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Deciding Whether to Try a New Treatment for My Chronic Pain

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In “The Princess Bride,” Cary Elwes’ Wesley memorably tells Princess Buttercup, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Mighty Warriors, have you ever heard anything more true?

As most of us go about the day in some level of pain or discomfort, the temptation to buy into the relief that doctors (and hucksters) are selling is darn near irresistible.

Relief in a pill? A powder? A confusing contraption with electrodes and wires? Sign me up!

If internet comments sections and Facebook groups are to be believed, these pills, powders, and devices provide relief to many patients. And if that’s the case for you — mazel tov! (No, seriously. That’s amazing, and I am thankful you found a chronic illness work-around.)

But, if you’re a zebra like me, you’ve spent thousands of dollars on such treatments, and the only result you’ve seen is the ever-shrinking size of your bank account.

A few have even made your symptoms worse.

This presents a conundrum unique to people living with chronic illness. Put succinctly? You don’t want to waste money, time, and hope on unproven treatments that at best do nothing, and at worst, may exacerbate symptoms or cause even more problems.

But what if this one — the newest one, the novel one, the one used by monks in the Himalayas or African Shamans for centuries — what if this is the one that works?

Do you try it? Do you open your wallet and your increasingly cynical heart again?

Or do you let the “opportunity of a lifetime” (as it’s often touted) pass you by?

Even when the opportunity on the table is a Big Pharma med — one tested a billion times on a billion people with mostly good results — there’s always the chance you’ll be that one-in-a-million who gets the “serious, sometimes fatal” side effects that occur. I’ve been one of those one-in-a-million people, and let me tell you, it’s no fun.

So what do you do?

Infuriatingly, there’s no “right” answer. It’s all a crapshoot. A game of Russian roulette, but with the potential of a bullet or the ultimate prize: relief.

Relief from the pain of this chronic illness life. I can’t think of a prize more worth taking a risk for. And at the same time, I can’t think of anything more risky.

Wishing you relief, Mighty Warriors.

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Getty image by Abscent84.

Originally published: September 30, 2020
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