This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

“We are martial artists – we all live with pain. If you train hard and regularly, you will know what pain is.” Dennis Ngo explains to Emeka Onono from Raw TV Ltd.  Emeka had contacted Dennis to see if he would be involved in a social experiment documentary. Dr Chris Van Tulleken was planning to take a group of people who suffer with chronic conditions –  could lateral approaches let them stop taking their prescription drugs?

Emeka wanted to know whether Dennis would help Crystal, who had chronic severe back pain. “If Crystal wants to do it it then I can help.” The rest, as they say, makes great TV. [You can watch the trailer here:  “The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs“.]

But behind Dennis’ seemingly bluff comments on the pain of training, there is another story. Read More

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

After an operation to improve his nose airway, Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo, was struck down by an enemy he couldn’t see. But he could feel it. Running through his bloodstream, wreaking havoc, causing intense pain in an infected ankle (how did it get there from his nose?). Antibiotics could help – but would the spectre of antibiotic resistance rear its head?

April 2016 – Minor operation. Quick recovery.

Back on feet, feeling fine, teaching lessons. And then the pain starts. High pain threshold – keep going. Feeling worse, but the nose feels ok – wonder why the ankle hurts? Five days later in hospital on intravenous antibiotics. C-Reactive Protein 353. Diagnosis: Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteremia, Cellulitis, maybe Osteolmyelitis. Ten days later, back home with daily nursing visits to give the drugs through a PICC line. Go to class in a wheelchair. Six weeks later, intravenous antibiotics stop. Go to class with a walking stick. Read More

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

Convalescence¹ – an old-fashioned word that doesn’t seem to be used any more. We tend to use “recovery”² which is approximately the same, but “convalescence” has a more definite feeling of a process over time. You may have followed Dennis’ story of injury, illness and recovery in the previous two articles in this series.  If so you will know that Dennis has made remarkable come-backs from a serious car accident and from sepsis. But he went through a planned period of convalescence. This is the story of his convalescence from sepsis – life-threatening infection.

Fresh air, nutritious diet, plenty of rest. All sounds rather twee and Jane Austen doesn’t it? But whenever Dennis was frustrated at not being up to doing something (which happened quite often) he had to remember that we used to send people to Italy or Switzerland for months at a time to recover from serious illness and “build up their strength”. To Sanatoriums, Nursing Homes, Convalescent Homes – giving people time to get their strength back. Sure we have painkillers, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, but although they make you “better” they don’t make you who you used to be.

And maybe we don’t use that period of healing any more in the way that we could. Life is binary – Read More

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

Serendipity:The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way (Oxford English Dictionary).  Devora Wolfson trains with Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo – Devora is second from right in the photo above.  Here is Devora’s story of what happened with serendipity struck.

“One wet Sunday afternoon I was flicking through the TV channels and came across the programme ‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’.

I began to watch intently when I saw the part which showed how a woman who could barely walk and was taking very strong pain killers was transformed through learning Kung Fu! Read More