Pigeonholed by a mental health diagnosis

I cried. I was upset for me, lost career, broken relationships, years crippled in bed and money down the drain.”
 

Will this devastating account of loss resonate with you? Flo’s eloquently written experience sent to me in early September 2020 follows below.

Dear Tracey Witty,

I wish to express my sincerest thanks for all your work. I stumbled across your site a few weeks ago. When I read the case studies especially of Sara and poor Paul, I cried. I’m 47 and I had my first vitamin B12 injection yesterday and will be having another 5 over the next couple of weeks.

I had a diagnosis of bipolar in 2012 whilst working as a midwife. It was my first job and I became hypomanic. My sister who was studying medicine had suggested I had bipolar several years prior and I saw a psychiatrist who put it down to life events. When I realised in 2012, that my thoughts and behaviour were erratic, I visited my GP who referred me quite promptly. I was diagnosed, bloods taken (no vitamin b12) mood stabilisers prescribed but I soon became exhausted, forgetful and I couldn’t do my job. I could barely get out of bed and so became suicidal.

I rang my mum, she and my step dad moved me home where I remained in bed basically for nearly a year. During this time, I asked my GP to refer me as I had peripheral neuropathy in my feet and I had gone off eating fruit (it is relevant). My psychiatrist, kept insisting I walk 5k a day, I’d had a back injury as a midwife so was seeing a chiropractor 3 times a week, needless to say I told the psychiatrist where to go as he wasn’t prepared to treat me holistically.

I had started a little cleaning job which I struggled with as my whole body ached and my feet were painful but I’d skip breakfast, lunch and only eat dinner. My mum was diagnosed with lung cancer and so she asked me to move out. I found a nice place to live, ate healthily – chicken, vegetables and fruit. I didn’t realise how fussy an eater I am until recently but whilst living with my mother I ate whatever she cooked. By the time the appointment for my feet came through 5 months later my symptoms had dissipated. I was back in the gym, enjoyed going to the cinema, etc. I did keep having ups and downs which were quite seasonal but I was discharged from the community mental health team.

Until 2017, I felt awful, I went to my GP with the usual sore throat, swollen glands and flu like symptoms in early February after suffering for 5 weeks. This had always been put down to a winter virus. I went back five times with advocates, each time my condition was getting worse and worse. I wanted to see a rheumatologist and neurologist. I struggled to walk in a straight line, I had hand tremors and poor bladder control. I was told that there wasn’t a need and you don’t need analgesia. I referred myself back to the CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) as again I was suicidal. I wanted to do sport, I wanted to cook for myself but I just physically wasn’t able to. 

I moved Practice and the new GP was very receptive, I had a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, being a midwife, I’d kept diaries, so I had times and dates of symptoms. I also had read about the paleo diet which I had unknowingly done in 2014. I was referred to a private rheumatologist, a private neurologist and nerve pain prescribed. Thinking this was the answer to my prayers, I started to wean myself off the psychiatric medication but didn’t care about what I was eating. Needless to say, in 2018, I got sectioned for 6 weeks. Whilst there, I insisted on seeing the hospital GP as I knew there was something wrong with my body.

I wrongly assumed I had Ehlers Danlos syndrome, my joints hurt, I was chronically constipated and even though my thoughts were manic, I had fatigue. I then phoned the local private hospital and saw their GP. Whilst in hospital, I had gastrointestinal complaints and kept vomiting with exception for one occasion, I was only offered an antiemetic (anti sickness) injection. Only one person asked “what do you think is making you sick?” And I couldn’t answer because I couldn’t remember that I had had a positive blood test indicating that I had coeliac disease.

I have had a bad stomach since I was 21, for 12 years I barely ate, (it is quite common for females who have coeliac or non coeliac gluten sensitivity to have eating disorders). In my twenties, I had a couple of trips to A & E with excruciating abdominal pain, not pregnant, not appendix just IBS or trapped wind, I was just discharged.

