The Posture Theory homepage

 

About the author

Catch 22

Health problems experienced

How I survived cancer for 10 years using conventional medical treatment ( Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma )

How I cured angina and lost weight with a vegetarian diet

Events in my life

Medically prescribed druges

 

 About The Author

See my YouTube video about The Posture Theory here

See more information about my experience About the author and sport and here and here and cancer here and abdominal pain, and while writing my book and exercise and

I have survived more than 100 illnesses, injuries, and operations. If you read this webpage you will learn how and may be able to use some of the information to improve your own survival skills, particularly where doctors fail to understand, diagnose, or cure your ailments, or where doctors actually cause them. M.B.

You could be excused for thinking that I have had so many problems with my health that I haven't had time to do anything else. However that is simply not true. I have been involved in many activities which are within my capacity despite all of those ailments.

Most illnesses are events from the past, and only some have left an ongoing effect, and only a few are chronic.

Needless to say, in the last 12 years I had to initially manage 4 years of side-effects from a stem cell transplant for cancer, followed by shoulder surgery for an injury, followed by neck and head aches after a whiplash injury incurred in a rear end car accident, followed several years later by a return of angina heart disease, and soon after that by 8 weeks of agony following an incident when I lifted some furniture.

Most of those recent problems are now solved and have become a thing of the past as well.

It is a small number of chronic problems which restrict my activities, otherwise I am in reasonable health, with all remaining ailments under control.

It never ceases to amaze me how movie stars, pop singers, sports champions and politicians are diagnosed with one illness and are lauded by the media as role models for their heroic battle for survival.

They are usually diagnosed immediately by the best doctors in the country and are given the best treatment that money can buy.

There illnesses and injuries are well understood and they don't have to devise their own methods of dealing with them because effective treatments are known and applied 

I suppose in the next month or two there will be another example of one of those celebrities struggling to survive for one week or one year, and they will get a large compensation payout, and be able to earn a lucrative income as a public speaker, and get a multi-million payment for their story.

Nowadays it also amuses me.



Medically prescribed drugs

When I was 25 years old I had been experiencing a variety of health problems for several years but none of the methods of treatment were having any effect.
I had been consulting a doctor at an increasing frequency until it was about once every two weeks, but each time the only treatment offered was a pill. None of them had any effect, and essentially were no more effective than drinking water.
Eventually I was prescribed valium, but again it had no effect, so then I was prescribed 250 mg. of a barbiturate drug called Sodium Amytal.
That drug was very effective at giving me eight hours of sleep each night, but unfortunately it lost some of it's effect after a few months, until I was only getting five hours sleep, so when I consulted my doctor again he increased the dosage to 500 mg.
That improved the effect again, but it wore off after a shorter time than before. I therefore came to the conclusion that if I took a higher dose it would have a temporary benefit, and I would then need a higher dose again, which would put me in the hopeless position of addiction with no clear way out.
I consulted my doctor again, and when he prescribed the higher dose of 750mg. I explained why I didn't want that treatment, and told him that I wanted to stop taking it, and start taking a less addictive drug, until such time as the withdrawal effects of the sodium amytal had worn off. He then prescribed Mogadon.
I then spent many months trying to deal with the withdrawal symptoms which included no sleep at all on many nights, and I suppose it was about three months to a year before those problems were over, but it had added to my other health problems which were obviously chronic, and that I would just have try to deal with some other way.
I therefore decided to study medicine myself, and started by reading medical books for the general reader, and moved onto research journals later. It took me many years to develop an understanding of those problems and decades to refine my ideas and methods of treatement.
In the meantime I became aware that people with my type of health problems had previously been treated with deep sleep therapy, electro convulsive therapy, and frontal lobotomy, which resulted in many of them ending up as patients in mental hospitals, or going senile, or committing suicide.
As the years went by I heard reports on radio and TV that the valium and barbiturate epidemics of the past which had affected tens of millions of people who were collectively prescribed millions of doses of those drugs each year. (in the 1970's).
I also heard various reports which were claiming that it was a case where the patients had been asking for the drugs, not the doctor prescribing them, and that the patients were dependent on them etc. I also heard reports which claimed that the addiction was psychological, not chemical etc.
There were also reports of the large number of deaths, including those from the side effects of barbiturates such as sodium amytal, which, when taken for the long term, could eventually cause paralysis of the breathing muscles and death by suffocation. There were also reports which claimed that the patients were just depressed, and were deliberately taking overdoses of the drugs to commit suicide.
However, I was having various physical symptoms, and was not depressed, and, at the age of 25, I potentially had a good life ahead of me, so I had absolutely no intention of committing suicide, and I was the one who asked my doctor to stop prescribing the sodium amytal on the grounds that they were losing their effect, and I did not want to become addicted.
I also heard reports that so many patients and their families were complaining about the harmful effects of those drugs, that governments were passing laws to restrict the dosage and duration of time for which those drugs could be prescribed.
As you can appreciate, my decision to stop taking those drugs in 1975, and to start studying medicine to treat or cure my own ailments, was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and is why I am still alive, and in reasonable health today.
You might also appreciate why I view the opinions of my critics with considerable amusement. If I didn't make that decision I would be dead, and they would have nothing to complain about.
My reports are written for the purpose of educating patients and preventing such problems from occurring in the future.


An Introductory Note

I only study medicine on a need to know basis, and if doctors could have cured all of my ailments I never would have ever read any medical book. It is necessary for anybody who chooses to criticise my ideas to know for certain that I only developed my interest in medicine after doctors failed to explain or cure my ailments, so most of my ideas have been, by nature, an improvement on anything any doctor ever told me.

For example I did not read a medical book before the age of 25 and only then because I was having quite extreme problems with my health, which doctors would not acknowledge and were trivialising. I had suspected that it may have been postural factors which were causing my problems but doctors were denying this and dismissing the idea and I reluctantly accepted and acted upon their advice.against my better judgement because I thought that they were highly qualified professionals who may have had some deep and mysterious reasons for their opinion which was beyond my comprehension. In fact, it took me 5 years of close study of my own symptoms to finally conclude, somewhat to my surprise, that poor posture was responsible for most, if not all of my symptoms, and that conclusion was summed up in a three page essay which I have since called The Posture Theory.

Since then I have had other problems which have been caused by doctors, and I have had to deal with those myself. Those problems were due to the side-effects of medications which I was not made aware of, or were preventable post-operative complications which I had not been told about in advance. Some problems resulted from misleading commercial propaganda in the media which was provided in the name of medical science, such as the average Australian diet won't kill you - the average Australian eats fish and chips, fried chicken, and pizzas, and drinks coffee, soft drinks, and beer and many of them die of heart disease in their 40's.

As prominent examples for this introduction, when doctors diagnosed that I had incurable cancer and would be dead within 2 months I decided that it would be much too difficult and unlikely for me to solve that problem in that time, where the medical profession had been failing to deal with it for 3000 years, so I decided to do nothing and accept my fate. By contrast, when I was told that I had angina and could be dead within 2 weeks if I did not have an urgent coronary bypass operation I decided, from information which was available in my collection of books, that I could probably do a better job of treatment than any surgeon. I have therefore survived cancer for ten years because of experience, medical treatment (chemotherapy), and luck, and I have survived the angina for seven years with a vegetarian diet.

Doctors base their ideas on what they know from averages, statistics, and x-ray machines, Therefore doctors live in a world of science and conclude from their studies in enclosed laboratories that cold weather does not cause colds. To them everything has to be seen and measured and curable before they will acknowledge it. I live in the real world where pain is pain, fatigue is fatigue, and colds are more common in cold weather, and I cannot afford the luxury of denying the failure of diagnosis and treatment, or of hiding it under a carpet of jargon, and I cannot adopt the victim blaming tactic, because if I fail, I still feel the pain, and I am the victim.

If I had not developed methods of understanding and surviving illness doctors would have driven me to a state of anxiety, depression or madness, or to suicide, and without the knowledge I acquired I would have been helplessly crippled and would have died many times. However, without medical treatment I would also have died several times, so doctors have their value, but, as is obvious, I cannot afford the luxury of not being critical, especially to those who lie on behalf of employers, insurance companies, corporations, or governments, so I write about aspects of health in a matter of fact manner without fear or favor, and this is to the advantage of whoever wishes to consider my experience for their own benefit. M.B.

I suppose that some people will leap to the short-sighted conclusion that my website suggestions about health lack credibility because if my ideas had any value I should be a person in perfect health who did not develope illnesses in the first place.

I therefore offer the comparison with a car which leaves the factory with a twisted chassis. This puts the wheels out of alignment with the vehicle, the engine out of alignment with the gear box, the radiator out of alignment with the grill, and the doors and boot out of alignment with the cabin. Consequently the tires wear unevenly, the gearbox wears out, the oil seals leak, the radiator cracks and leaks, the doors leak, water enters the cabin and the carpet gets wet on rainy days and the doors and floor rust. From the beginning the outlook is predictable as the car very soon enters the repair shop, and as soon as one thing is fixed another, and then another needs repair. The car becomes known as a lemon, and can be contrasted with a car that is manufactured correctly and runs perfectly for 200,000 km's without ever causing trouble.

Similarly if a person has a stooped spine everything in the human body is out of alignment. There is strain on the neck and back, and pressure on the chest, which houses the heart and lungs, and pressure on the abdomen which houses the stomach, liver, and kidneys etc. Furthermore if sideways curvature of the spine exists there is uneven pressure on one side of the body causing excessive strain on one side, and lack of development on the other, with one side of the chest and liver, and one kidney, and one hip , and one knee taking the pressure and giving trouble, and if the legs are bowed, the knee cartilages bear more weight on the medial side and are more likely to split compared to the outside cartilages.

I therefore, quite logically place emphasis on the importance of prevention of spinal deformity in childhood because it predictably leads to a sickly and miserable adulthood.

With regard to my credibility, if you have developed one illness that is giving you trouble, I offer my experience as the survivor of more than one hundred illnesses, for you to consider. M.B.

Catch 22

In 1993 a surgeon advised me that I had incurable cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) and that I could be dead within 2 months, and that I should go home and finalise my financial affairs. He added, however, that the start of my illness was not determinable, and that I might have already had it for many years without it being previously detected, or I might have incurred it recently and could possibly live another 20 years.

I had been told that if I had only one small lump in my neck, that it could be surgically removed and the cancer would be cured. However, I had undergone numerous examinations which included blood tests, a CAT scan, a bone marrow biopsy, and a surgical biopsy of lymph gland tissue, and these revealed evidence of cancer in my blood, my bone marrow, and in a lymph gland, and abnormal enlargement of many lymph glands in my neck, chest, abdomen, and groin, some of which were located near vital structures such as my heart and kidneys.

I concluded that I might last a few months, or perhaps one or two years, with 5 years being my most optimistic estimate.

Therefore I had to make some new decisions about my immediate presumabley short future, so I abandoned all previous plans.

