Saturday, April 18, 2020

We are Back

We are back, and completed 2 weeks of self isolation and even got tested for COVID-19!

As you may have noticed we left just prior to the COVID-19 emergency and returned in the midst of a world shut down. This did not make it easy for us to visit medical facilities and talk to people, however, we have some footage to show you and and have found out some remarkable information. I did not go to Europe to seek Phage Therapy treatment. But I was hoping to maybe get an offer, but that did not happen. But many people will benefit from what Cindy and I have found out. We had hoped to make a documentary, but we still have too little funding for a professional exercise, though we have enough good material to open up many eyes. I need to work on my video editing skills now and I say WATCH THIS SPACE (for a video in a few months). There is a full trip review coming up, but for now my conclusion is that;

Phage Therapy of the kind 

I need Individual Phage Therapy, the miracles of which we see in the media, documentaries and many credible sources, is surprisingly not what we all need right now. We need over the counter cheap phage-based medicine for general illness, for everyone. This will act as a filter to reduce doctor visits and antibiotic usage by what I conservatively believe would be a minimum of 50%. Though phage therapy on an individual level is ground-breaking and life-saving for those with hardy antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, it is not something that we can feasibly do in the near future. and we can start with using what is currently commercially manufactured and easily obtainable in some countries and allow that into Australia. Read on!

Medical tourism 

To have phage therapy for those difficult to fight antibiotic resistant infections (YES, we can treat them better than ever using bacteriophages), we would need phage libraries and phage labs. For that to happen in Australia not only do we need a legal framework in place to allow it, but we must then educate doctors, pharmacists, set up laboratories etc. This is expensive and time consuming - though significantly cheaper (and much more effective!) than developing new drugs. It is therefore unlikely that in the next decade this will become a common treatment for everyone. Even in Belgium, Poland, Georgia and Ukraine where phage therapy is allowed, the existing underfunded phage facilities only treat the most urgent cases. Or, for those who wish to just pay for it, just like any medical tourism anywhere, you can fly to Poland for phage therapy tailored to your infection for a few thousand dollars. Would you fly to Poland when you are so sick that western-based medicine is giving up on you? Probably not.

Reduce Antibiotic Overuse 

Do we want to fight antibiotic resistance now? Absolutely. What do we do when we get sick now? We go to the doctor and for anything bacterial we immediately get antibiotics prescribed. How about we go to the pharmacy first, skip the doctor and buy a medication that does not have any claims, except to say it is for prevention or treatment of various conditions, belly aches, coughs, sore throat, pain peeing, anything involving a handful of bacteria harmful to humans - the kind of bacteria you see mentioned on disinfectant or mouth gargle - and you see a doctor if the condition persists. You buy it for say $19.95 and try it. You can put the tablet under your tongue, or the solution on your skin, in your mouth, wound, apply it any way you wish, and the packaging claims it will not generally interfere with any other medications, no known side effects, no overdosing. Would you try that first? This is how phages are marketed where it is legal.

Consult a Doctor when pain persists 

What do we currently try before going to the doctor? We use painkillers and other medicine that mask the symptoms, like aspirin, Disprin, Tylenol, Paracetamol, antihistamines. But they do not stop the problem, they just help ease discomfort while your body heals naturally. All these over-the-counter potions have side effects, can be toxic, and none cure us. They all carry overdose warnings, contraindications, cannot be combined with certain medicine.

Let’s say half of us are cured with a simple over-the-counter phage medicine. Would that not free up doctors? Would that not prevent overuse of antibiotics? Yes it would. And that is how over-the-counter phage products are mainly used in countries where they are allowed to sell them. Some of these are even produced in Germany or Canada, many made in Georgia (the Eliava Institute there supplied all of the former USSR with phage medications), all are made in modern facilities, they all say much the same, with the most relevant warning being ‘do not use if solutions looks turbid’ and keep refrigerated. They come with inserts and are well documented and commonly used by millions of people already.

When can we have over-the-counter Phage medicine? 

We need to allow over-the-counter phage medicine. If you look at some of the useful links at the end of this paper, notice how Phage sprays on ready-to-eat foods doesn’t even effect their organic/biological classification in the USA, Australia and many western countries! These are the phages we are talking about for us! If they are approved for agriculture, aquaculture, food processing and packaging, even for spraying on ready to eat food in our western world why can we not have them ourselves? As soon as the TGA decides it is allowed we could be having these very important bacteriophages available at our pharmacies. Right now, we can get them mailed totally legally from overseas. They are not even on the poisons schedule. See this example

NOW I NEED TO WORK ON THE FULL REPORT AND ADD VIDEO CLIPS ETC... This is not easy for me, but working on it! Watch this space!

