It’s not all about blood tests

The above article got me thinking today. Essentially when you are seeing a doctor with vague symptoms, blood tests will be taken, and as James Le Fanu says this is a very reassuring process. However 99% of my patients have had a battery of tests and when they are all normal are told there is nothing wrong with them. Also at this point some doctors may think well if the tests say the patient is physically right then it must be a mental health problem. I think this is too simple an approach and this is why I am so busy.

And I’m not being arrogant or clever here, but it doesnt make sense to me to brush people off as having something mentally wrong (usually depression) if a few blood tests say you are fine physically.

Chronic health is a complex problem. The two most common symptoms I see are tired all the time syndrome (TATT) and IBS. A few basic blood tests will tell you that you are not anaemic, and your thyroid is ok, but TATT needs to be looked into in depth and for that you need time.

Poor diet, poor blood sugar control, bad sleep patterns, stress, food allergies, vitamin B deficiencies etc etc can be just some of the reasons people are tired and yes of course depression can be one of those, but its not usually the most common in my experience.

I remember for years being told I was a really awful colour – a kind of lemon yellow and I couldn’t feel my feet and for a long time I was told it was nothing. I had full blood counts and as they were all fine I was well – but I wasn’t – my touch sensation began to go really weird and I had pins and needles everywhere. It wasn’t until I went to a private GP in London that as I walked through the door he asked me immediately if I suffered from pernicious anemia – I said no. A blood test result a week later showed my B12 levels were dangerously low – I didn’t have pernicious anaemia but did need injections and in a couple of hours after the first injection I was feeling a completely different person. Now this was 15 years ago, I wouldn’t let that happen now but I knew nothing of blood tests or disease. To this day, because I’ve had parasite infections and giardia I still for some reason can’t keep my B12 levels up so still have injections three times a year. And yet all that time various doctors had not done a B12, they didnt think it was necessary because my Full Blood Count was ok.

It isnt always about blood tests, its often important to look at clinical symptoms and actually whether the patient looks well. It was blindingly obvious what I had wrong with me but many people had missed it – perhaps they weren’t looking in the right place ie at my face!

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