I’m getting old now, and my memory isn’t as great as it used to be. I think I have the sequence of events nailed, and I’m sure it all started in 1995..
My wife was pregnant with our first child, and while she was having her crumbling teeth repaired free of charge, I visited my dentist, who recommended some routine maintenance for me as well. I had a large amount of dental work performed by my dentist in Brighton. Most of my old amalgam fillings were replaced, because they were either cracked or were showing signs of wear, and some crumbling teeth were shored up with a combination of metal-backed porcelain crowns and a couple of gold crowns where there was insufficient room to accommodate the larger porcelain ones. I believe that it was this dental work that triggered my Parkinson’s Disease which then remained undiagnosed (and misdiagnosed) for over 15 years.
My daughter was born in August 1995, and I clearly remember my wife returning from the supermarket having left me to look after our baby for an hour or so. As she walked into the house, she wrinkled her nose and said “she needs her nappy changing, can’t you smell that?”. I couldn’t, and my wife used to pull my leg about my convenient lack of sense of smell for years afterwards. I had had a nasty cold a couple of months previously which ended up with a sinus infection; I knew that I had lost my sense of smell at that time, and assumed it would eventually return. It did eventually return for a year or two, but it was seriously diminished. My sense of smell got weaker and weaker until it disappeared almost entirely. Occasionally I would catch a whiff of a particularly strong odour, but to all intents and purposes my sense of smell was gone. I later found out that this is commonly one of the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease.
I was driving to work early one winter morning, when I hit a patch of black ice whilst overtaking another car – end result was that the rear of my car hit the other car, and we both pulled over to exchange insurance details. This done, I continued on my journey to work. When I got in to the office, I was relating this tale to one of my colleagues, and took out the notebook in which I had written the other driver’s details. “Christ!” he said, looking at my handwriting, “You were shaking!”. I dismissed this at the time, just saying that I was shaken up by the accident, although I had noticed my hands were shaking uncontrollably when I had been making the notes immediately following the collision.
It was in March 1997, I was in Brighton, having a pint in The Hand In Hand with a friend. I had a birthday card to write and post, and I recall feeling quite flustered and hyper – I had just driven from Gatwick airport in the usual mad rush hour traffic on the A23. I borrowed a pen to write the birthday card, and then found that I was struggling to write because my hand was shaking. I somehow managed to write inside and sign the card, popped it in the envelope, addressed it to post on my way home, and put the tremor to the back of my mind.
I accepted a short term contract in Amsterdam, and while I was working in their offices there, I began to smell a strange chemical smell. Nobody else could smell it, so it had to be my sense of smell that was deceiving me. I also noticed that I had a mild, but persistent, tremor in both of my hands. When my contract finished in the early part of 1997, I made an appointment to see my GP, who referred me to the Neurology department at Southampton General Hospital.
The neurologists that examined me at Southampton General made me do all of the (now familiar) tests for Parkinson’s Disease – finger taps, touching my nose and my chin, watching me walk, checking my arm swing, etc. When they had completed their examination, one of them said to me “well, it’s definitely not Parkinson’s, and we don’t think it’s MS. We’ll be writing to your GP”. You could have knocked me down with a feather – I had never really thought about what the diagnosis would be, and these two big, scary diseases had never entered my mind. In due course, my doctor received a diagnosis from the hospital, and I was summoned! “Benign tremor” he pronounced. “What’s that, then?” I enquired. “Well, ” he said “you have a tremor, but we don’t know why”. Fantastic! He sent me on my way with a prescription for beta blockers which, he said, may help to calm the tremor. They had no effect on me, and I discontinued them after a month or two.
Knowing nothing about Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease, apart from they they were incurable and scary sounding, I turned to the internet and researched the symptoms of these conditions to see why the neurologists had considered them, and why they had dismissed them in favour of (what I considered to be) a non-diagnosis. It was during this research that I came across a number of accounts of people being diagnosed with MS and Parkinson’s, and it turning out to be mercury poisoning from their dental amalgam fillings. So I started looking at the symptoms of mercury, which are many and varied, and began ticking off all of the symptoms that I was suffering (even though I had dismissed many of them as “just getting old”), and discovered that I was ticking almost all of the boxes. By this time I was starting to feel tremor in my right leg and foot – enough to make driving my car, an Alfa Romeo with a very light throttle, a bit of a challenge. I decided to go to see a mercury free dentist for an opinion. I found that a chap called Jack Levenson was the mercury poisoning guru, being the founder of the British Association for Mercury Free Dentistry, and that many mercury free dentists up and down the country would only carry out amalgam removal on referral from him. Obviously this was the man to see! I drove to London to see Jack Levenson at the Brompton Dental Clinic in Earls Court. Following an hour long consultation during which I was tested for sensitivity to various dental compounds and my fillings mapped by testing the electrical current coming from each individual tooth, Jack declared that my mouth was “like a battery” and that I had “classic” signs of mercury poisoning. I think, in hindsight, that if I hadn’t already been convinced that my fillings were causing my problems, that I would have dismissed Jack Levenson as a charlatan who was making money from preying on the fears of sick people, particularly as his fee was not inconsiderable, some of the testing that he performed did not strike me as very scientific and the dental surgeon’s quotation for removal of all amalgam fillings and metal crowns and replacement with composite fillings and ceramic crowns was in excess of £6,000, but in the circumstances I made a series of appointments to have the necessary dental work done.
There are those that are adamant that mercury cannot leech from dental amalgam fillings, that people who claim that their fillings are making them sick are imbeciles, that people who recover from their illnesses once amalgam fillings are removed and chelation protocols followed are simply feeling the placebo effect and would have got better anyway. All I can say is that, with the knowledge that it would take many months following amalgam removal for me to begin to feel any benefit, I was not expecting to feel any changes in my symptoms – if anything, I was expecting an increase in symptoms from increased exposure to mercury vapour when the amalgams were drilled out. I had two dental appointments on subsequent days. During the first appointment, my dentist removed one of the gold crowns and a huge amalgam filling underneath the crown. The next day I was driving up the M3 for my next appointment, when I suddenly became aware that I had completely stopped shaking. Only for a couple of minutes, but this was the first time that I had completely stopped shaking for many months. Following the completion of all of the dental work and some pretty rudimentary chelation, the tremor in my leg completely disappeared, the tremor in my hands reduced by about 50% and my bank balance reduced by about 80% 🙂
I just came across this blog on www.parkinsons.org.uk written by someone who is approaching surgery – debversusparkinsons. Lots of good information on there that you won’t find on here, because I don’t currently take any Parkinson’s medication…