And YES, I have been trialing the phages O brought back and just yesterday had my lung function test and a sputum culture taken. The lung function test showed one of the highest lung function results I have seen for years, so I am super happy. Let's see what the lab says about my cultures. Obviously the phage meds were not specifically designed for my bacteria, so I do not expect eradication of anything. As with a 2 week hospitalization, the treatments that make me deaf and poison my system also don't eradicate the infection either!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Getting tested for COVID-19

Well, it's been a long time since my last update. Last I left you we were in Belgium when we decided the Coronavirus was putting an end to our bacteriophage efforts.

I was no longer coughing blood since I started taking the Ukrainian over the counter phages which had pseudomonas aeruginosa as one of their targeted bacteria.

We went to the Netherlands where we stayed with friends, and when the threat became too big we eventually booked an expensive hotel in my hometown of Noordwijk, seaside area of the Netherlands. We felt safe and secure for 3 nights and then decided to drive to the middle of Holland where there are lots of heaths and forests and we had another two nights in nature away from crowds before driving to Amsterdam for the final two nights prior to our flight home. In Amsterdam, we had a superb Hotel booked and paid for by sympathetic friends (!) where they served room service breakfast as by now cafes and restaurants had closed. Cindy and I rented bicycles and rode around a pretty empty Amsterdam, visiting many museums in quick succession - it's amazing how quickly you can ride past a museum if you don't go inside to look... Cindy managed to twist her ankle as she rushed off the road to make way for a police car with sirens. This was in front of the Torture Museum of all places.

Before our flight, we found the Amsterdam Bos and the Olympic rowing course where we walked for many kilometres in preparation for the long flight home.

Amsterdam airport, Schiphol, was very empty and the security still had to frisk me at very close & personal range not wearing a mask either. Pretty outraged I checked with his supervisor who said he was following protocol and that she would be doing the same in 15 minutes. I felt seriously at risk because he would have surely been infected in the past few days and could now be passing it on to anybody he was frisking like he frisked me. Apart from that, it wasn't too bad in Amsterdam and we got onto an empty flight to Abu Dhabi.

In Abu Dhabi, we went to a lounge to which one could pay for access and there I did my nebulising. The hundred-dollar access fee had scared most people and it was also in a disused terminal of the airport hence we felt very safe there. The $100 fee to get in included the towel for the shower a toothbrush a terrible razor and a very very limited choice of food and drinks, in fact not even a choice really - see below image. But we were safe.

The Abu Dhabi Sydney flight was jam-packed full with Australians returning, and arrived in Sydney at 6 in the morning we all got our flyer about 14-day self-isolation as we exited the plane. But clearly, self-isolation was not in effect until you actually got home. Forget about social distancing when exiting a crowded plane or going through customs it seems. Once at the domestic terminals where it was fairly quiet we faced cancelled and delayed flights as we made our way from Sydney to Melbourne to Devonport, arriving about 10 hours later. People in the queues were not keeping distance at all, staff and crew were also acting just as per normal as if there was no virus at all. Even in Devonport when a staff member asked if anybody had been overseas those half a dozen people were crowded around a small table filling in forms about their 14-day self-isolation...

Cindy and I had a car waiting for us and we drove to James Street where Ree had prepared the home for us and stocked it full of food. Ree had arranged with friends to stay at a beach house far away for the next 14 days to give Cindy and me a self-isolation place. Normally I live in a house with two or 3 others so this was great.

We arrived on Friday night and on Monday morning the mail brought me phage medicine from a Georgia contact.

Monday Cindy was also getting signs of a migraine, vomiting slight cough slight temperature and we eventually called the hotline who deemed us as not testable yet. Fortunately, within 24 hours we got a call to say that my cystic fibrosis was a deciding factor to get us tested. So on Wednesday, we drove out to the hospital with permission of the hotline.

Donning clean new clothing a fresh mask and plastic gloves and equipped with an antibacterial spray we headed outside the house. The testing clinic was pretty much empty and we were helped in a friendly and professional manner. Swabs were taken and we will be notified in a day or two they said.

