As long-time readers will know, I’m trying to write a book about my journey with M.E. but it’s painfully hard and slow going as I can only do one paragraph at a time because of my dreadful brain function. I’m determined to finish it though and have now written 70 pages (39,000 words, blimey!). I’ve been sharing little bits here and there on my blog and in this excerpt I describe my first experience of visiting an alternative health practitioner. I’d only been ill for 12 months at this stage and in the early days I still thought my M.E. was curable. If only!
I raise the lion’s head knocker on the pale blue front door and tap gently, stepping back slightly as I wait. The building isn’t quite what I was expecting. I thought a Naturopath would have a proper clinic, something modern and medical looking with lots of pebble dash and low ceilings, but this just looks like a regular terraced Victorian house which, being as though I’m alone and don’t know this guy from Adam, is a bit worrying. The door swings open and a row of aging yellowing teeth smile from an unkempt grey beard.
‘Jak?’ I nod. ‘I’m Malcom, pleased to meet you’ and a thin cardigan clad arm waves me indoors.
We proceed down a short narrow hallway and I’m shown into a large, light room with a couch in the middle, the kind used by beauticians. I’m asked to take a seat on the edge while Malcolm pulls up a wooden dining chair and gets out a clip board. He takes my medical history right back to child hood, then I’m asked to take my socks and shoes off and lie back. Malcolm starts firmly pressing on the soles of my feet and I’m just glad I managed one of my infrequent baths yesterday and my tootsies don’t smell like a pair of mouldy old kippers.
‘Does that hurt?’ he asks.
‘Yep’ I reply through gritted teeth.
‘U-huh.’ Who knew I’d been walking about with feet this painful? He needs to stop with the prodding now though or I’m going to karate kick him.
‘Right Jak you can sit up’ he adjusts the end of the couch into an upright position. ‘Please hold this in your right hand while I do your food testing.’ He places a heavy sausage shaped lump of metal in my palm which appears to be wired to a box resembling the front of an old fashioned radio, complete with large dial and swinging bright red needle. The box, in turn, sits next to dozens of tiny liquid filled jars. I have no clue what he’s doing and he clearly feels no need to enlighten me. For the next ten minutes the air is filled with whistles and whirs, the clinking of glass and an occasional ‘tut’ from Malcolm. Any second now I expect to receive contact with little green men from the far flung reaches of the galaxy.
‘Ok you can put your socks and shoes back on’ he tells me, taking the tube from my sweaty clenched palm ‘and we’ll go over the results’. I pull on my boots and sit on the edge of the couch, legs swinging nervously to and fro like a ten year old.
‘Well!’ he declares, ‘you are probably the most allergic person I’ve ever met. You’ve shown a reaction to apples, beans, barley, butter, cheese, lemons, milk, mushrooms, nuts, oranges, peppers, pineapple, rye, sugar, tomatoes, wheat, wine (red and white), yeasts and yoghurt.’ I stare at him like he’s just grown two heads. ‘So I suggest you cut those out from your diet for the next three months and it should make a huge difference. Then if you’d like to come back and see me we can re-test you to check your progress.’
Is he insane? How is a person supposed to survive without dairy or wheat? No toast. No sandwiches. No pasta. No beans or cheese. Does he realize I’m vegetarian?! And I’m not even sure it’s possible to survive in a world without sugar. If I stuck to his advice I’d be living on pickled onion Monster Munch because that’s all that would be left in my kitchen cupboards.
‘OK’ I smile politely.
‘How would you like to pay your bill?’
I’d forgotten he was charging me and become flustered. ‘Oh, er, is a cheque OK?’
‘Yes, that’s fine. That will be fifty pounds please.’
An entire week’s worth of Invalidity Benefit to be told that my cure is starving myself out of existence, which I’m now going to have to do anyway as he’s robbing me of my grocery money for the next fortnight. Way to go.