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No, thanks (I really mean it).

I deal with chronic pain, as those of you who read me regularly know.  I've been offered a lot of explanations for my pain, from the generalized (fibromyalgia - I don't fit the profile) to referred pain syndrome, to neck injury (don't have one), and over-active nerves.  We're going with that last one for the moment, in the absence of anything better, though for simplicity's sake, I usually tell people it's kind of like fibro.

One of the things that gets me down a lot is the people who, upon hearing of my pain, immediately start telling me I should try this great thing they've heard about.  Now, if they left it at "I've heard of *thing*, it's really great", and I say "thanks, but no", or "tried it; didn't work, thanks", and we move on to other topics, I would not have a problem.  The issue is when they then start reeling off lists of things I have either tried, or don't want to try, and then they get mad at me for rejecting their stuff.  The thing I've noticed is that the more out-there and woo-full their suggestions, the more pissed-off they get at me for politely saying "no, thanks".

Now, I'm a skeptic.  There's a lot of stuff out there that automatically sets my skep-meter off, like detoxing foot pads, and crystal light therapy (which is so stupid, I'm not even giving you a link), and I'm also not a fan of water, alcohol, or sugar pills, namely homeopathy.  I don't want to try something that needs actual magic to exist, because I'll be wasting my time.  Placebo effect aside (and that won't work, because I don't "believe"), homeopathic remedies don't work.  All I got out of acupuncture (also shown in double-blind studies to have no effect other than placebo, though I know people who swear by it) was severe pain.  I don't do chiropractic, even though it has been shown to have limited use for specific kinds of physical pain, because it doesn't do diddley-squat for me (well, it also made me hurt more).  Reiki?  Don't make me laugh.

I don't care if an adult believes in these things, or any other "alternative medicine", as long as they only try it on themselves, and don't subject a child to it.  But leave me out of it, and don't get annoyed at me that I won't buy into your fantasy of control.

Life is messy, random, and uncontrollable, except in small localized ways.  I am not in pain because I didn't eat the right things, nor am I in pain because I attracted the pain with negative thoughts (the "you bring all the bad things on yourself" school of thinking, which should be more accurately summed up as "blame the victim").  I am in pain because (probably) my brain has ceased to understand the messages sent to it by the nerves in my arms, and interprets everything as bad news.  Life does unexpected things, and our bodies don't always stay perfect, even if we do our darnedest to keep them that way.  For some people, this is infuriating, and they seek for reasons why something went wrong.  I wouldn't care, as long as they stayed far away from me.  I'm okay with the laws of random.

I take opiates for pain control because they work, and they work with minimal side effects.  Like many people in my position, I've tried various creams and remedies touted as "natural pain relief!".  I'm embarrassed to to admit that I've tried some really stupid therapies; when you're in pain and looking for relief, you try anything. 

I really can say I've tried a hell of a lot of things, and only two things have worked with any consistency:  Opiates and Lidocaine adhesive patches (that cost me $40 a pop, but without insurance, would cost me $400).  I supplement with Tramadol, because most days it helps me to keep within my painkiller dosage limit.  I come from experience when I say "that does not work for me".

And you know what?  I don't say "your so-called remedy is a load of crap".  I'm polite.  All I say is "that does not work for me", and they still get so mad.  It's like I'm rejecting them, and their core beliefs, and I'm made to feel like I'm being rude, when you know what?  I'm the one sitting here, being barraged with unsolicited advice.  I didn't ask for suggestions.  I certainly didn't ask for a third-degree grilling on everything I've tried in my entire history of being in pain.  You, person with way too much time on your hands, who is certainly not a close friend of mine, or you wouldn't do this to me, you are the rude one. 

The thing is, people who are passingly familiar with science, who accept and trust the scientific method, those people never pull this shit on me.  It's the people who believe absolutely in woo - who talk about "natural" remedies, and would never buy something with salicylic acid in it, but would fall all over themselves buying something with "natural willow bark extract", who unquestioningly accept whatever their alt-health guru tells them, and actively disbelieves "the establishment" without ever trying to find out more about the subject - those are the ones eager to tell me exactly what I need to do, even if they've never heard of my condition.

