A tale of two nurses – threat and resolution

Nurse one
My lovely mum is a retired District Nurse. Her job involved giving B12 injections to her patients at 3 monthly intervals.

My grandma had a diagnosis of PA (pernicious anaemia) and mum would recognise when she was ready for her next injection.

Mum had zero formal training in B12 deficiency but was an excellent caring nurse who always put her patients first.

Nurse two
This nurse is a Practice Nurse who administers B12 injections.

She uses some of her time to diligently count up the days so that the patient can have their B12 injections at exactly 3 monthly intervals, not before, never before.

This nurse has also had zero formal training in B12 deficiency but has been told incorrect information about B12 deficiency.  She may also be an excellent nurse.

Resistance
My mum follows rules, she likes to get things right. When she saw fit she would challenge decisions made by doctors for the patients she knew and understood. 

My mum was not fully onboard with B12 deficiency at the beginning of my journey in early 2012. There was part of her that didn’t and couldn’t fully believe that B12 deficiency might be the root cause of our loved one’s symptoms. Her training was also, naturally, taking her down a different path.

She saw the resistance I was up against with doctors and worried about my challenging their knowledge because her belief lay somewhere else. Mum in part, sided with the professionals whilst trying to support me.

This was tough for mum. Her training as a nurse meant that in this situation she felt subordinate, that the doctors knew best, that their expertise should be respected and that if you’re told NO then you should accept that and shut up. I couldn’t accept the many NO’s I was getting.

If I’m told no and I know that that no is wrong, I will not give up trying to get a YES. This causes problems for those around me who are not on the same page.

It made people angry and it isolated me, that isolation is uncomfortable and lonely.

I have bored many of my family and friends to tears about B12 deficiency. I have been told to shut up so many times BUT when you know something is not right how can you not carry on?

In the beginning
I had identified what I thought were B12 deficiency symptoms in my mum right at the beginning but mum attributed all of them to other causes. I used to ask her “what if your breathing improved with B12?” With an exasperated sigh she would say “well it can’t can it, I’ve had this all my life”.

To shut me up she had a serum B12 test which came back ‘within range’. Her GP was willing to talk to me about this but at the time mum was still resistant so it didn’t happen.
I knew that both mum and I had methylation issues  and that dad had them too so mum’s attitude frustrated me a lot, an awful lot.

Light at the end of the tunnel?
Mum had met Sally Pacholok and saw her speak at our 2016 conference. From then she really understood B12 deficiency but still did not accept that it affected her too. Her GP said that her serum B12 result at 323ng/nl and a folate level of 3.3ng/nl was fine.

My mum’s symptoms, to me, were like flashing beacons growing bigger and bigger every day.

Spring 2018
This was a very difficult time for our family and I became increasingly worried about mum’s health and well being. She finally allowed me to get involved and I wrote to her GP on her behalf telling her of the family history, which included me, my siblings, aunt, uncle and grandma, at this point.

I detailed mum’s signs and symptoms which included ;
Breathlessness
Depression
Apathy
Bladder problems
Tachycardia
Exhaustion
Insomnia
Sluggish thyroid
Osteoporosis
Methylation issues.

I provided documents from  Point 4 of the What to do next page which show the inaccuracies of the serum B12 test and I also supplied mum’s methylation profile.

I asked if mum could have a trial of B12 injections and we waited.

Breakthrough
After a short phone conversation with mum the GP booked mum in for her loading doses.

I discovered early on that I cannot tolerate folic acid and chances were that since half my methylation issues came from mum she may not tolerate it either. Mum’s folate level was well below range, however the nurse told her there was no need to supplement this!
Mum started taking active folate. (Please be aware that this can be a tricky supplement for some and the general advice is always to start low and slow with it – especially if you are taking prescribed anti depressants or anti psychotics. Folinic acid (un methylated folate) may be a better alternative form for some).

Mum had her injections booked for the week ahead and she took folate every day with no ill effect. She said she felt no different at all for the first couple of days and then…….the change was incredible. Mum said she felt brighter. She looked brighter, she smiled. Starting the loading doses had such a profound effect, this flowering of my mum was an absolute delight to see.

She was able to breathe easier, she could garden in the extreme heat the UK had last year without having to take a break every ten minutes. The depression and apathy lifted. So many surprising things improved for mum, things she thought were totally unrelated. This was the mum I knew was in there but couldn’t get out.

