Why do People Prey on the Sick?

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Why do People Prey on the Sick?

I suppose since the beginning of time, there have been people who are ill and there have been people who prey on the ill. Think of the old wagons rolling through rural America hundreds of years ago, selling their cures for everything that might ail you.  It appears that most of the time the “so called cures” were nothing but water or alcohol.  I’d like to think that things have changed in the year 2012, but the reality is that this still exists to the same extent and perhaps even to a greater extent. The FDA cannot or will not stop these perpetrators.

With the onset of the internet, we see constant advertisements for this cure or that cure, for this way to stop an illness or that way to stop an illness and the sad fact is that most of these ads are just schemes to make money. They go after people who are desperate. Too many times, the medical establishment has failed us by not providing these cures, but the reality is that they do the best they can and the majority of illnesses have no cures. Most doctors attempt to ameliorate the symptoms.

If you stop for a second and think of all the illnesses you know, you’ll see that very few cures exist. The body is a complicated piece of machinery and there is much more that we don’t know than we do know.

People with fibromyalgia are especially prone to these hucksters as people with fibro are pretty desperate because it does take such a toll on their lives and families. I’ve actually seen ads and web pages advertising new techniques that can be a solution for Fibro, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Stroke Victims, Parkinson’s disease and 5 or 6 other neurological illnesses. If you took high school biology, it’s easy to see through these ads as the mechanisms of these illnesses are so totally different that it is impossible to have a magic bullet that cures or helps all of these illnesses.

I’ve also been a victim of these unscrupulous hucksters. It is not new news that I run a very successful fibromyalgia center. However, I’ve had companies design web sites, using my name and address pretending to be me. Their goal is to intercept calls which are meant for my office and then try to sell these peoples name to me for very expensive prices. This is a case where these people are not going after the ill patients, but trying to extort from the doctors, and these types of scams are not limited to doctors. They target dentists, accountants and every other type of professional. The internet makes it easy, and there is not a lot we can do to stop it.

The company that targets me uses a toll free phone number and therefore can be distinguished from my office in that I do not. My phone number is and always has been 650-558-1010.

Another way that others prey on the ill is by some of the tactics used by large pharmaceutical companies. Almost every week we read of a pharmaceutical company sued by the federal government for misleading advertising or for selling medications which do not do what they are said to do. Preying on the ill has become a big business.

Getting back to the title, why do people prey on the ill, the truth is that I do not have a good explanation. I suppose it is mostly greed, lack of conscience, not caring about fellow man/woman and who knows what else?

The definition of a sociopath is person, having a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. Has it come to a point where we are living in a society which is becoming more and more sociopathic? I don’t know, but it sure appears to be the case.

Dr. Gene Martin, D.C.

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 South El Camino Real, Ste 520

San Mateo Ca. 94402

Phone 650-558-1010

E-mail: fibro@drgenemartin.com

Web: http://www.drgenemartin.com

Skype: dr.gene.martin

Fibromyalgia Support Groups – Part 2

Fibromyalgia Support Groups – Part 2

I also ran and run groups for people who have been treated in my office and no longer have Fibromyalgia. The reason for this is that there is a period of adjustment when a patient goes from being sick for decades to being well. It is a conversion and many times these people would have to re-learn how to become social again, especially if they had isolated themselves for years. These are the easiest groups to run as I generally can’t get in a word. Many are scared of re-entering the world, and many are so excited that I have to continuously remind them to slow down. Actually this might very well be the most difficult task I deal with when treating patients with fibromyalgia. When they have their lives returned, especially in 8 to 12 weeks, they are hyper anxious to start making up for lost time. I remind them that they must take it step by step through my treatment program, but most times they are not hearing me. Still I repeat the same information and warnings. Eventually, most do get it.

In summary, Fibromyalgia support groups can be excellent and they can be disasters. My advice would be to attend a group and if it does not feel right or there is a heaviness of depression and complaining in the air, leave! There are other groups; it’s just a matter of finding the right group, the same as finding the right doctor.

One last word, I have attended groups led by people with Fibromyalgia who had no intention of helping these sufferers. As one support group leader told me: “My life revolves around my support group. If people became healthier, they would have no need to continue attending”. I know this sounds unbelievable, but we do live in a world where people have their own agendas. Therefore it does pay to know who is running the group and what their approach is.