Last week, I found the letter from the neurologist dated February 2018 where he had written in bold the actual figure of my gluten test and it was highly likely that I did have coeliac disease but I had told him that I didn’t want endoscopy as I struggled swallowing. I was pretty manic when I saw him which he recognised and the psychiatrist quoted my appointment with him at my tribunal (to continue my detention) but the information regarding my intolerance of gluten was not passed on.

When I was discharged from the psychiatric hospital, I was a broken and confused woman, afraid of my own shadow and I stayed like that for another year. I had insisted whilst an in-patient there that I see a dietician as I was starving all the time but by the time the appointment came through several months later, I did not have the energy to attend. I couldn’t remember how to do housework, how to go shopping, I was practically mute and my brain hurt all the time. I had a CPN beg me, “what can I do to make you better?”. She’d drive me to Boots, she’d sit in the car and I’d have to go in and buy a “meal deal,” whilst waiting in the queue I’d feel dizzy and think I was going to pass out.

On Monday 3 June 2019, I changed my diet, I removed junk food and would only have the occasional piece of bread a week. I dislike most other complex carbohydrates like pasta and noodles and within 2 months I was myself, not trying to stagger around like some drunk person. I was back in the gym, found a Tai Chi class , the psychiatrist had tried all different combinations of medication over the course of a year and when I saw her in August 2019, she said we’ve finally found it. In October 2019, she asked me whether there was anything physically wrong with me and I honestly thought I’d made it all up.

This January, I started becoming ill again, feeling like I’ve got the flu, sinusitis, bad stomach, erratic periods, joint pain and chilled to the bone. I’d complain about my symptoms at my weekly appointment to a psychiatric occupational therapist technician (OTT) but I’d also tell her what I’d done to help myself, like go to the GP, colonic irrigation, keep a food diary.

I was absolutely amazed when a reflexologist was able to tell me that my B12 and calcium was low and my small intestine that it was inflamed. I’ve had lots of reflexology and acupuncture before, but this was precision. I was pretty certain it was my diet but my OTT was having none of it and would tut and roll her eyes. When you have a mental health label you get quite a lot of discrimination. I realised that I was lactose intolerant one weekend after only being able to eat yoghurts with dire consequences and again I was back at my GP’s demanding blood tests. The results showed gluten intolerance, the OTT was astounded when I told her over the phone.

Over COVID I was pretty physically ill, my bloods looked pretty okay, I had fibromyalgia symptoms but it was okay, I’d ride the storm. Done it before, did it again, I knew why. I had home help, I clued up on coeliac disease. Then a new psychiatric occupational health therapist kept ringing me in July and suggesting I go back to do voluntary work as lockdown was lifting. It was so predictable, I tried but post exertion malaise hit me for 9 days after 2 two hour shifts 2 days apart.

Three weeks ago, I rang my GP and I tried to explain the fatigue and how the CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) did not understand, I felt I wasn’t making sense. I also told her that I’d been gluten free since March, I still could not tolerate fruit (for 4 months the thought turned my stomach, I now know fructose malabsorption indicates that the small intestine has been pretty damaged, worse than lactose). I was extremely fortunate that this doctor took control and wanted me to have repeat bloods including B12, vitamin D and informed me to get the OTT to ring the surgery.

I knew I was unwell as I had awful vertigo, tachycardia and was breathless – iron deficiency. I got my results printed yesterday, I knew very little about B12 deficiency until I read your website, bought Sally’s book and I cried. I was upset for me, lost career, broken relationships, years crippled in bed and money down the drain.

Tracey, there are somethings that you are pretty certain of in life, I know what is me, I know what happens to me when I eat large quantities of gluten when I was diagnosed, I’d kept making the girls on the ward cheese scones and mini sticky toffee pudding cakes which I had to sample of course. I’m fairly sure I don’t have a mental illness but it won’t be a biggie if I have to stay on a mood stabiliser. Both vitamin B12 deficiency and coeliac/gluten sensitivity is systemic. I’ve tried to convince my best friend but they do not have medical understanding, so NICE guidelines, the Lancet and BMJ isn’t really on their reading list.