Mum said she could never remember feeling so well. She began to ask for the journals and information I had sent to her in the past as she now had the impetus to learn from them.

“I wish I’d let you do this 6 years ago” said my mum.

I was beside myself hearing these words.

Having mum on board is fantastic, I am proud to say she is banging on the very same drum as me now!

I know mum is proud of the work I do but she didn’t fully understand it until she actually experienced the magic of feeling so well once you have the right level of the vital nutrients you’re lacking.



Incorrect treatment
After loading doses the GP asked to see mum, who was primed to make sure that the GP understood that mum was neurologically affected and would need to stay on the loading dose frequency for as long as it took for symptoms to stop improving.
Mum called me to say that I’d be disappointed, that the GP said she’d see her in three months for her maintenance dose, but that she wanted to buy B12 from abroad and self treat as another family member does, because she did not want her health to deteriorate as she had never felt so well.

I was not disappointed in my mum. I understand the difficulty patients feel in trying to point their GP’s toward the correct treatment regime. I was however ecstatic that this time mum knew that the GP was incorrect and she wanted to keep herself well.

Ignorance and threat
I am very lucky, my GP prescribes my B12 weekly, many others are not in this situation and this needs to change. I want all of us to be treated as individuals by our GP’s and not have vital treatment restricted due to lack of education and restrictive guidance.

Mum bought her B12 ampoules safely and cheaply from an online pharmacy. She found that in the three months running up to her appointment with the nurse she was doing well on a weekly injection.

Twenty minutes before mum was due to have her B12 injection from the Practice, she was phoned by a nurse who informed her that the appointment had been cancelled as she had counted up and found that the booking was 3 days early! She also stated (incorrectly) that it was dangerous to have too much B12. The nurse told her it would have to be arranged for the following week and she hoped it wasn’t inconvenient.

By this time, my mum has found her voice. She stated that yes it was inconvenient but she would give herself her own injection and see her the next week.

This nurse, worried by what she’d been told, took that information to the GP and mum received the letter below:

Resolution and kindness
Following receipt of this letter mum asked if I would go to the appointment with her, and of course I agreed – however I felt that if we emailed first it could help not only mum, but others at the Practice too.

This is the text from the email mum sent:

A three week wait eventually resulted in the best out come possible…….

The GP called and thanked mum for her email and for the information telling mum;
“I want to provide your weekly B12 ampoules for you to manage at home so please come and collect your prescription from us.”

Thank you
Thank you to the nurse who prompted this action, her reporting of the issue yielded a great opportunity for learning and a brilliant outcome for mum.
Thank you to the GP who treats mum as an individual.
Thanks to all those GP’s who are now listening and who are changing the lives of those that they care for.
Thank you to my mum for finally letting me interfere.
And thank you to Damian who has been with me every step of the way.

Best wishes
Tracey
www.b12deficiency.info

Nice Guidelines

www.b12deficiency.info/signs-and-symptoms/

Methylation issues

If folic acid doesn’t suit you, there are alternatives; In the UK folinic acid could be prescribed by your GP but not methylfolate. Remember we are all different so what suits me, may not suit you.

If you require personalised hep please see the contact page for more information.

B12deficiency.info 2016 Conference 17th and 18th June – Education for all, B12, methylation and thyroid.

I am delighted to announce our second event and Sally Pacholok will be with us again!

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The conference will attempt to address the gaps in the diagnosing and understanding of these conditions and the effects on both physical and mental health.

Please note: This is NOT a two day conference, an identical programme will run each day.

Ticket price £62.00
Includes: Presentations, lunch, refreshments, attendance certificate for CPD and free on site parking.


This conference is for all with an interest in the subjects both personally and professionally.

If you are a patient you will learn more about your condition. If you work with people in any field of mental or physical health then this conference will provide high clinical relevance and an attendance certificate for CPD.

It has been arranged by Tracey Witty of www.b12deficiency.info to promote greater awareness and understanding of B12 deficiency, methylation and thyroid disease.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no sponsorship from, nor affiliations to pharmaceutical or vitamin companies at this event (or throughout www.b12deficiency.info).

The speakers are highly knowledgeable, experienced and engaging. They will discuss the multi-systemic and polyglandular nature of the conditions, diagnosis and misdiagnosis.

