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!