Last night was the final episode of the first series of ‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’, on BBC 1. In this concluding part of the program Dr Chris van Tulleken carries on with his aim to try to get patients off drugs. His first patient of the night is chronic “back pain” sufferer ‘Crystal’ who is on a gambit of drugs for her pain. He first takes her to see a Physiotherapist who soon realises that Crystal would need to stay on her medication for quite some time while he treated her. Dr Chris Van Tulleken then comes up with the idea of her meeting a ‘Kung Fu’ expert to try and slowly get her body moving and at the same time start reducing her medication.
You could see how much pain Crystal was in and to my utter amazement after a few months doing ‘Kung Fu’ she could move amazingly well and she was in a lot less pain. It was worth watching the program last night just to see how Crystal improved.
Last week he had another patient who had been on anti-depressants for years and whom he suggested a ‘cold water swim’ to help with this problem. On last night’s episode she was doing well until she went for a swim in a lake on her own where she endured a panic attack and thought she was going to drown. Dr Chris van Tulleken said what she needed was a swimming partner, and a swimming partner she got, which seemed to work the trick for her. Another tick in the box for Tulleken but possibly something that would be hard to sustain with patients at a Doctors surgery with no cold water lake nearby to swim in.
Dr Chris van Tulleken also completed a questionnaire used to assess whether patients have depression. According to his results he said, ” I have moderate depression. I’ll tell you, I do not have moderate depression!” before pointing out that the questionnaire is available on the NHS website !!!!
His last group of patients were people who were taking drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack’s or stroke’s. He soon comes up with what he believes to be a more sensible alternative ‘walking’. The group he puts together are not impressed but they agree to take part. The results are amazing and even the other Doctors in the practice were shocked but I guess the big question is ‘will half an hour’s walk 5 days a week’, persuade them to keep off the pills?
I found the program totally fascinating and hope a second series will come along to see if Dr Chris van Tulleken has made more progress with his quest to get people off drugs. It’s obvious from the two-part series that many, many people (including me) are on a mixture of drugs to help with a mixture of medical conditions but certainly some of his ideas do work. Whether his new type of treatments can be given to patients I guess will as always boil down to NHS funding and experts in those fields.