I used to have friends who have mental health issues but I couldn’t really relate to them, their overthinking or not being proactive so I cut them loose. I’ve never had a panic attack, I don’t get anxious about meeting people or going out, I have never needed anyone to hold my hand. I’m quite capable of standing my ground and drawing boundaries. My quality of life has been poor for most of my adult life, it was not IBS. Yes, I was stupid to go back to eating gluten once given a result back in late 2017 as I didn’t realise the dire consequences of it.

I just wanted the opportunity to tell my story and I’d be grateful of just a quick email back saying you’ve read it, I’m happy to pay you £120 just for that, as your work is so insightful.

I’m quite into watchful waiting, you see what arises over a course of time and I do wonder what symptoms I will get.

I’ve decided never to knowingly eat gluten again and to decline the biopsy. Similarly, I’ll be keeping an eye on my vitamin B12 levels.

Thank you in advance.

All the best,
Flo C

________________________________________________

Flo is not alone in being ‘pigeonholed‘ by poor mental health. When physical causes are not explored and treated then the results can be devastating.Please see this page for the many causes of B12 deficiency.

And this page if you think you or a loved one may be B12 deficient.

I created my site 7 years ago last month to help educate both patients and health care professionals. This was because someone close to me was sectioned due to B12 deficiency and was also pigeonholed due to poor mental health. I’m also B12 deficient so understand the issues you face.

If you would like to help in a small way, please use the following link: https://www.b12deficiency.info/how-you-can-help/

Thank you, Tracey x

www.b12deficiency.info

Severe mental impairment, are you getting the financial help you’re entitled to?

Many of us have been deeply affected by COVID and the resulting restrictions, the effects on mental health, physical health and finances have been devastating for too many people. So I hope that in some small way this post helps those who have not applied for what they should be claiming from their council.

This post is for people in the UK who pay Council Tax and live in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has a slightly different system so please see the link below.

A big thank you to my lovely mum for sharing this information with me.

The following text is from the excellent Martyn Lewis, Money Saving Expert website and details ‘how to claim’:

“Who is eligible for the severe mental impairment discount?

Both of the following must apply for someone to qualify for a severe mental impairment (SMI) council tax discount:

  • They’ve been medically certified as being severely mentally impaired. For example, this may be the case if they have dementia, Parkinson’s, severe learning difficulties or have had a stroke. It will depend on each individual’s case though and simply having been diagnosed doesn’t automatically mean they qualify –  a doctor must also certify they are severely mentally impaired.
  • They’re eligible for (but NOT necessarily actually receiving) at least one of the following benefits:
      • Incapacity benefit
      • Attendance allowance
      • Severe disablement allowance
      • Disability living allowance (higher or middle-rate care component)
      • Increase in disablement pension (due to constant attendance being needed)
      • Unemployability supplement or allowance
      • Constant attendance allowance
      • Income support (which includes a disability premium)
      • Personal independence payment (standard or enhanced daily living component)
      • Armed forces independence payment

    In England and Wales you can also be eligible for:

      • Disability working allowance (based on getting income support including disability premium)
      • Universal credit (including an element for limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity)

    In Scotland you can also be eligible for:

    • Tax credits (including disability element)
    • Employment and support allowance
    • Universal credit

Just to be clear, some councils wrongly tell people they need to be receiving these benefits. That’s not correct – the law simply says you need to be eligible for them.

In Northern Ireland it works differently

There’s a rates system there instead of council tax, meaning every property is valued individually. The only roughly similar discount is the disabled person’s allowance, which gives a 25% discount on rates for homes where a disabled person lives and the property has been adapted to suit their needs. See full info on the NIdirect website.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

This link also walks you through the steps of how to calm a rebate and how to claim if you live with someone who was eligible but has since died.

