I do acknowledge that there are some of us with doctors who know exactly how to treat B12 deficiency, but evidence shows that we are not all that lucky.
Most of us with this condition suffer neurological symptoms. Our problem is that many doctors don’t recognise our symptoms as such and consequently they continue to worsen. The NICE and BNF Guidelines state that if neurological symptoms are present that B12 injections should be given every other day until the symptoms stop improving.
It’s also important to note that many of us are ‘within range’ on a serum B12 test result, but still heavily symptomatic.
When I was diagnosed with Vitamin B12 deficiency my doctor wasn’t really interested in my symptoms, they weren’t discussed and I don’t think they were even noted. I was given my loading dose injections every other day for two weeks and then I was supposed to manage on one injection every three months.
I have neurological symptoms. My myelin sheath, the protection for my nerves, has been nibbled away.
My memory was terrible, my bladder let me down, my tongue was sore and swollen, my vision was blurred, my bowel couldn’t muster up the strength to work, my neck, back, and toes burned with pain, and I felt anxious, I could go on and on. I thought I might be one of those people who end up in the news, with ‘early onset’ Alzheimer’s.
I have an injection every week now, but I have fought tooth and nail for this. I have never been treated as per the guidelines regarding neurological symptoms and I am not alone. I have cried with frustration during my GP appointments. I have asked my doctor why she thinks her memory is more important to her than mine is to me. I have been enraged by letters sent to me from experts I have never met, telling me I need antidepressants and psychotherapy instead of this 55 pence injection. Where is the sense in this? I know that antidepressants are not going to heal my damaged nerves – it is the little red B12 vial, cheaper than a chocolate bar, which does this job, perfectly.
B12 deficient patients are routinely under treated, neglected and ignored. It’s clear that we must all suffer some degree of nerve damage, with different sets of neurological problems and yet for some bizarre reason we are largely, all treated the same – poorly, and sparsely. We are all unique, we all have different B12 requirements. Many of us suffer returning symptoms within days of our injections, some of us can go longer, some of us can’t. I know members of the support group I belong to who are ecstatic when their doctors agree to give them their much needed injections every 10 weeks rather than every 12 but we all know that this frequency is enough to keep to us alive but not to repair the damage to our nerves. We need our doctors to give us a chance for optimum healing by listening to us, by taking our health seriously, by not filling us with chemicals we don’t need, but by giving us an essential vitamin.
A newly diagnosed patient should be given B12 loading doses over two weeks and following these, the patient, who suffers neurological symptoms, may be euphoric at being able to get out of bed for the first time in months or even years. This same patient who may feel a zest for life in place of deep depression, could then be told that they now only require one of these life saving, vital, water soluble injections, every three months. This incorrect statement is rolled out to countless devastated and desperate patients with the added untruth, that too much B12 can be harmful. There is barely any recognition of our symptoms, except for, it seems the depression we sink into when our lifeline is cut. Our request for more frequent injections falls on deaf ears but we are freely offered antidepressants as an antidote for our despair.
The depression induced by lack of B12 has one cure alone, tragically this cure for most, is rationed to one tiny ampoule only four times a year. This is madness.
B12 deficient patients should also have had their folate and ferritin levels checked. If these levels are too low our B12 can have a pointless journey through our systems and leave us without improvement.
Some doctors feel that our neurological symptoms are not B12 deficiency at all and so will continue to test, scan, prod and poke saying it is important they don’t miss anything ‘more serious’. We don’t mind this process as long as you continue with our essential injections, they can do only good. Vitamin B12 stops us deteriorating, stop our brains from shrinking, it don’t interfere with any other drugs and there is no known toxicity.
We need the treatment that the NICE Guidelines and BNF guidelines 9.1.2. allows us, injections every other day until our symptoms stop improving. There is no restriction on this – and there shouldn’t be. Nerve damage takes a long time to heal, ask a neurologist – but not these two Doctors, see letters.
Many of us with this condition have soaked ourselves in research in order to be armed with information to keep ourselves alive and well. Numerous occasions arise when this information we collect needs to be regurgitated for our doctors. We remind them of the guidelines repeatedly due to the simple fact that our neurological symptoms are continually misunderstood or ignored.
We don’t understand the confusion our health professionals suffer with the treatment of B12 deficiency because it is SO SIMPLE. Those of us with this condition are fully aware that it affects all body systems, that B12 deficiency affects our brains. It attacks both our central nervous and peripheral nervous systems and that these nerves run throughout our bodies from head to toe the damage wreaking havoc with our daily lives.
Yes it is this serious, but tragically our doctors feel we are making a fuss if we want –
to stay awake for more than three hours a day,
to move without pain,
to walk without wobbling,
to conceive without IVF,
to have a tongue that fits,
to empty our bowels from time to time,
to speak without forgetting,
to hear without constant ringing,
to see without blurring,
to feel calm and relaxed,
to hold down a job,
to have a day without tears,
to remember our loved ones names,
to feel like death isn’t a better option. . . . . . . . . . .
Is this really asking too much?
The guidelines regarding neurological symptoms are plain to see, so all we ask is that these are followed.
Our doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, it states “And I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment, but from what is to their harm and injustice I will keep them.”
What happens every day in reality, is criminal.
Best wishes, Tracey
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