A little bit of my autobiography

There used to be a lot of derogatory stuff about me out there on the Web.
Most of it is rubbish. "Don't believe all you think", as they say, and especially
the papers etc.
     It all started when an evil "client", the late David Baines, got upset when
he didn't win a case against me, and persecuted me, arranging for other
people to write complaints to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons until
I was eventually struck off.  I have never met anyone with so much dedicated
evil in him. He died a couple of years ago. At least everyone who knows me,
knows better. I meet old clients every day in places like Morrison's and they
all stop for a friendly chat with me, ask me questions about their pets, and                          urge me to get back to work. 

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Some of my "autobiography" is attached below, in the form of snippets                                   from mails I sent to other people on my ME and Lyme disease forums.

Many people think that most if not all ME is in fact Lyme Disease, caused                              by a spirochaete, a nasty spiral bacterium that gets into all your tissues                          including your brain. It resembles the bug that causes syphilis but is more                                 sophisticated and has far more genes to make coat proteins so it can keep                             changing its coat to hide from your immune system. It is found all over the                           world and is carried by ticks of different kinds including bird ticks and fleas.                           It gets into your nervous system and literally screws with your brain.

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I just wrote a small piece about ME and posted it on the WDDTY (What
Doctors Don't Tell You) site, it was only a start. I append it below. The
WDDTY bit is shorter as I left off the last few paragraphs (because I started
to ramble) but here it is in full (albeit unfinished) -
"Your sister could well have ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). These words
mean "muscle pain" and "brain inflammation". Personally I am in a remission
phase, I caught the disease in 1995 and it took me about 3 years to sort-of
recover. My GP's blood tests were all normal. I read an article in Reader's
Digest about ME and it didn't tie up. Obviously whoever wrote the article had
no first-hand experience of ME. The trouble is, most people with ME are not
up to writing well about it. A few notables do. An affected doctor, Charles
Shepherd, has written much sensible stuff.
    I have a personal analogy, which explains all symptoms. Imagine your brain
as a pinball machine. The ball (virus) bounces about, hitting one area then
another, virtually at random. Your brain has a vomitting centre and it can hit
that. OK that's simplistic, but it DOES affect all the brain and differently in
different people. 
   ME has occurred in outbreaks in communities all over the world, and has
been given various names, like Icelandic Disease, Tapanui Flu, and notably
Royal Free Disease. It attacked most of the staff at the Royal Free Hospital in
1955 and it affected mostly the working staff, not the patients, a unique
feature of the disease. Around 256 doctors and nurses were hit - some
recovered, some had long-term effects, just as nowadays.
    Unfortunately, because no-one could find the virus that causes it, the
psychiatrists got hold of it and said it was a "mass hysteria".  Previously the
Psychs called MS (multiple sclerosis) "a hysterical disease" - they would (and
will) be out of business when we find the root cause of ME. The disease is
much more "endemic" now, with easy air travel, so clear-cut epidemics are                           less easily seen.
    The Psychs have tried to change the name to "CFS" - Chronic fatigue
syndrome - and thereby hogged the subject for themselves, claiming it is "all
in the mind", and gave it the trivial title "yuppie flu" - meaning it affects only
working people, and is caused by their deranged thinking. This suits the
insurance companies and the Governments (of all countries) who would
otherwise have to pay out for sickness benefits for physical diseases.
    ME however occurs worldwide, regardless of culture. If it were purely
psychological, wouldn't it be different between different cultures? There is
now enough evidence of physical changes to the body and brain to define
and diagnose ME (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkGq0BH6AHw
There is little if any REAL research being carried out into the actual cause of
the disease, as all governments have been willingly hoodwinked by the pyschs
into calling it a psychological disease.The MRC (Medical Research Council)
in the UK is responsible for government financing of all research projects and                          is still funding "research" into Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (teaching you that                            it's all in your mind) and Graded Exercise Therapy (gradually increasing your                       exercise according to a plan). Trouble is, genuine PWME (people with ME)                             simply cannot do any kind of enforced exercise - they usually have problems                           just getting up to go to the bathroom or make a cup of tea, it can knock them                           out for hours if not days. CBT and GET can have permanent deleterious                          effects, so they are dangerous and contra-indicated in PWME.

There is an alarming number of alternative therapies being promoted, from                        simple vitamin to "Lightning Therapy" - Esther Rantzen's daughter is said to                        have recovered using this form of CBT. It's a "Talk Therapy" - 'nuff said?      

