Personal Story

Carole Brown

Carole BrownI remember being in my early 50’s (I’m now 64) and thinking ‘is this what being over 50 means?’ as I struggled to walk, carry things, keep awake – you’ll know the feeling well. This went on for 6 months before I ended up at the doctors having had laryngitis 3 times in the previous 3 months. I already had a lifetime thyroid condition I was an adult teacher, using my voice a lot and often working 7 to 7. I can remember parking the car and struggling so much to carry my work bag to the office that I had to phone one of my team and ask them to come and meet me.

On the 4th visit to the doctor, having a sore throat again, she said she would like to do some blood tests – check all possibilities. I gave my blood at 9am on the Thursday and continued planning my trip away camping. By midday Friday, my doctor had called me herself and informed me I had pernicious anaemia and needed urgent treatment, via injections. And could I go to the surgery that afternoon? Well, yes, I could, but I was going away.

Off I trots to the surgery and had my very first B12 injection. To be booked in for the next 10 days alternatively for more injections. Yes, that meant I could still go away, but had to drive back home every other day or so. But, hey, even after the first injection, life was looking better already. The fog had gone, I had more stamina, I was beginning to sleep better, even in a tent!

From that initial course of treatment I went on to have regular 12 weekly injections. 12 weeks was too long for me. By 10 weeks I needed my ‘fix’. But no, a new doctor said I could overdose on B12! So I dragged on at least grateful for the 10 week ‘good times’. Then about 6 years later, after having my injection, on the way home I started to feel nauseous and needed to lie down for half an hour to ‘recover’. I was told to note the name of the B12 provider and the batch numbers – these showed nothing unusual over the next 2 years and the symptoms still continued when I moved house and changed doctor. Then the big whammy came. I had been abroad for 10 weeks and on my return, not feeling particularly well and just before lockdown, I had a B12 jab. I left the surgery and thought I could do a quick shop. As I was walking back to the car, my whole body started shaking – I couldn’t stop it. I felt hot and cold. I was thinking ‘should I call an ambulance?’ Amazingly, I managed to drive the short distance home, still shaking hard. I got home and collapsed into bed and slept for 4 hours solid. On waking, I felt washed out and tired for a few days. I rang the surgery to report this – they still didn’t have any answer to what may have happened nor did they have a solution.

This is when I contacted PAS, being a long time member. Whoever I spoke to was really helpful and gave me some examples of other Members who could not have injections and were taking a B12 supplement instead. BUT I would have to take 1-2000mcg per day for it to have the right effect. Yep, guess what? The NHS will only prescribe 150mcg a day. I sent my doctor information from PAS on this, and although he acknowledged PAS’s advice, he just could not give me more. So we agreed I would buy them myself and no longer have the B12 injections.

I have to say I was very nervous about not having the injections and concerned my health would deteriorate over time again. I continued to take the supplements and have never looked back! I feel 100% better, there was no drop in my condition as the weeks went on. I have regular blood tests that show my B12 is way over what ‘they’ consider to be normal – and no, you can’t overdose on B12!

When it came to Covid vaccinations, I wasn’t too keen at all. So I wrote to my doctor reminding him of my B12 injection ‘experience’ and my reluctance to have the vaccination. I got an immediate response saying I should only have the Astrazeneca as it didn’t have the ingredient that caused anaphylactic shocks like Pfizer does.

My Mum was diagnosed with PA after me and during lockdown had her injections stopped. She was issued with the 150mcg B12 and is still only taking this today. Her GP even told her she no longer had PA!

Had I known about the supplements sooner, I would have taken them at the 10 week point whilst still having the injections, but for now this works for me. And the bonus is that I don’t have to be in this country every 12 weeks!

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