In the meantime, I started taking the Georgian over the counter phage against pseudomonas aeruginosa and tonight I'm starting with an inhaled colistimethate sodium nebulizer antibiotic treatment as well. Wouldn't it be great if my lung function was better after 14 days of self-isolation with these new phage medications! The walks around the house certainly wouldn't have been enough to qualify as exercise, but it's the least I can do.

And just as an interesting note, on the flight between Sydney and Melbourne was a young family from overseas where the woman was crying in tears telling the crew to keep their distance from her. She was screaming and saying nobody is paying attention to the safe space requirements, not even the crew. The hostess was trying to offer her tea and asking her to calm down as she was screaming 'get away from me, step back'..., which the hostess was just not understanding until the husband sternly said please leave her alone. This is exactly how I felt for 12 hours, and I can assure you I am not fussy about a few inches here or there, and still regularly touch and scratch my face accidentally. If we caught the virus we caught it between Amsterdam and Devonport.

Fingers crossed we are all safe and I'll get back to you all when we get the results back.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Belgium phage impressions

Coming back from the Ukraine I managed to cough up blood at the border and again when walking back to the hotel in Krakow.

Reunited with Cindy we decided best course of action is to start this phage medicine from the Ukraine and catch the next flight to Brussels where I have Medicare reciprocal rights and can see doctors.

The security queue at Krakow was a mile long, a COVID19 smorgasbord where we tried to maintain distance between people... Well,... Anyways, we got to Brussels via Stockholm and a few hours delay, walked to our AirBnB near the airport and settled in and made an appointment with a local GP for the next day.

The GP and a pharmacist we spoke to had hardly heard about bacteriophages despite the new laws that say a GP can now refer to a pharmacist for Magistral Phage Preparations etc. Google that! Not a good sign. The doctor did give me a referral to a specialist.

Armed with the referral we caught bus to the Queen Astrid Military Hospital, the centre of bacteriophage studies in Belgium.

After a bit of a search in the hospital we found the team and a member took the time to speak to me. She made it clear that the legal  infrastructure may be in place in Belgium, as it is in Poland, but without major education campaigns for doctors (think pharmaceutical funded symposiums for doctors at the Gold Coast where they are sure to go to) and a major expansion in phage facilities and phage research not much is likely to happen. So as it is the team is poorly funded and has to choose carefully who to treat with the limited phage collection they have. This means serious and desperate cases with a good phage prognosis get priority and walking wounded like myself are not likely to get picked.

In the days following I did get a form for my doctors to complete but it was pretty clear I was not going to be eligible, especially given my location on the other side of the world. It is not a one shot treatment, phages are a program which requires monitoring and phage adjustments in most cases taking months.  I was not going to find people  like myself who were getting phage treatment as antibiotics were causing more sideeffects than benefits, people who prefered to try phages as a choice rather than desperacy. Mind you I'm pretty desperate with 38% lung function for the past X years and an infection that will not go away!

Other than that the unit was only a research unit and of course could not give treatment for my issues at hand. Nor could they refer me to or even suggest a GP in Belgium who was phage aware. She did urge me to get urgent help for my coughing blood episodes.

Fortunately the Ukraine phages worked enough to settle my  infection, even though they were not specifically for my infection, but still at least were for generic pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

Also in the mean time Italy COVID19 infections started exploding and people were getting nervous everywhere.

We decided to stop calling into medical facilities and looking for sick people. Time to head for Holland and think about going back to Australia as the flu was becoming a big news story. I emailed the airline re an earlier flight and rerouting me directly home rather than via my family in Canberra.

We went to Holland, my old country of birth. Eventually we booked into a luxury hotel in my home town as we had lost confidence in small Airbnbs and budget hotels and we are now in an expensive hotel where even here we ask them not to clean the room.

I tried to call the airline a few times but hung up after 45 minutes on hold.

We spend our time doing cold beachwalks and renting bicycles and staying out of crowds. We have a rental car and do not need to get into public transport.

In one town in Holland we ran into a shop assistant who knew about phages and had seen documentaries on it and was aware people with serious infections were just.visiting former USSR countries for treatments. We got her on tape.

Waiting for the 18th. Let's hope we don't get any flu, it is the season here ... Let's hope we get on that plane home.

The previous adventure!

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