    If it were that simple, we'd all get better. Most sufferers have tried                         everything, despite their poor financial positions. The quacks are preying                               on them. It doesn't work.

    What we need is proper research into the real cause of ME.  No psych                      rubbish. This is a physical disease caused by something infectious like a virus                         (or possibly Lyme) that can cause epidemics. Just because we haven't found                             it yet, doesn't mean the doctors can be so complacent and so arrogant, as                             to assume there is no organic (physical) cause. I really don't see how the                    psychiatrists can live with their consciences - if they have any.                                       Recently several people have died of ME, often as a direct result of the psychs.                        

   We haven't properly sussed the actual cause of MS yet. We know about the
demyelination possibly caused by an allergic component. It's very like a disease of
dogs, CDRM (chronic degenerative radiculo-myopathy). This affects almost all
Alsatians (german shepherd dogs) and their crosses. Some sort of immune
reaction damages the myelin of the spinal nerves, starting from the tail and
moving upwards. Myelin is the fat that surrounds each nerve and acts as the
"rubber insulator" of the electric cable that the nerve IS. Damage this and the
nerve short-circuits. Dogs get progressively paralysed. They start dragging their                  hind toes on the ground. My last Alsatian was 14 before it happened to her.                        My recent adopted GSD is now 10 yrs old and she sits down to eat these days.               

    In case you haven't realised, I am a vet. By nature and training I am an           epidemiologist. I graduated as a vet in London in 1972, I worked in a small                      animal, pig and cattle practice for 2 years in Bungay on the Norfolk/Suffolk                    border for 2 years, then worked in North Yemen for 2 years (75-77) mostly                            treating goats with CCPP (caprine pleuro-pneumonia - a mycoplasma)                                and cattle with Rinderpest (viral Cattle Plague, related to measles &                             distemper).

After that I married an American girl, Margaret, a nurse I met in Yemen,                                in a Quaker Meeting House in Hertford. We moved to Edinburgh where                              she did her midwifery course at Bangour while I did my M.Sc. in Tropical                                Veterinary Medicine at the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine,                                   writing a "ground-breaking" dissertation on CCPP. The Centre did two M.Sc.                          courses - the TVM was for Field vets, while the Tropical Animal Science                            was for lab vets. It's obvious what would happen - I wanted to do the                                Lab course but they thought they wanted Field vets so they put me on                                  the TVM (field vet course). When it was all over, they needed a Lab vet                                 for Pakhribas in East Nepal - so they had to scramble a series of                               attachments for me, to teach me some lab vet stuff. No matter - I went                                    where they sent me. I went to the VIC (veterinary investigation centre                                       at St Boswells) and was suitably enlightened. I went to the Moredun                              Institute (where they later cloned Dolly the Sheep) and studied                                 Mycoplasma. I took swabs from a dairy herd of goats near Peebles and I                               grew mycoplasmas in Moredun liquid mycoplasma media - I had 3-D                          colonies growing in liquids. Pity I never wrote it all up.                                                        The Government then sent us to Nepal, where we then spent 3 years.                                Built and set up a vet laboratory at Pakhribas, near Dhankuta, East Nepal.

Came home to UK, founded a small-animal and exotic practice in North                            Kent and also started a family.

    CCPP (contagious caprine pleuro-pneumonia) is caused by a form of
bacterium called a Mycoplasma. They are CWD (cell wall deficient), like                           L-forms (L for Lister), having no normal cell wall to be affected by most                         antibiotics like penicillin which interrupt cell wall synthesis.                                    Mycoplasmas like to attach to mucous membranes such as lung and gut                           tissue. There is a special and unique antibiotic that works on these called                          Tylan (tylosin) which was isolated from a soil sample found in Thailand.                                I'm a huge fan of Tylosin. I used the tablets "Tylacare" after all else failed                         (including Baytril and chloramphenicol), on a coughing dog, and they                                 cured it. It also works on gut problems, any organism affecting a mucous                       membrane. Unfortunately the tablets were discontinued for commercial                            reasons (not enough demand). Vets can get it (injectable or powder) to                             treat mycoplasma in sheep, pigs and pigeons but are told they can't use it                               in pets as it isn't licensed (although it used to be).
  Tylosin is, I believe, an aminoglycoside antibiotic, and the spiel in the                            package states that it was isolated from a soil sample collected in                                 Thailand - hence the name "Tylan". This is from memory. It is marketed                                by Elanco (but these drugs move from company to company all the time).                    
    The whole medical profession is pathetic when it comes to choosing                            effective antibiotics. They gave a friend of mine amoxycillin or augmentin                       (similar, both really only work on "internal" (gram negative, G-) bacteria                              like E.coli), for a bad ear (perforated eardrum) which obviously involves                         "external" (G+) bacteria like Staphylococcus & Pseudomonas. For these                            you need something like a cephalosporin such as cephalexin (out of                                  patent so cheap generic form available) or ciprofloxacin.