Lastly, be aware as many times groups run by hospitals have their own agendas, having to do with marketing or some even being run by people with very little experience with Fibromyalgia. Just because a doctor is a doctor or a nurse is a nurse, or even a psychologist is a psychologist, this does not mean that they have any more knowledge of Fibromyalgia than the average person on the street. Lorna, one of my patients had told me about support groups she had attended where after leaving, she felt like “killing herself” rhetorically speaking that is.

Before I leave this topic, there is one other issue I’d like to mention. There are many books in the stores about Fibromyalgia and some can be very depressing to read, offering no hope. Be careful what you read and be discriminating. Anybody can write a book; this does not mean that they are proficient in the topic. Before buying the newest book, ask a fibro friend for recommendations. Also be aware of support groups where guest speakers come in with boxes of books, magic potions and lotions and other items which are supposed to offer some great benefit to the fibro sufferer. This is not and should not be what a fibro support group is about.

Support groups can certainly make your lives easier and more manageable, can offer good information and advice and can many times help you to learn tricks and techniques to make your life much more livable. Be discriminating.

Dr. Gene Martin, D.C.

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 South El Camino Real, Ste 520

San Mateo, Ca. 94402

650-558-1010

E-mail: fibro@drgenemartin.com

Web: http://www.drgenemartin.com

Skype: dr.gene.martin

Fibromyalgia Support Groups – Part 1


Fibromyalgia support groups can be a really big help, but they can also be a disaster, many times it depends on who is running the group. I’ve attended groups where people where whining and complaining and I felt that there was very little support between the members. The quests speakers were generally pharmaceutical representatives, whose real purpose was to market their medications. Other guests included doctors who spoke about no solutions. In fact one group I attended had a doctor use these words “Buck up and deal with the pain, you are adults and there is nothing you can do about the illnesses.” Many of these groups provided coffee and pastries which is the worst thing a Fibromyalgia patient can eat. It verified my thoughts that these groups were not being handled very well. Needless to say, the members felt worse upon leaving but were strongly encouraged to keep returning.

One particularly awful group I had attended was lead by a minister who proclaimed that Fibromyalgia was “God”, punishment for some wrong these people had done in their lives. To say the least, this was pretty extreme and left the people without any hope and more depressed than when they arrived.

Unfortunately, there are people running fibromyalgia groups and they have their own agendas (as in everything else in life).

I’ve also attended good groups were there really was an emphasis on people supporting one another. The key is always the person who runs the group.

I can give you a short description of the groups which I had run in the past. My main goal was and is to get these people to bond with each other; after all, they share a common illness and can certainly identify with each other to a large degree. My emphasis was always on the positive, and if I sensed somebody starting to slip into a depressive mode, I’d allow them to vent, but I or another member would immediately come to their aid and shower them with support and understanding.

One of the goals of the group was to help the fibro sufferer have a real understanding as to what was going on in their bodies and to provide helpful tips on how to manage the illness and how to lessen the symptoms. However, I should note that this was, in no way, presented in a lecture format, but as a very informal friendly setting. I would usually attempt to have at least one guest a month, but my main criteria with guests were that they would provide warmth, empathy and most importantly laughs. I’ve gone as far as to have comedians, representatives from the humane societies with some puppies and kittens, anything to bring a smile to their faces. I’ve had clowns, magicians, you name it. This is not to say that the groups were not serious, as we were dealing with a serious illness. I’ve also had dieticians who brought samples of very healthy foods. The members were always amazed at how easy these recipes were and how delicious the foods were.

Our members would generally want to exchange phone numbers and would become really supportive friends. It would reach a point very early on that these people would bond in a very affirmative way and would know that if they were ever feeling particularly down and very depressed, they could always call one of their friends from the group.

I also tried to limit the groups to 10 members, which meant that at times I was running 2 or 3 weekly groups.

Nobody in the group was ever forced or coerced into speaking and generally when a group would start, we would have some who just sat and listened. However by the third or fourth meeting, these people would inevitably become a part of the group. I would constantly be surprised at how these silent types would quickly open up and many times become a kind of the “life of the party”. With all modesty I can tell you that I never had a person drop out of the group.

