Testimonials & Tributes
UPdate Fall 1994
has been allocated for people wishing to give their story of how the clinic
has helped their or their family members’ health. For most, it has
been a long roller-coaster ride to finally getting proper diagnosis and
years ago, my allergist stated, “I think there is only one doctor to help
you, I am sending you to Dr. Ross’s Environmental Clinic”.
I had been adding to the list of chronic untreatable diseases that had
been diagnosed, and at this point the number was hovering around twelve.
Although it was believed that I must have one illness that was contributing
to all the others, this factor remained elusive. I was quite used
to being ill, as I had been ill ever since the milinary T.B. I had contracted
at age 14. This tuberculoma in my brain had become a T.B. meningitis
leaving me a shadow of the former strong child who used to ride horses
and raft down the local river. Battling fatigue, chronic illness
and memory problems, I have managed to finish university, marry and have
a family, as well as develop a professional music business...but I have
never managed to be well.
at the Clinic, many of my chronic problems have disappeared or have been
alleviated. I am no longer taking constant antibiotics, anti-fungicides,
asthma medicine and ulcer medicine. No longer am I wasting precious
hours at physiotherapy (I heal now!). Would I want to be where I
was before going to the clinic? NEVER - I don’t think I or medicare
could afford it.
This is a
tribute to Dr. Ross and the Clinic, and my view of the early clinic days
when it was a veritable “M.A.S.H. unit”.
in the office trying to do I.V.’s and train a new secretary each clinic,
since RJF could never send the same one twice - what a headache!
The halls were lined with stretchers and cots which people brought themselves
because there weren’t enough stretchers to go around. Same for I.V.
poles - they were hung from coat trees and water pipes.
one testing nurse, Betty, and the office doubled as the I.V. room, hence
the halls had to be used. We shared the wing with male nursing students
who had huge girlie pictures fastened to their doors - so we were “entertained”
as we walked, shuffled, or wheeled our way past to the clinic.
Amid all of
this, wonderful things were happening. People were being helped for
the first time and in a new way. It was frustrating and it was exciting.
Betty, Isabella and a handful of experienced volunteers, who were patients
themselves, helped us with patience, caring, and of course knowledge and
VERY long hours of work. “Dr. Ross’s Flying Medicine Show”, we joked.
Patients formed lasting friendships as they shared ideas, hope, despair,
wins and losses.
We were joined
together by the struggle to regain our health and to hang on to the clinic
in the face of so much opposition. The halls and testing rooms were
like an informal support group which changed as the people came and went.
of “discomfort” (the medical euphemism for pain), I observed and shared
what I could from my constant horizontal position on the cot in the office
and later a cot in the hall.
As I see it,
the “rain” days of the clinic began to change after Ardyth took over the
office. She relieved Isabella of the impossible task of doing two
jobs, she organized procedures and volunteers, and got us more rooms as
the clinic expanded. She added much needed continuity and much more.
won, for us all, battle after battle, small victories amid the defeats.
Nothing came easily. Small victories like getting MSI to pay for
the VG lab to collect and mail the RBC Blood tests; the beginning of the
Camp Hill I.V. program and Home I.V. programs. “No one gets I.V.’s
at home in Nova Scotia, not even cancer patients, and you can’t either.”
of the clinic itself and its continuation beyond the original 2-year pilot
program was hard won. And now, we are to have a full time clinic
under Dr. Fox. I say congratulations to all of those people, mostly
sick people, who used what energy they had to struggle to carry the clinic
this far. We must never take it for granted. Thank you, and
thank you Dr. Ross and Betty. We will miss you.
of 1990, other AEHA members told me that the “Clinic” was in operation
with Dr. Ross coming from Texas every few weeks. Since I was very
keen to have this type of allergy testing and antigen therapy, I put my
name on the waiting list.
In June of
1991, I had my first visit to Dr. Ross. The next “Clinic” was in
August and I went in for my first round of testing which was a really interesting
experience. When the tester, Jeannie, gave me the little doses of
various allergens, she induced all kinds of symptoms. This allowed
me to realize which foods or inhalants were causing my various symptoms.
This was extremely helpful because you need to be a detective to solve
the mysteries of Environmental Illness. I would advise anyone who
has this testing to write down the various symptoms and their causes during
the testing. It is easy to forget after so many different tests and
this information is really helpful.
is the final phase of this process. After several sessions of testing,
I had tested many foods and inhalants. I was then able to combine
all the foods into one large shot and all the inhalants into one large
shot. I learned to give myself these shots just like a diabetic does.
