My first blog is something very close to my heart, as it is an illness that many doctors, including my own had very limited knowledge of. I am taking this opportunity to raise awareness of this illness.
In 2014 I had been teaching at the University of Surrey on a summer course for foreign students who wished to start their Masters degree at the University. I was living in student accommodation! On the last day of the course, I woke up feeling a lot of pain in my spine. I thought maybe it was where I had fallen out of my single student bed a few nights before! During my time there I had also had a Urinary Tract Infection. I returned home to Broadstairs in Kent and the pain spread to my pelvis and knees, I went to bend down to get something out of a bottom cupboard and found it difficult to get up. My first port of call was my chiropractor who had helped me on numerous occasions with lower back problems. Following 2 treatments, I felt worse, they couldn’t find a reason. I spent the next 2 months visiting various physio’s, osteopaths, homeopathic practitioners, herbalists and acupuncturists, all to no avail. I went to the doctor. He took every blood test he considered appropriate, all came back fine and he ordered an MRI of my pelvis. It returned with bursitis, tendonitis and usual wear and tear. He told me all was good, it was an injury which would get better.
I returned when it hadn’t got any better after a few months, he sent me to the pain clinic, which I believe is just a place where you are given different options of drugs to control the pain, without establishing a cause. However I went. The consultant suggested steroid injections in all the places where there was pain, I refused, knowing this would not cure whatever I had wrong with me.
I had taken on a position in Monaco, which was to start in a few months time, feeling pretty rough, I thought I would go and see a specialist when I arrived, which I did, to no avail. My condition worsened, with pain now in my shoulders, shins and ribs as well as everywhere else. I returned home for a holiday, unable to put luggage in the overhead locker. Unable to pick my 2 year old granddaughter up into my arms as she ran towards me, I visited my GP again, he took my bloods again, ‘exactly the same as before’ is what the practise nurse told me. However by a stroke of luck or whatever you would like to call it, this time my calcium was checked! Halleluyah it was 3.0, it should have been somewhere between 2.2 and 2.5. Now my GP phoned me and said I needed an appointment with an endocrinologist. (With a high calcium reading you have a 95% chance of having hyperparathyroidism) Having never heard I had 4 parathyroid glands in my neck, I set out on a mission to find out exactly what could be going on. I returned to Monaco with a list of further tests I needed to have done (Urine, more bloods) before the Endocrinologist would see me and that there was a 4 month wait. Following that, it could be another 6-8 months for surgery. I really felt I couldn’t wait that long, walking was becoming painful. I was in a good position to get an appointment with a wonderful surgeon in Nice, who took me upstairs for an ultrasound scan, identifying a tumour on one of my parathyroid glands, these are almost always benign and were the reason for all my aches and pains, they tell the gland your calcium is out of whack, “let’s take it all from the bones and put it into the blood stream!” I asked him, how I could have got this and he told me it was hereditary, now I think it was what my Mum probably died from, as she had been in a lot of pain in her hips (2 replacements) and shoulders. Hyperparathyroidism left untreated leads to osteoporosis. Mum had no diagnoses and subsequently died from a heart attack, in my opinion from the calcium clogging up the arteries. The soonest he could operate on me was 3 months time, I was so thankful. My medical French language had to improve rapidly during that time with the appointments to the hospital. On the day of the surgery June 30th 2016, I was going under the anesthetic, when the anesthetist who I had spoken in French to (badly), on all the occasions leading up to the surgery said “Would you like me to speak in English!” Hell YES! This was going to be a great day!
Following surgery, I found an amazing support group on Facebook Hyperparathyroid UK Action4Change Together, with the extremely knowledgable founder Sallie JP, who has written the new NICE guidelines for the NHS.