The money comes from Central Government and not the individual councils and this has been highlighted over the years by MSE because only a fraction of people who are eligible actually claim. Check if you can, all conditions are not listed and each case is individual, you have nothing to lose.

______________________________

So if your B12 deficiency has lead to severe mental impairment (SMI) or you know anyone at all who should claim, please pass this information on and don’t be fobbed off!

 

 

We are all still trying to get used to life again and unravelling the mysteries of how to do normal things, how to communicate, who we can and can’t see or touch, where to stand, what to wear, how to shop and how to generally be, this takes its toll in many ways and impacts us all differently.

I have struggled with the separation from people in this period and many of us have experienced loss or a sense of loss and a whole heap of confusion.

Some of us try to look like we’re coping on the outside but it’s turmoil within, this can result in even more isolation and less contact than we are now allowed. So if you are struggling, please make sure you let someone know, just so that they can quietly keep an eye on you. We all need each other.

My advice back in March, for what it’s worth, was to limit exposure to the news, I still hold solidly to that, so much of what is given out induces fear, anger and anxiety.

A very wise woman (Lynne M) once taught me about the power of baroque music in times of great stress and although not baroque, I hope this link may be of interest to you.

I’d love to hear from you so please comment below.

Kindness always,
Tracey x

www.b12deficiency.info

P.S Just a quick note to let you know I am still working with my MP on trying to make B12 OTC in the UK. I will keep you updated!

 

#ProtectTheNHS #SaveLives and #MakeB12OTC

Making injectable B12 available over the counter from pharmacies will help save lives and will help to save money and time for the NHS.

You may have been denied your B12 injections due to COVID 19.

You may have failed to achieve a diagnosis due to your GP’s lack of knowledge of the condition.

You may be struggling with your symptoms due to under treatment of your deficiency.

You may be buying supplies from another country due to lack of treatment from your GP.

You may however, be in the enviable position of being allowed to collect your prescribed ampoule from a chemist and have been taught by your GP Practice to self inject.

Whichever bracket you fall into, can you help?

Do you want to be able to buy B12 OTC from your pharmacy?

Do you want to be able to treat yourself when you need to, rather than when restrictive guidance allows?

NOW is the time to act, to take your future into your own hands and try with me to make B12 OTC.

Our Struggling NHS

The NHS was in trouble long before COVID 19 arrived, it’s been under funded and under threat for a long time. We can all help to make a difference!

As stated in my previous blog there are estimated to be 5.7 million people with B12 deficiency in the UK, which is greater than the population of Finland!

The cost of mental health

Obviously B12 deficiency affects all body systems but lets just focus on mental health as an example.

Each GP appointment costs on average £30 say NHS England with 40% of appointments now involving mental health.

According to the Children’s Society UK there are said to be 16 million people, that’s 1 in 4 of us who will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives and “the estimated costs of mental health problems in the UK are over £100 billion each year.”

Given that depression and anxiety are common first presenting symptoms of B12 deficiency then it could be that a considerable proportion of this figure may have this very common, easily and inexpensively treated, but commonly misdiagnosed condition.

The NHS state that an under estimate of 49,988 people were detained under the Mental Health Act in the UK between 2018-2019. The cost of an overnight stay on a psychiatric ward is said to be around £400, that’s almost £20,000,000 per night! but clearly this is not the whole financial picture.

The numbers

If just 1% of the 5.7 million people suffer with poor mental health caused by B12 deficiency and are sectioned and detained for 30 days under the Mental Health Act then the cost to the NHS is at the very least £684 million.

Of those thought to be B12 deficient in the UK, consider that if just 0.001% which is 57 people, each had a 30 day section, this would cost at the very least £684,000.

By comparison, if each of those 57 people were able to have a weekly B12 injection, even at the current cost to the NHS which is £8.80 per box of 5 ampoules, (£1.76 each), then each person’s cost per year would be only £91.52. So the cost for 57 people just £5,216.64.

