Former Australian journalist Sarah Walls worked for 15 years in radio, television and newspapers, until she was severely injured by investigation and treatment with a myelogram and high doses of corticosteroids in 1990.
I never discovered why I had been given such toxic treatment
By SARAH WALLS
The registrar glanced down the list of symptoms that I had brought and handed it back. There was, he said, “no rational explanation” for them. The list included “a feeling of inflamed nerves” in my spine, cracking joints and tendons, marked tingling, electric jolts and constant activity in my nerves. Having entered hospital for investigation of a single symptom, I was shocked that this violent eruption of nervous activity should be dismissed so summarily. “No rational explanation” implied that if something was wrong, it was with the patient, not the treatment.
Over the next decade, as I pieced together the cause of my injury, the registrar’s comment frequently resurfaced and reinforced my determination to get to the bottom of the matter. When the puzzle fitted together in a way that challenged orthodox treatment, I witnessed how the medical, scientific and regulatory establishments respond when a new understanding of a drug’s action and of human biology emerges.