My partner was diagnosed with M.E. at the age of 15, and is now 43. She is an extremely optimistic person and makes the best of things, but there’s no denying that she hasn’t had the bog-standard normal life, with various health crashes followed by slow recoveries.
She has always struggled to keep up an appearance of normality. For example she’s had to put up with people not quite understanding why she was unable to work, has struggled to friends’ weddings feeling ghastly, and managed always to be the life and soul of the party. If you or someone you know has battled a long-term complex illness, you’ll know what I mean. Besides which, the label ‘M.E.’ is somewhat of a dump-bin category, a list of symptoms that is treated as having a psychological cause by the NHS. Although people do suffer terribly from depression, .this wasn’t amongst the list of my partner’s problems, and so the NHS – for all their good points – have been unable to help.
In 2015 the M.E. specialist doctor she’d been seeing for 8 years (and to whom she had paid a considerable amount of money) recommended a ketogenic, or high-fat diet, in order to put my partner on the right track to health. This doctor considered this to be the magic bullet that would succeed where all other interventions had failed.
As a consequence, my partner became horrendously ill, in unmanageable pain and with lots and lots of awful symptoms. She was in a critical condition – the worst sort, where she needed supervision and constant care, but was too fragile to be in the hospital. We visited A&E twice, each time detrimental to her health and each time with no real positive outcome, other than advice to take painkillers.
This situation continued for months and months, with very slight recoveries followed by more huge health crashes (totalling five in thirteen months). As you can imagine, I, my partner and her family were all pretty desperate by the time we came across Robyn in July 2016.
Robyn started by taking a full history, both in the appointment and from comprehensive notes we sent her afterwards. I think she’s somewhat of a detective, ferreting out the root causes of why someone is ill. In my partner’s case, the causes are multitude, and she first made recommendations based on dietary changes, and later identified neurological inflammation. As time’s gone on other issues have surfaced, and with each one she’s identified a clear protocol for healing.
The best thing for me is that I’m no longer alone with this. Robyn is a specialist in complex, chronic illness, and has been there every step of the way dispensing knowledge on everything from borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) to brain foods. In just twelve months I’ve seen massive improvements in my partner. In some ways she is better than I’ve ever seen her to be. In other ways, it’s a very long, slow process and pain-wise she is not yet recovered to how she was pre-2015. But I can see light at the end of the tunnel at last, and Robyn has made very wise recommendations, dialing back when my partner has had an over-reaction to a supplement or a protocol, and pushing on when the time seems right.
This is very much a bespoke treatment. Each person is an individual, and there is no one magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all treatment that will get us better from the things that ail us. However, I do like Robyn’s food-first approach. It’s gentle but powerful, and over the years with my partner I thought I’d become an expert in nutrition. I now see that I had so much to learn – and still do.
— Steph, Patient’s Wife