I personally know 4 people who have had extended stays in mental health units averaging 4 months. Each of these people are B12 deficient, two were sectioned prior to diagnosis and two were sectioned when on restricted 3 monthly B12 injections. Three of them now self treat by buying online at a cost of around 60p per ampoule and are now doing really well. But how long will we be able to buy from online pharmacies with Brexit looming?

The cost of just one of these people hospitalised for 4 months reaches at least £48,000. These figures are of course a gross under estimate of the actual cost of a section under the Mental Health Act. At the very least the cost of the initial assessment and the time of 2 doctors required for detainment would need to be added. And in some cases there might be the cost of an ambulance and its team, the police, a social worker, a Crisis Team, and sometimes even a locksmith.

This of course can never reflect the impact of the emotional cost to the person detained, to their family and friends, their personal financial losses, their inability to work, potential loss of career, continued need for mental health support and the wider cost to society as whole.

Get involved!

Will you help?

This interactive tool from the Go Compare Bill of Health explained by Net Doctor allows you to add up your own cost and contribution to the NHS.

Consider calculating your B12 deficiency related costs and emailing any of the following with your B12 story and why you think injectable B12 should be made available over the counter, as it is in many countries in Europe and around the world:

The MHRA – engagement@mhra.gov.uk 
Your MP – Find your MP’s email address
The health minister – matt.hancock.mp@parliament.uk
The chief medical Advisor – c.whitty@nhs.net

You could also email marie.turner@dhsc.gov.uk. Marie wrote to me from;

The Department of Health and Social Care which in their words “helps people to live more independent, healthier lives for longer. It leads, shapes and funds health and social care in England, making sure people have the support, care and treatment they need, with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve.”

Marie wrote;

“Ms Witty has corresponded with the Department on this subject over a number of years, and it may help if I summarise the advice we have provided to her over this time…….

Ms Witty believes there are fundamental problems with the diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anaemia. When vitamin B12 deficiency has caused anaemia, its diagnosis is not generally difficult, and the Department is not aware of significant problems of under-recognition.”

Obviously the age old problem of incorrectly assuming anaemia is always present with B12 deficiency rears it’s ugly head in this letter, but it’s the bold text I’d like you to write to Marie about because she needs to know that as we are fully aware, B12 deficiency is absolutely under recognised, under treated and continually misdiagnosed to the detriment of the NHS and society as a whole.

If you need a little help with your email please find sample text here.

Your voice matters!

Best wishes,

Tracey
www.b12deficiency.info

Please consider signing and sharing the B12 OTC Petition.
PLEASE NOTE make sure you don’t pay to sign, the money goes to Change.org and not to the cause you are supporting.

 

B12 cancelled. See you in six months…… if you make it

Some might say this title is dramatic, but those who are currently denied access to B12 injections, who are panicked to within an inch of their lives with coronavirus and who now have no essential vitamin B12 treatment, would probably feel it’s a completely reasonable statement.

Being expected to cope for months on end without your safe, cheap, effective and life saving injections would be like making someone climb up Mount Everest without any shoes or coat whilst carrying a donkey on their back.

I know of no other vital, life saving medicine that has been stopped during this crisis and I can’t imagine that any other group of people in the UK are being denied such an easy, quick treatment at this time.

 

 

A bleak 6 months ahead

This letter below, sent to a whole county might make the untrained eye think that it’s perfectly reasonable to stop B12 injections and give B12 tablets for six months….

Letters, emails, phone calls and texts like these are being received all over the UK, I have seen them from Lancashire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Cheshire, Leicestershire, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Flintshire, Cardiff, Essex, Wolverhampton, Cornwall, North Yorks,  west Lothian, Midlothian, Aberdeenshire.

Here’s the text from the first paragraph;

We are writing to you on behalf of your GP in regards to your B12 injections. As from Monday, the 30th of March we will no longer be giving B12 injections to patients therefore all our future appointments have been cancelled. This is as a result of coronavirus and our aim is to protect you as well as our staff. We will restart the injections once the current measures are suspended.

