You may remember our beloved poster boy Jasper, passed away peacefully on the 23rd of May last year and that he did in fact become B12 deficient toward the end of his life.
Remember, for us humans, there is no clinical evidence for 4 injections a year, your GP may not be aware of this.
Jasper was given B12 injections by the vet without any fuss at all because he fully understood how B12 deficiency can effect animals.
His lovely image will continue to help us to raise awareness of B12 deficiency.
On the same day last year I attended the funeral for our case study, Paul. Paul, like Jasper, couldn’t remember where he lived. His wife Evelyn was distressed seeing the early stages of his failing memory and odd behaviour. Paul wore a beard but bought countless electric shavers and insisted these stayed plugged in and fully charged at all times despite never being used. Paul did not drink wine but insisted on buying case loads and emptying the fridge of all food in order that the wine they didn’t drink, could be kept cold. He started taking their poor old dog on mammoth walks, wandering far from home and being missing for hours.
There were many distressing situations surrounding Paul’s decline and, knowing that Paul had been on Metformin for his diabetes (a drug known to inhibit absorption of B12) for years and learning that B12 deficiency was the likely culprit for his confusion and related symptoms, Evelyn tried to alert the GP to the fact that Paul needed injections for his severe B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, the GP insisted Paul was being adequately treated with 50mcg oral cyanocobalamin tablets and he was given an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Paul’s decline continued as Evelyn was told in no uncertain terms not to bring any more information about B12 into the practice. Eventually Paul was found a place in a nursing home. Over time Paul became non verbal, aggressive and malnourished. Paul never had the chance for his nerves to recover, his doctor refused to look at the solid information offered and so did the nurses involved in his care. Evelyn was told repeatedly that the doctor ‘knows what he’s doing‘. She tried many times to access the treatment Paul needed but it was futile.
Evelyn and Paul in the 60’s
Earlier this year Evelyn passed away. She too had many B12 deficiency symptoms, she had been on thyroid medication for years and as you may be aware the two conditions often co-exist.
Evelyn eventually told me her thyroid medication had been stopped, she had been told that she no longer needed it. Bizarre?
By this point in her life, she hadn’t the strength or the inclination to challenge her GP, obviously it hadn’t worked out too well before. She didn’t want anyone else to either – until sadly it was far too late.
It is quite common for patients themselves not to want to challenge any health professional and to see family ‘help’ as interference. They might worry how any confrontation could lead to a negative impact on their care and don’t want to upset their doctor.
If you have elderly loved ones please try and advocate for them even if they say they ‘can’t be bothered‘ or ‘what’s the point?’ They will thank you for caring.
No one should be afraid of upsetting their GP if they are simply trying to access correct treatment by offering relevant information or indeed asking for information. There are advocacy agencies who can help, or find someone in your family who can be an effective spokesperson.
If any GP is making decisions which are odd, stopping essential medicine without any kind of explanation please talk to someone who can help, get a second opinion – you are important, your loved one is important and we all deserve good, compassionate care.
RIP Evelyn, Paul and Jasper xxx