Mental Health Week: fighting to be heard for the sake of others - will the NHS please help me?!
Updated: Jan 29
In today’s post I’m going to discuss the problems that my psychiatrist and I are coming up against within the psychiatric profession.
What has happened recently is that I have been trying to get my repeat prescriptions for levothyroxine on the NHS (to save some much needed money!) but after making repeated attempts, I have failed miserably in this seemingly straightforward task.
I am in full remission from a severe disorder that I have gone round in circles with on the NHS for twenty years. You’d think that they’d be thrilled to hear this and eager to learn how this has been achieved for the sake of their other patients, but unfortunately they’re not!
This all has to be sorted out for other people because it’s not ok for them to have to fight to get a treatment which is basically saving their life! The only option is to continue to pay expensive private medical fees to stay well. Why can’t the NHS help me out here?!
The problem in all of this is that my private doctor is being questioned over his use of high dose levothyroxine and rTMS to treat bipolar disorder, even though he is getting patients with prolonged and ‘resistant’ illnesses like mine into full remission!
I have had exceptional care with this doctor and had countless blood tests, echo and electro cardiograms, worn a heart monitor, seen an endocrinologist and had a bone densitometry scan to ensure my safety. On the NHS (when I had the disastrous ketamine infusions) I didn’t even have my pulse taken! The comparison is laughable but STILL my doctor is being questioned.
This all has to be sorted out for other people!
The tragic story of Ignaz Semmelweis
The whole saga reminds me of a story I read about a Hungarian obstetrician called Ignaz Semmelweis who, in 1847, was ridiculed for his claims that hand washing reduced the spread of infection.
Back then, it was common for women to die from an illness contracted during or after childbirth, known as childbed fever. Semmelweis noticed that when his students and staff washed their hands with a chlorinated lime solution before delivering babies the mortality rate dropped to one percent.
Though it was successful, Semmelweis could not offer an acceptable medical explanation for its effectiveness to his peers — the existence of germs and them being the cause of infections was not understood scientifically at the time.
Semmelweis was ridiculed for his claims and eventually the controversy undermined his spirit until he had a breakdown and was committed to a mental hospital. He died in hospital after getting an infection from a wound on his right hand. The medical profession basically killed him.
Years later here we all are washing our hands madly to prevent the spread of disease and viruses – we have Ignaz Semmelweis to thank for this yet his peers at the time dismissed him and drove him to his death.
What I’m doing to help my psychiatrist in 2021
I’m determined that this isn’t going to happen in the 21st century to either myself or Dr Zamar, so will continue to write in support of the treatment that saved my life!
I recently wrote a letter outlining how this treatment has benefitted me which I have copied into this post. I hope that it can be used along with other patient testimonies to promote this treatment, educate the psychiatric profession and silence the critics.
This is what I wrote:
To whom it may concern
I first consulted Dr Andy Zamar in March of 2019 when suffering from a prolonged and severe episode of bipolar disorder.
Before seeing Dr Zamar, I had tried and endured many treatments on the NHS over a period of twenty years with no success at all. I was firstly prescribed antidepressants which worsened my depression giving me terrible side effects including cold sweats, brain zaps and hallucinations while never alleviating my symptoms or improving my mood.
I tried five different antidepressants before eventually being labelled ‘treatment resistant’ and given intravenous ketamine. This treatment sent me wildly manic, and the result was a hospitalisation of three months, followed by a terrible ‘mixed state’ which lasted for the next two years.
Dr Zamar saw me at my worst, when not only had my brain been damaged by the failed treatments but my confidence and hope of recovery were at their lowest ebb. In fact, I had given up all hope of surviving, and I would not have been able to live out my life in that horrific state.
Dr Zamar convinced me that he would help me, even though my initial Becks Depression Inventory score was 59/60 and I was ready to end my life. He gave me a huge amount of hope and reassurance, something I had not received from any other psychiatrist.
Levothyroxine was titrated up slowly and carefully with ECG’s performed regularly, a full heart investigation by cardiologist Dr Robin Roberts and a thorough examination by endocrinologist Dr Abbi Lulsegged was carried out as well.
I was treated exceptionally well, and no stone was left unturned. A combination of high dose levothyroxine and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation has brought me to full remission from the disorder that I was convinced would cost me my life.
I have no side effects on this combination because, as Dr Zamar has discovered, bipolar patients suffer from a thyroid conversion problem which is confirmed by the fact that I tolerate this high dose without any issues. It is my opinion that without Dr Zamar and his treatment I would not be alive today, because there is no chance that I would have been able to live out my life in that horrific state.
Having been unable to work for the most part of the last twenty years, I have now resurrected my equestrian career and I am working as a freelance journalist. I had given up all hope of ever being able to do either of these things ever again.
I will now be campaigning to get this treatment onto the NHS because the treatments that are currently available do not help this condition in any way. Patients are left either ‘stunted’ or with added complications and side effects which only adds to the misery of this disorder.
This is why Dr Zamar’s treatment is so important because not only does it get patients into remission, but it adds minimal side effects or complications. This is essential for patients to be able to live as normal a life as possible.
We will see if I get anywhere with all of this in the coming weeks and months! I am determined that others should benefit from this treatment and be released from their suffering so will continue to fight for their sakes!
Tomorrow I will be continuing the theme by discussing the response I have had from the NHS over their refusal to give me this life-saving treatment!
I cannot believe that I am having to go through all of this but will continue to document everything in support of my doctor, his treatment and for the millions of people in the future who will benefit from this – who hopefully won’t have to pay to get this treatment or go through any of this hassle!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,