Do you see the sneaky stuff in there?

What is ridiculous to B12 deficient patients is this totally incorrect and bizarre idea that we can access stores of B12. We can’t and that’s why we’re B12 deficient and why we need regular replacement, this simple fact needs to be understood.

The last bullet point is the real kicker. The uneducated clinicians will say, “you don’t have Intrinsic factor antibodies (IFA) so you don’t have pernicious anaemia (PA) and so you will stay on tablets because we decided you can now miraculously absorb B12 from food!” This ludicrous concept crops up frequently (I have blogged about it before here.) It needs repeating so often – PA is just one of many causes and they are all serious and need correct treatment.

It seems they’re going to try and say you don’t need injections by testing your serum levels after they’ve given B12 oral tablets that simply can’t replace the benefit of B12 injections. They’ll do this by saying “your serum B12 levels are high now so you must be well” whilst ignoring the fact that you’re a depressed, exhausted, broken heap on the floor.

Most of us are in a state of panic at the moment, but imagine having anxiety levels through the roof and then being told you can’t have your life-saving medication for six months because someone ignorant of your condition has decided that YOU don’t matter. Not for six months anyway.

Some people were already on their knees when their injection was cancelled because the last one they had was in December, how exactly are they supposed to function? Some of these people are key workers expected to ‘soldier on’ until they collapse, some are parents thrust into 24/7 child care whilst trying to hold onto a job or their businesses by a thread.

Bay Medical Group (For Happier Healthier people!) have added this clumsy and unhelpful Q&A to their website entitled B12 Switch to oral medication.

Tidal wave of future problems

It’s impossible to expect there to be no mental or physical health casualties among those with B12 deficiency if the only provision for them is a tablet that won’t work to heal nerves or reduce symptoms but will raise serum levels.

Many of us feel like we’re currently living inside the most bizarre film set of all time, but it is also feels a bit like a ridiculous black comedy for some with B12 deficiency.

Many of our GP’s are unaware of the mental health aspect of B12 deficiency despite depression being one of the most common symptoms.

Without B12 injections we can’t function, we can’t remember, can’t walk, can’t feel happy, can’t think, can’t hear, can’t speak properly, can’t live fully.

How are the people with returning psychosis supposed to cope? How are their loved ones expected to manage this severe symptom which is an every day reality in untreated B12 deficiency in either their child, sibling, mother or father?

We’re all told to look after our mental health during this period but these incomprehensible restrictions are making things so much worse than they need to be.

Even people without previous mental health problems are having them surface during this period of isolation. The mental health charity Sane are warning that the Coronavirus could lead to a mental health epidemic.

Cutting essential, cheap, effective treatment for thousands of people through a lack of understanding of a common condition is beyond foolish. In fact it’s a time bomb and there will be guaranteed casualties amongst B12 deficient patients who only take oral tablets during this period.

The WHO

The World Health Organisation states the following in their document Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak 

The following directives are appropriate for those with B12 deficiency; –

Messages for team leaders or managers in health facilities:-

16. Manage urgent mental health and neurological complaints (e.g. delirium, psychosis, severe anxiety or depression) within emergency or general healthcare facilities. Appropriate trained and qualified staff may need to be deployed to these locations when time permits, and the capacity of general healthcare staff capacity to provide mental health and psychosocial support should be increased (see the mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide).

17. Ensure availability of essential, generic psychotropic medications at all levels of health care. People living with long-term mental health conditions or epileptic seizures will need uninterrupted access to their medication, and sudden discontinuation should be avoided.

Messages for older adults, people with underlying health conditions and their carers

22. Older adults, especially in isolation and those with cognitive decline/dementia, may become more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated and withdrawn during the outbreak or while in quarantine. Provide practical and emotional support through informal networks (families) and health professionals.

24. If you have an underlying health condition, make sure to have access to any medications that you are currently using. Activate your social contacts to provide you with assistance, if needed.

People who can only keep their psychosis and depression caused by B12 deficiency at bay with B12 injections should surely be considered here?

