Friday, 23 May 2014


Read the lines that no one reads
They are written everywhere

Elvenking - Runereader

Something I’ve had numerous conversations about recently is the subject of treatments, and in fact the sheer range of weird and wonderful alternatives which are available and subscribed to alongside the traditional doctors route. Two main points came out of all this and I’d like to address them both. Firstly, the fact that something that works for one person might not work for another and that doesn’t invalidate anyone’s choice, and secondly bulldozing in with your opinions of other’s treatment is usually neither welcomed nor helpful.

Firstly let’s tackle the idea of treatment choice. It definitely seems to be a topic where everyone has an opinion whether they have any relevant experience or not. One of the areas you see this most in is alternative medicines and therapies and such things such as homeopathy. The central complaint is that it doesn’t work. In a strictly scientific sense that’s correct, but there’s a side to alternative treatments that I think a lot of people don’t consider and it is particularly relevant to chronic incurable illness.

The oft-heard refrain is that alternative therapies will not cure you, but I ask you to pause for a moment and consider the fact that in most chronic illness cases medical science cannot cure us either. Most current treatments are geared towards managing symptoms simply because we do not as yet have the understanding to tackle the illness itself at its source. In many situations this means medications with a roll-call of unpleasant side effects almost as long as the symptom list they are supposed to combat. It isn’t uncommon to hear people say that their medication makes them feel worse than their condition did in the first place.

That covers medication. The other traditional suggestions are basics such as exercise and “getting some fresh air”. Sound advice, except those things aren’t always possible for everyone. What people forget is that just because one person with Fibromyalgia (an example, but it applies across the board) is up and about in full time work doesn’t mean that another individual with the same condition can’t be bed-ridden.

However unpalatable it may be, we are in the realm of diseases that seriously reduce and even destroy sufferers’ quality of life. In my absolute worst flare-ups moving about in our flat is the most I can manage – imagine how much worse it is to not even be able to manage that on a day to day basis. In those scenarios, which sadly aren’t as uncommon as we would all like to hope, suggestions revolving around exercise and being outside are sheer folly.

In our hypothetical scenario then, we’ve exhausted the basics and the medication side of the story. Is it really such a bad thing that people in just such a situation turn to alternative therapies?

(A handy simplified guide from

Whatever you may personally feel about any or all of them, in my view if it makes someone feel better then it can’t be wholly a bad thing. At the level where most options are unsuitable it really does boil down to the psychological and to comfort rather than successful treatment.

I’m not suggesting people can’t have negative opinions of any alternative therapies at all – from a personal perspective they aren’t something I can see myself trying. The point is that as always it’s rude and narrow-minded to make sweeping assumptions that people who choose to engage with those things are doing so rather than “doing something useful” for their health. You have absolutely no idea what they are or aren’t doing. How do you know they haven’t already exhausted every other option available to them and so are making the best of things in whatever way they can?

The real point of this is that when the only choice is to manage the symptoms with no hope of actual relief or cessation then what people decide to do to help themselves really is nobody else’s business.

This leads me nicely into my second point, which is when someone says they’ve started a new treatment or seen a new type of specialist and the other person chimes in with comments along the lines of “Well they’re rubbish. They don’t do X, Y and Z and you won’t get anywhere with them.”

With all due respect, who asked you? Unless I specifically ask “What do you think?” I am in no way inviting your opinion, and if I’m not inviting it then the chances are that’s because I don’t want it.

I can appreciate the use of specific examples of things to watch out for with a type of treatment, as shared experiences are often the only point of reference possible. However to flat out deny something will work with no further thought is beyond unhelpful. Frankly I’d say it’s more about you venting your spleen than it is about offering anything useful to the other person.

New treatments are a funny business and psychologically they will promote a mixture of hope and expectation paired with doubt and an attitude of “not this again”. Bad experiences will obviously taint anybody’s view, but that’s no reason to impose them onto another person who has just set foot on that particular road. It’s much more considerate to let them find out for themselves whether the treatment in question is for them as in their instance it could be helpful – just because it didn’t work for you doesn’t make that experience universal.

I know myself with treatments that take a long time and are not guaranteed to succeed it can be extremely easy to be swayed by others’ experiences – because you haven’t seen results yet, it’s very easy to allow that negative feedback in and therefore not engage fully with the options presented. Blasé comments of “Oh it’s rubbish” without any qualification could in fact jeopardise someone’s experience with a treatment that may have proved successful if they hadn’t been set against it by such thoughtlessness.

The key lesson? An individual’s treatment, however long or short the process and however many options they may have to attempt, is about them. It is their decision and it is in their hands. This means therefore that it’s not about you and your opinion, however over-inflated a view of its importance you may have.

(Take note)

Unless specifically asked for, you and your opinion are not invited to this particular party - and that’s something worth bearing in mind.

Has anybody else experienced this sort of thing? How did you go about dealing with it?

Wishing you all many spoons xxx


  1. I agree we are all different but we each have our own mind to make our choice and I listen to all opinions as some might be helpful and then do my own thing which I feel is best for ME. We all do have Fibro at different levels and all and all no matter what we do we are not going to get cured and if it's not broke why fix it. Fibro plays havoc on the body & mind and you may even think your meds are not working as it seems sometime, but I stay firm to what I'm doing as it works for ME. But be careful not to fall for all these herbal pills now that say they can cure Fibro that is not true

  2. I think there's certainly a need for caution with any treatment options ans in particular what you would consider non-standard or alternative ones. As you rightly said though it's about what works for you and I think people are in the main far too insistent that they must share their opinion and that it should then be acted upon. Seems a bit short sighted. Thank you for your comment x