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'Ring-fence funding'

Time to get my life back

I was recently stuck on a plane with my one-year-old son asleep in my arms. Magical. Except the only thing to read I could reach was the in-flight magazine. These only ever have a couple of articles; the rest is padding. But on closer inspection, I was amazed at just how many adverts there were masquerading as medical features. No prizes for guessing I was returning from the US.

Divided into two sections, one piece first detailed the life and symptoms of 'Maggie'. These included 'a seven-year history of depression, fatigue, lifelong cold hands and feet, hair loss, constipation, muscle aching, poor quality sleep, recurrent sinus infections, recurrent courses of antibiotics, abdominal cramps, bloating, milk and bread intolerance, menorrhagia, weight gain and loss of libido'. Try that for an opening consultation gambit!

They can't be normal!

I précis a bit ­ everything had 'severe' or 'terrible' in front of it. It went on to say that results from extensive tests had all been normal and that her primary care physician had diagnosed depression and told her to get on with it. (Hands up anyone who has carried out repeated thyroid investigations in disbelief ­ 'they can't be normal with these symptoms!')

The first part of the article left the reader feeling outraged that no diagnosis had been made, that no treatment was working and about how insensitive her doctor had been.

In section two, it became clear that this was advertising, and the solution was delivered by the Houston Health and Wellness Centre, located in the downtown Galleria. They claim to recognise these symptoms in thousands of patients and could piece the jigsaw together perfectly. They started by explaining that 'Maggie' wasn't emotionally inadequate, and that all of this was caused by hormonal imbalance.

The imbalance had triggered an inability to use thyroid hormone effectively, which in turn had triggered her allergy disorder, which had led to recurrent sinus infections. The antibiotics had been unnecessary, in the clinic's opinion, and had precipitated bacterial imbalance, causing a yeast overgrowth with glucose and wheat insensitivities.

You're not kidding

The cure would make any dispensing doctor proud. Five items a month along with courses of supplements. Separate proprietary oestrogen and progesterone, testosterone supplements, armoured thyroxine (presumably to prevent terrorist attack) and immunising nasal drops. Vitamins and mineral replacement, bacterial supplementation along with a nutritional avoidance book were also available. With medical billing like that their local economy won't need oil revenue much longer.

A grateful patient was quoted as saying 'Thank you for giving me my life back'. You're not kidding. Now I realised the reason immigration had given me such a hard time getting into the States was to protect me from this. Time to get my life back and come home.

Dr Andy Jones is a GP in Stamford, Lincolnshire

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