The Saturday Visit
We ensure that the office is manned every Saturday morning so that people who are at work during the week, and are unable to use the telephone at work are able to contact us at the weekend.
And last weekend a lady who lives in south Wales asked if she could come in to the office to have a face to face chat. So, at 10:30 last Saturday the kettle was boiled, the tea made and the lady arrived on time with her husband and two young children.
I shall call her Avril (see what I’ve done – it’s April you see). Avril is in her late 20’s and was diagnosed at the age of 15. Her mother has also been diagnosed as has her sister. She works as a hairdresser from home as she is not well enough to work for anyone else as she has severe digestion problems, is tired all the time, lacks concentration and also has memory problems. Her youngest child is 4. When she was pregnant with her youngest her doctor ordered a blood test and was horrified to find that her B12 level was “over 1,000” and her injections were stopped.
Last week, being so ill that she was unable to work, look after her children and felt absolutely awful she paid another visit to her doctor’s surgery begging that her B12 injection be reinstated. The doctor dismissed her requests saying that because her records were now computerised he was unable to access her past medical history prior to 2010. Therefore, there was no way he could verify that she had a diagnosis of Pernicious Anaemia but agreed to test her serum B12 to determine her B12 Status.
So distraught was she that on her way out of the surgery she was almost in tears when she met the nurse who used to administer her injections. The nurse was horrified that her injections had been stopped and told Avril to contact the PA Society as a matter of urgency. And that’s why she arrived at the office on Saturday morning.
If ever I need to be reminded of the need to keep on volunteering with the society and striving to bring about change I need only to remember the plight of Avril that morning. Her physical appearance shouted, no, screamed vitamin B12 Deficiency. Her inability to find the right words to express herself and the way in which she had lost hope not only in modern medicine but in the humanity of doctors was pitiful. She had all of the symptoms listed on our checklist but to a degree that I have not seen before, including numbness and pins and needles in her feet and hands.
Thankfully her family, especially her husband, are fully supportive but, like her, didn’t know what to do.
I wrote a letter to the Practice Manager of her health centre and printed off a copy of the Update for Medical Professionals that Avril was going to give to her doctor.
And now the story gets sadder. Just as she was about to leave, feeling a little bit more positive after our chat, her telephone rang. It was her mother who told her that yesterday her doctor told her that her B12 was too high and her injections had been stopped.
I can still hear her exasperated sigh as her husband did his best to comfort her.