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Mum & Dad moved down to a bungalow in central Herne Bay, to be near
me. Brother Terry worked in Brighton. He became an alcoholic, fell off a
scaffold on a building site where he was a nightwatchman, and hurt his back
 so he moved in with Mum & Dad. He kept drinking, developed a weak
heart as a result, had a heart attack one morning and my parents found him
dead in the spare bedroom. He was under 41 and left a daughter Jessica.
Mum & Dad were so upset that they didn't eat for a week. Dad had a
damaged gut from amoeba during the war, he literally "bust a gut" while
straining, and had to go to hospital for a colostomy. A few months later he
went in again to get it sorted, but he never recovered. That was June 1991.
    Ten years later, Mum, who was smoking about 60 a day, had a bad heart
attack on Easter Monday, and she died about 4 days later, as she couldn't
take the medication that kept her heart ticking over. So I inherited the                          bungalow which is where I am now. I myself fell quite ill with ME in 1995                             but worked through it.
    My older boy Timothy (23) has finished his 5-year Master's in Civil                             Engineering at Loughborough. The younger one, Chris, 19, has been                                     offered a place in Brighton Univeristy and wants to do biological                                       science with a view to doing biomedical research. Presently they have                                 taken a Gap Year and have gone off together on a world tour. See their                                 blog on Facebook - "Tim & Chris Meet Earth". Their mother Margaret,                             from whom I have been living separately for nearly 14 years, is now                                        working as a Counsellor for Kent Connexions. 

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Obviously those who enjoy wild places are more at risk. But having spent                           over 30 years working as a vet, and being exposed to just about everything,                         it's ironic that I get hit with ME without any known tick bite. I had to remove                           a small tick from the edge of the eyelid of a friend of mine, Peter W, when                            we were camping in small tents in Kenya in Amboseli and Tsavo game parks.                      I've camped out in Oregon and in Yemen (where I spent two years) and have
encountered a bed full of fleas (sheikh's hospitality accommodation) as well as
bed bugs in Nepal (3 years). The most exotic place I camped was at Everest
Base Camp, when the Russians were making their first attempt (the Russians
we met were very friendly and loaned us a tent and shared their food, about
March '82, during the Falklands conflict).

    I left cattle-&-pig practice on the Norfolk/Suffolk border and got a job                            with the ODA (British foreign aid). I was dealing with a foot-&-mouth case in                 Yemen when I got mysterious blisters symmetrically on both hands. My Team                    Leader sent samples of fluid to UK but it was negative.

I was reckless in Yemen when I saw a side-neck terrapin in a stream and                      jumped in and caught it. I called him Valentine as it was 14th February!
(I am a reptile fan and used to keep large pythons, anacondas, monitors,
Corucia zebrata skinks etc). It was known that all water (which isn't much, in
a desert country) was (is) full of schistosomiasis cercariae (bilharzia worms -
?trematodes). Again I ended up in hospital in UK and was put onto the then-
available anti-parasitic, Ambilhar, a pretty primitive compound that makes you
giddy. It worked but I kept falling off my motor-bike (a 4-cylinder Honda).
Most notably in front of the car of the Dean of the Veterinary School at                     Edinburgh where I was doing my Master's in Tropical Veterinary Medicine.

Leaving Kathmandu, I ate some salad, developed jaundice back in the UK                         and found myself suddenly in an isolation room in St Anne's Hospital, Tottenham.            Diagnosis - Hepatitis Non-A Non-B. I recovered. Hep-C didn't exist then.                         But I'm alive thirty years later.

You couldn't write a script like this for Eastenders etc as it would get rejected
for being too unrealistic. Believe it or not, my life continues in the same                     implausible vein.