B12 (hydroxocobalamin is listed as an essential medicine by WHO (see page 19 here) but it seems this is not understood by many GP’s.

Injection discrimination 

There are often comparisons made between insulin and B12 injections and whilst everybody understands that insulin is essential and required by each patient in different amounts some health professionals mistakenly think that B12 is a placebo, a frivolous want for lazy people with hypochondria and Munchausen’s Syndrome. They also think that we all need the same measly amount regardless of our symptoms and level of damage. B12 is as important to patients as insulin is to diabetics.

Our friends and family outside of the B12 world see our predicament as bizarre, they ask us the following questions about B12 injections: –

Are they life-saving YES

Is it expensive NO

Can you overdose NO

We can ask the same of questions about insulin: –

Is it life-saving YES 

Is it expensive YES

Can you overdose YES

Can you imagine the outrage if insulin were stopped for six months?

Methotrexate, heparin and insulin are all automatically given to patients to self inject at home, but all these are medications which need strict control, in contrast B12 injections (hydroxocobalamin) cannot be overdosed.

Immediate Solutions  

B12 is essential, if you are prescribed B12 injections then it means you cannot absorb B12 from food so oral tablets won’t work.

The British Journal of Haematology state:

“The use of high dose oral cyanocobalamin is licenced for use in several countries….however the efficacy and cost-effectiveness…is yet to be established.”

And I am stating:

Vital treatment should not be restricted or stopped.
We are not in a war.
There is no shortage of B12.

We of course appreciate that GP Practices are under huge pressure at the moment and that many are experiencing staff shortages but there is always a way around these problems.

Practices need to reinstate B12 injections for anyone who is well and can get to the surgery or prescribe B12 ampoules and sub cutaneous needles for people to collect from a pharmacy so that they, or someone close to them can give them their vital injection. (Sub cutaneous injections would be most sensible for patients to use and are the route most who self inject choose, myself included.)

We need our doctors to get behind this movement so that they and the Practice nurses can be freed up from giving injections to those who can inject themselves.

For the sake of the GP’s and nurses who are too busy to teach you to self inject, here are some helpful NHS guides below;

Self injection with sub cut;

https://www.qegateshead.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/users/user53/gynaeoncology/IL426%20Subcutaneous%20Self%20injection%20for%20anti-coagulation%20treatment.pdf

Link for how to break an ampoule and load syringe;

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/vetscience/documents/clinical-skills/How%20to%20Open%20a%20Glass%20Vial.pdf

We need to be concerned about those people who are unable to function due to lack of B12 but who daren’t insist on treatment, those who quietly accept that their essential injection has been stopped. Our GP’s must be vigilant here and check on those at risk because they don’t want to, or feel they shouldn’t make a fuss.

Petition – Doctors, help us to get off your backs!

I’ve had numerous emails and comments detailing particular struggles with the denied access to B12 from all ages and the one solution which could make this situation better now and in the future is to make injectable B12 available over the counter from pharmacies. This would remove an enormous financial and time burden from the NHS, and GP Practices and would allow the panic to, at least partially, subside in hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.

If your doctor is on our side (I know that some are) please ask them to support this petition and share it with their colleagues.

Please consider joining the 89,000 + kind people who have already signed and shared our Petition.
(Please note: Every time you sign a change.org petition you will be asked to ‘Chip in’ money, but be warned, this money goes directly to the very wealthy change.org company and not a penny goes to the cause you might support.)

If we can get The MHRA and other NHS agencies to help us at a time where barriers are being removed then the tidal wave which is already gathering speed could be slowed.

Removing barriers

On Twitter, there’s evidence that some doctors are celebrating the fact that during this crisis, barriers that made their patient’s and their lives difficult have been removed in minutes, funding hasn’t been blocked and they can do parts of their job more easily…..