I had become familiar with the medical literature because of other health problems which I had been dealing with for 20 years so my first thought was that I could study the cancer and try to cure it myself, but I doubted that I would live long enough to learn anything of significance so I discounted that idea. However I had acquired a lot of knowledge about posture and health, and knew that there were hundreds of thousands of articles and comments on the matter in textbooks and research journals, but to my knowledge, there was no book which coordinated all of this information, so the importance of the influence of posture on health was not being properly appreciated. I therefore decided to compile such information and keep going until I died, with the objective of possibly doing a reasonable job of highlighting the importance of this otherwise underrated subject.

I wrote the original Posture Theory as a three page essay in 1980. This was my normal limit because sitting at a desk to write brief essays had always caused me to experience upper abdominal pain, and despite reassurances from countless doctors that there was no x-ray evidence of disease, and nothing wrong with my abdomen, and nothing which could be damaged by aggravating the pain, I had always been skeptical of their opinion and had limited myself to small essays and letters.

I had been caught in a catch 22 situation because leaning toward a desk to read and write were two of the main factors which were aggravating my abdominal pain, yet I had to read medical books and write my conclusions in the search for a cure. In other words, in order to cure the pain, I had to put myself at risk of making it worse.

I would then have to live for a long time with the consequences of causing permanent damage. Now however, it appeared that if I did cause such damage, I could document it, and would not have to endure the problem for very long because I would soon be dead.

I completed a 16 page staple back pamphlet on The Posture Theory early in 1994 and upgraded it to a 24 page booklet in March. This was made easier and cheaper because of the very recent introduction of computer publishing technology to South Australia.

Writing the additional essays for the 3rd edition was not a significant problem but editing the 90 page paperback caused abdominal pain which persisted for months, and this was the general pattern for the following 8 editions. In fact on most occasions the pain persisted for months after the editing process but usually with no consequences. I generally added about 150 pages and one edition per year. On three occasions there were permanent changes to abdominal function which persisted after the pain subsided.

Nevertheless I did manage to learn a lot about the cause of the pain because one of the later editions was completed without any significant pain at all. This was because I stopped writing in the sitting position at a desk, and started writing on elevated angled platforms while standing up. I also learned how to type, which I did while standing up and looking into an eye height monitor, with the keyboard placed at waist level so that bending was not required. Unfortunately, after about a year I started to get an ache in my lower back, and painful protruding hemorrhoids, and the upper abdominal pain gradually returned. I noted that this was because the weight of my upper body was being transferred from my upper abdomen (while leaning toward a desk) to my lower back (while standing), and I learned that this was because my upper spinal curvature was matched by a lower spinal arching, and the weight was being transferred to my lower back, and my lower abdomen. I then observed that I had an S-shaped spine when viewed from the side (kypho-lordosis), and an S-shaped spine when viewed from the front (scoliosis, i.e. sideways curvature of the spine) and a flat chest (a vertical breastbone) and that all of these problems were contributing to my health problems. In particular, the changes in symptoms were caused by the changes in posture.

7 years after my original cancer diagnosis I noticed a small lump growing in my neck and when this reached the size of an egg I had it examined and surgically removed, and then commenced a 6 month programme of CHOP chemotherapy. In fact I completed one of the later editions of my book while undergoing the chemo treatment and expected it to be published posthumously, but I survived and published and sold it myself.

I was told that the chemotherapy was successful and that my cancer had gone into remission, possibly for 2 to 5 years.

However, 18 months later a PET scan revealed a 10 cm tumor blocking my left kidney causing enlargement of the kidney and hydronephrosis. The tumor was partially removed by open surgery, and partially by 2 treatments of DHAP chemotherapy, and this was followed by a stem cell transplant.

Since then I have been told that my cancer has gone into remission again and may remain in remission for 5 years or more, and there is a possibility that it has been cured.

Therefore my circumstances had changed and I had to make some new decisions about my future.

I had already aggravated my abdominal disorder several times over the previous 10 years and did not wish to continue with an activity which would make it worse, so I decided that the previous edition of my book, the 11th edition would be the last.

However at 1005 pages there is not much to be achieved by adding more pages, that has not already been accomplished. Furthermore, if someone chooses not to accept the fact that posture has a major influence on health with that amount of evidence, they are never going to be convinced by anything.

During this time, as far as I am aware, I have produced the largest and most comprehensive reference book which deals with posture as an exclusive subject, and I hope this elevates it to a matter of importance as a separate entity which can be studied in its own right.

The book is readily available and will be useful to parents, teachers, libraries, and all types of health practitioner. M.B.

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Health Problems Experienced By The Author (in approximate order of occurrence)

 This section was originally prepared early in 2003 while recovering from a stem cell transplant for the treatment of cancer. The initial reason related to the fact that in the previous 12 months I had also been hospitalised for cancer surgery and DHAP chemotherapy, where on each of at least three occasions a different member of the hospital staff asked me to tell them about my medical history. In order to make this process more efficient I decided to produce a brief printed list, starting with a hernia at age one and progressing to the current time. This started out as a one or two page list, and over the coming weeks and months I recalled more illnesses and inserted them into the list in approximate chronological order. I then thought that it would be useful for readers to learn what I identified as the causes, and how I treated each one. After some months had passed I decided to count the illnesses and injuries expecting about 20, but after the number exceeded 100 I stopped and have simply stated since that it was more than 100. At some time in the future I will chronologically and briefly list the 20 or so major illnesses and hand a print out to the next doctor who asks for my medical history if and when it becomes necessary. M.B.

Hernia surgery (right groin).

Diphtheria, Mumps, Chicken Pox.

Dental surgery to remove all primary teeth with new teeth growing crowded together

Measles which infected the muscle of the left eye, and possibly also causing meningitis.

Surgery twice to correct a squint, followed by the prescription of spectacles which had magnification in the left lens.

Hepatitis with 6 months hospitalisation and 1-3 stone weight loss. (probably contracted after walking through a sewerage farm which was near my home).

Kypholordosis, scoliosis, and flattened chest (never diagnosed by doctors but self diagnosed and dated back to this time while writing the later editions of The Posture Theory - these problems occurred as a result of the weight loss and lack of exercise during the 6 months of hepatitis - i.e. my muscles waisted away, my body slumped, and my pliable young upper spine curved into a C-shape. Correspondingly my lower spine curved forward causing my abdomen to protrude, and my breast bone inclined backwards. Later, due to uneven vision my spine inclined sideways, and ultimately, in my 20's my bones set like concrete in that general shape).

A lacerated toe, occurring when my big toe was caught in the spokes of the front wheel of my fathers bicycle as he was taking me to hospital for another reason, and when we were hit by a motorcycle.

A lacerated jaw occurring when I jumped from a cupboard onto my spring mesh bed to use it as a trampoline, and I bounced into the bedpost.

Repeated sore throats and colds.

Tonsillectomy

Appendectomy

A sore thumb occurring each year for several years after being bitten by a large blue tongue lizard, presumably recurring because of seasonal changes in the weather. (At that age I often went for hikes along the Sturt Creek or across the WestLakes sand dunes looking for lizards to bring back home as pets).

Right sided paralysis. I was attending a boy scout camp when I awoke one night at about 2 a.m. with my fist pressed between my lower left chest and the groundsheet which had been laid out on hard ground, and the left side of my face, chest, abdomen, arm, leg, and foot felt numb and paralysed. I used my right arm to roll myself onto my back and asked a friend to get a doctor. He told me to forget about it and go back to sleep. When I woke up the next morning the symptoms were gone. Sometime later I discussed this with a doctor and he told me that it was impossible for the pressure of my fist on my chest to cause left sided paralysis and that he could not explain the symptoms. I wondered how a doctor, whose ideas were based on science, could say that it was impossible for something to happen, when it actually happened.

Left sided chest pains. I started to experience sharp pains in the lower left side of my chest, but sometimes they would occur on the right side. These would happen randomly weeks or months apart. Sometimes the left sided pain was a lancing pain, as if a nerve had been struck, or as if I had been stabbed in the chest with a 2 inch sewing needle being thrust in and out within a fraction of a second.

Palpitations. I sometimes experienced rapid pounding of my heart. This would tend to occur when I laid down on my back when going to bed at night, and the continuing pounding made it difficult for me to get to sleep. I could sometimes avoid this problem by laying down slowly and placing my head on three pillows, and then gradually removing one pillow at a time until my head was resting on the remaining pillow. This symptom seemed to have an annoying and distressing accelerating nature that was difficult to slow regardless of my best attempts. It occurred intermittently for about 8 years.

I became involved in gymnastics and the only problems which consistently caused problems were twisting exercises which caused me to feel a sense of weakness in my lower back whenever I rotated my spine, so I avoided such activities. In hindsight I think that this problem was due to scoliosis which I was not aware of at the time.

On a gymnastics demonstration night I did a front somersault from a 10 foot high unicycle and as I landed my knees hyperflexed and my buttocks bounced off the ground between my feet. As this happened I felt the inner round surface at the base of my thigh bone roll over the top surface of my leg bone and as I straightened my leg it slowly slipped back again. After standing up I shook my leg, and as there was no apparent injury I continued with the remaining activities.

I was having problems with my knee when doing gymnastics exercises but there was no obvious preceding accident or event which caused an injury. My coach insisted that I see a friend of his who was a chiropractor who examined my knee and my spine and said that the knee problem was due to the misalignment of my spine. He then manipulated my neck and then my spine, causing multiple cracking sounds as he twisted them. This did not fix the knee problem which continued unchanged.

Surgical removal of an injured medial cartilage in my knee. After consulting a GP about my knee problems I was referred to a specialist who diagnosed the presence of a torn knee cartilage and subsequently performed surgery to completely remove the cartilage. This was complicated by semi-disabling knee pain which occurred because, about 4 weeks after the operation I went for a ride as a passenger on a friends motorcycle and a cold breeze which was blowing on my knee made it sore. Also when I returned to work two weeks later I was required to stand up to open mail for an hour each morning. This one hour of standing each day interfered with the healing of the surgical wound and kept my knee tender and sore. I asked my boss for a transfer to another job which did not involve standing but he told me that I would need a medical certificate to authorise that. My GP told me that he could not provide such a certificate so I asked him if he could refer me to the surgeon to get the authorisation but he told me that the surgeon was too busy with other operations to deal with such a minor matter. I therefore had to stay in the same job. After 6 months of continual aching in my knee joint I was eventually transferred to another job for the coincidental reason of filling a vacancy in another department. This was a desk job which did not require any standing at all .The knee pain gradually subsided over the next 6 weeks and soon after that I returned to gymnastics and had no further problems.

Dull pains in the lower left side of my chest. A dull ache would occur in the lower left side of my chest each time my chest bobbed up and down as I jogged along the beach.

Several gold fillings and crowns were used to fill cavities in my teeth on various occasions over a period of several years. These dental cavities were caused by tooth decay.

Kidney aches. These occurred each time I leaned toward a desk, in a routine job which involved counting coins and sorting them into piles of 20. Each time I leaned back the ache was relieved. This was initially diagnosed as "nothing" but was followed two months later by an x-ray diagnosis of a kidney stone which was passed painlessly sometime after taking a medication called allopurinol. I assume that I passed the stone when I heard a pinging sound as it bounced off the inner wall of a ceramic toilet bowl as I was urinating.