Dr. Gene Martin, D.C.

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 South El Camino Real, Ste 520

San Mateo, Ca. 94402

650-558-1010

E-mail: fibro@drgenemartin.com

Web: http://www.drgenemartin.com

Skype: dr.gene.martin

Why The Difficulty Diagnosing Fibro? Part 2

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Why The Difficulty Diagnosing Fibro?

The last blog described a patient who came to my office, after having to deal with the common problems that people with fibro so often encounter. I ended the blog with 4 questions. Let’s look at them in some detail.

1 Why did it take 5 years for a definitive diagnosis, especially when she had the classic signs and the class prior history of trauma?

Answer:  Unfortunately, the public and so many doctors are just not familiar with fibromyalgia, they might have heard the word but in reality, they have no clue as to what it is about. Like much of the public, the doctors also believe that it is just a pain “thing” not understanding that there are so many other common symptoms. These doctors and psychologists also don’t have a good understanding of how thoroughly; fibro affects every part of a person’s life, from symptoms to relationships, to work etc. This is most unfortunate because people with fibro, who haven’t been diagnosed, have no understanding of what is going on in their bodies and they and their families are scared. The fog alone can make the sufferer believe that he or she is developing Alzheimer disease. More than this, we live in a world of fear and it is not uncommon for the sufferer, who is experiencing all these “weird” symptoms to panic and actually believe that they have Cancer or some other horrible debilitating fatal disease.

 

2 Why did she go from doctor to doctor, from specialist to specialist, from alternative provider to alternative provider, yet nobody could see something which was so obvious?

Answer: Doctors are trained that pathological conditions will be diagnosable by seeing something in the blood, urine or on an image (MRI’s, X-ray’s, Cat Scans, brain Scans etc.). The days of the family doc who asks questions and palpates (touches) the sore parts of the body is gone, partly due time limits placed on doctors and partly due to their training. It is said and it still is true that a good doctor can diagnosis a condition or illness 90% of the time from speaking to the patient (the history and consultation). This, however seems to be a thing of the past. We are, again, dealing with overworked doctors, working under the constraints of the PPO’s and other health care systems, which limit the time they can actually spend with a patient. Together with our busy schedules and lifestyles, many of us want the fast answer and the magic pill; these do not exist. When dealing with your health (which is a priority), all the time necessary should be used,

3 Why did some of the providers, including the psychologist insist that fibromyalgia did not exist?

Answer: The following are my own opinion, but I believe that saying that “I don’t believe in fibromyalgia” is the epitome of ignorance and arrogance. First, there is no question that fibro does exist, the research is clear, as are the millions of sufferers in the U.S. alone. Secondly, the concept of Cultural Authority (see prior blog on this topic), comes into play. In a nutshell, we have been conditioned to believe that the doctor is the all knowing person. Many times, they begin to believe this nonsense themselves. It is a small step for a doctor to confuse his/her opinions with the actual fact and the fibro sufferer is the one who this arrogance affects, along with their families. To say that fibro does not exist is like saying that refrigerators don’t exist. This is just plain wrong.

Many patients are afraid to question their doctors, but in fact, the doctor is human with the same faults and strengths that we all have to one degree or another.

 

4 Why was she offered every drug on the market including narcotics, especially if so many of these providers thought that this whole illness was psychosomatic?

Again, the problem lies with doctors having no familiarity with fibromyalgia, but perhaps more importantly, the fact that the pharmaceutical companies are allowed to market their medications directly to the patients with the hope (which is very often the case), that the patients will pressure the doctors to prescribe those particular meds. Doctors feel pressured to not allow a patient to leave their office without a prescription in hand. Medicine has also become very competitive (though most of the time, the patients don’t see this) and doctors do not want to lose patients. They have expenses and overhead, in addition to making a living.

To summarize this and the last blog, the medical system (in the U.S.) is very broken and in urgent need of fixing. Patients are unduly suffering, due to lack of understanding and familiarity with fibromyalgia; by the public and by the doctors.

Dr. Gene Martin, D.C.

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 South El Camino Real, Ste 520

San Mateo California, 94402

650-558-1010

E-mail: fibro@drgenemartin.com

Web: http://www.drgenemartin.com

Skype. dr.gene.martin

Why Can’t Doctors Diagnosis Fibro?