Back in good Old Blighty, I spent a few months getting into "small-animal                    practice", then set up my practice in a corner shop in a small seaside town,                          and worked hard for over 20 years. I was well-respected. I didn't charge                            highly. I didn't need to, in those good old days. You lived on your good name,                        if you were any good. And I was good, for the times. I diagnosed on the                                "seat of the pants" principle. You diagnose on experience, but keep up-to-                            date with new happenings by picking rep's brains. 90% of problems are                               simple - cat fight bite abscesses, cat and dog neuterings. Initially, I lived                                "above the shop"literally, with Margaret, and Timothy was born 9 months                                later. My parents moved nearby. We bought a house on top of the cliff, with                             a half-acre of ground including an orchard where I kept geese and goats.                          Christopher was born 4 years later and he is now 19. Timothy's 23rd                               birthday was 5 April '08).                                                                                                What is weird, is that after all this exposure to weird and wonderful things,                           that I didn't get a noticeable tick bite, or didn't catch ME/Lyme, until 1995?

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I never got an official diagnosis of ME or anything. That actually turned out to                        be a benefit when I took out some health insurance, as it suits the insurance
companies to try and exclude you if you have ME - it was actually on the
application form. Even if it doesn't exist when it comes to paying out on a claim.
    I have not tested my blood for Lyme - it never occurred to me. I might                          have done it myself quite easily as I then had a Nikon microscope.
    I fell ill on 19th Feb 1995, with all the symptoms of oncoming "man-flu".
Headache, sore eyes (coryza), blocked/runny nose, feeling very thick. I
personally think it's very possible that I caught it (ME virus that is) from the
girlfriend with whom I had resurrected an old relationship (we went out
together for a few months while in our early 20's but not intimately then).
   I got over the "flu" but the headache remained. It was very oppressive and was
24/7 although I usually managed to sleep. I was working in my one-man vet
surgery and needed to to pay the bills etc. You can't have sick days off when
you're self-employed.
    After 3 months or so I finally went to my doctor. He was and still is the head
doctor of a large multi-doc practice. He didn't venture a diagnosis, and I had no
idea it was ME, which I'd barely heard of. He did give me some tricyclic
antidepressants (Gammanil, lofepramine), but these did nothing to relieve the
headache. I persisted with them for 2 months, it did no good.
    I didn't go back to the doc's. I began to suss out what I had. I read an article in
a contemporary Reader's Digest and it didn't fit all my signs but I realised later
that the writer hadn't a clue, or at least hadn't any first-hand experience.
    I had other signs  - a mild form of IBS, causing me to have to trot to the loo first
thing every morning. The bathroom in the flat above the surgery was next door to
the bedroom, luckily.
    Initially I continued my habit of taking a litre of French "Pelican" beer around to
my drinking-buddy's place and we would share it. Not heavy drinking. I always
enjoyed a drink. Until suddenly I got a funny feeling that I just didn't want to drink
alcohol any more. The cupboards of my mother's bungalow were stuffed with wine
and spirits which a friendly bootlegger had brought over from France (all legally),
and I was wondering what I was going to do with all this drink. I simply didn't want
it. Any of it. I took Mum out to dinner and managed to consume a small glass
of wine but didn't enjoy it. Only after 6 months did I begin to recover my appetite for
alcohol. I discovered that one cardinal sign of ME is alcohol intolerance.
    Nineteen months into the disease, the signs of IBS abated. I always had
confidence in the power of my body to heal itself and I knew that I was on the road
to recovery, albeit slow and incomplete. Another sign, to me, that I was getting better,
was the fact that I started to yawn. The so-called "fatigue" in ME is not normal
tiredness and I never yawned.
    The only time the headache stopped was the first Christmas spent with the disease,
when I went to Woolie's and treated myself to a giant bar of Galaxy. I ate about
half of this in the car and the headache stopped, at least for a few hours.
I considered stuffing myself with chocolate but I'd only have gained weight,
which is a problem for me anyway with the inactive lifestyle of a PWME
 (Person With ME).
    The headache did in fact fade away largely after about 3 years. I still had to
apply coping strategies at work. I spent most of my mornings consulting,
examining dogs & cats, and did this from an office chair with wheels, which I
propelled around the tiny room like the old Amish farmer in "Witness".
    I read up about ME but couldn't get my head around the jargon, like the phrase
"cognitive disorders". But I did have huge problems in reading anyway - the trade
magazines piled up on the table, unread. One incident that brought home to me just
how disabled I was. I'd got an old computer on the kitchen worktop. On Windows
3.1 in those days. That's a cognitive challenge in itself. It was heavy. It takes only
a little effort to move it out, or climb up on a stool, in order to plug in the
loudspeakers - but I simply couldn't manage it. It remained silent. I tried playing
games on it but just couldn't understand what one was supposed to do. At least,
any game more complicated than Solitaire. That spring, I couldn't face the task of
putting all the clocks forward, so they were all an hour slow for 6 months, but it
didn't matter as they put themselves right in the autumn!
    I remember standing in the empty waiting-room with my arms stretched out
sideways like a tightrope walker as I felt wobbly. For a while I had visual
problems - it was interesting to see a scene out of the window and watch the
pixels of my retina moving like in a grainy old movie. The other similarity with film
was that the view was in 2-D, flat, no 3D perspective.
    The staff and clientele could see I was ill.  Some clients thought I was drunk
and the rumour got back to me through the RSPCA inspector, but actually the
opposite was true - I was completely teetotal. Anyway some clients left and the
practice cut itself down to what I could manage, which wasn't a bad thing. It
built up gradually later as I began to recover.
    The only post-exertional myalgia (muscle pain) I had was in my arms after
doing a 3-point turn in the road with my heavy people-carrier car, which didn't
have power steering. All the cars I've had since have had power-assisted
steering. It's a coping strategy. 
I read that ME might be caused by a Mycoplasma, so I tried taking an antibiotic.
I took cipro (ciprofloxacin) 250mg daily for months. I think it helped a bit. I had
to buy them (human generic ones) through the veterinary wholesaler and they were
expensive, about 2.50 each. You can get them much cheaper on the internet                nowadays.
    Lyme isn't the only disease that needs very long antibiotic courses. Think of
Brucellosis. 3 months on oxytetracycline, repeated whenever the symptoms come
back, for life. Possibly Doxy these days. What about TB? Leprosy? HIV?            Helicobacter? All need long-term multiple antibiotics (tri-therapy).
    Personally, I think that the form of ME I had/have is caused by a form of virus.
The onset was too acute. Borrelia breeds even slower than Mycobacterium
tuberculosis. And although my work is with animals, I am not aware of ever
being bitten by a tick. Any animal with fleas is immediately sprayed with Frontline.
But yes, I ought to get checked, or check myself, for Lyme.