Upper abdominal injury. One night at about 6 p.m. I went to a hotel where I had a schooner of beer with a very large meal of steak and vegetables which filled the plate (my stomach would have been full and heavy). Five minutes after completing this meal I arrived at my gymnastics hall and as I entered I ran a few steps and leapt into a head over heels flip called a handspring. My back was arched as my feet hit the floor with a thud and I felt a painless ripping sensation running several inches down from the lower tip of my breastbone toward my navel. It felt as if a thin piece of tissue had been torn inside me. I stood still waiting to see if pain occurred, or if blood started to pour from my mouth, or if I collapsed, but none of those things happened. After three or four minutes I walked off into the hall where I continued with a night of gymnastic training without any further problems. When I discussed this incident with a doctor about two months later he told me that he could not explain the symptom, and when I asked him if there were any anatomical structures inside the abdomen in that vicinity he said that there was nothing there which could rip like that. I found this explanation extremely hard to believe and many years later when I was reading books of anatomy for myself I learned that his statements were false.

Upper abdominal pain. About two months after the injury in the gym I started to notice pain in my upper abdomen at that site, and it was frequently, but not always related to leaning toward my desk at work. It tended to occur about an hour after work started and would become worse at the end of each fortnight when the workload increased and I had to lean forward more often and for longer periods of time. When I discussed this with a doctor and mentioned the injury in the gym two months earlier he said that it was not possible for me to have an injury in that site, and that leaning forward could not be causing the pain, and that continually aggravating the pain at work could not do me any harm because, as far as he could determine, there was nothing physically wrong with me. Some time later he diagnosed the condition as cardiospasm which I learned many years later, after reading medical books for myself, is spasm of the circular valve like muscles between the esophagus (foodpipe) and the stomach. The pain, which is more of an annoying ache of varying intensity, was the beginning of a gradual but serious decline in my general health over the next three years, and has continued to be an intermittent problem ever since. (Many years later I considered the possibility that my heavy stomach may have been thrown downwards ripping or stretching the attachments which hold it up, so that it was then lower - visceroptosis, making me prone to indigestion, or sliding hiatus hernia which was strained whenever I leaned forward, or an injury to the junction of the foodpipe and stomach, or a tear in the peritoneum or the linea alba).

Palpitations ceased. I started getting palpitations of the heart about 10 years earlier and they were often quite alarming because they seemed to be accelerative and uncontrollable in nature. One day I realised that I had not had them for at least a year. Initially I was concerned that if I started to think about palpitations again I would start getting them again but that did not happen. Any palpitations which I had after that had a less accelerative nature and methods which had not previously been very effective were sufficient to control the symptom. For example when my pulse started to race I would take three slow and deep breaths and then breath normally, and I would repeat this three times over a period of a few minutes and my pulse would slow.

Faintness. I would feel faint each time I leaned toward a desk.

With the passage of time the faintness became worse until each time I leaned toward the desk I would feel faint and weak, as if I was about to collapse, so I would lean back to gain relief, and then when I leaned forward again I would feel faint and weak again. It felt as if each time I leaned forward I was pumping my chest, and each time I leaned back I was relieving the pressure. This became more difficult to tolerate as the days and weeks went on. When I described this symptom to my doctor he said that he had never heard of such a thing, and that there was no reason for it, and that it was "just me".

At about this time I had to avoid going on the spinning sideshow rides at the annual Royal Show because the centrifugal forces were making me feel as if my heart was becoming so weak that it might stop, and an accompanying sense of faintness gave me the impression that it might end in collapse (A few years earlier I participated in such rides with enthusiasm).

Breathlessness. I started to experience a type of breathlessness, as if I was unable to get a full breath, each time I leaned toward a desk.

Smothering. I awoke one night at about 2 a.m. and was suffocating so I tried to inhale several times but was unable to, so I began to struggle and force myself to breathe, but these attempts were futile. I then got out of bed and ran to the phone to call a doctor but it was obvious that I would be dead before he arrived so I went back to bed and laid down and waited to die. I started to get a few breaths about a minute later. When I discussed this incident with a doctor the next day he told me that he had never heard of such a thing. After doing a physical check he told me that my blood pressure was high. This was the first time it had ever been recorded as high so I asked him if it could be related to the suffocation I experienced the night before and he said that it was probably just a coincidence. My blood pressure has been unstable ever since. The sense of suffocation occurred about three times over a period of one or two years. (Many years later I read that this was a symptom of DaCosta's syndrome and was called smothering).

Ready fatiguability This had been getting gradually worse over the previous period of two or three years. This fatigue occurred when I was doing sedentary work during the day, and initially it was relieved by doing vigorous exercise in the evening. I would be involved in gymnastics on Monday evening and would feel relaxed at work until Wednesday, but would start experiencing vague pain and fatigue by Thursday. A doctor told me that there was no reason for this. As time passd the exercise on Monday evenings had a less beneficial after-effect. For example a year later I would start experiencing vague discomfort and fatigue by Wednesday, and then as another year passed I would experience these problems on Tuesday afternoon, until there was no benefit at all, and eventually strenuous exercise became impossible. In this regard, initially I could easily perform 20 sommersaults on Monday evening and feel so relaxed afterwards that I would go home and go to sleep immediately and sleep soundly for 8 hours. Three years later I was only able to perform one sommersault and when my feet hit the ground the jarring effect caused me to see the appearance of a thousand stars shooting randomly in all directions before my eyes and I would feel temporarily faint and unsteady in my balance.

 At about this time my health problems were becoming so extreme that I could not work anymore so one day I stood up from my desk and walked out. I applied for sick leave but was told that there was nothing physically wrong with me, so I applied for a months recreation leave in the hope that the rest would relieve my symptoms. However at the end of that month I had not improved so I applied for 12 months sick leave. Again I was told that there was nothing wrong with me so I changed the application to 12 months leave without pay and this was granted. I was still not well enough to return to work at that stage so I applied for more leave but this was rejected. I was also asked to see a psychiatrist but he could not explain my physical symptoms and diverted every question into a psychological enquiry which seemed irrelevant. A welfare officer told me that there was nothing wrong with me physically and that all of my symptoms could be explained in psychological terms so I asked him to explain his ideas clearly to me but he could not. He said however that some of the top psychiatrists in overseas universities could explain it. I then asked him if he could provide me with references to scientific journals which contained such ideas so that I could assess their merits for myself but he could not. I then asked if he could provide me with the names of the psychiatrists so that I could contact them myself, and when he could not do that I asked him to tell me which universities they worked at but of course he did not so I concluded that he was expressing a baseless opinion. Another welfare officer told me to ignore my symptoms and go back to work and work hard or I would be sacked. I told him that if I did return to work I would be in pain and fatigued all day and have to take at least three days a week unauthorised sick leave. He told me to do that. I then consulted a union official who told me that he had seen many people like me and that they had ongoing health problems, and that I should appeal about being sacked because if I did not get superannuation benefits and was not able to work again I would regret it later because I would have to live on a pension. The appeal process involved presenting my case to a tribunal where my opinion about my health would be challenged by an opposing medical opinion and a psychiatric opinion. Under those circumstances and considering the unstable nature of my health I chose not to subject myself to such harassment and submitted a letter of resignation. My objective was to preserve what little health I had left and concern myself with such employment issues if and when I recovered. I also decided that if in the future I ever came upon evidence that I was being lied to I would warn other patients.

Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms. The pains that I was experiencing during my days at work had been causing nervous aggitation which was interferring with my sleep at nights and causing insomnia so I had been prescribed valium to help me sleep. After about a year this became ineffective so I was prescribed a barbiturate called sodium amytal. Initially this improved my sleep time from 5 hours to 8 hours or more per night but after several months I was back to getting 5 hours sleep or less again. The prescription was then increased to 2 capsules per night and I started getting 6-7 hours sleep but within a few more months I was back to getting only 4-5 hours so the prescription was increased to 3 capsules per night. However by this time it was apparent that the drug was having less effect with each increase in dose for less time, and that I was getting into a dangerous viscious circle where there would be no way out except inevitable death, and I had no wish to die. I therefore declined the 3 dose barbiturate prescription and requested that it be changed to a less addictive drug called mogadon. I then began the process of withdrawing from drugs for sleep altogether by lowering the dose each fortnight. There were then several nights when I got no sleep at all, and I got less than 2-3 hours sleep per night for several months and still had some degree of insomnia years later but I chose to endure it rather than risk the trauma of drug addiction again. I understand that since then so many people (probably millions) became addicted to the drug, and so many died of barbiturate overdose that governments passed laws which restricted the amount and duration of the dose that doctors were allowed to prescribe.

Tachycardia (minimum daily pulse rate of 102 beats per minute for many months). This was a consequence of my poor health and the physical trauma of withdrawing from barbiturates. My pulse was so unstable that as I walked along a street and lifted my foot off the ground my heart would race and pound each time until I placed it down again.

A recurring mild but annoying tooth ache prompted me to consult a dentist who asked me which tooth was aching. The ache was between two molars in my lower right jaw and I could not distinguish if the pain was on the back side of one tooth or the front side of the tooth next to it. I guessed that it was the front molar but was mistaken. Consequently a week after root canal treatment the pain persisted so I asked the dentist to remove the tooth. As the hollowed out tooth was being forcefully extracted it broke into several segments which had to be removed individually. The ache which was caused by the other molar has recurred intermittently ever since but I have chosen to tolerate the occasional annoyance rather than have that tooth removed. (I noticed that the dental chair had a curved shape which had a relaxing effect when I laid in it).

I had my hair cut and as the barber gently pushed my head and shoulders forward and back to position me I experienced extreme cardiac distress with each movement. (The cardiac distress involved a sensation which gave the impression that my heart was rapidly weakening and might weaken to the extent that it was too weak to beat).

I would feel faint or breathless each time I leaned toward the kitchen sink to wash dishes, or each time I leaned forward to put clothes in or out of the washing machine.

When I applied the brakes of my car as I approached stop lights I would feel faint, as if I was about to collapse, as my upper body was thrust forward toward the steering wheel. I would also experience a sense of cardiac distress and feel faint when I was a passenger in a car which accelerated around a curve in a country road.

I would feel faint, as if I was about to collapse, each time I got out of bed in the morning. I could avoid this symptom by first sitting on the side of my bed and then standing up slowly. Some years later I learned from a medical book that this was called postural hypotension.

I would have to struggle for breath every twenty yards or so when walking or jogging, and often, every now and then while at rest. This was due to a type of breathlessness which I could usually relieve by taking deep breaths, but each time it seemed as though I could not get a full and satisfying breath so I usually had to take two or three breaths to continue jogging. While at rest I tended to relieve the problem by periodically taking a deep sigh, like a deep yawn, but again, each time it was as if I could not breath deeply enough because of something interfering with how deep I could breath, as if there was an obstruction at the base of my chest which would not let me inhale any further. Some years later I learned that this was called suspiratory breathlessness, and I concluded that it was due to a spasm or malfunction of the diaphragm, which is the main respiratory muscle.

I attended a Star Wars movie and a crescendo of noise followed by a sudden loud sound started my heart racing uncontrollably so I had to leave the theatre. At this stage any sudden loud noise tended to have this effect.