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A woman came into my office for a consultation yesterday and she had diagnosed herself as having Fibromyalgia. The fact is that she was correct, but this is how she told her story.

About 5 years ago, she started experiencing a lot of pain throughout her body, for no apparent reason. She saw her family doctor, who insisted that she must have pulled some muscles when doing her housework, even though she insisted that she had done nothing unusual. She was given a prescription for muscle relaxers and told to take over the counter Advil, as needed.  The only problem was that her pain continued and started to worsen. She returned to her doctor, who, begrudgingly, decided to run some laboratory tests, which came back negative and again he insisted that there was nothing wrong with her. However, he explained that if the pain was real (he actually said real), he would send her to a physical therapist for 6 weeks at 3 times per week. One session was enough to convince her that PT was not an answer as her pain became much worse that evening. She also started developing headaches, insomnia, fatigued; the typical fibromyalgia symptoms.

This is when her story really began. She went from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist. Was tested for every illness from M.S. to Lupus, to R.A. She had horrible pain in a toothy yet the dentist could not find anything wrong. She begged him to look again, but he refused.  She tried a chiropractor, but one visit caused a major flare, she tried acupuncture, but no results. By this time, her fibromyalgia was in full force. The pain had worsened and kept moving around she was developing all types of G.I. symptoms, say a gastroenterologist, an endocrinologist, a Rheumatologist and many other practitioners. She was finally referred for a psychiatric evaluation and the diagnosis was depression and she was then referred her to a psychologist for counseling.

There are many excellent psychologists practicing, but this one was a dud.  Keep in mind that by this time, the woman had read about fibromyalgia and was convinced that this was what she was suffering from. The psychologist (who apparently had a large ego), insisted that there was no such thing as fibromyalgia and that all the symptoms were directly related to her busy lifestyle. The only problem was that her lifestyle was not that busy. Sure, she had two young children, but she was a “stay at home mother”.  After three months of weekly therapy, the psychologist insisted that the woman was not trying hard enough (whatever that meant), and threatened to release her. The patient, however, had other thoughts on the matter and never returned to see the psychologist.

This entire story occurred over a five year period and the woman was desperate. She had heard about me from another patient I had seen years ago and came, with her husband to my office to speak to me.  It was very obvious, within 5 minutes of talk, that this woman had fibromyalgia. I verified what she suspected (actually there was no question about it), and you could see the flood of relief affect this woman and her husband. Treatment will start in 2 weeks, but my questions are:

1 Why did it take 5 years for a definitive diagnosis, especially when she had the classic signs and the class prior history of trauma?

2 Why did she go from doctor to doctor, from specialist to specialist, from alternative provider to alternative provider, yet nobody could see something which was so obvious?

3 Why did some of the providers, including the psychologist insist that fibromyalgia did not exist?

4 Why was she offered every drug on the market including narcotics, especially if so many of these providers thought that this whole illness was psychosomatic?

Does this scenario sound familiar? It should as I hear it almost every day and almost word for word. Next blog, let’s look at some of the answers to these questions.

Dr. Gene Martin, D.C.

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 South El Camino Real, Suite 520

San Mateo, Ca. 94402

650-558-1010

e-mail: fibro@drgenemartin.com

Web: http://www.drgenemartin.com

Skype: dr.gene.martin

How should I than Find a Fibro Doctor who can help me?

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How should I than Find a Doctor who can help me?

This is a difficult question as there is so much misinformation about Fibromyalgia among the medical community. The internet is not much better and very possibly causes more harm than good. I would first speak with other people who have Fibromyalgia and have found an excellent doctor. Ask this person what the experience in the doctor’s office was like. Was the doctor thorough, did he or she have empathy and most importantly, was the doctor willing to take the time and listen to the person? Did the doctor take as much time as necessary and answer all the questions. Did the person finally have a clear understanding of what Fibromyalgia was about?

You might check with some of the support groups and get some names of Fibromyalgia sufferers and ask them the same questions.

Sometimes you might ask a doctor you trust for a referral, but do be aware that many times the doctor’s network is “the good ol boys” network, meaning that some doctors will refer to their friends. Therefore, it will take some vigilance on your part, but the end results will be worth it.

