People Think I’m Against Modern Medicine. I’m not…

I spent the day at Moorfields Eye Hospital in the City on Tuesday. As a result of the uveitis I’d had since I was 3 (an associated inflammatory condition of the arthritis), I’ve had to maintain regular appointments my whole life.

From the age of 3 I was put on steroid eye drops to control the inflammation. Eventually, due to the build-up of the ingredients in those eye drops, plus the years of non-stop inflammation that we could never seem to control even when we were able to find ways to control the inflammation in the joints, it led to multiple cataracts in the same eye, eye pressure so low something could have gone very wrong (and did), and a flare meter reading so high that Moorfields had never seen the likes of before, all by the age of 18.

The inflammation in the eye was so high, that the doctors were unable to operate as it was too risky, but even the chemo drug that nearly killed me didn’t reduce it.

I lost most sight in the eye, had to make monthly visits to Moorfields, and eventually, one morning a week before my 22nd birthday, I woke up with a white film covering my eye and all vision had completely ceased.

I was rushed to the hospital and told that the operation they’d spent 4 years being too afraid to carry out, was now essential, and urgent.

We were told the operation involved risks of losing the eye, losing the sight for good and other risks. Luckily for me, none of these things happened and though they had to remove the lens (meaning my eye will always only see in the same way a camera would see without a lens – very blurred and not much other than colour and movement), the worst was over.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, yesterday’s visit was nostalgic and left me feeling all the feels. Why yesterday?

Because it marked 10 years inflammation free.

For a kid who spent much of her life in wards named after trees or rainbows as a result of the uveitis, often having to administer eye drops every 15 minutes and for many years, having to go back every 6 weeks, it still hits me like a ton of bricks that I have gone 10 years with no signs of uveitis, other than the residual scars, bruises and old ‘”cells” that will never leave. But inflammatory activity?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Each visit (yearly, now, which my mum still marvels over, even as I’m about to turn 40), a junior ophthalmologist in the world-class uveitis clinic checks my eyes with the slit lamp machine.

Each time it’s a new doctor, and each time we go through the same rigmarole. They say they’ve looked over my notes, I joke that must’ve taken them a long time, they tell me, ‘No, just the most recent ones’, I tell them that won’t tell them very much, they look in the eye, and seem concerned that they can see “cells”. I tell them, ‘Please make sure you differentiate between old, residual cells, and whether there really are new ones, because that would mean a return of the uveitis which I don’t believe is happening’. They say ‘Oh’, because they haven’t yet learnt this, and probably don’t want to learn it from me. They agree it’s old cells and that there is no active disease in the eye.

Then they ask what medication I’m on.

‘Nothing. In fact,’ I say proudly, ‘today is my 10th year inflammation free.’

With no medication?

That’s right.

They look at me dumbfounded, almost expressionless. And I proceed to tell them very briefly that I healed both the arthritis and uveitis holistically, and that the inflammation only went away in the eye when I stopped the eye drops. They never – and I mean not one of them ever has – ask more about it. They don’t want to know.

Because it goes against what they’re learning? I don’t know, maybe. Maybe that would confuse them too much. But if I was studying something (and I’ve been studying healing for 20 years now), I’d sure want to dig deeper and know more about the only person who comes into this clinic who has managed to rid herself of uveitis without pharmaceuticals when everyone else in here relies so heavily on the appointments and medications that are costing the NHS fortunes.

Now, this isn’t a dig at junior doctors – some of them are lovely – only to say that from my experience, the older, more experienced ones usually seem more open, because they’ve seen more. They understand that not everything is explainable, not everything happens by the pharmaceutically-funded textbook, that there will always be anomalies. The young ones usually haven’t experienced this yet. They will.

My consultant – the world-renowned Mr Carlos Pavesio – gets this. He was the one who took over my case at 17 when Great Ormond Street no longer knew what to do with me.

He is one of the only medical professionals I’ve ever been treated by who holds a very very sacred place in my heart. He’s the one who teaches these junior doctors about residual cells, and about how to listen to patients and their stories, and how to value their experience.

And here’s where the nostalgia, and the bit about me not being against modern medicine, comes in.

My dad used to take me to every appointment, and we’d always drive all the way into the City – even though traffic and parking are understandably a nightmare – because I’d always come out exhausted from the ordeal, with blurry eyes sensitive to light from the dilating drops, needing to just sit in a car and be driven home.

I went on my own yesterday. Sat on the train and read a book, walked from the station to Pret to get a drink and a sandwich, moseyed over to the hospital. Normal person things to do.

But you see, for so long, I wasn’t normal. I couldn’t do any of the normal person things. For so long, my dad would have to park in the disabled space outside the hospital, then either wheel me in my wheelchair, or hold my arms to help me get up the ramp, and help me get to the clinic. Going to Pret for a sandwich and a chai and managing the Underground just wasn’t even an option.