When I was a passenger in a bus I would experience upper abdominal pain each time the wheels rolled over potholes and bumps in the road and jarred my belly.

I started wearing slip on shoes to avoid the abdominal pain which occurred when I leaned forward to tie up shoe laces.

I noticed that my abdominal pain was worse whenever I wore tight trousers or belts, so I started to wear loose waisted garments.

At about this time I concluded that some of my health problems were occurring because I had been following misleading medical advice i.e. I was reassured that my worsening symptoms meant nothing and that continuing to participate in activities which aggravated them would not cause me any physical harm. I was also asking a lot of questions and getting no answers, or odd or implausible answers, so I started reading medical books for myself to get a reliable understanding of my ailments.

After reading medical books for a few months I found out about a condition which included chest pains, palpitations, breathlessness, faintness, severe fatigue, and upper abdominal pain. This was the set of symptoms that I had been suffering from and was called DaCosta's Syndrome.

I kept detailed notes on the factors which aggravated my main symptoms for 5 years. After concluding that poor posture or more pertinently "leaning forward" was a cause of stomach pain and faintness etc, I eventually determined how fatigue could be caused in the same manner and wrote The Posture Theory. After writing the theory I became curious about my physique and when I looked in a mirror sideways I noticed that my upper spine had a significant forward curve or stoop (kyphosis). I did not notice that I also had sideways curvature of the spine and a flat chest until many years later.

At about this time I managed to read one of my own medical files and saw some notes prepared by a cardiologist who described me as "a hopeless hypochondriac". This made me furious because I only went into details about my symptoms because doctors did not seem to understand them when I described them in simple terms, and details are important clues to solving problems, and then I only became interested in medicine because doctors had not been able to cure my ailments. I was also furious because the diagnosis of hypochondria (defined as "imaginary symptoms" and unnecessary concerns about health) meant that he and some other doctors were not taking my problems seriously and would not be trying to help, so I would have to solve them on my own. Fortunately I had confidence in my ability to solve those problems. This was because the symptoms were present on one day and not the next, and in one week and not the next, and in one season and not another, and were aggravated by one factor and not others, and I had been successfully identifying the factors which caused the symptoms and those which relieved them so that I could better understand and control them.

 Early in this five year period I thought that my ready fatiguability might be relieved if I participated in a fitness training course, so I joined a program at The South Australian Institute For Fitness Research and Training. At the outset my fitness level was measured at zero kp's, and after training two hours a night, twice a week for three months my fitness was measured at 350 kp's. After a further three months training two hours per night, 4 nights per week my capacity to peddle against resistance on the ergometric cycle had increased but my graphable fitness level remained at 350 kp's, indicating that I had a chronically low aerobic capacity. When I discussed these results with a cardiologist and suggested that it may account for my persistent problems with fatigue he said "that means nothing". A friend of mine, had a fitness level of 900 kp's at the first measurement.

The main fitness exercise was walking and then jogging, and I would have to reach for breath every twenty to fifty yards and gasp in two or three deep breaths to continue. During this training I would usually be jogging last in a group of 50 or more, however I had befriended an overweight 40 year old asthmatic who would run with me at the back of the pack. His fitness level was 600 kp's. When I told him that it was not necessary for him to go slow just to keep me company he jogged ahead and joined the main group. On one occasion two fifty year old men overlapped me in the 400 metre oval course, and as they jogged past one said in a voice which was deliberately loud enough for me to hear, that it was disgusting how the youth of today were so unfit because they were too lazy to exercise. This did not bother me because a few years earlier I would probably have been fit enough to outlap them. On another occasion the group jogged around the streets for 2 miles. By the time they had completed the course and returned to the hall I still had half a mile to run.

I continued to train 4 night per week at the Institute and two nights a week at a local oval. In the seventh month I participated in a relay race where each person was required to place a medicine ball between their knees and hop to the end of the hall and back. After traveling about 5 yards my heart pounded violently, I felt faint and dizzy, and I saw stars shooting before my eyes, and I fell to my hands and knees gasping for breath. When people crowded around and closed in on me to help, my breathing became more difficult so I told them to keep away, and when I tried to stop and rest, my symptoms became worse, so I had to crawl about and keep moving and resting and moving and resting until I could drag myself up onto a chair about 10 minutes later. Sitting still in the chair made my symptoms worse so I had to go down on all fours again and crawl about for another 5 minutes before the symptoms settled. I then spent another 10 minutes resting in a chair, and went home, and was unable to attend fitness classes for a week. (A few years earlier in the gym I would often toss a medicine ball to and from another gymnast more than 50 times as part of warm up exercises).

In the eighth month I was playing volleyball at the end of a fitness session. I was able to do this by dividing my side of the court into 6 squares and confining my movements to a space which was about 3 metres square. On one occasion I leapt up and hit the ball as it crossed the net and then I fell backwards and landed on the back of my shoulders before my feet touched the ground. I was stunned for a few minutes but continued playing the game. On another occasion I turned to retrieve the ball but my foot remained in the forward direction as my upper body rotated, and I felt an odd sensation in my knee. There was no pain, but my knee was bent, and as I tried to straighten it I caused pain, so I kept it bent and hobbled off the court. That was the last time I attended the fitness classes. I thought that I had torn my cartilage, but when I consulted a doctor about it he told me that there was no pain or swelling or other evidence of injury so there was nothing wrong with my knee. However my knee continued to be unstable and locked in the bent position on more than 20 occasions over the next 18 months whenever I stepped off a curb, or turned a corner, or tripped. There was never any pain when the knee locked, but to prevent the pain which occurred when I tried to straighten my knee after each incident I would have to lay on my back and allow the knee to slowly lower toward the bed. One day I consulted a physiotherapist for treatment. He looked as if he knew something but was reluctant to tell me so I asked him frankly what was causing my knee problems. He said that he was not allowed to give a diagnosis which challenged medical opinion. I then informed him that I had been hobbling about like a cripple for 18 months and did not wish to spend the rest of my life like it, and reassured him that if he told me what was wrong I would keep the source of the information confidential. He then said that I had a bucket handle tear in my medial cartilage. I then consulted a GP who referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed the diagnosis in less than five minutes by manipulating my knee while having his ear close to the joint so that he could hear the sound made by the loose piece of cartilage.

I attended hospital to have surgery to remove a torn section of medial cartilage from my left knee (After the operation the surgeon told me that he had removed the entire cartilage but he actually only removed the torn piece) Post operative complications included cystitis and hypertrophy of the synovial membrane. The synovial membrane is the sack of tissue which surrounds the knee bones, and hyertrophy is excessive tissue which forms because of the stretching of the sack. This occurred because after the operation the weight of the bed sheets on my toes was lifting and straining my knee joint. When I told the surgeon this he arranged for a metal frame (like a small tent frame) to be placed over my foot and knee to keep the weight of the blankets off. It also occurred because the surgeon encouraged me to bend my knee to aid quick recovery, and when I asked him how much and how fast I should bend it he said "as much as you can". I was keen to make a quick recovery so I bent my knee painlessly but forcibly. This felt as though I was stretching something so I repeated the question on the surgeons next visit.When he asked me to show him what I was doing and I demonstrated he said with great alarm "don't bend it that far ! ! !", so afterwards I was more concervative in the process. I believe that in the meantime I had stretched the synovial tissue.

After the surgical scars had healed I still felt as if a small piece of cartilage was loose in my joint. I therefore read some medical books to find out about the subject and when I learned that sometimes only part of the cartilage was removed in the operation I spoke to the surgeon again and he admitted that he had only removed the torn piece in my knee. However I also got the impression that when a stretched synovial membrane shrinks as it deinflames it has wrinkles or folds which feel exactly the same as a torn piece of cartilage. After being misinformed by the surgeon I decided to consult another specialist for further treatment.

Surgical removal of hypertrophied synovial membrane in my left knee. Another surgeon performed an exploratory operation with keyhole surgery and found some excessive synovial tissue which he removed. After the surgery the knee was swollen but this slowly subsided. After one or two weeks I felt a flushing sensation in the joint which was immediatley followed by the subsiding of the remaining swelling and then the joint felt clean and completely free of discomfort. A few hours later I went for a walk and when I returned my knee felt as though there was a soreness in one spot on the lower curve of the thigh bone. Since then I have had recurrent knee discomfort, and an occasional feeling, like a clicking sensation, as if a small piece of hard grissle or bone is snapping in and out of position. This remains undiagnosed despite an x-ray and keyhole surgery to inspect the joint. The problem is minor so I endure it but I suspect that unless the cause is diagnosed and treated I may eventually develop arthritis. (I have often wondered if I could have avoided the recurring soreness if I had waited a day or so before going for a walk after my knee apparantly recovered spontaneously).

After being repeatedly told that my recurring problems with fatigue, were "just me" and after having the problem treated as if it was a matter of great medical secrecy, I discussed the implausibility of being the only person in the world to have such a problem in all of medical history. I also queried how the supposedly intelligent medical profession could be so inefficient that they had never identified it, and eventually coaxed a heart specialist into conceding that my set of symptoms had a label - neurocirculatory asthenia. This was a term used by modern medical researchers so I was able to read about it in research journals and medical texts where I found that it was called vasoregulatory asthenia in Russia, DaCosta's Syndrome and neurasthnia in the nineteenth century, and shell shock and battle fatigue by military doctors, and the effort syndrome if patients had problems with exertion, and psychiatrists called it anxiety state if the patient was anxious, and a depressive disorder if the patient was depressed. I also noted that the set of symptoms corresponded to the descriptions of hypochondria in the medical texts of the early twentieth century. In fact I found more than a hundred different labels for the condition, indicating that the medical profession were so confused about it that they changed their labels frequently, and I noticed that they were confusing several conditions together and treating them as if they were one. (One of the research journals that I read was called "Circulation", and in the May 1976 edition , in an article entitled "Where are the Diseases of Yesteryear", on pages 749-751, a medical researcher called C.F. Wooley described patients with DaCosta's syndrome with the words "In some the chest is long and narrow, or flattened and associated with a kyphotic curve" (a stooped spine), and they were "slight in build" and have "chest wall deformities", and "the pulse shows an exaggerated reaction to posture" and the condition generally affects "sedentary town dwellers" and he quotes a former researcher called T.Lewis who wrote "It is because these symptoms and signs are largely, in some cases wholly, the exaggerated physiological responses to exercise . . . that I term the whole the 'effort syndrome'.")

Over a 5 year period I worked on three jobs as a commission salesman for 3, 5, and 9 months respectively. In each instance my health imperceptibly deteriorated to a state of neurasthenia gravis (severe fatigue) which required 3 months recovery to regain a semblance of health. When I started the third job I took detailed notes and observed the subtlety of my deteriorating health, and after recovering, wrote a theory about chronic fatigue (the effort syndrome) which has enabled me to control, but not cure the problem ever since.

