Monday, February 18, 2008

Multiple Sclerosis, Iguanas and Wrong Foot

In the summer of 2005 I read a rather compelling story in Hospital Doctor. The headline was: “Ignoring the Evidence: Diagnosis of his wife’s progressive multiple sclerosis would not have taken so long had doctors taken a proper history, says Dr David Wheldon.”

It was an extremely well written article. It had to be, as Dr Wheldon’s hobby is poetry writing. He is a microbiologist by profession.

His wife is an accomplished painter and a violin restorer and dealer. As early as 2000, she noticed that she was dragging her right foot on a walking holiday in the Auvergne. She was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. “Congenital spinal stenosis,” he confidently diagnosed. She got worse. In 2003 she was referred to a neurologist but during the months when she was made to wait for an MRI (why was it not done immediately?) she deteriorated rapidly and was soon unable to walk unaided and had a multitude of other neurological symptoms.

“Progressive multiple sclerosis,” proclaimed the neurologist. "No treatment is available. Just let the disease evolve."

Dr Wheldon at this point commented that a proper history would have allowed for the diagnosis to be made earlier, as his wife had had two transient episodes of weakness of an arm and dimmed vision in one eye.

There was no time to waste and having been given a “no hope” verdict, Dr Wheldon thought that alternatives had to be found. How often have we found patients seeking alternative treatment and sometimes very very alternative treatments once they were told what was thought to be the “truth”? Luckily I learned early on in my medical training that one should “never say never” (as mentioned in the chapter “Miracles” in my book.)

He found the Vanderbilt University work on Chlamydia pneumoniae. The rest, so to speak, was history. His wife was put on two antichlamydial agents and later metronidazole. After some typical reactions his wife started to recover. Eighteen months later, she was able to paint and walk a mile or so.

Some may argue that the recovery had nothing to do with the treatment, but was just one of those rare spontaneous recoveries. I am aware that this is only an isolated case, but there is ongoing research in this area.


Iguana iguana, Costa Rica


So what is the iguana doing in today’s blog? Many iguanas kept as pets are wild, truly wild caught and they carry various bacteria including Chlamydia pneumoniae, which also infect and cause diseases in Koalas, snakes, chameleons, frogs, and green turtles.

There are now concerns that Chlamydia pneumoniae might be implicated in other human diseases including atherosclerosis and acute coronary syndromes, and a variety of prostate conditions.

According to National Geographic, one of my favourite reads,

“Green, or common, iguanas are also among the most popular reptile pets in the United States, despite being quite difficult to care for properly. In fact, most captive iguanas die within the first year, and many are either turned loose by their owners or given to reptile rescue groups.”

Perhaps we should leave them to stay in the wild.

Dr Zhang should have checked if Tommy, his Wrong Foot patient, kept an iguana. His mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Chlamydia pneumoniae site: CPNHELP.ORG

Other Posts on Multiple Sclerosis:

Old and New: Multiple Sclerosis & Elgar

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment – an Update

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7 comments:

Sarah Longlands said...

Dear Dr Zhang,

My name is Sarah Longlands, the wife of Dr Wheldon, mentioned above. I found your blog by accident when looking up "David Wheldon" on Google, something I do from time to time to see who is linking to both our web sites.

I thought I would give you a small update:nearly three years on again since the publication of "Ignoring the Evidence" I am still going strong, not having had an adverse MS event since starting treatment in August 2003. When I started I couldn't even hold a paintbrush but now I have worked through watercolours to acrylics and have now moved back to my favourite medium of oil paints and of no mean size. My progressive multiple sclerosis was so aggressive, I really shouldn't be here now, but I am.

I have not seen my neurologist since being given the diagnosis. David has, since they work in the same hospital, but although at one point the man showed some interest, this soon passed and the man has never looked at my subsequent improved scans. In fact, he once ran out of the radiologists room exclaiming "I can't look at this!" He is obviously very good at saying "Never."

There are always going to be people willing to put my recovery down to "spontaneous recovery" but I think it very odd that this should have happened within a few hours of downing my first ever doxycycline, after having my first multiple sclerosis relapse twenty years previously, age 24. Then and for many years it was untroubling, with few, easily resolved relapses. Over the years I had been able to forget about it, so I readily accepted the diagnosis of the orthopaedic surgeon. I have since discovered that David married me thinking I might well have MS, because of my clumsiness although by that time I has already decided that it couldn't possibly be the case.

Since starting to recover, David has seen many patients abandoned by the neurological establishment and has written two papers with Charles Stratton of Vanderbilt University about chlamydia pneumoniae and multiple sclerosis. I started writing on http://www.thisisms.com, where a psychologist named Jim Kepner, a sufferer of another disease caused by chlamydia pneumoniae, saw me and started to treat himself. Two and a half years ago this led to him starting a wonderful site: http://www.cpnhelp.org where people from all over the world suffering from any of the many diseases in which CPn is implicated can come together for freely given help and reassurance.

Very best wishes,

Sarah Longlands. 12th April, 2008

Am Ang Zhang said...

Many thanks Sarah for taking the time to make the comment. All the best.

Dr Am Ang Zhang

Anonymous said...

Copied from CPNhelp because I thought you might not see it there:

"Hello again Dr Zhang! I hope you enjoyed your hols, but it was only a tiny flurry really, like the small snowfall we had the other Sunday morning which was gone before most people knew it had been there.

I totally agree with you about the state controls, first set in place in our country when the fat man in hush puppies was health minister, I had only recently both got my MA and acquired MSi and chlamydia pneumoniae was not even realised to be a serious pathogen. I'm glad we have original thinkers over at Vanderbilt and I am so glad I am married to one here, who discovered what they were doing and thought that it was better to get on with treating me rather than waiting for endless double blind trials that would never happen, antibioticsi not being profitable things.......Sarah




An Itinerary in Light and Shadow by a real "Painter of Light"...........Completed Stratton/Wheldon regime for aggressive secondary progressive MS in June 2007, after four years, three of which intermittent. Still slowly improving and no exacerbation since starting. EDSS was 7, now 2, less on a good day."

Anonymous said...

that is the case too, the antibiotics on the protocol used to treat are long off patent & sport the least amount of side effects from the abx themselves. The pharma companies have no interest.

but wow, they now have something they can make money on! a drug for Fibromyalgia pain (packed with a plethora of side effects)!

Gill said...

Hi, I have been recently diagnosed with MS and was also told there was nothing that could be done. My options appeared to be nil or joining the MS Society for group hugs and "learning how to live with my disease". Not a chance I was putting up with that so I started to scour the web and talk to friends recently diagnosed.

I thank my lucky stars that one friend pointed me straight to David Wheldon's site and having met with him, I'm about to start on the protocol. With the help of the pioneering stalwarts on the CPn Help forum mentioned above, David Wheldon, and the inspirational Sarah, I fully intend to see this through. If it's possible to cure it then I'll have a darn good try.

My GP and Neurologist have refused to have anything to do with the Protocol which I find exceedingly strange. I always thought the medical profession were tasked with making patients well by whatever means, it seems however that unless the drug companies are waving some new miracle drug at them, they're not open to looking at old medication used in a new way.

Having read your blog though, I'm going to spend the afternoon scouring the house in case I have a recalcitrant Iguana hiding in a dark corner. Or maybe I'll round up the frogs in the pond and force them to take a Chlamydia Pneumoniae test. :-)

Am Ang Zhang said...

Hello all, back from Hols and the blog engine has restarted.

Am Ang Zhang said...

Sarah's letter is now posted here.

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