Alex Howard Group

Karen Burns

's Story

I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue in 2005 and after a few years my health slowly improved though I was still prone to cold and flu type symptoms and sinus infections. In 2009 I moved to the UK (from New Zealand) and over the next 18 months I struggled with more frequent and long lasting colds. Although I was managing to work full time I was finding it difficult to participate in the sport and activities I loved and was feeling more worn down. When I looked through my training log and realised I had had 11 colds in the past year lasting on average two weeks (but some as long as 3-4) I knew I needed to look for further help.

My initial illness was cyclic patterns of feeling like I was recovering from severe flu lasting for 3-4 weeks then feeling relatively normal for a month or so before relapsing again. I struggled with brain fog throughout and although I worked full time I was spending the evenings and weekends resting. I felt restless and was having problems sleeping though I had no energy to do anything physical when I tried. After a while these episodes decreased in severity and frequency.

The second episode felt somewhat different and although I overall had more energy I was having constant headaches and problems sleeping, often I was feeling ‘wired but tired’ and the weeks of flu-like symptoms were draining and I was feeling anxious when I was ‘well’ waiting for the next one.

I was seen by a number of GPs and advised to (physically) rest when I was ill and try to gently increase my exercise tolerance when I was well to help build up my immune system. As I worked in a school I was able to use school holidays to rest and recover. I ate healthily and limited my sugar, salt and fat intake. I was prescribed high doses of vitamin B,C and D and saw an iridologist who identified key minerals I was deficient in. As this seemed to work over time and my symptoms were slowly decreasing I did not explore other alternatives in depth.

I had always strongly believed that my situation could be helped, I just hadn’t found the right key yet. As I work as a Physiotherapist in Special Schools the Optimum Health Clinic’s holistic approach with individually tailored support appealed immediately to me. I liked the way there were a number of different treatment options at different levels and the medical side of me appreciated the research being done and the level of detail and information that I was provided with.

I found the level of background information collected prior to my first consultation very thorough, much more so than I had experienced in the past. Over the months I never felt like I was repeating myself. I feel the detailed questions and tests Julia requested quickly identified which of my body systems were not working optimally and a comprehensive plan started optimising these areas rather than just treating the surface symptoms. I never felt I was subjected to an approach ‘in hope’ that there would be some improvement. Julia is extremely approachable; she is very knowledgeable and had a great deal of experience in the areas I was looking at. I instantly felt like I was being treated by someone who was interested, understanding and saw me as a person rather than an illness.

I like the individually tailored approach – OHC is defiantly not a ‘one answer for all’ approach. I like that a patient can choose the level of intervention and that contacts (such as phone sessions) can be fitted around a persons lifestyle and levels of heath. I admire the level of support provided from the website, ‘secrets’ and individual practitioners and the amount of work involved with this. I find the fact that many of the team have had their own personal journeys in the same area reassuring, but overall I am impressed with how dedicated the OHC team is to improving awareness, treatment and availability of this approach to the wider public. I have found my entire experience professional, compassionate and rewarding.

Within a few months of working with OHC my headaches had gone, I was sleeping easily, was waking refreshed and in the past 6 months have had only two colds lasting 4-5 days each! (c: I now spend life outside work living rather than recovering. I have been able to really concentrate in my sports without taking time out for illness and have been making great improvements in both skills and overall fitness. I have been able to plan for trips without worrying that I may be ill for them including cycling the Camino Santiago in Spain unsupported (over 800km mountain biking in 9 days).

What does the future hold? Choices. I have the freedom to choose what to focus and spend my energy on. Although my journey is ongoing, I feel heartened and excited by the changes I have already made.

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