For a period of about 10 years I experienced several sore throats and colds per year. These would start when I noticed a cold breeze blowing on my neck just below my ears, and then that area would feel sore, and if I kept walking in the breeze my throat would become sore, and if I did this too often the sore throat would become a cold which would persist for a week or more. I also noticed that I would get an ache in my lower back on the left side near the kidney area if the cold wind was blowing on my back, and if I kept walking in the cold my right side would ache and then I would sometimes start feeling slightly nauseas. I prevented these problems by wearing a padded vinyl cap with ear flaps, and a padded vest under my shirt. When I discussed these symptoms with my doctor he said that cold breezes were not a cause of colds and that I did not need to take such precautions, and that the symptoms were "just me", so I walked about unprotected and my sore throats would progress to colds and my kidney area would ache all the time. I then ignored his advice and resumed wearing my cap and vest and reduced my tendency to get colds. At the start of this period I lived in a home unit which had cold cement floors and I left the windows open all day and night in summer and winter to provide fresh air which I thought was necessary for good health. However I eventually had the floors carpeted, and purchased an oil heater, and closed all the windows to keep the place warm, and I placed foam tape around the borders of my bedroom windows and the door to prevent cold breezes from entering the room at night, and I replaced my blankets, which never kept me warm, with a quilt which did . Eventually I stopped getting frequent colds, and would usually only get a very mild cold every 3rd or 4th year.

Severe itching. I would itch intolerably all over my body especially after mowing the lawn so I stopped mowing it and several months later there was a jungle of grass stalks, like rye grass, growing more than 3 feet high throughout the lawn. However the itching mainly occurred at night, especially in spring and summer, and persisted for many years. I treated it by applying talcum powder and calamine lotion to my skin. Sometimes the itching was so bad that I used both until a thick paste of talcum and calamine covered most of by body. The itching was reduced in frequency and intensity after I suspected that it was caused by grass pollens in my clothes, and I started drying them indoors (especially my bedclothes). I can remember itching in the middle of one winter and this confused me until I realised that I had taken a second set of bed sheets out of the cupboard and laid them on my bed. Those sheets had been washed and then dried out doors in the wind in the previous summer. One day I heard a doctor talking about itching on public radio and attributing it to a skin allergy, so I consulted a dermatologist who injected samples of pollens under the skin of my arm. Many of these resulted in rashes which indicated an allergic reaction to numerous grass and tree pollens. I then started a dermatological desensitisation programme which involved being injected with samples of the pollens after 3, 6, and 12 months to develop a natural immunity. This seemed to provide an additional but gradual reduction in the itching which probably also benefited from the removal of several trees in nearby gardens. I dried my clothes on an indoor line for more than 10 years but eventually started to occasionally dry them on an outdoor line without any further problems. (When I first consulted a doctor about my itching he told me that it was possible that grass seeds or pollens could be causing the problem but that there were so many circulating in the atmosphere that it would be almost impossible to identify which one was responsible. Also, many people may not think that itching is a serious problem but a friend of mine told me about a relative of his who had such severe itching that she was suicidal, and the dermatologist confirmed this type of case).

Tinnitus - I started noticing a high pitched sound in my ears which became chronic and is untreatable. This bothered me at first but I eventually learned to ignore it. The ringing sound was aggravated by loud music and would persist for days afterwards so I developed the practice of wearing ear plugs whenever I was exposed to noise.

I experienced a severe alcoholic hangover following a night of having a variety of drinks which included brandy, whisky, white wine, and beer. When I left the hotel and looked forward the footpath and road appeared to be swirling, and then I had diarrhea, and when I woke up the next day I had a nauseas headache and severe vomiting which persisted for about 4 days. This happened to a lesser extent on another two occasions until I controlled the amount of alcohol I drank, and I have not had a hangover since. I have also been wary of any drugs.

I woke up one night at about 2 a.m. with severe kidney pain which became gradually worse over the next 2 hours so I called a doctor who diagnosed the presence of a kidney stone and treated the pain with morphine. This was followed by a week of pain and an inability to eat, and a regression to severe fatigue (neurasthenia gravis), after which a diagnostic x-ray on a tilt table confirmed the presence of a kidney stone which was blocking the left ureter. (A tilt table is a moveable bed which can be adjusted to give x-ray images at different angles, and movement of the bed caused extremely distressing cardiac sensations which felt as if my heart was about to stop each time).

The kidney stone was removed by transurethral surgery. Post operative complications included cystitis.

After the surgery I still experienced a mild recurring kidney ache so I had a second surgical inspection of the left ureter where stones were not found.

An X-ray revealed the presence of a 1 cm cluster of stones in the flesh of the left kidney. I was advised that they would probably not move so it was not worth the trouble of having an operation because it would involve cutting the flank and the kidney, and the risks of that type of surgery outweighed the risks of leaving the stones where they were. Occasional aches in the left kidney area have occurred ever since. (a one millimetre by seven millimetre cluster of stones in the collecting system of the left kidney was still evident on a CAT scan taken 20 years later).

At about this time I noticed that when I had to squat down and lean forward to clean low windows I would feel faint and dizzy and exhausted almost to the point of collapse. After a half hour of this sort of activity I would be exhausted and bedridden for the remainder of the day. This had been a problem for some time and continued to be so, but I was usually able to avoid it by bending at the hips with my legs straight or only slightly bent at the knees, instead of squatting, and I never engaged in such activity for long periods of time again.

 I felt an upper abdominal pain each summer when I did a hand spring on the beach to test whether my abdomen was still vulnerable to that problem. This was a very small sharp splitting pain which occurred just below the lower tip of my sternum and it was followed by a gnawing soreness in the area. The symptom also occurred on many occasions when I had to stretch upwards or sideways while pressing a squeegee onto windows to clean them. It also occurred when I was stretching upwards and backwards to press ceiling tiles onto my ceilings.

The upper abdominal pain also occurred one day when I was digging in the garden and the spade hit a rock below the surface. This jarred my belly, and after feeling a small splitting pain below my sternum a gnawing ache persisted and was accompanied by constipation for three months. A similar problem occurred some years later when I splayed my arms outwards and backwards, and as my chest stretched wide I felt the same splitting pain which again persisted and was accompanied by constipation for three months. Whenever a doctor pressed firmly on that part of my belly, as part of his inspection, Iwould feel an annoying mild pain which would occasionally persist for several days afterwards.

In an attempt to determine the cause of my abdominal pain I had a gastroscopy in which a metal tube was inserted down my throat to inspect my esophagus and stomach, but I was told that nothing could be seen which would account for the pain. I also had an endoscopy in which a tube was inserted into my colon but again I was told that nothing could be seen. For several days prior to the endoscopy I had to have a series of laxatives to ensure that my colon was completely empty, and I was advised that I would need to be accompanied to the hospital by a friend because the procedure would require the use of a mild anaesthetic which would induce drowsiness and reduce my ability to concentrate, and that would make it unwise for me to drive home afterwards. After the procedure I was walking along a footpath on the way home and as I approached a red light at a pedestrian crossing I kept going and would have been hit by a car if my friend had not dragged me back. This occurred because the anaesthetic had reduced my awareness of my surroundings.

I also had a laparotomy to determine the cause of my chronic recurring upper abdominal pain which by then had been variously diagnosed as "nothing", "just me", or cardiospasm, or esophageal achalasia, and I diagnosed it as irritable colon, visceroptosis, sliding hiatus hernia, or peritoneal hernia. I gave the surgeon very specific instructions to cut my abdomen downwards from the lower tip of the sternum so that he could get a clear view of the area of pain. When the bandages were removed later in the week I saw that the 7 inch vertical scar started 3 inches below my right ribs and was one inch to the right of my navel, so I was annoyed that he had not conducted the inspection of the specific pain site in the precise way I requested. He told me that he could not find any evidence of an injury which added to my annoyance. Post operative complications included cystitis, and severe nausea and vomiting which persisted for a week. The 7 inch scar was strained outwards by the mechanical effects of vomiting, and other movements, and the lowest half inch took 9 months to heal. Unlike most of my other thin scars this one healed wide and was lumpy. (I was offered sleeping tablets the night before surgery but because of my previous addiction to barbiturates, and not wanting to take the risk of addiction again, I declined them, and drank a stubby of beer instead, to help me sleep. The surgeon warned me not to take alcohol but did not tell me why. In hindsight this may have been because alcohol interacts with anaesthetics to cause severe nausea. Also, one night, about a week after the surgery, at about 9 p.m. I still had severe nausea, but this subsided spontaneously within an hour and the following day I was able to eat a light breakfast and a full lunch).

I later consulted a GP who used acupuncture to treat abdominal pain. In the first session he inserted fine needles into various parts of my body (these were so fine that they were painless). After about 10 minutes he asked me if they had relieved the pain but they had not. He then told me that it may require 6 treatment to provide a benefit. In the fourth week he sent a small and imperceptible electric current through the needles but this was also ineffectual. In the 6th week he burnt some sort of incense which was attached to the top of each needle. At the end of the 6 sessions of treatment the abdominal pain had not been influenced and was not better or worse than it was at the start.

I started to notice a small blemish about 1 cm in diameter on my nose, and later on my left cheek near my nose. These occurred within 2 years of each other and were diagnosed as squamous cell carcinomas (skin cancers) and were treated by being burnt off with dry ice each time. These may have been due to excessive exposure to the sun as a teenager when I would go the the beach every summer and often get sun burnt, and my skin would become as red as a lobster.

At this stage I was doing a lot of walking, at least 15 km per week, because it relieved problems such as neck ache and shoulder pain, and most people would think that I was athletic and that I had above average fitness. However I was still having trouble with vigorous exertion. For example, on one occasion I had to go the town so I walked to the bus stop. As I turned the street corner I could see the bus leaving so I ran to catch it. After sprinting for about 10 yards my heart began to pound violently so I had to stop and wait a half an hour for the next bus. On another occasion I arranged to meet a group of bushwalkers in the hills. As we walked up slight slopes and along flat ground I was able to keep up the pace, but then the group leader turned left and went straight up a 70 degree slope. As I puffed and panted and struggled to drag myself from fence post to tree trunk with my arms, elderly men and women with walking sticks strolled past me, and when I eventually reached a clearing at the top of the hill the other members of the group were finishing their picnic lunches and preparing to continue the journey. A similar problem occurred about 10 years later when I followed a friend off the usual hill track that I often walked and I found myself at the bottom of a steep valley and I had to travel up to get out. (Regardless of how much regular exercise I did I still could not exert myself strenuously. This is a feature of the effort syndrome).

I slipped and fell backwards from a ladder with my legs caught between the third and fourth rung as the back of my shoulders hit the lawn below, close to a cement path, and near an angle iron staked tap. I then disentangled my legs from the ladder and stood up. I recovered immediately and there was no soreness or bruising or other after effects.

I experienced a severe case of food poisoning which started one evening several hours after I had a midday meal of chicken at a hotel. This persisted for a week during which time I had nausea and vomiting.

I sprained my right elbow when I fell sideways from a height of 5 feet, and my elbow landed forcefully on a hard wooden floor and bore my total body weight before my legs and feet landed horizontally. I did not consult a doctor and the only treatment was rest and the injury healed in three months.

I felt a strong pain in my left ear which became gradually worse over a few weeks. A doctor told me that it was caused by a lump of ear wax inside my ear cavity. He then treated it by injecting warm water in through the ear canal to dissolve, reduce, and eject the lump. Several injections of water were required before the lump of hard wax came out and this was accompanied by the immediate relief of pain.

