I think I have an illness that many doctors don’t believe exists.
‘Andrew’ will remain anonymous.
I have known him for over ten years; he is a real person.
Acute Mercury poisoning involves exposure to a large amount of Mercury over a short time period: people get very ill very quickly. No-one disputes that, but with chronic poisoning there would be exposure to low levels for a long time and this is highly controversial.
I am an engineer. I am a man of science. I like to think I’m objective. What’s actually needed is for someone to fund good, clear studies into this, before anyone can really be sure. Strangely, these are hard to find.
The two most common sources of apparent Mercury exposure are amalgam dental fillings and vaccine preservatives. I do not want to fuel the anti-vaccination movement, especially as vaccination against diseases such as Covid-19 is essential. They’re also short-term; into your body and leave it again, so I don’t see how even the Mercury ones could cause a problem. When it’s my turn, I’ll be having whichever Covid vaccine is offered to me.
My filling went in in 1990 when I was ten. It was just an ordinary little dental filling in one of my teeth. I started getting tired; couldn’t concentrate in school. I started getting more bugs than I would have done otherwise. My mouth would salivate a lot for no apparent reason: a lot more so than ordinary people’s. Nobody even linked it with the filling at the time. Over the following 10 to 15 years, other symptoms developed, including chronic fatigue, food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux.
Eventually at Easter, 2009, in the space of about three weeks, I became so ill that I couldn’t work. I went to see my GP, who did many tests. Her eventual response was “I can’t find anything wrong; what do you want to do now?”
She didn’t mean how should we find out what was wrong. Her inference was that I wished to avoid work, and that she’d write me a sick note. Quite the opposite was true – I wanted to earn myself a living, but with crippling fatigue I was certainly not up to doing that.
There was a distinct metallic taste in my mouth, and was strongest around the tooth with the filling. I’d been told this taste was completely normal. Eventually, I had a chance conversation with someone in a health-food shop who mentioned dental amalgam.
At this point I was very ill and was coming to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to have a very long life. I was spending most of the day asleep. It felt horrible. With what little energy I had, I made some phone calls and eventually spoke to a dental surgeon in London with a worldwide reputation. The dentist’s words to me were: “Get the Mercury out of your mouth. Whether it’s me you go to or someone else – get it out.”
This is, he said, technically difficult to do safely. Lots of dentists will drill out a filling, but if they use a normal high speed drill, he said it would vaporise Mercury, causing the patient to inhale the vapour. In the end, I travelled to London.
The filling was removed in January 2010. There was snow all over the place, so I stayed in London with my parents overnight. The surgeon couldn’t get into work, but fortunately I had the surgery the day I was due to go home.
I’m fortunate that my parents had enough money to pay because it was private. To be fair, the surgeon didn’t rip me off. It was London, so considering the buildings he had to rent, it wasn’t expensive. But it was stressful: the trips to London were an ordeal given how tired I was feeling.
The first visit was an investigative visit. He said, ‘I am a dental surgeon, not a doctor. I can remove the Mercury from your mouth and replace it with a high quality non-metallic filling, but I can’t remove Mercury from other parts of your body. You are unlikely to feel much better after I have finished.”
Two weeks later I went back. Same room, same man. But this time there was an air of emergency. There was ion-scavenging machine, constantly removing any Mercury from the air. They put impregnated patches over my eyes and gave me a separate oxygen supply so that I wouldn’t breathe in any vapour. The surgeon and his assistant put gas-masks on like you see on people in a war zone. They used a rubber dam to protect my airway, which they fitted before starting work.
The surgeon’s words to me were: ‘We’re going to do this because we know you’re not going to get better if we don’t. But we don’t want to do this because it’s deadly.’ The drill didn’t sound like a high pitched squealing noise. It was a ratchetty, low speed sound, from a drill designed specifically to minimise the amount of Mercury being vapourised.
They removed the filling and put the bits in a protective box marked “Toxic Waste”, with the official symbol. After that, the tension in the room was notably less, as it is comparatively straight-forward to put in an ordinary filling. The whole thing took three quarters of an hour. Afterwards, the dentist said ‘You do need to find someone who knows how to remove Mercury from the rest of your body.’
I’m an engineer: I read about things before I make decisions. I wanted someone who had studied pharmacokinetics and could tell me exactly how Mercury might affect the body.
For a while I went to see a private doctor. Again in London. She did many, many tests. The most prominent ones were anti-body tests, looking for anti-bodies to several Mercury compounds. She found anti-bodies to a whole load of organic toxic materials as well, much higher levels than you’d expect from an ordinary person because my liver wasn’t working to get rid of them. I saw her for a while for chelation therapy, but I wasn’t happy with what she was asking me to take. I wanted to know how she had arrived at this treatment and how she’d worked out what the dosage was, but she couldn’t tell me. Eventually I found a man in America who had written two books about it. Finally, there was all the mathematics I wanted.
I had a hair-test. That might sound a bit weird, but a properly done hair test with correct interpretation is supposed to be one of the best ways to diagnose Mercury poisoning.
You send a sample of hair off for analysis. If you’re very, very poisoned, Mercury is found directly, but this is not always the case. They’re looking for relative amounts of other elements and something called mineral transport derangement. You don’t always get this, but if poisoning becomes very bad, you do. Apparently, I had mineral transport derangement, and I was told that Mercury is the only thing on the planet which can cause that pattern.
Apparently, the supply of Mercury coming out of the filling is like a tap. After you switch off the tap, you go through a processes lasting 2-3 years where the levels in your blood start to fall, but then the levels go up again because the organs start to dump Mercury back into your blood. This “dumping” phase was – how can I say it? – awful. Then after about two years the concentration in your blood starts to go down and remains low. Treatment involves taking pills, but these have to be taken at frequent intervals to minimise the damage caused by mobilised Mercury.
Some symptoms disappeared and never came back. I haven’t had a problem with acid reflux since the filling was removed. I’d been hospitalised while at University for an endoscopy before that, in a lot of pain.
Getting a proper job again was a nightmare that lasted two years. I had temporary delivery jobs but nothing which paid very well. Agencies would call me but then lose interest when they realised I hadn’t worked for so long. I wrote to many companies but was met with brick wall after brick wall. I modified my CV to emphasise that I was top of my year when I graduated from university, but that only made things worse. Apparently, people who are good academically might be no good in the real world…
That’s rubbish; indeed now I do a pretty hi-tech job as an electronic engineer, working on a high altitude unmanned electric air-craft. I also started driving my car again so I could get out walking. I would go church bell ringing but I guess that’s one of the quickest ways to spread the Corona virus. In fact, most of my social-life has stopped now which makes life unpleasant, but that is down to Covid-19 and nothing to do with possible Mercury.
I do get tired a lot and I can’t just go out and eat because I still have some food intolerances. The fatigue symptom still persists, although to a much lesser extent. I have bowel problems so if I want to sleep away overnight, there have to be proper toilet facilities. When I go camping with my friends, I find accommodation elsewhere. My main worry is that people will see me differently but I don’t want that. Sure, so I know I’m different because I’m a quirky engineer. But I don’t want to be seen differently because of my illness.
It’s still very frustrating that a lot of medics don’t recognise what has happened to me. I wish they’d do better research and understand it, but the legal implications (of laying blame) prevent most of them from even wanting to talk about Mercury. No one has ever offered an alternative explanation.