Q&A time with the speakers is scheduled.

In addition to our speakers we will hear from three patients who will present their own case studies.

Last years attendees said; – Thanks for organising the excellent conference, the speakers were all very engaging and enthusiastic. I don’t think I have ever been at a conference that so many people stayed until the end, especially on a Saturday!

– I am an acupuncturist and during the conference I realised that my training in B12 deficiency was woefully inadequate. Knowing so much more about B12 and methylation has completely changed my practice!

Meet the Speakers

Sally Pacholok RN BSN
Presentation on –
The effect of B12 deficiency on all body systems. Symptoms, causes, those at risk and common misdiagnoses.

Sally was a licensed Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and worked as a paramedic prior to and during nursing school.

In 1985 aged 22, Sally diagnosed herself with vitamin B12 deficiency, after her doctors had failed to identify her condition. Over the past two decades, she has frequently found untreated B12 deficiency in the patients she cares for and has campaigned to raise awareness of this all too common debilitating neurological condition.

During her presentation Sally will be using case studies to show how b12 deficiency affects people of all ages, including babies and children. She will also be reviewing the pathophysiology, signs, symptoms, risk factors, causes, diagnosis, differential diagnosis and treatment.

Sally’s book inspired Emmy winning film producer Elissa Leonard to produce a documentary on misdiagnosed B12 deficiency in 2011 click to watch. Elissa then went on to produce a feature film based on Sally’s life click to watch.

Anne Pemberton
Functional Medicine Practitioner MSc, PGCE (Autism), RGN.
Presentation on –
Genetic Polymorphisms in Chronic fatigue and Autism: Supporting the role of B12 and Folate and their connection to HPU (Kryptopyrroles).
Anne spent the first 25 years of her working life as a registered nurse in cardiac intensive care. Her son’s diagnosis of autism and the lack of medical help was the catalyst for Anne’s decision to retrain as a functional medicine practitioner.

Anne is now the Course Director on the MSc in Nutritional Therapy at the Northern College of Acupuncture in York. She also runs a busy international clinic, with special interest in CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and autism.

Anne uses nutrigenomics data from 23andme.com alongside appropriate functional testing, in order to establish each person’s individual health requirements. She has co-written the first UK based practitioner nutrigenomics course in the UK which is delivered twice yearly in York and London. Anne has also co-authored a book with Dr Damien Downing ‘The vitamin Cure for Digestive Disease’.

Dr. Afshan Ahmad BSc, PhD.
Presentation on –
The effect of thyroid replacement in patients with ‘normal’ thyroid chemistry and clinical signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Development for Vaccine Research Trust, a charity established in 1982 which supports research into why a group of people present with signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism but continue to have blood tests within the reference range. She co-founded Vaccine Research International Plc and helped Dr Gordon Skinner in his thyroid clinic in Birmingham, working closely with him in his dealings with the GMC. In 2000, they published a paper on the effect of thyroid replacement in patients with ‘normal’ thyroid chemistry and clinical signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Afshan qualified with a BSc degree in Immunology and Microbiology from London University in 1983 and joined Dr Gordon Skinner’s vaccine research group at the Medical School, University of Birmingham in 1985, she completed her PhD in Medical Microbiology in 1999.

Dr Joanne Younge
Associate Specialist Old Age Psychiatrist.
Presentation on –
Audit on B12 and folate deficiency in the elderly.

Joanne graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast, in 1996 and is an Associate Specialist Old Age Psychiatrist in an NHS Trust.

Joanne is a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Clinical Lecturer at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland. Her main interest is improving care for patients, either through quality improvement initiatives, using Institute for Healthcare Improvement methodology, or audit.

She co-authored ‘CBT for mild to moderate depression and anxiety’ in 2014 and an audit on improving patient safety, ‘The impact of introducing a Lithium care pathway’, was published as an example of shared learning on the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website in 2015.

The introduction of an electronic care record, with better access to blood results, and improved insight into the potential impact of deficiencies prompted an audit into B12 and folate deficiency in the elderly patients referred to the local service. She is hopeful that the audit, presented at the conference, will have an impact on improving patient care in the future.

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To book your place click here

To read more please visit the conference page.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Best wishes, Tracey