I had a severe influenza which lasted for a week. During this time I was bedridden because all of my muscles and joints were sore and aching. After this experience I generally had an annual flu immunisation injection especially if a severe strain was forecast by health authorities.

I noticed that my eyesight was deteriorating. This prompted me to have my eyes tested, and in addition to having the lens magnification changed to suit the new requirements of each eye, I replaced the standard spectacles with bifocals.

My short term memory had always been poor, perhaps because of measles or meningitis as a child, but at this time it was becoming noticeably worse. This may have been partly due to the fact that I drove a car which had holes in the firewall which allowed toxic engine exhaust fumes into the cabin.

I started to notice numbness of the tips of my fingers and toes occurring during cold weather.

I first noticed a 4 cm lump which I could feel by placing my left hand in the middle of the right side of my back. A doctor advised me that this was a benign lipoma (a non-cancerous tumour of fat) which was likely to be chronic and was not necessary to treat.

I started to get haemorrhoids for the first time but the pain soon went away so I never consulted a doctor about them or got any treatment.

I developed a painful hard lump in one of my haemorrhoids. This was diagnosed by a doctor as a haemorrhoidal haematoma which is a blood clot in a haemorrhoid, and it dissolved without treatment some months later.

I developed a rodent Ulcer (a type of skin cancer) on the top of my right ear lobe. This caused a gnawing ache so I tended to scratch it, but it was hidden by my hair and in an awkward position for inspection so I did not see it or consult a doctor about it for at least a year. After reporting it my doctor cut a small slice of it off and sent it for biopsy. It was found to be cancerous and had become too deep to be burnt off with dry ice so I was referred to a specialist. It was then surgically removed and replaced by a skin graft under local anaesthetic. A gnawing ache persisted for many months after the surgery but I was advised that this sometimes occurred because the nerves of the ear had been cut and irritated and took a while to heal completely. (Originally this cancer was to be removed under general anaesthetic, but after inquiring about the possibility of using a local anaesthetic and being told that I would not feel any pain, I chose to have the local to reduce the cost of the procedure. As the surgeon operated I did not feel any pain but I could hear and sense the stitching thread being drawn through the skin of my ear).

I experienced severe and painful cramps in the muscles at the extreme left and right side of my lower chest. This occurred at a time when I was reading a lot of jokes in rehearsal for being a stand up comedian. A week later the cramps returned as soon as I read one joke, and it was six weeks before I could read several jokes without inducing the cramps. The symptom was due to the mechanical effects of the repetitive strain on my chest muscles caused by vigorous laughing, together with the shape of my chest, which is somewhat flat. The cramps were similar to those which occasionally occurred in the calf muscles of my legs.

My chronic recurring neck ache was becoming a problem with occasional cricks, or painful locking of the neck in the mid-neck vertebral joint, and restricted turning movement of the neck, associated with pain in the centre of the muscle over the right shoulder blade, and aching of the shoulder muscle between the neck and the right arm. This was related to sideways curvature of the spine, with the right shoulder being significantly lower then the left. It was effectively relieved by strong, deep, shiatsu massage of the muscles of the upper back, neck, and shoulders, and especially by pressing on the site of the pain in the muscle in the middle of my right shoulder blade. The pressure induced strong pain as it was being applied but it was tolerable, and afterwards, and the next day the area was relaxed and pain free. Another useful exercise determined later from a physiotherapist, was to lay on a bed with my head an neck overhanging, and then to move my head downwards to stretch the neck muscles for several seconds, and to repeat the process three times. Stretching the contracted neck muscles was designed to overcome the muscular spasm which was causing the pain. (I also consulted a natural therapist who dangled a crystal from a piece of string and dragged it above and along my spine but this had no beneficial effect. One woman applied a massage in which she ran her fingers lightly down my spine but this was also futile. Several massage treatments have involved moderate levels of pressure but these only gave slight relief).

I had several optical migraines spread randomly over a 1 year period. The symptoms included visual disturbances (like transparent droplets of water obscuring my vision), and a sense of faintness without headaches. Each of these incidents lasted between 1 and 5 minutes and gave me the impression that I might lose consciousness, but I never actually fainted. The condition was diagnosed by an ophthalmologist and not treated.

 Bladder surgery. Two weeks prior to this surgery I consulted the surgeon and advised him that I had a chronic recurring neck ache which tended to become a problem when I laid still for long periods of time, as in hospital, and which caused me to move about it bed and strain surgical scars and interfere with their healing. I added that, at other times, I prevented this problem by doing a lot of walking. I also said that I tended to get urinary infections in hospitals, and that these caused burning sensations which made me restless and similarly interfered with the healing of scars, so I wanted to be given antibiotics before the operation to prevent infection. He told me that he would consider my suggestions and advised me not to treat my neck with any dangerous drugs prior to surgery. My neck was giving me trouble so I took two aspirins three times a day for two days, thinking that it was a harmless drug. A neighbour, who had been a nurse then told me that aspirin remained in the bloodstream for up to two weeks, and thinned the blood, and interfered with the healing of surgical wounds so I stopped taking them. Upon arrival at hospital a doctor said that such a small amount of aspirin should not do me any harm, and that I could not have anti-biotics until after I developed an infection. Two hours after the operation I was advised to get out of bed and walk about, presumably as a means of preventing neck ache. As I walked I felt an ache in my lower bladder, but I found that walking with a stoop relieved the problem. I was then advised to stand up straight but this caused the bladder to ache again as I walked about the wards for about 2 hours. When I returned to my bed the blood in my catheter bag was black, indicating profuse bleeding from my wound, and I noticed two other patients who had stayed in bed, had catheter bags with pink or pale urine. After that I had prolonged excessive bleeding, blood clots blocking the bladder, and three days later I contracted a urinary infection. The use of morphine injections to relieve the pain associated with clearing the blockages resulted in two instances of morphine induced visual hallucinations. On another occasion I was told that my bladder was not blocked when in fact it was. This led to a series of violent and painful bladder spasms occurring at 5 - 10 minute intervals. A final very powerful spasm forced the blood clot down the catheter, followed by a rapid stream of frothy urine, and then all the muscles in my body relaxed and I sank into a deep sleep for 8 hours. When I awoke I felt refreshed and spent my time resting, rather than walking, and although my bladder felt sore, I had no further blockages. During the period of hospitalisation a blood test revealed the presence of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer). The surgical wound was easily aggravated by movements such as bending, for 8 months after leaving hospital, before it finally healed.

I had a flu injection about 7 days before this surgery to prevent the possibility of getting the flu during my recovery period, but my doctor advised me that there was a risk that this might cause a nasty blood disorder if given within 2 weeks of surgery. I did not know what was meant by a blood disorder and did not think that it seemed a serious risk so I had the immunisation anyway. I have since considered the possibility that the flu injection, in combination with extensive blood loss and a urinary infection was the cause of my lymphoma, which is a disorder of white blood cells. Perhaps the flu immunisation caused mutation of the blood forming cells while I was bleeding for several days. However a specialist told me that this was not likely and that the lymphomas were extensively distributed throughout my body so I could have had the condition undiagnosed for many years. I suppose this is true but I had a number of tests in the past but there was no evidence of lymphoma at any stage.

It was not unusual, from my experience, that my attempts to solve one set of problems resulted in the development of another set of problems.

I had a surgical biopsy of a lymph gland in my left groin (found to be cancerous).

I had a bone marrow biopsy. In this procedure a small hole is punched in the rear of the hip bone and then a syringe is inserted through the hole to extract a small sample of bone marrow to test for the presence of cancer. The procedure is conducted under a light anaesthetic where first an injection of a painkiller called pethidine is given. This induces drowsiness and is followed by the injection of a light anaesthetic called Midazolam which intensifies the drowsiness and then induces a sense of profound relaxation and euphoria, and then most patients go to sleep. The Midazolam also impairs memory so that if there is any pain most patients do not remember it. In my case I went to sleep but afterwards I could recall two instances of pain which was not distressing. After the procedure there was no pain unless I inadvertently rolled onto my side or pressed against the site of the injection, but this only occurred for about 4 days. (Because the Midazolam induces a sense of relaxation and euphoria it is also called happy juice or jungle juice).

The presence of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma was confirmed by the various medical tests which revealed evidence of disease in my neck, chest, abdomen, groin, blood, and bone marrow. A specialist advising me that I could have only 2 months to live and that I should finalise my financial affairs (rewrite my will), and that I might live 20 years.

I arranged to have bladder surgery for a second time. Soon after arriving at the hospital my blood pressure was routinely measured and found to be high. The following day I had the bladder surgery. During the next few days my blood pressure was extremely high (a nurse told me that it was 240 / 130) so I had an ultrasound scan which showed evidence of an enlarged heart which was later described as a strained heart, and I was told that I had chronic high blood pressure which would require lifelong medication and I was advised to avoid physical strain. I was then given an antihypertensive medication called renitec. (I had learnt from experience how to prevent the problems which occurred after the first bladder operation. Hence there was no excessive bleeding, no blood clots or blockages, and no infection, and the surgical wound healed within a month).

After the surgery I was required to attend the hospital for follow up appointments, and each time I attended, my blood pressure was measured and found to be high, so each time the dose of antihypertensive medication was increased until I was taking 20 mg. of renitec. I noticed that I was feeling a bit odd and vaguely or subtly faint as I walked about for exercise, and I knew that low blood pressure could cause faintness, so I thought perhaps my dose of renitec was too much and was reducing my blood pressure excessively. I therefore decided to purchase a blood pressure monitor from a suburban chemist and measure it myself. I found that when I was at home my blood pressure was often as low as 80 / 50 or less, so I gradually reduced the dose of my medication to 5 mg. which was sufficient to maintain it at the normal level of 120 / 80 or lower. I was curious to know why my blood pressure was low at home and high whenever I attended a doctor, and I knew that when I consulted my local doctor I often had to hurry to meet the appointment time and rush across a busy road to the clinic. However, when I attended the hospital I had to park my car a mile away and walk up a slight hill and then ascend several flights of stairs, so that by the time the doctor placed the cuff of my arm my blood pressure was high.

I was taking medication to treat high blood pressure and I knew that coffee was a drug which increased blood pressure so I decided to reduce my coffee consumption to see if I could eliminated the need for medication. I previously drank weak coffee which consisted of a half a teaspoon of ground coffee in a cup of boiling water topped with milk, but I was having 6 cups per day, so I reduced this to one cup of coffee or tea every one or two days. This did not seem to influence my blood pressure but I noticed that it had a calming effect and slowed the speed of my thoughts and that when I went to bed at night I fell asleep more readily.

