It’s All About the Money – Chronic Illness Challenge Day 9

Have you tried any alternative therapies? Did they work?

Although I have most definitely got to the point of “I’ll try anything” on my journey to treat my chronic collection there are issues. I would, most definitely try anything to help my symptoms and treat or cure my conditions. However there is the small aspect of money. Most alternative therapies cost money. Being sick and disabled does not pay well (read at all). So although these treatments and therapies may well help I simply cannot afford to try them.

Being lucky enough to live in the U.K. I am treated by the NHS, meaning my basic healthcare is free. Some would argue (including myself) that there are many more options available to you if you can afford private healthcare. I will make this clear, I am a MASSIVE supporter of the NHS, I regularly protest against people wishing to destroy and dismantle it. I used to work for them and therefore know, firsthand, the restrictions in place within the system, due to funding and red tape. I get it, professionals cannot offer on the NHS all the therapies, medications, scans, treatments, trails etc that they might wish to. The private healthcare system has almost no such restrictions, people must qualify to receive the care but if they can pay it will be available to them.

If it is not available on the NHS and you don’t have the money to pay for it you are unable to receive the treatment/therapy/medication. Regardless of whether or not it will help you. Which is sad really and not (in my mind) the intention behind the creation of the NHS. It was put in place to help the nation to be healthier, not only those whom lived in a certain area or had the cash to pay.

So although I am willing to try anything to ease my symptoms I am simply unable to, even non-medical, altnerative therapies. I get some monetary benefits for being disabled (not out of work benefits but ones that are there to aid disabled people with the higher cost of living being disabled brings). But all of that is put towards rent (because the rent is higher in the types of building where I can live), heating and hot water (cold makes my pain worse and I have warm baths every night to aid pain relief), food (I try and avoid processed food where possible and have a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables) and various vitamins and minerals that are not available on the NHS (ones that aid my chronic collections, some that help my less-than-stellar immune system and others that combat side effects from meds). So yeah, that’s all of my PIP gone and more besides. Paying for alternative therapies that “might” help, with little income, no disposable income and a daughter to support, isn’t a smart decision. We live pay-cheque to pay-cheque, normally just about staying above the zero level in our bank accounts (and, before it’s even mentioned, Chris works full time and I work part time, from home).

Having said all that there is one “alternative therapy” that I use on a regular basis. I’ve put “alternative therapy” in quotations like that because it IS considered an alternative therapy in the UK but isn’t in the USA. That should say it all to be honest. Anyway. About a year ago my dad did his back in painting a fence in the garden (bare with me here, this is going somewhere I promise) he eventually went to a chiropractor in Maldon (Maldon Chriropractic look them up they rock) and a lovely man called Dave fixed him. My dad could afford to pay for it, anyway, when he started to improve and his sessions lessoned he asked Dave if he would be able to help me, Dave said he would do his best.

Now my dad isn’t loaded but he has just enough money to put one of us through treatment at a time. He came home, told me I was going to see Dave, that he was paying and that Dave would help me (and to shut up and do as I’m told). Now, I’ve told you before I HATE taking help and I also really hate having to rely on someone else in a financial sense, but dad pointed out I would “try anything” if I could afford it, so stick to my guns and do it.

Best decision I’ve ever made. My first session with Dave was very good and very long, but that tends to happen as my collection is very interesting. He said he could help me, that by dealing with one problem it would make the others easier to cope with and give my body a bit of breathing room, as it were. It made sense so I thought “why not”. The first thing he did was X-ray my entire back and neck. Something that, somehow, no one had ever done, despite complaining of back, neck, chest and head pain for years. He found that my neck curves the wrong way (explaining my cervicogenic headaches), my back curves slightly in two places (one level with my sternum deforming my ribs and the second at the base of my spine, explaining the chest pain and piriformis syndrome) and that one of my discs has slipped anteriorly.

I started on a intentsive course immediately, going in 3 times a week for the first 6 weeks. Gradullay decreasing over time. And yes it works. I was SO convinced that it wouldn’t so there is nothing psychosomatic involved. He can tell when I’ve been spending more time bed/wheelchair bound than usual without me speaking. Even little things like when I have had a slight asthma flare and my breathing has been a little bit harder than usual, he can both help them and know about them without me saying a word. I’m not pain free, I’m not cured, but I am in significantly less pain and my body is able to cope a bit better with other symptoms because it’s not having to focus so much on others. I’ve also had the winter with the least amount of GP visits and infections since I was officially diagnosed. I’ve had to wear my face mask a lot less than usual this winter to because my immune system has been functioning above average for me. So bonus!

I’m now normally down to three weekly appointments, tomorrow I have an appointment actually but it’s only been two weeks since the last as I had a virus that landed me in bed for a fortnight. It tightened stuff up and reversed some of the previous work that Dave had done, but that’s the brilliant thing because he is both flexible and honest, adapting to his patients needs.

So yes, I am willing to try anything but sadly the cost of such therapies prevents me from doing so. The one “alternative therapy” I have been able to access thanks to my dad, has most definitely helped. Maybe one day that will change. Maybe the protesting myself and others whom care deeply about the NHS will have some impact and more funding will increase the options, treatments, medications and therapies available to people like me, who are otherwise left to suffer.

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