They never trust me when I say I don't need their "remedy", and they get angry and call me rude when I finally get tired and try to stop the barrage of suggestions.  It's as if they don't really care what I need, they just want to shove their natural remedy-taking, unscientific, woo-based superiority in my face, since they're well, and I'm not.

Like I said, I'm a skeptic.  I think science is awesome.  I think people aren't always awesome, and that's why shit goes wrong sometimes.  I think the world is amazing and fantastic and quite stunning enough without trying to pretend magic is real.  I think magical thinking is the root cause of quite a few problems, and I deeply wish there wasn't a large contingent in this country that refuses to think scientifically, or even logically.  I wish people were smarter, and I wish "The Secret" would fall down a deep, dark hole.

But most of all I do rather wish people would stop trying to tell me how I should be managing my condition.  If you're not my doctor, stop.  If I want some suggestions, I'll ask.  Telling you that I have a chronic pain condition (when you ask) is not an invitation for you to diagnose or treat my condition.  Or anyone else's.  And if you come back at me with "I'm only trying to help!", my answer is "you'd help me a lot more if you actually listen to what I'm saying".

I'm just sayin'.

Comments

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tudorlady
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
::raises hand:: Chronic major depression here (which is really refractive - I've practically had nuclear weapons used on it. Just about everything short of a lobotomy). I empathize with you, and totally understand. I think people mean well, but it's as annoying as fuck-all.
_medb_
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:08 pm (UTC)
Me too- while it's nothing compared to pain, I spend my days in various levels of exhaustion and it never ceases to annoy me how people are offended when I don't answer the 'how are you today?' question with a bubbly and cheerful answer (and they almost always expect one). Frankly, they're lucky they got more than a growl from me since most mornings I'm only half functioning on autopilot and there's no way in hell I can muster more than a half-smile. I even have one coworker who insists on asking me later in the day because the answer I give isn't good enough for her!
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 26th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tudorlady - Oct. 26th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 26th, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
alysten
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Thank you. As a person who also has chronic nerve and pain issues, this stuck a cord. These conversations are all to common for me. I will take science over woo every time.
aeddie
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
Hear hear.
Most creams and such don't work. Or if they do, there is scientific evidence why. I generally don't tell people much, usually just "a neck injury that left me with nerve damage."

I guess I'm lucky that I don't have the idiots trying to tell me how to treat my condition.

Like you opiates are my friend. Lidocaine patches quit working and didn't work well for me. Science is good. If you can't in 30 seconds or less tell me why your mystic woo woo method works in scientific terms leave me alone
sileas_1
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
You are definitely not alone there. Opiates are the only thing that has ever worked for me. None of the homeopathic, or other natural remedies are worth a pinch of shit. I guess I'm not a believer. I believe in better living through pharmaceuticals.
eac
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:41 am (UTC)
You're not the only person I know who must manage chronic pain with opiates, and is constantly being harassed about this. I'm sorry that you have to put up with these people.
the_thread_lady
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:46 am (UTC)
I agree with everything you are saying.

I really hate it when they insinuate that if you don't try the Very! Special! Treatment! that they are espousing, that you are somehow not serious about managing your pain - or that your condition is not real.
eac
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
Or, better, that you're abusing your painkillers. :/
(no subject) - tattooofhername - Oct. 26th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 26th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tattooofhername - Oct. 26th, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
War on Drugs = Axis of Evil Pharmacy - bunnyjadwiga - Oct. 26th, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: War on Drugs = Axis of Evil Pharmacy - bunnyjadwiga - Oct. 26th, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Oct. 26th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
I'm in a psych class right now that just talked about pain, hypnotism, meds, etc. and universally everything except the meds that are proven to block things in your brain, don't work in any real way beyond your strong belief it will. It's so annoying when people feel insulted when you wont convert.
pinkleader
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
You know what you need?!?!

A flip sign that says "No, Thank You." on one side, and "Seriously, STFU!" on the other.

Wishing you happiness, cute bugs, bunnies and vultures.
attack_laurel
Oct. 26th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Hee!
ellid
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
Word
Right after I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, I had a co-worker tell me that I needed a craniosacral massage.

That's right. I needed to have my skull massaged to somehow treat a NERVE tumor.