My family doctor was quite helpful and he gave me the first few just in
case I had a reaction to the new combined serums. Then he watched
me give myself one of each kind. I continued to have one shot of
each type every four days. For example, foods on Sun. and inhalants
on Tues., then foods on Thur. and inhalants on Sat. so that was one needle
every two days. I continued this process for about a year and then
I started decreasing the frequency to once a week and then once every two
weeks. This phase out period lasted a few months and then I stopped
taking the antigens.
of the antigen therapy was quite satisfactory for me. In the spring
of 1992, I felt great and had almost no symptoms of hay fever, headaches,
etc. whereas in 1991 when I had first seen Dr. Ross I was in a state of
constant pain from sinus headaches. My food reactions were much less
severe and I was able to tolerate many foods on a rotation diet.
Since I have finished the antigens, I have found the histamine shots quite
helpful during allergy season. I find a maintenance does of one shot
in the morning is quite effective but if I start having headaches and food
reactions than I start having a second shot at bedtime.
situation was not severe compared to most of the patients seen at the “Clinic”.
I was still able to teach school half-time when I began my treatment.
In January of 1992, I began to represent an educational publishing company
as a sales representative for the Atlantic Provinces. This job was
part time (3 or 4 days a week) and involved traveling in the Atlantic Provinces.
Sometimes it required working 12 hours in one day which I found tiring
but I was able to cope quite well. In January of 1994 I began my
own business representing several companies which is essentially a full
time job with many long days although there is some flexibility because
I am my own boss. Since I am now capable of working full time and
I am hardly ever sick, I feel that my health is much better. Even
though I don’t always feel as well as I’d like, I think that because I
take good care of myself I am healthier than the normal people who always
seem to have colds and flus.
difficult to know where to begin the tale of our family’s road to good
health. It is like trying to explain where the water of a mighty
river comes from: that tributary and those other tributaries as well,
each fed by those streams built from countless trickles, some constant,
some only seasonal. The river is our health and well-being which
we want to keep unpolluted; a major tributary is the diagnosis, treatment,
wisdom, education, and encouragement we have received over the years of
our association with Dr. Ross and the Environmental Medicine Clinic at
the Victoria General Hospital.
both of whom were ill enough to be experiencing severe impediment to the
everyday business of being children, growing, thinking, learning, playing,
due to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (Environmental Illness) were fortunate
to be among the first of the Clinic’s and Dr. Ross’ patients. Now,
four years later they are well, happy, healthy, and fully engaged in the
business of getting on with their lives, their education and plans for
active, interesting, productive futures. School attendance has gone
from irregular, spotty, and interrupted to regular and productive.
One is finishing university with the highest standing, eagerly preparing
for graduate studies. The other has progressed from severe learning
disabilities and being unable to attend school for a year and a half following
at best spotty, uncomfortable and unhappy attendance in prior years, to
re-entry at grade-level, excellent progress and ‘disappearance’ of those
once-severe learning disabilities to the point that no one now would even
suspect their former existence. Seldom do either miss time from school
or other activities due to illness, and what symptoms they do experience
occasionally they seem to be able to handle quickly and with minimal disruption
to their busy schedules. Life for us now is a variation of ‘normal’,
whatever that means in this confusing period of the late twentieth century.
I, too, have
benefited from the Clinic, even though after more than three years on the
waiting list I have yet to be seen there because there have been so many
more acutely ill than I (whom I would never want to displace). Clean
air, clean food, clean water and good light; attention to the environment
in the widest sense of its meaning, diet based on rotation of organically
grown foods, supplements, recognition and honoring of myself as a spiritual
being; these have been the elements, many of which I have learned to apply
to myself by generalizing from diagnosis and treatment of family members
at the Clinic which have brought me the improved health I now enjoy.
Perennial allergic rhinitis, sinus infections, headaches, foggy brain,
insomnia, etc., are no longer a way of life for me. The occasional
sore throats I get, I take as warnings that all is not well and as challenges
to overcome without succumbing to illness. For the most part I am
successful and this is empowering because it shows me over and over again
that in good measure I am and can be in charge of my health.