I, very much recommend against choosing a doctor from the phone book or seeing doctor just because that doctor is a member of your health plan. It is more than worth it to pay out of your pocket to find a doctor who is really good and can really help you. Fibromyalgia makes you very ill and the last thing you need is a doctor who does not have a clear understanding of fibro. You also don’t have the time or energy to go from doctor to doctor and constantly being disappointed with the results. Having hope, which is constantly shattered, can be pretty devastating, especially if you go through this cycle many times.

Ask for a 10 minute visit. The best times are usually before the doctor is through with his/her patients for the morning. Explain to the receptionist that you would like to see if this doctor would be right for you. I know that this might sound foreign for most of you, but there is really nothing wrong with this. After all, you would “interview” a lawyer, an accountant, a contractor etc. Remember that you are dealing with your health and fibro is a complicated topic. You want the right Doctor. This will hopefully avoid going from doctor to doctor and help you to get off that never ending merry-go-round.

Some questions to ask would be:

1          Have you experience treating Fibromyalgia?

2          How many fibromyalgia patients do you see per week?

3          What kind of results do you get when treating fibro?

4          What do you think causes fibro?

The sorry state of the medical system in the United States and possibly other countries is in need of repair and it has to be a ground roots movement meaning that you, the patient, has to take the initiative. This is one way to start.

Dr. Gene Martin

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 South El Camino Real, Ste 520

San Mateo, Ca. 94402

650-558-1010

E-mail: fibro@drgenemartin.com

Web: http://www.nomorefibro.wordpress.com

Skype: dr.gene.martin

Why do Doctor push on Tender Points in the Body?

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The Tender Points that Doctors Press on

The fact is that using trigger or tender points as a way of trying to diagnosis Fibromyalgia was a good attempt at trying to find a diagnostic tool that just does not show up on any other diagnostic tests. However, many studies (the most recent being published in the fall of 2011) have shown that this is not a valid or reliable way of determining if a person has Fibromyalgia. However, I would like to explain why this test was first used and unfortunately many doctors are still using it to determine if a person has or does not have Fibromyalgia. This is unfortunate as many who do have Fibromyalgia are told that they don’t while some who do not have Fibromyalgia are told that they do.

Muscle metabolism is a complicated mechanism but in simplistic terms, the end product of muscle metabolism is lactic acid which is generally expelled by the body through the blood and than through the kidneys. When a person has Fibromyalgia, the muscles are in a constant state of contraction. The end product is a buildup of lactic acid being produced which the body cannot expel. The lactic acid then begins to accumulate in the muscle tissue which is very irritating and can damage this soft tissue. As a protective device, the body than produces fibrous tissue (think of cloth or other material), which covers the lactic acid, not allowing it to do further damage to the muscles. By the way, this is where the name Fibromyalgia comes from. Fibro means fibrous tissue, myo means muscle and algia means pain. Of course Fibromyalgia is a lot more than just muscle pain.

When a doctor is pushing on these 18 points (11 of 18 being tender was diagnostic), the doctor is irritating and sometimes breaking down the fibrous tissue leading to pain.

However, Lactic acid (and trigger points) can and are found in almost all people to some extent. For example, an athletic runner, running 5 miles per day will show these tender points. Many people after traumas of one type or another will also exhibit these points. We also live in a very stressful world and most of us are under stress on a daily basis, thus leading to these trigger points.

Dr. Janet Travell, M.D (now deceased) was considered the expert in trigger point mechanisms and trigger point therapy. She co-authored two books on the topic along with her co-author David Simon. Travell spent her career doing this type of research and was extremely well respected in the medical community. In fact she was the personal physician for Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. She passed away at the age of 94 leaving a huge legacy of work related to trigger points. I suspect that if she was alive now, she would have plenty to say about using these tender points to diagnosis Fibromyalgia. Regardless, a thorough history is a better diagnostic method. Hopefully most doctors will catch up with the literature and realize that the tender point test is not a valid diagnostic criterion for Fibromyalgia.

Dr. Gene Martin

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 South El Camino Real, Ste 520

San Mateo, Ca. 94402

650-558-1010

E-mail: fibro@drgenemartin.com

Web: http://www.nomorefibro.wordpress.com

Skype: dr.gene.martin