Martin Marshall (@MartinRCGP) Tweeted:

“2 emails from friends overnight saying the same thing, one a GP and local NHS leader and the other a clinical academic. They say they’ve achieve more progress in their work in the last 6 days than in the previous 6 months. People are making things happen and barriers are removed.”

Well isn’t now the time for B12 patients to get a piece of the action and have their huge barrier to good health removed?

We are living in unprecedented times but whilst all of us are in this mess together and whilst our backs are against the wall we need to see the great opportunity for change before us. Perhaps now there’s a real chance that we can get our B12 injections made available over the counter and bring us into line with other countries around the world so that we in the UK aren’t left behind.

Good Practice

It’s important for me to acknowledge that there are brilliant Practices in the UK that know their patients need their B12 injections and are either still administering them or are prescribing ampoules and equipment to make it possible for patients to self treat. (My Practice is one of these and I am so grateful, thank you Doctor B!) Anyone under the care of these good Practices will be eternally grateful for their understanding and care at this time. Many would give up their first born to be treated by you!

Take care and stay safe,

Tracey x
www.b12deficiency.info

 

Can you spare a minute for Matthew?

In November 2012 Matthew Leahy was admitted to a Mental Health Unit  – The Linden Centre, Essex where he was found hanged seven days later. He was just 20 years old!

Matthew’s mother Melanie has since become aware of his low vitamin B12 levels, and probable coeliac disease. His symptoms included; psychosis, depression, insomnia, exhaustion, constipation and stomach problems.

I’m reaching out to ask you to sign Melanie’s petition; https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/255823

From Matthew’s records it appears the first sign of B12 deficiency was recorded in May 2011 at a level of 127pg/ml, reference range 180 -914. In June 2011 low B12 was recorded again.

In Matthew’s notes it states that in July 2011 his B12 level was 154pg/ml and that B12 was prescribed, however, this was not given by injection, if at all, because in August 2011 Matthew’s B12 level had dropped to 122pg/ml.

It is also clear from Matthew’s notes that his thyroid function was impacted.

Matthew’s B12 levels were below range and dropping. See the note to the GP that they state “T4/TSH and B12 were ‘slightly abnormal and kindly arrange follow up blood test”. BUT NO treatment for these was instructed or given.

You can see that below an extremely low level of 122pg/ml is recorded as ‘normal’. Matthew was heavily symptomatic for both B12 deficiency and thyroid dysfunction and despite repeated testing, correct treatment was not given.

If you are from the UK please sign this petition and share this blog. Melanie needs to reach 100,000 signatures by the 6th of November for her petition to be discussed in Parliament – this date has been brought forward from the 23rd of November due to Parliament closing for the General Election so it is a race against time.

At the time of writing the petition has 54,050 signatures.

Melanie’s aim is to have a Public Enquiry into the failings surrounding Matthew’s death in order to help stop this happening again.

Please sign by following this link; https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/255823

You only need to give your name, email address and postcode and then you must confirm the email from the Petitions Team for your signature to be counted.

UPDATE 

There is now going to be a debate on the 30th of November – many of us will have received the email below:

Dear Tracey,

Parliament is going to debate the petition you signed – “I request a full public inquiry into death of my son, Matthew Leahy. (20 yrs.)”.

https://petition.parliament.uk/archived/petitions/255823

The debate is scheduled for 30 November 2020.

Once the debate has happened, we’ll email you a video and transcript.

Thanks,
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament

___________________________________________________________

 

The connection between poor mental health and low B12 was made over 100 years ago but too many remain untreated despite severe symptoms and low B12 levels. Please see; http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s0ggga

If you or your loved ones are experiencing mental health problems and B12 deficiency hasn’t been explored please see; https://www.b12deficiency.info/b12-and-mental-health/ and;

https://www.b12deficiency.info/what-to-do-next/

#matthewleahy #matthewscampaign
#MatthewLeahy #aminute4matthew
You can visit Melanie’s website here and FaceBook 
If you are experiencing problems with accessing treatment;
Thank you for your help in signing and sharing.
Best wishes
Tracey x