Lest I paint
a picture too rosy, however, as I write now I feel that puffiness around
my eyes, the flushing of my face and ears, look down at my red hands and
fingers and the normally loose ring which is now so tight I have difficulty
removing it, and am reminded that I don’t yet have all of the answers I
need. But I also know that beyond a doubt, without the expert care
for my children from Dr. Ross and staff of the Environmental Medicine Clinic,
I would not have all of the tools I now have to affect and control my own
well-being. I feel very lucky to have had this spin-off and realize
whenever I encounter another environmentally ill person who has not had
at least this opportunity just how fortunate I have been.
of a full-time Environmental Medicine Clinic in Nova Scotia with Dr. Roy
Fox as Interim Director, is a momentous occasion and a tribute to the efforts
of the many people who have fought over the past 15 years and more to bring
awareness of and education about environmental illness/multiple chemical
sensitivity to the forefront. We are told that further research into
the diagnosis and treatment of multiple chemical sensitivity will be an
important part of the clinic: I hope that this research will build
upon the solid research of the Dallas Clinic and others, will lead to added
modalities of diagnosis and treatment including homeopathy, acupuncture,
electro-acupuncture, herbal and Chinese medicine and others. I look
forward to the day the province realizes that expenditures to fund the
Clinic both for patient care and research will be cost-effective ways to
spend the health-care budget and that ultimately we will have education
that brings wide-spread understanding of how to prevent environmental illness
before it starts. In the meantime, we need a strong, active, well-funded
and supported Clinic that will help us to rebuild the health that should
be the birthright of us all. I look forward to the day that Dr. Gerald
Ross who has already given us so much will be part of the full-time staff
of this Clinic.
I was asked
to provide a testimonial for the clinic, what can I say but that it saved
When I first experienced
Environmental Medicine I had no idea what it was. I was lucky enough
to have met Dr. Marie at the Infectious Disease Clinic at the Victoria
General Hospital. I had braced myself for yet another specialist
who would give me strange looks over my copious list of complaints, shake
his head and acknowledge that he had no idea what was wrong with me.
This time I was wrong, the doctor diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I had seen probably every specialist my doctor could think of and after
each visit I would brace myself and yet find I would cry for hours on end
because I had hoped someone could help me.
Syndrome, what a cop out!!! At least the other doctors had given
me the dignity of saying that they knew I was sick, but they just didn’t
know what it was. Dr. Marie had given me a diagnosis of a disease
that wasn’t real and didn’t have a cure. Did I mention that this
was the summer of 1989?
the good doctor mentioned that there was a new clinic called the Environmental
Medicine Clinic and maybe I should be referred there. Why not?
I had been everywhere else, so I asked my doctor for a referral.
I had no idea what I was in for...
I walked down the
hall and was immediately reminded of a TV show called M*A*S*H. There
were people lying in the hallway on stretchers receiving I.V. treatments,
and a strange group of people in a small room running to a white-haired
lady with a funny accent saying (with a rolled-up sleeve), “This time I’d
like to try moulds (etc.)”. “Good drugs here”, I thought to myself.
BOY, WAS I WRONG!
with Dr. Ross was like none I had before. He took copious notes and
didn’t raise an eyebrow when he was told I had no feeling in the first
three fingers of both hands and both big toes. At the time, I weighed
82 pounds (and I have pictures to prove it).
Dr. Ross gave
me a large list of things to do and take, and a list of blood tests that
I thought would keep any vampire satisfied for a month, and told me to
come back again next time for “tests”.
only one store in the area at this time that supplied these supplements
and there I found a good friend in Roger. He helped me select a huge
number of vitamins. If I forgot to mention my former life had been
as a chemist in the Pathology Lab at the V.G. Hospital. I had spent
my whole life loving and believing in better life through Chemistry.
Even now, I don’t think I have met anyone who suffered as much culture
shock as myself. I had five or six different cleaners for the bathroom,
not counting what I put IN the bathtub.
I must thank Dr. Beresford whom I never met, but who was kind enough to
subject her receptionist to booking appointments at the first clinics,
and all former and perhaps current members of the AEHA, many of whom I’ve
spoken to but never met who were so important in bringing this temporary
clinic to the Maritimes to save my life, and more recent members who lobbied
to make this clinic a permanent fixture (YEAH!!!).
of you who weren’t there, we’ve come a long way from a single testing nurse,
a part-time/on-loan receptionist, and a rent-a-nurse for I.V.’s.
My fondest wish is that the most understanding compassionate man I have
ever met (next to my husband), will continue to share his talent and his
wisdom with those who may come after me. Thank you Dr. Ross!!