I consciously appreciate these moments of normality that others take for granted. A lot.

I checked into the clinic, hoping to see a friendly face but knowing that mostly, a new receptionist would have started, new nurses, no one there to appreciate how far I’ve come, to look at me knowing the young, broken girl I once was and be able to say, ‘Look at you now!’.

I sat in the waiting area by the doors of the clinic eating my sandwich, and looked to my right, inside the doors.

I looked directly over to the area where my dad and I were sitting when Mr Pavesio slowly removed his glasses and told us that there was nothing more he could do. That I’d probably lose all sight and he didn’t know anymore how to reduce the inflammation. My dad looked at him, exhausted from the years of escorting me to hospitals – since the time before stroller had morphed into wheelchair – knowing that this is the world’s leading uveitis specialist, and he is all out of options, and he started crying.

My once 6ft4” front line infantry soldier dad, sat sobbing his eyes out next to me in my wheelchair, and Mr Pavesio hugged him, tears in his own eyes.

I sat yesterday forcing myself to look at that very spot and play out that scene from 17 years ago.

I thought of how many hours we’d spend there each appointment, trudging from Uveitis, to Contact Lenses, to Imaging, to Pharmacy to collect the cocktail of drops, finally getting home after dark. Or the days where I didn’t go home at all. The ones where they’d keep me in to inject steroid into the eye.

And, just like my dad and Mr Pavesio 17 years earlier, my eyes welled up.

Not out of sadness, but out of immense gratitude and appreciation for where I am now, and a complete unhumble pride in how I’d done it. Holistically. No allopathic medicine involved.

But as I moved around the clinic to have my dilating drops and scans, I also marvelled over something else.

Just how far technology has come since then, and how, despite healing without it, I appreciate it nonetheless.

That might shock some, but here’s how I feel about it…

When I was growing up, the contraption they used to check the pressure in my eye was like a torture device. I grew used to it, of course, but dreaded it. Yesterday, the nurse held up this small, hand-held device, popped it on my eyeball for a second and it caught the reading instantly.

Then I went and had a scan that followed the movements of my eyes in order to be able to detect any damage to the retina, macular degeneration or other damage, all in the space of 2 minutes.


When we needed to see what my eye was doing when it was at its worst, we had the flare meter reading (always taken by an amazing lady named Felicia who has since left and who I wish I’d stayed in touch with!).

When I had to have the operation, all the tools were available to make it work, doctors and anaesthetists on hand to take care of everything, and though I may have lost the lens, I didn’t lose the eye.

A bit like when I had a rare ovarian ectopic pregnancy that ruptured and the procedure that was available was the only reason I didn’t die and leave behind two motherless children.

Or friends who had premature babies who only survived because of the technology available to keep them alive.

Or my friend’s mum whose Parkinson’s is so severe that only the medication can keep her comfortable now.

Or what can be done for burns patients, or if you break a limb.

And the medicines available to keep palliative care patients comfortable and pain-free in their final days.

So, despite what people often assume, I’m not against modern medicine.

Quite the opposite. As someone who appreciates real science, technology, innovation and healing, I’m immensely grateful for where it has got us.

What I can hold true at the very same time – having spent the past two decades studying dis-ease – are these points:

  1. The majority of the chronic conditions we end up using these clinics and medications for are avoidable in the first place with the right lifestyle and education, and that’s the bit that isn’t so easy to master.
  2. In most cases, doctors aren’t always equipped to do much more than provide pharmaceutical options, but our planet has provided us with so many others.
  3. The medications often interfere with the body’s natural processes in such a way that they prevent the body from healing fully, on a cellular, long-term level, defeating the object.
  4. Medications also mask what is happening underneath, often leaving secondary conditions that then make it harder to heal. (This was all too real for me growing up with arthritis and watching all the kids around me on steroids end up with stunted growth, deformed joints, hormonal issues, allergies, and in a few cases, some of them died from complications from meds.)
  5. Root causes are often overlooked yet understanding them is often the path to healing.
  6. The body can only TRULY heal (and I mean on a cellular, long-term, root cause level where it isn’t just being suppressed for a while), when the body gets as close to its natural state as possible. Chemicals cannot cure dis-ease. Suppress, sometimes, but not cure.
  7. There are other things at play within the world of pharmaceuticals that mean money is always the driving factor, not our health. The wisest people are the ones who wake up to this fact.
  8. We only heal when we start taking responsibility for our own wellbeing.


These are my truths, after a lifetime managing my health. It may feel different for you. That’s also ok.

I guess, during yesterday’s appointment, so much came up for me, knowing that for 27 years I sat in clinics like that one being given bad news, but that over the past two decades the work I put into my own healing has meant that I changed what was sure to be a certain trajectory.

And for that I’m proud.

And it deserved an article.

With love,


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