How I kept a straight face I'll never know, but I sort of avoided her for a while after that.
standgale
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
I have various random things wrong with me that aren't big enough to make the doctor really try and diagnose or fix, but make me miserable that I'm missing out on energy and, well, life, in my life. And so, I am always kind of inspired that you have this condition - which seems really... horrid - and yet do all sorts of amazing things, and have all sorts of grand plans for the future too. i.e. when I read about what you're doing, I think to myself that I shouldn't let my own problems get me down so much.
Although I'm sure you're grumpy sometimes and spend days doing nothing sometimes, you have an inspiring public "face" on this blog. Of course, your amazing embroideries would still be inspiring even if you were super-human. But I often think I can't achieve stuff because I am too tired and sore, but really we can all still achieve great things.
Which has nothing to do with this post, I just wanted you to know that you are a positive force in this universe :D
attack_laurel
Oct. 26th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :) But I don't want you to feel that because I do stuff, that you're somehow failing if you don't, because that's the last thing I'd want anyone to feel. Pain and chronic conditions are *exhausting*, and there are a lot of days where I just sit on the sofa and watch TV, believe me. I'm very fortunate that I can sew with minimal pain.

Some days, just getting through the day is a heroic effort, and don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

I think sometimes that people who don't experience chronic pain really *can't* understand what it's like - not won't, can't. They only have the experience of pain that goes away, and they can't understand why ours just doesn't stop. When people ask me, I compare it to having flu all the time - most people have experienced the misery of flu aches, so it helps them to put themselves in my shoes a bit.
sstormwatch
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:53 am (UTC)
I won't say I fully understand, as I'm not the one in pain. But my husband is the one with RA, and he goes through some of that with members of his own family and their extended friends. He's patient with them, but that's the way he is. I'm sure he's thinking other thoughts while they go on and on with their suggestions for his treatment options that they think are just wonderful, not realizing they don't have RA so they don't really know what it is he is facing. I'm so not looking forward to this Thanksgiving when more of that will be trotted out for him to listen to. Thankfully, it is only once a year.

And thank you for just saying this.
noxcat
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
I've had a small taste of this myself. Not anywhere near as bad as your ecperience sounds, but really, once was enough. A total stranger once tried to tell me I could regenerate my kdneys simply by using a specific detox. UUhhh...no.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
1. I have no suggestions for your pain management

2. I do have a universal suggestion to make people feel better

3. That suggestion is to eat more chocolate cupcakes
attack_laurel
Oct. 26th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
Cupcakes are awesome. I even found a gluten-free mix that tastes good enough that Bob likes them. Unfortunately, I can only find it at Wegman's, which is about two hour's drive away.

(no subject) - eleanors_closet - Oct. 26th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 26th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
rikibeth
Oct. 26th, 2011 11:40 am (UTC)
Thee's a reason opiates have been a pain remedy not just for centuries, but millennia -- they WORK. I am all in favor of doing what WORKS.

I take some minor and qualified exception to "use on a child," though. When my kid was teething, we tried all the standard remedies, with varying degrees of success: baby ibuprofen, limited efficacy; topical anesthetics, next to no efficacy (kid is probably like me and needs 4x the normal dose of 'caines to get the numbing effect); swabbing gums with alcohol -- well, the best way that worked was when we poured a shot, dipped a q-tip in it, swabbed the kid's gums, and downed the shot ourselves. Homeopathic dissolving teething tablets? Instant cessation of crying. So we went through a lot of those during the teething stages.

At that point (screaming infant) I didn't care if homeopathy only worked on the placebo effect. It was cheap, and it stopped the screaming, and it was unlikely to do harm.

Alas, the remedy that worked on ME was no longer available -- guess what? OPIATES. Back when paregoric was OTC, my parents had a bottle to treat diarrhea, and they swabbed my gums with that, and, unsurprisingly, it worked. Lacking that, I tried the other things available to me, and went with what worked.
attack_laurel
Oct. 26th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
I'll give you that, wholeheartedly. Homeopathic tablets won't hurt anyone, and if it worked, it's cool. It may have been the sugar, or the taste, or the dissolving effect, or any number of things, but if it worked, more power to you. :)

What scares me is the people who try to treat serious life-threatening conditions in their children with homeopathy or reiki, like a woman a year or so back who refused surgical intervention for her teenage boy with a broken neck, claiming her "herbal remedies" would cure him.
(no subject) - rikibeth - Oct. 26th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
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