Stephen Kahn

Is there a placebo practioner in the house?

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2012 at 3:04 am

It has been said that” The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep in the night.” The same thought may apply to medical care.


My HMO is considered to be one of the best in the United States – or so they often tell me – and as I am still alive, and my infected leg seems to be getting better – I will go along with this assertion. In truth, the medical staff who cared for me were careful and kind.


Even so, I got a much closer examination of medical care from the “inside” than I have ever needed before, and various aspects left me uneasy. Doctors are spread very thin, rotating quickly from one venue to another; one day at the hospital; another day at the clinic; another day on a different shift. On several occasions, I met a new doctor unfamiliar with my case so I had to brief him or her on everything that had occurred before. I could see the wheels turning in the doctor’s head as he sized me up and made a diagnosis. Also, I was treated with a complicated witch’s brew of medications, with an almost infinite possibility of interactions and side effects. I had a variety of side effects; trying to isolate what medication caused which particular side effect – such as the incredible itching I experienced – was almost impossible to isolate.


One of the medications listed as side effects the possibility of rupturing a tendon. My wife says she knows someone who took this medication and ruptured a tendon (which never really recovered). Several doctors were dubious – “We have used this medication – cipro – and we haven’t observed any cases of tendon rupture” was a typical response, making me feel as if I was at casino with very high stakes and dubious odds.


David, whose opinion I value highly, said


Here’s my weirdo suggestion: if you are at all open to strange alternative shit — and even if you’re not — it might be worthwhile to try Reiki, which is unusual in that it tends to be beneficial even if the person receiving it thinks it’s complete crap. Luckily we live in a part of the world where energy workers are pretty common. Even if it doesn’t help the infection or the itching, it can “purge” side effects of drugs, which may be useful since you’ve been on several strong ones recently. Usually for stuff like this, one session is enough, or at least causes a measurable improvement.


Also, don’t die. That would be bad.


I mentioned this to the last doctor I encountered, a handsome, pleasant young man, who tactfully expressed doubt about Reiki, but indicated as he has an aunt who is into it, he wasn’t going to say anything negative about it. My wife has used acupuncture, and thinks it may  have helped her, and the doctor expressed a little more confidence in it than Reiki.


My gymnasium has a Reiki practitioner. My wife (who is also dubious) thinks she knows a couple, but she can’t remember their names. None of this is free. Is one better than another? How do I tell?


I am tempted to see if there is a Placebo practitioner who works for free. Or at least in exchange for very fresh eggs from very happy chickens.


  1. Death may not be all it’s cracked up to be…
    Hey I got one for ya…Seriously! Have you considered a hyperbolic chamber? They are supposed to dramatically improve healing!

  2. Apparently, they are called “hyperbaric chambers.” Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

    Second, they seem to cost about $4500 to buy. I looked at a web site that offered rentals, but didn’t say how much, and a pop-up window started hollering at me (because I didn’t have my speakers silenced, which I usually do). The World Wide Web is practically dead for hyperbole and compulsive selling. I am refraining from comments about people who have been selling, sometimes gently, sometimes loudly, for thousands of years.

    So unless you are offering to loan me the money to buy/rent one, or unless my doctor prescribes one and my medical plan covers it, I guess I will have to continue slowly healing.

  3. I was thinking prescribe. And sorry about the misspelling… You might not find one on the island but I’m sure you would in Seattle.

  4. I was well enough to walk a mile up a hill to where one of our neighbors, Richard, has a large party/old time music event each July in his pleasant but not ostentatious house. Richard told me he had been an patent attorney (related in a quiet, demure modest way). Later good neighbor Craig told me that Richard had been one of the leading patent attorney in the United States, and had retired at 55, probably with at least a million dollars. Now he spends much of his time making musical instruments (mostly stringed, though he also brought out and played a large wasboard).

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