Couple ask for the help of the town

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LAST September we brought you the story of a Forfar woman who has been living in a bubble for over a year because of her struggle with extreme asthma and multiple allergies.

Maggie Balfour must wear a highly specified Moldex 8000 series gas mask, goggles and gloves as without these ‘protections’ her life would be quickly put in jeopardy.

Maggie and her husband Jim have struggled for over a year with no additional financial support above the state benefits they receive.

Back in late September 2011 the couple faced the added “nightmare” of Maggie becoming allergic to most man-made fibres used in her existing clothing. With winter fast approaching the couple scoured the globe for the help Maggie needed. Finally, a family in Kansas and another in Wisconsin agreed to help.

Including outerwear and footwear the final bill topped £600. Jim says it was “A huge draw on our very tight finances and ‘assets’ had to be sold to help pay for this unwelcome surprise. The whole process from ordering to delivery took four weeks.”

Maggie is very ‘cold sensitive’ which means she struggles to stay warm. Proper outerwear was vital and Raymond from Greenvale Trading, in Forfar, stepped in to help by providing access to clothing at wholesale prices. Jim added: “I would also like to thank Barry Greenhill Construction for the kindness and support they have shown throughout Maggie’s illness and also my friends at the Forfar Resource Centre who gifted us a small air purifier.

“Many others including Jim and Geoff have unknowingly kept me going with their good humour and concern for Maggie.”

Jim added that he would also like to thank specifically a man who had given him two pounds in a charity shop so that he would be able to buy a bag for Maggie to carry her gas mask in.

Under the expert care received from the Academy Street Surgery and other healthcare professionals Maggie’s body stubbornly refused to respond well to conventional treatments and her immune response to all but a few medicines has resulted in the most extreme side-effects.

The last attempt to introduce an anti-histamine was abandoned on March 10. Jim explains: “This drug was causing Maggie’s body temperature to vary by up to 4C each day. She felt very unwell whilst she was taking it and the side effects far outweighed the benefits.

“With a referral by her sympathetic GP to the NHS Homeopathic Hospital in Glasgow, it was hoped that we could find alternative medical solutions which could be tailor made to fit Maggie’s very unique circumstances and physiology.

“Unfortunately, the waiting time for a first appointment to see the most Senior Homeopath was going to be 12 to 13 weeks.

“That is a very long time in ‘Maggie’s world’ more so because her illness is causing her to loose weight.

“I reasoned that time was critical. Maggie was currently stable but there was no guarantee that she would remain so. After considerable research and taking opinion from others one name kept coming up and we took that collective advice.

“This man is a homeopathic doctor of considerable years of experience; highly respected both here and internationally. He is a compassionate, thoughtful and creative practitioner who is absolutely committed to his chosen profession. We are very glad to have him on board.”

A number of other companies have helped the couple. Jim said: “Scottish and Southern Energy PLC; (Hydro Electric); Blueair AB of Stockholm, Sweden, Moldex and George Henderson Electrical, are by technology or direct intervention ensuring that Maggie’s ‘Bubble’ does not slip or fail. Their help and gifts are very, very, welcome!”

None of these companies know of anyone else with such complex problems although a search of the internet will reveal others with individual components of her complex condition.

Jim says he is quite good with money but has found the last 15 months a challenge.

Maggie’s needs are so specific and complex that every detail must be micro managed with considerable care.

One of the main worries facing Jim right now is finding food that Maggie is safe and able to eat. He said: “Our budget for food is less than £45 a week. Maggie cannot have anything that has been processed with man made chemicals and so all her food must be organic.” Jim spends over two hours each day working the supermarkets for reduced price safe and Organic foods. He said: “Keeping Maggie’s environment safe is essential and so is keeping her well enough physically to face future treatments whatever they may be. A safe and cost effective food supply is absolutely essential.

“We’ve come a long way on our own financially but both of us are very battle weary, especially Maggie. It’s been a very challenging and frightening time.

“Would there be someone skilled, trustworthy and energetic enough to oversee the setting up and management of this process?

“There are currently standing offers of help from within Forfar. Significantly, ASDA have already made a firm commitment in offering to assist Maggie.

“Maggie and I can be contacted at: hopemaggieb@yahoo.co.uk”