I have suffered from M.E. for the last nine years and have been through the usual rigmarole that all sufferers have to put up with in this country being told by doctors to go home and learn to live with it, as there was no treatment available here. While this may be true it is not the case elsewhere. With this in mind, myself and my husband went to meet Dr Gorter in Cologne in June for a preliminary before deciding to embark on a programme of treatment.
The Cologne Medical Centre is situated in the Centre of Cologne on the fifth floor of a large building. It has a cool relaxed feel with modern décor. Everybody we spoke to had very good English and were very friendly. Dr Gorter immediately struck me as a nice man genuinely interested in helping me, he was very confident and explained everything in a manner we both could understand and relate to. After years of non-committal answers and the negative approach (i.e. there is nothing I can do for you, learn to live with it), this was very welcome.
Dr Gorter showed us around the clinic and we saw the beds where he does the Hyperthermia Treatment, which was an ordinary bed like you would see in a doctor's surgery. Two patients were having the treatment while we were there and it looked very relaxing. It takes about 2-3 hours and you can't move while having it done. Afterwards you take a shower in the same suite and you are well enough to go home, the only side effects appears to be drowsiness after the first one or two sessions, after that Dr Gorter says you will be fine after each session.
Dr Gorter's questions were different to any other medical history that I have had taken before. He was only interested in my childhood - what illnesses I had, in particular fevers. He asked no questions about family (i.e. mother, father, brothers, sisters) and their health. He was only interested in me and what had gone on in my life. The one thing that impressed me most is that he never put the onus on me to get better. He told me what he would do (depending on results of test) and told me it would work - I believed him (he just inspires confidence and is so positive about what he does). Any other practitioner I have ever seen has always told me "it is up to you to pace yourself. You decide how much you can do, you figure out what food, noises, places, drinks, etc don't agree with you and you avoid - you'll only get better if you want to".
With Dr Gorter, he never suggested I change anything i.e. diet, lifestyle, etc. He seemed of the opinion that after the treatment, I could go back to a normal life again although he did remind me that I was now ten years older than when I first became ill and not to expect to be able to do everything I could do before becoming ill. He said he could reverse the process of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but couldn't turn the clock back. Ah well - can't have everything I suppose.
I have never been so impressed with any medical practitioner! He knew exactly how I felt and was able to explain why I was feeling unwell without me having to explain it to him. He took blood tests which he ensures get to the laboratories within the hour. According to him this is very important as to get accurate results, bloods need to be tested as soon as possible. The results showed that I had four viruses present in my system and because of this my immune system was depleted.
I travelled to Cologne on 1st December 2003 to start the treatment, accompanied by my husband and our two young children. We flew to Dusseldorf and went to Cologne by train. We met Dr Gorter in the afternoon. We had a talk and he explained what course the treatment would take over the following two weeks. He made out a timetable of treatment which consisted of 4 sessions of Hyperthermia which involve heating the body up to between 38.6 and 39.2 degrees, thus inducing a high temperature, this makes the immune system begin to work to fight it. The Hyperthermia bed is like a tent with lamps in the roof. The patient lies down on the bed and is covered with a heavy towel to ensure that no skin is exposed to the lamps, as this would cause burns to the skin. The head is left outside also. My husband was allowed to be present at all times and when I got really hot he was on hand to mop my forehead with a face cloth soaked in cold water. The treatment is uncomfortable but after the second session it became more bearable.
The other treatment is called Ozone Therapy and this is administered by Dr Gorter's colleague Dr Stuker who takes an amount of blood and infuses oxygen into it which gives the immune system a boost. This was not at all unpleasant and in fact gave me a bit of a high. For the first time in years I was able to walk miles! Other treatments involved infusions of essential elements which my system was lacking.
Having been ill for nearly nine years it is unbelievable to think that I am feeling well again. I still think I am a long way from cured but I haven't felt so well in years. Dr Gorter said that I would probably have to return for a top up treatment in six months or so. Most people treated run out of steam after a few months and need to return for a booster, but he has only treated one person a third time.