I developed Angina (a squeezing sensation behind the breastbone which started and got worse with continued walking past 50 yards, and which was relieved by rest). This symptom was preceded by a sort of breathlessness for about a year, and was most noticeable when climbing small hills. The squeezing sensation first occurred one morning when I was walking halfway from my front door to the letter box, and was then induced by walking for various distances. It became more frequent and worse over a period of several months before I consulted a physician who diagnosed the condition and referred me to a specialist. The heart specialist advised that I could be dead within two weeks unless I had urgent coronary bypass surgery. Instead of surgery, I gained relief of symptoms by taking a medication called Noten for 6 months, and I commenced a vegetarian diet within 2 weeks of the diagnosis. Within 3 months of commencing this (absolutely no fat) diet I lost 15 kg. in weight, and then my weight stabilised. I continued to get pre-angina symptoms - a milder sense of cardiac distress which had previously preceded each squeezing symptom. The vegetarian diet gradually relieved that problem in the first 6 months and cured it completely within two years. There has been no return of the angina, or the pre-angina symptom since. (Angina occurs because blood fats consisting of cholesterol block the arteries which supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen, and a vegetarian diet is very low in cholesterol. I therefore concluded that the less fat I had in my blood the better. Also fatty blood is thick and more likely to deposit fats on the artery walls, whereas cholesterol free blood is thin, and more likely to erode and wash away any fat on the arterial walls). Some years later, a doctor prescribed a new medication called lipitor to further reduce my blood cholesterol levels. Click here for more details about how I cured the angina with a vegetarian diet.

My short term memory problems were becoming worse and I started to have problems with my thoughts seeming to be overlapped and blocked and I thought that I might be in the early stages of senility. I started taking capsules of a herb called ginko to treat these problems and within 6 weeks my memory had improved and my thinking had cleared.

I noticed a 2 cm tumour in the left side of my neck. About 6-7 years after being diagnosed with lymphoma (cancerous) I noticed a small lump about the size of a teaspoon on the left side of my neck. This was diagnosed as low grade lymphoma and I was advised that treatment would not be necessary unless it mutated to high grade.

I had severe food poisoning which lasted a week and occurred immediately after ceasing 4 weeks of a "fruit juice only" diet in an experimental attempt to cure the lymphoma. I was unable to eat and was vomiting during that fifth week. (I tried this because the vegetarian diet cured my angina despite the skepticism of several doctors, and I thought that a "fringe medicine" diet might cure cancer. However the vegetarian diet was soundly based on logic and evidence, whereas the anticancer diet was not. Nevertheless I decided to try it because it could not do me any harm. I monitored its effectiveness by observing the size of the lymphoma lump in my neck, but it did not reduce in size, so I could establish that this type of diet was worthless and have since concluded that it was probably a commercial hoax treatment. Nevertheless one of the coincidental advantages of the fruit juice only diet was that it would have improved the health of my coronary arteries, but I would not have tried it while I had angina because at that stage it would have put too much strain on my heart).

The tumour in my neck began to grow in size. The 2 cm tumour in my neck remained the same size for about 2 years, during which time one specialist told me that he had seen a tumour the size of an orange which was low grade lyphoma, so when it began to slowly increase in size I ignored it. At that stage only about three close friends knew that I had cancer but when it reached the size of a hens egg other people were asking me what the lump was. I did not want the fact that I had cancer to become general knowledge so I told them that it was a cyst. A few months later I started getting pain in the lower right side of my chest which was often accompanied by breathlessness, especially while I was walking, and the further I walked the worse these symptoms became. Eventually they were so bad that I could not continue walking except with great difficulty so I consulted a GP and described the symptoms and showed him the lump in my neck. When he saw the lump he became alarmed and suggested that I consult my cancer specialist urgently.

I developed a pleural effusion in the lower right chest. The cancer specialist arranged for a CAT scan which revealed the presence of pleural effusion in the lower right side of my chest. This is like a sack of fluid which was pressing on my right lung to cause chest pain and breathing difficulties. I was told that it occurred because some of the lymph glands in my chest had been damaged by the cancer and were not draining the area properly.

I had surgery to remove a 5 cm tumour from my neck. The specialist also examined the 5 cm tumour in my neck and noticed that a smaller 2 cm tumour was growing just below it. The 5 cm tumour was removed by surgery and was sent for a biopsy which revealed that the low grade lymphoma had mutated to intermediate grade which required chemotherapy. The surgical scar was 10 cm long and healed cleanly within a few weeks. It was a very fine scar which ran along the crease line in my neck and is therefore not noticeable.

I started CHOP chemotherapy to treat my lymphoma. The CHOP chemicals were infused from plastic bags into the veins in my arms through injections over a period of several hours. I then had to take a medication called prednisolone for about a week. On the first occasion, after the week had passed and I stopped taking the prednisolone, I started to get fatigue and nausea which became gradually worse until I was extremely exhausted and bedridden. One night at about 10 p.m. when the fatigue was at its worst I noticed a slight improvement and then recovered a sense of wellbeing within an hour. 5 doses of CHOP chemotheapy were given at monthly intervals and the complications of fatigue, nausea and vomiting reduced in intensity with each dose. The chemo had to be stopped because I started to get numbness in my fingers and toes, which was the sign of a problematic complication called peripheral neuropathy. The 2 cm tumour which remained in my neck after surgery gradually disappeared after the second dose of chemo.

The chemotherapy was effective and afterwards my lymphoma was diagnosed as being in remission. I then started having followup blood tests and CAT scans, and the problem was not detected again until 18 months later.

A 1 cm black mole on the top left side of my head. This was noticed by a doctor when I was being treated for lymphoma. He referred me to a dermatologist who asked me how long it had been there. I told him that it was at least 20 years but was hidden by my hair, and that I only noticed it occasionally when I scratched my head, or was having a hair cut, which sometimes made it bleed a little and form a scab. He told me the diagnostic name of the mole but I do not recall it. He also said that it was benign and would cause cosmetic problems if treated because the incision to remove it would extend for several centimetres beyond the borders of the blemish, and he advised me that treatment was not advisable unless it suddenly began to bleed or grow.

Strained ligaments or a broken toe caused by tripping against the corner of a cupboard (untreated).

I had previously experienced chronic recurring abdominal pain which was aggravated by sitting at a desk and leaning forward to write. This was evaded for the first time by changing to the practice of writing while standing up, and then by typing (while standing) instead of writing - standing up reduced my tendency to lean forward, and typing onto a computer keyboard with both hands removed the twisting of my spine which occurred when moving the pen (which was held in my right hand) from the right margin of the page to the left while writing.

Pain in the front inner side of my left knee became an occasional problem while standing, particularly standing still, for long periods of time (due to strain on a pre-existing surgical wound that had never healed properly).

Pain and slight dislocation of the right hip joint sometimes occurred when standing, particularly standing still, for long periods of time (due to lordosis and scoliosis).

Low back ache became a problem while standing for long periods of time (due to lordosis - forward arching of the lower spine). This symptom was related to the fact that I wore bi-focal spectacles, so I had to move my head back to look through the lower lenses to see the computer monitor. This in turn produced a forward arch in my neck, and increased the forward arch in my lower back, and resulted in subtle downward pressure on the lower curve of that arch.

Dizziness was becoming a consistent problem when looking at the computer screen through the lower lenses of my bifocals and when looking up at high shelves. This was related to bending my neck in order to move my head back when looking at the computer or when looking up. A doctor attributed this to arthritis of the neck.

Haemmorrhoids were aggravated while standing for long periods of time (due to lordosis).

The abdominal pain became a problem again, even when writing while standing (due to kypholordosis and compression of the torso between the lower tip of the sternum and the spine).

The chronic upper abdominal pain became severe especially while I was sitting at a desk, but also while I was standing, and then persisted afterwards, and was accompanied by an occasional regurgitation of food which half filled my mouth, or the rising of acid in my throat which I could taste at the back of my mouth, and occasional difficult and painful swallowing where food or water would temporarily feel as though it was stuck in my throat. Although a gastroscopy revealed nothing the specialist prescribed a medication called Somac where the first tablet provided immediate relief of symptoms. I stopped taking the medication after two months but the pain returned and became severe within a week. I resumed taking the medication which relieved the pain, and stopped again two years later without any return of pain.

I had a CAT scan as part of the follow up procedure from my chemotherapy which was given 18 months earlier. This revealed the presence of a 10 cm lump in my left abdomen which was blocking my left ureter and causing enlargement of my left kidney and hydronephrosis. I was therefore advised to undergo an exploratory examination where I was given a local anaesthetic in the left side of my back and a specialist inserted a tubular device and then a syringe in order to extract a sample of the tumour to determine if it was cancerous. This was done in combination with CAT scan viewing to assist the surgeon to direct his needle to the tumour site, but after 4 or 5 attempts only a small amount of tissue was extracted and this was not sufficient to determine if cancer was present of not.

I then had a surgical biopsy of the 10 cm tumor. The surgery was complicated by one instance of post operative nausea and faintness occurring briefly about 2 hours after the operation, and two weeks later an abdominal muscle strain near the 10 cm scar damaged a nerve to the colon. The biopsy revealed that the lump was a Non-Hodgin's lymphoma tumor and that the lymphoma had mutated to high grade and required more chemotherapy. The 7 inch scar healed within 2 weeks and was strong within a month.

I started DHAP chemotherapy and had 2 doses at 3 week intervals. This was complicated by 2-3 weeks of severe retching and vomiting which was worse with the second dose.

The 10 cm tumour which had been partially removed by surgery had been completely destroyed by the 2 doses of DHAP chemotherapy and was no longer evident on a CAT scan.

After recovering from the DHAP chemotherapy I started a stem cell transplant. This was complicated by various common problems and 2 weeks of not being able to eat, and 2 months of distressing nausea and vomiting. (I was advised to rewrite my will before undergoing this treatment because there was a 10% death rate).

Within three months of receiving the stem cell transplant I was able to recognise that the worst of it was behind me but I still had a poor appetite and a distaste for food and had to force myself to eat, and was only eating a select range of foods. I also had several blood tests, a CAT scan, a bone marrow biopsy, and a PET scan which all indicated that there was no evidence of cancer remaining, and I was advised that I was in complete remission.

Since first being diagnosed with lymphoma 9 years earlier I had at least 6 bone marrow biopsies where a small hole was punched in the back of my right hip bone and then a syringe was inserted to extract a sample of marrow to test for the presence of cancer cells. These procedures were conducted under a light anaesthetic. On most occasions I went to sleep and had no recollection of any pain, and the only after effect was a slightly tender hip for about 4 days. However on this occasion I could vaguely recall two instances of pain which occurred during the procedure but which was not distressing, however my hip was tender afterwards. On the third and fourth day after, I had to stand for 3 hours each day. This made my hip very tender, and each time I lifted my right foot I would feel a dull twinging pain in my right hip which caused me to walk with a limp. I was forced to rest about two weeks later, and was not able to walk normally until 5 weeks after the procedure.

My chronic high blood pressure had gradually reduced over a period of several years. Specialists advised me that this sometimes occurred because of the effects of chemotherapy, and medication was discontinued while I was in hospital recovering from the stem cell transplant. (I had been on anti-hypertensive medication for about 8 years).

After recovering from the chemotherapy I was advised that there was a new experimental treatment called Mab Thera which could potentially increase the likelihood and duration of remission or cure. This consisted of an antibody which had been engineered to locate and attach itself to mature lymphoma cells so that the immune system could recognise and destroy them. I was also informed of possible side-effects which included fevers, headaches, low blood pressure, faintness, and fatal allergic reactions, but that such effects were rare and unlikely to affect a person such as myself who had few or no lymphoma cells left. I therefore agreed to start the treatment which involved a three hour infusion of Mab Thera fluid into a vein in my arm, which was given once a week for four weeks. There were no significant side-effects.