Urine infections are common, as are kidney stones with hyperparathyroidism, as the body attempts to rid itself of the excess calcium. Dental problems are also common (Loss of bone and enamel). At this time, the only cure is surgery and in my opinion, the sooner the better. If my condition had been diagnosed 2 years earlier when I had my first symptoms, my recovery after surgery would have been a lot quicker and the illness would not have been so debilitating, as it progressively worsened month after month, with my blood pressure, normally 120/80 rising to 200/110 with all the extra work my heart was having to undertake with the excess calcium running through my blood system. Research has also shown that 25% of Fibromyalgia diagnoses are, in fact hyperparathyroidism.
“Many patients who think they have fibromyalgia may be spending time and money on medical treatment that isn’t going to properly address their symptoms. Before someone is prematurely diagnosed with fibromyalgia, blood tests for primary hyperparathyroidism may be a simple solution.” Dr. Larian 2014
My symptoms were severe, possibly because I went undiagnosed for a very long time, many others with Hyperparathyroidism might first notice teeth problems( Enamel coming off the teeth, loose teeth), anxiety, depression, brain fog, heart palpitations, all which I had but were attributed to menopause!
ADHD and ADD My second blog is also close to my heart, as I am sure I had Attention Deficit as a child, all my school reports said I was a dreamer, looking out of the window, however it wasn’t labelled in those days. My son also has Attention challenges which, now he is 27, has strategies to deal with it, however when he was younger it was quite challenging at school for him.
When I was teaching in the US I was shocked at how many of my students had been prescribed ritalin for their hyperactivity or attention deficit….this drug has been classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II narcotic—the same classification as cocaine, morphine and amphetamines. It’s possible side effects can be nervousness, insomnia, anorexia, loss of appetite, pulse changes, heart problems and weight loss. The manufacturer says it is a drug of dependency. Don’t you think that this should be a last resort drug after at least trying some dietary changes and supplements? In the UK over the past 10 Years the use of Ritalin and other ‘smart drugs’ has doubled. Almost 1.5 million prescriptions were dispensed by the NHS last year. Could this be that the increase in diagnoses has anything to do with the foods our children are eating, which over the years are becoming more and more processed. My son, now aged 27 showed many signs of hyperactivity and attention deficit from the age of 2. I asked the staff at his nursery, who would sometimes care for him, to cut out all sugar and processed foods from his diet and introduced a high quality fish oil daily as well as a child’s probiotic. The probiotic is to make his tummy healthy and be ready to absorb all the fabulous nutrients. I made sure he had plenty of fresh air, burning off extra energy outdoors.This was enough to notice a huge difference in him. As he grew up into a teen, we had the help of a herbalist who introduced, a mix of gotu kola, pine bark and passion flower. Now as an adult, he has developed strategies to deal with the attention deficit, while continuing to eat a nutrient dense diet loaded with good fats. A study published in the British medical journal ,The Lancet, indicated that in at least 2/3 of all ADHD cases, food sensitivities were the cause.That’s a lot of kids being dosed with toxic pharmaceutical drugs to treat ADHD who simply don’t need them! The researchers from The Netherlands who discovered this, Dr. Lidy Pelsser and Professor Jan Buitelaar said;
“We think that dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD. This, provided that parents are willing to follow a diagnostic restricted elimination diet for a 5-week period, and that expert supervision is available,”
So what are the foods that have been shown to possibly cause and aggravate ADHD? Sugar, food additives and colours (read the labels of everything you buy). All processed foods (Anything in a tin or foods with a really long shelf life), some researchers believe fluoride can aggravate it too.
REMEDY Cut out all processed foods eg tinned and long life packaged foods, bacon, sugar, artificial colours and additives, sweeteners and artificially flavoured drinks from your child’s diet. Give them a high quality fish oil supplement daily as well as eating a diet high in healthy fats, proteins and vegetables. A magnesium supplement has shown to also have a calming effect and help with sleep.
These were the types of meals I gave my son which improved his symptoms of ADD remarkably: I used organic ingredients where possible, butter and milk from grass fed cows, or coconut milk. I always attempted to use oils which were cold pressed, extra virgin and organic.