Dismayed by doctors, Maria turns to natural medicine to find the remedy for her ills
2017-12-01 13:05:00 -

By Michaela Althouse

Maria Angolo feels like she’s been to almost every doctor in Dublin. But she refuses to go back to a modern physician ever again. Irish medicine doesn’t cut it for her, she says, and instead, the former nurse is seeking out alternative forms of healing.


Maria’s struggles began over 20 years ago, when she had recurring flu-like symptoms every three months or so. She was treated with antibiotics but the problems persisted, and so her doctor sent her to surgery for swollen tonsils. When she continued to feel unwell, the Namibian native was diagnosed with polyps and went for surgery. And that’s where the problems really began.


In the 15 years since, Maria says she has seen as many as 20 different doctors, and many of those multiple times. She has been to multiple hospitals in Ireland and has seen every kind of doctor she could think of: from ear, nose and throat; respiratory specialist; even an allergist. 


She has undergone two significant surgeries and travelled to the UK to seek a second opinion. Yet all she has to show for it are mountains of paperwork, missing bone and cartilage in her nose, severed vocal cords and an extended hole beginning behind her nostrils and extending into her throat. 


Most often, she was simply referred to another physician and more than once she claims she was refused treatment entirely, even marched out of the consultation without explanation.


“I’m like a football being kicked from one doctor to another,” Maria says. “Fifteen years is a long time to solve one problem.”


Maria is no stranger to the medical world. She spent her early years as a registered nurse before creating her own nursing recruitment agency, though it was liquidated in the 2009 recession. 


She also requests her medical notes of every doctor she sees under the Freedom of Information Act, recording their various and conflicting diagnoses. “I used to be the one telling people to take their pills,” she says. “Now I wouldn’t go near them.” 


Maria is incapable of blowing her nose, and says she suffers from chronic bad breath as a result of the mucus buildup. For the halitosis she has seen two different dentists, both of whom, she says, discovered “significant clouding” in her right sinus via X-ray – something she claims was missed by all the doctors she consulted before.


But Maria’s health troubles do not stop there. In 2011, she was diagnosed with congestive cardiac failure and cardiomyopathy on top of her existing high blood pressure, and ended up back in the hospital.

‘The doctor wouldn’t listen’


It has reached the point, Maria says, where her issues extend beyond physical and into the emotional. After her 2011 hospital stay, she was given heart medication and says that in the matter of a few weeks she became “suicidal”. 


At her six-week checkup she begged to be taken off the tablets, as some heart medicines are known to affect mental health and she believed that was the case with her. She was told she needed to wait another six weeks for the medication to work. Instead of getting better, she says she reached the point of a suicide attempt.


“They say ‘Oh, talk to someone if you feel low or if you have those thoughts.’ There was I, talking to someone, and the doctor wouldn’t listen to me.”


Lately Maria feels frustrated, sceptical, and scared. She has little to no confidence left in the Irish medical system, and she feels close to giving up. 


Her constant treatments have caused financial issues as well. Maria cannot work due to her health and lives on disability; she has recently turned, against her better wishes, to renting out a home she owns to cover her mounting costs.


Maria’s repeated perceived failures in modern medicine have led her down a new path, and earlier this year she began seeing a naturopath, who diagnosed her with a bacterial infection in her teeth that was linked to her heart complications. 


Since then, Maria says she only takes naturopathic medicine and has begun attending sessions in a hyperbaric chamber, which the patient breaths in pure oxygen in an effort to aid the body’s healing process. 


While these and other alternative methods are regarded as pseudoscience in evidence-based medicine (a referral for the hyperbaric chamber was refused by a conventional doctor), Maria says her experience turned her into a big believer in natural healing, along with a proper diet, exercise and essential oils for relaxation.


Her journey has brought her to others with similar experiences, but she finds that many people are afraid to speak out. She wants her story to increase awareness and hopes to show people that there might be more than one option when seeking medical treatment.


“I really have no choice but to look at other alternatives, because I just feel I have been let down big time,” she says. “I don’t want to wait another 15 years.”



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