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My older boy Timothy (23) has finished his 5-year Master's in Civil                             Engineering at Loughborough. The younger one, Chris, 19, has been                                     offered a place in Brighton Univeristy and wants to do biological                                       science with a view to doing biomedical research. Presently they have                                 taken a Gap Year and have gone off together on a world tour. See their                                 blog on Facebook - "Tim & Chris Meet Earth". Their mother Margaret,                             from whom I have been living separately for nearly 14 years, is now                                        working as a Counsellor for Kent Connexions. 

 

Right now I'm sort-of retired. Hope to go back to work but have to get                               my registration back. I try to keep a certain routine to each day, by                                 setting one alarm for 8.45, by which time my bedside coffee filter machine                           will have made me a cup of strong black coffee.

My dog Star, a GSD, is on guard duty up at Margaret's about a mile                               away. You couldn't imagine a nicer dog, always happy and friendly. I                                walk her every night with a platonic lady-friend Mary who has two small dogs.  
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I forgot to add something to my last msg - my website - so far just a few old poems
and some lists of corny jokes which I used to send daily to a circle of friends but
found they took up too much time. I started putting them up on the website, then I
ran out of steam and haven't done a fresh one for nearly a year. 
    Cognitive problems have prevented me from writing any poetry for some years.
I found that ME dulls or deadens all emotions except for anger.  I'll probably put
up the notes I sent you about my history, edited and expanded, when I get time.
But might start a separate website for personal history.
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I have looked at some of the Borrelia including the "Unusually Large" video clip. It
didn't look to me like a spirochaete but Borrelia can take many shapes I believe, such
as the L-form. I am new to all the recent stuff about LD and would be grateful if you
could send me the pics of your blood, too. Obviously you have access to a suitable
microscope. Do all the Euro Limeys have microscopes? I have just ordered a new
microscope complete with dark-field attachment set and will organise high-power
lighting as per Mark Stroud's article. I do have a couple of basic ordinary
microscopes, as well as a couple of low-power stereo jobs, all left over from my
veterinary practice when I sold it. I've gone through eBay and sent messages to
some sellers and have finally taken the plunge.
If I find spiros in my own blood I can go to my doc and I'm sure he knows me well
enough to prescribe appropriate antibiotics.  What might be the best protocol?
    I've had ME now for over 13 years and managed to work during the acute early
stages but I am undergoing a bit of a relapse at present, I just can't seem to get
things done. I'm living alone and the house is a mess. 
   
Laurence.