A few weeks after recovering from the worst effects of the chemotherapy I started to notice an occasional strange soreness at the top of my throat which was quite different from the soreness which accompanies a cold. I also noticed occasions when food felt as if it was getting briefly stuck in my throat and a feeling as if it was returning up causing part of the throat to turn itself inside-out. However I soon concluded that this was probably due to several months of vomiting and several weeks of violent retching which had strained my esophagus and left it slightly stretched.

 

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 About The Author: Events in my Life


The course of my life has been so frequently interupted by health problems that it would be difficult to discuss it without making some brief reference to the influence of the significant ailments.
By the time I was 12 years old I had already had a dozen operations and had spent several months in hospital to treat hepatitis when I was 6.
As a teenager I played sports of various types every day of the week and injured my knee cartilage probably as the result of gymnastics or lacrosse. This required surgery which resulted in complications that crippled me for about 9 months after which time I returned to gymnastics.
I completed high school and was granted a partial scholarship by Laubman and Pank to cover the cost of books and university fees associated with an optometry degree at Melbourne University but declined it. I was later offered a part time scholarship by the National Fitness Council, and a fully salaried scholarship by the State Government Department of Community Welfare to do a certificate course in Group Psychology at the South Australian Institute Of Technology. I rejected both of those in favour of a part time scholarship to do the same course of study as part of my employment with the PMG Department where I worked as a clerk. During the fourth year of this course the head lecturer, Irene Holloway, invited me into her office and described me as the most creative student that she had ever met and added that my ideas could one day change the way people thought about the world if only I could write and present my ideas like other students. Another lecturer asked permission to use one of my many social theories in his research paper.
During my early 20's I was head instructor of the Clarence Gardens Gymnastics Club for five years. I also choreographed and managed a unicycle cabaret act called The Spokesmen which performed at social and sporting clubs and at the Adelaide Festival Theatre in a Phil Mayer and Channel 10 production called "Variety Rides Again". The Four Kinsmen and Dennis Walter were in the same show. The group also performed at the opening of the Adelaide Festival Amphitheatre which was compered by Bob Francis and included performers such as John Farnham, Julie Anthony and Bev Harrell.
Also during these years I injured my abdomen in the gym. This was a minor ripping sensation in my upper abdomen which appeared to be of no consequence but a few months later I started to get annoying abdominal pain in the same part of my upper abdomen whenever I leaned forward toward my desk at work. My doctor told me that there was no x-ray or other evidence of injury or disease so I continued to work despite the pain but it gradually became worse and worse and more difficult to tolerate and eventually It persisted sometimes after work and interferred with my sleep. I developed extreme insomnia, medically prescribed barbiturate addiction, and severe exhaustion at a time when doctors were unable to understand or treat the problem so I had to abandon all activities and leave work without the benefit of medical support or compensation, and I had to forfeit my superannuation entitlements on the advice that my problems were temporary and would not have a significant influence on my life and recovery was expected.
I initially tried to treat the exhaustion by resting for many months and then started a fitness programme at The South Australian Institute For Fitness Research and Training but after about a year, and after establishing that I had a measurable aerobic impairment which was chronic, I injured my knee again. This was misdiagnosed so I was a cripple for about 18 months until a cartilage injury was detected and then I spent another 18 months crippled by 2 cartilage operations and the complications which followed.
I then attempted several jobs as a commission salesman but after about 6 or 9 months I developed severe fatigue again and had to stop for several months each time to recover. I also worked as a self-employed window cleaner but when I leaned forward to clean low windows I would feel dizzy and faint, and when I stretched upwards or sideways to clean windows I would get abdominal pain, and if I worked in cold breezes my ears and throat would become sore and this would be followed by a persistent cold, and the cold breeze on my back would cause my kidneys to ache and the longer I worked in the cold the more persistent the ache became.
During this period I began reading medical books and five years later wrote an essay called The Posture Theory which attributed severe fatigue to postural pressure on the chest cavity which impaired and altered the circulation of blood throughout the body. The abdominal pain was attributed to postural pressure on the abdomen, and the tenderness of my ears and throat were related to postural strain on my neck and the kidney ache was related to postural pressure on my lower back.
Soon after this the head of the Fitness Research Institute invited me to become a volunteer research coordinator and design a fitness programme for people with persistent fatigue and assess their aerobic capacity and the effects of exercise.
After running a programme for 6 volunteers and then another for 20 and then a third for 80 I had established that some people with persistent fatigue had a permanent impairment to their aerobic capacity which would not return to normal levels despite long term participation in an exercise programme, but then with a request to increase the study to 200 people, I declined because some of my health problems were becoming unmanageable as the workload increased.
I then attempted to gain employment which would not aggravate my health problems so I practiced as a stand up comedian and a juggler in an amateur entertaining troup but this was not viable so I abandoned it. I then published a one-word-a-day calendar which in its third year was accepted by an organisation called Rostrum as its official Australian Bicentennial project and was distributed to public speaking clubs throughout Australia and New Zealand. This also caused health problems so I decided to try to earn some money in a manner that would not be dependent on my health and subseqently invented a board game called Kangaroo Checkers to see if I could gain a reliable income from royalties. I sold it throughtout South Australia and Victoria for three years and just as I was about to discard it the game was accepted by a New Zealand manufacturer under royalty arrangements and distributed under the name of Criss Cross Checkers throughout New Zealand. I then decided to try selling it under the name of Zaparoo when a blood test and a cat scan revealed that my blood and my body were riddled with cancer.
A cancer specialist told me that I had Non Hodgkins lymphoma which was incurable and that I had two months to live and that I should go home and finalise my financial affairs (i.e. rewrite my will).
I decided that I would probably not live long enough to cure the cancer so I did not even start the attempt, and it was unlikely that I would ever live long enough to benefit from commercial success so I decided to write a book about posture and health and impart some of the knowledge that I had acquired over the past years. After staying alive I added about 150 pages per year until the 11th edition of the book contained more than 1000 pages, I then published a smaller book on the health of Robert Louis Stevenson.
During this 10 year period I was told three times that I would probably be dead within a matter of months, and was told to rewrite my will three times, and had three types of surgery to remove tumours which were all found to be cancerous. Some tumours were causing a build up of fluid in my chest and interfering with my breathing and another large one was blocking and damaging my left kidney, and I had three types of chemotherapy where twice it was recommended with some urgency. I also had a stem cell transplant. For two separate periods of six months I was nauseous because of chemo, and I spent another five weeks fasting in a failed attempt to cure the cancer. I completed the ninth edition of The Posture Theory while recovering from the first bout of chemo. Also early in this 10 year period while I was recovering from an operation I was was told that I had incurred complications which included a strained and enlarged heart and high blood pressure, and a few years later I developed disabling angina. A heart specialist then told me that if I did not have urgent coronary bipass surgery I could be dead within two weeks, but I declined the operation in favor of becoming a vegetarian to clean out the fat which was partially blocking my coronary arteries. I lost 15 kilograms in weight in three months and recovered from the angina within six months and was back to normal activity within 18 months.
Recently I have been told that I no longer have high blood pressure, that my heart is normal, and that my cancer is in remission, however the process of publishing the book has damaged my health so I have ceased that project and have re-evaluated my future prospects which appear to be long term.

M.A. Banfield

Correspondence On Posture

To the author of The Posture Theory: Dear Sir,

As soon as I sit in a chair and try to maintain correct posture I become fatigued. I use willpower all day to get through this and sometimes when I go home, I go to sleep for a while, otherwise I do not, but I still get a second wind just doing various other tasks. I also find it a struggle to get up in the morning.
I have a normal tendency to want to slump in the chair, yet over this past year, I do not let myself do this, because I figure that I need to strengthen my spinal muscles etc. and I do not want to make the problem worse.
I have the typical symptoms which you describe and so I have no doubt that your theories are correct. There is however one difference with me, insofar as I have a barrel chest and not a flat chest. Yet I do have a forward curvature of my upper spine, forward arching of my lower back, mild sideways curvature of the spine, and my head is inclined forwards. I hold myself as erect as possible, just as a matter of principal, and for looks I guess, so it is not usually noticeable. If I let myself relax completely, it would be quite obvious.
Although I do find your theory interesting, I am more focused on improving my quality of life - as you could imagine. So I figure that if I was to correct all the imbalances as best as you can, that there must be some degree, maybe not all, that your body can heal itself. I do think this is limited, particularly when the problems began in years of growth as a teenager, but any edge I can get, I will try.
The solution I see is the following:
- Strengthen weak muscles, such as back muscles - via resistance training.
- Loosen/stretch tight muscles, such as pectorals.
- Try to maintain the correct posture in all areas of body (i.e. chest out, shoulders back, head level and back with the chin tucked in, abdomen held tight, and extend the whole body) - Also, avoid activities that cause postural problems (although it can be hard for people to move away from desk jobs etc - at least avoid those situations as much as possible!)
I figure that even if I do not get the health/fatigue resolved, at least I will feel better about myself!
What are your goals? And how are you going in achieving those goals? (in anything really) Depending on what you are trying to achieve, I may have some insight, small or large that I could share.
Please let me know your thoughts on the above.
Best wishes
Correspondent: (Anonymous)

Reply to Correspondent

To the correspondent: Thank you for your enquiry.

In your case trying to force your posture upright may be fatiguing you. Try reading about the Alexander Technique. This chiefly involves raising your head to straighten your spine while your spinal muscles are relaxed, and try to balance your posture rather than using muscular effort to hold your spine upright. Some people report that this method is useful to them, especially in relieving neck and back pain, but also in relieving fatigue, breathing problems, and indigestion. Your spinal curvature may be responsible for some of your symptoms (which you have not specified except for the fatigue) but your barrel shaped chest may act somewhat to protect your chest and abdomen from some of the chest and abdominal symptoms which I describe. I agree with you in relation to the fact that the shape of the spine and the ailments which result are set in place by the time a person reaches adulthood and cannot all be cured simply by sitting correctly. Nevertheless some can be cured by this method and others can be relieved and much better managed, and they can be prevented from getting worse. (I once described how a man who has been run over by a bus cannot be cured of his injuries by laying on the road and doing nothing, but he will live longer if he rolls out of the way of the next Mack Truck). You will therefore feel better about yourself if you have realistic expectations about your attempts at curing your symptoms.
I personally avoid postural situations that give a tendency to slouching, such as sitting at a desk and leaning forward to write with a pen, so I generally stand at a computer and type using the keyboard, and although this causes some problems they are fewer in number and less severe. Nevertheless I still restrict my time at the computer and have frequent breaks for alternative activities, so as you will appreciate, my one website provides many short definitions and articles, and exploits economies of scale by communicating my ideas to thousands of people, and I keep emails to individuals brief. I therefore hope that this particular email is helpful and suggest that if you want more information you can navigate through my website which has taken 10 years to compile and is the result of 30 years of experience and study. M.B.

 

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