or conditions and the NHS which relies heavily on the Pharmaceutical giants for funding of projects, research and dubious jamborees for consultants and managers, swallows the bait. Just, it has to be said as do a body of GP's and without doubt the Government.

Statins are probably the worst example of this; a drug to treat the 'worried well' for a condition that largely has no symptoms and a hypothetical outcome founded in dubious research (by Big Pharma) to utilise an obscure poison found in a remote Chinese valley that they needed to offload on a gullible ( and well 'palm greased ) FDA to pay for the research they had undertaken. The result is now 450 million pounds of revenue from the NHS every year to pay for the prescriptions most (if not all) that are not needed and can cause the very problem they allege to ameliorate, heart failure. That figure does not include the support costs of maintaining a 'patient' on these drug protocols which usually means six monthly tests for checking results and possible effects that manifest. The obvious one of course is the depletion of CoQ10, an essential for a healthy heart (sic). These tests are likely to double the cost of treatment, all for a highly dubious and contested ailment that is founded in 'bad science'.

'Statinisation' is symptomatic of an NHS that now consumes vast sums of money mainly to no effect to tick the boxes of disease prevention and fulfill pointless targets. At the same time it bullies and entreats for people to lead a healthy life with a healthy diet with hordes of highly paid support staff labelled with dubious titles to support this goal. It is self defeating and many know it but none want to 'rock the boat' of profligacy.

We are in the midst of an epidemic of Diabetes, Obesity and Heart disease that all of these efforts have failed to even dent. I would venture most of the advice and interventions are in fact counter productive. Medics need to get back to basics and Nurses need to get back to Nursing. 'Do no harm' is the clue you idiots. Get back to curing the sick and the lame. Stop trying to prevent the demise of the hypothetical sick until at least you have conquered the goal of treating those that present to you with real and tangible problems. So far, and more and more of late, Medics in particular and the NHS in general has singularly failed in this endeavour. Concentrate your efforts in this area and maybe then we could look at other goals. You are all in a hole so my advice is to stop digging!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Canal Therapy

At last, I have been able to reinstate the canal walk. The months of pain and misery seem to have faded and the Arthritis is taking a holiday. Maybe the supplements are working, but which I know not. Frankly on a day like today with my hand in J's, the sunlight bouncing off the water and the breeze on my face I don't care.

We both need this but it is always tinged with anxiety; I'm always waiting for her inguinal pain to kick in and signal the time to find a seat. Ten months down the line from her terrible accident and its awful and continuing aftermath, and for as long as that prosthesis will last she will have to endure some pain, usually after walking a bit too far. My hatred of Surgeons in general and one in particular takes me over for a few seconds, but I use the strategy learned from the therapist and this time it works and I begin to enjoy the simple pleasure of being.

We make a mile this time before the pain gets too much and we seek a seat dedicated to a young man called Darren who died in 2005. But, so remains in the hearts of those he left behind for them to make a pilgrimage several times a year to leave flowers in a vase tied to the uprights of the seat.Twenty nine years old was he, I worked out; what a crock of s**t that must have been for his family.  Maybe the fact that J survived and is still at my side is something to celebrate I think, but it's hard to forget how most of the risk was avoidable and the fault of an NHS so riddled with greed, stupidity and indifference to the plight of their patients. What some might call a triple 'whammy'; to break your hip get a s**t job done by c**p surgical team who couldn't even bother to ask or tell you what they were doing, nearly kill you because they didn't read the notes or tests and, then you find out you have Diabetes followed by Osteopenia.

But she copes, how I never know. She carries on planting the flowers, making me cut the grass, working hard at her job, in fact giving her all to every endeavour. She trusts me to sort out her diet, manage her supplements, check her plasma glucose and blood pressure and entreat her constantly to do the physio exercises we fought so hard to be taught.

Life goes on as they say, but for it to do so seems an affront to me sometimes. I want to scream at the world to stop and take note of my anger at what has happened, how it was all so avoidable and can they please stop what they are doing and listen. But of course that is tilting at windmills. We sit and admire the narrow boat that passes and watch the water for a little longer and the the pain in her groin subsides and we trek back along the gravel. It's all so green and became so almost overnight and yet we are in the middle of industry, commerce and as we near the car, the city itself. The canal has been both a saviour of my sanity and a training ground for J to learn to walk again, a level path to push a wheelchair in those dark early days, but also a reminder of how we came to be what we now are; good people to which bad things happened.

That first walk nearly a year ago was the trigger for disaster. It took so long to get anywhere that day that I had this brilliant plan to get fitter and travel all these trails; get bikes! If I had kerbed this plan J may still have been in one piece. She would still have had Diabetes but surely that would have been picked anyway. But hang on; the Hospital failed to do that despite plasma glucose tests showing 19.50 mmol/L! There again I diagnosed it despite my rusty endocrinology so maybe? I stop there, the pondering of blame starts me on that path to a remembrance that will trigger my post traumatic stress and the tears will come, the BP will rise and one of reasons I am walking will be negated. I calm my soul as we reach the car and I look forward to holding her hand as I down a pint of beer and we enjoy a meal together at the Pub and Kitchen later and perspective of a sort returns. Life is short and often brutal but it is life, and each moment must be savioured. It is said that 'what doesn't kill us makes us stronger', I hope it's true.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

A leap of Faith?

These are the thoughts of an injured soul about life, love, politics and anything else that comes to light. Often a rant sometimes a tribute, it isn't for you it's for me.
Maybe some will see themselves and empathise, others will will hate it and possibly me as well. But, if it provokes a response or thought and maybe some small change then it will be worth it.

Hearing as we have all done, unless of course anaesthetised by football or lager or perhaps both, of the greed of Politicians and their squirming on the hook of exposure; how different are the lives of the Paymaster from their servants.
I begrudge them not a salary with a value that removes from them the constant worry of survival in an expensive and often hostile world. That is a need for servants of the people to be just that, enabling them to get on with the job. But this greed is too much to contemplate; several steps beyond that which is acceptable. Worst these fools believe their own rhetoric, exhorting us that to keep within a set of rules was sufficient to prove the worth of their exorbitant lifestyles. Lives that most of us, even those of us quite well provided for, can only dream of.
It's the Tax you see. Whilst telling us all, often quite angrily as was I recently, that any payment including those which most would feel are legitimate costs before tax, like money paid for meals on duty or phone calls to loved ones when far away etc, must be taxed unless fitting into very strict and somewhat petty rules. These paid 'servants of the people' get all of these rather dubious at best,at worst some might even say fraudulent ( I could not possibly comment) expenses free of the tax their paymasters have had to stump up in the first place to employ them and fund the machinery of the state they allege they run.
It goes to prove all of the depressing truths of life.

Bad things happen to good people.

Life's a bitch and then you die.

There are only two certainties in life; Death and Taxes.

Except of course as regards this last one, the last part doesn't count if you are an MP!