‘You ain’t doing nothing for my fibro, doctor.’
‘Let me stop you right there. You’ve told me all I need to know. That abbreviation of fibromyalgia shows that it has become a part of your very being, as familiar to you as a nicknamed and slightly annoying acquaintance.
‘It suggests, too, that you’ve been dabbling in online forums with like-minded fibro sufferers probably reinforcing negative health beliefs and your alienation from the very people trying to help you.
‘Consider the irony that, while you protest that nobody ain’t doing nothing for your fibro, the truth is that, judging by your records, everyone has done everything. And you betray, in that simple opening gambit, that despite having suffered fibromyalgia, and having heard repeated explanations of the condition, over very many years, you still do not truly understand that this disease can only be improved, in all likelihood, to the extent that your undoubtedly numerous psychosocial stressors can be alleviated. Because the one is the barometer of the other.
It’s not that I ain’t doing nothing, it’s just that there ain’t nothing I can do
‘There’s the personalisation in that opening comment, too. You’ve seen various GPs, the rheumatologist, the orthopaedic team, physiotherapists and the pain clinic countless times. I’ve seen you only twice. Yet now that something, apparently, must be done, it seems that I am the one who is expected to do it and I am the one you’re annoyed at for not having done it before.
‘Well then, this is where I must look deep into your fibromyalgic eyes and be honest with you. Until you are happier with your life, which is possibly outside your control and certainly outside mine, you will have to continue with this cycle of pain, insomnia and misery.
‘I know you are in the depths of despair, that you are suffering, that others pressurise you into thinking the medical profession is wilfully useless and that you believe, against all odds and evidence, someone has a magic answer. But the sad truth is, it’s not that I ain’t doing nothing, it’s just that there ain’t nothing I can do.
‘That said, you’ve never had pregabalin, have you? Let’s give that a try.’
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex