So, here I am on the last day of February with forecasts of heavy snowfall for Wales and I have to go to London which has already seen major disruption to transport due to snow. Yet, even though travellers are being warned to make only necessary journeys I cannot cancel my trip because I have been asked to appear at yet another Employment Tribunal concerning one of our members who, just like me fourteen years ago, is being forced to take early retirement on grounds of ill-health because he is still experiencing the worst of the symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia.
This flies in the face of perceptions held by most people, and certainly the vast majority of doctors, that once the B12 Deficiency that has been caused by Pernicious Anaemia has been corrected, then the patient’s symptoms disappear. We know that this isn’t the case and even when a patient has a treatment regimen tailored to his or her own particular requirement, the symptoms do not miraculously vanish. This means that patients who experience the continual and ever-present extreme fatigue, confusion, irrational behaviour etc. will struggle with work or education.
Today’s tribunal concerns a professional who has really struggled to carry out his duties satisfactorily and, even though his employers have been understanding and allowed ‘reasonable adjustments’ to his hours of employment, he has come to realise that he simply isn’t able to carry on and needs to end his career.
So what am I doing there? Well, I appear as an ‘expert witness’ to tell the hearing what I have described above, that some patients with Pernicious Anaemia do not make a recovery and will continue to experience the often debilitating symptoms of the disease and this will mean that they will not be able to carry on with their work or careers.
Nobody has been able to explain why some patients continue to experience the worst of their symptoms once treatment to correct the B12 Deficiency but most doctors and other medical professions who I have discussed this with tend to think that it’s due to brain damage, probably due to a late diagnosis, but nobody is really investigating this thoroughly. And that’s perhaps because it isn’t widely known that patients with Pernicious Anaemia still experience the symptoms of B12 Deficiency even though that deficiency has been corrected. So what I am going to be doing today and tomorrow is just what I have done in the past and will continue to do in the future – Raising Awareness of the problems patients face when dealing with the disease; as I’ve said before, as a patient support group that is all we can do – raise awareness.