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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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