Tuesday, May 7, 2013


In recent times I have found myself working as much as I can manage from September to June, saving some money, and then trying out some therapy or other during the summer.

Last summer it was the Perrin technique. This was developed by Raymond Perrin, a doctor of osteopathy in England. It has a number of elements to it, but the main one is a kind of targeted massage to clear the lymph ducts and so aid detoxification. Perrin's belief is that CFS is caused by blockages in the lymph ducts, which are the body's way of eliminating toxins, viruses and waste.

The liquid that carries all of these toxins away is called lymph. In Perrin's view, in ME/CFS, because of a trauma or stressor on the central nervous system the lymph ducts get blocked and the lymph no longer carries toxins away from the body and into the liver. Instead these toxins are pushed back up and towards the brain where they cause many of the symptoms experienced by sufferers of CFS.

I found a therapist that used the Perrin technique in Ireland and made an appointment to see him last June. He explained that the treatment would involve weekly visits for at least 12 weeks, and thereafter fortnightly and finally monthly. He also suggested that I would be substantially recovered from my symptoms in twelve to eighteen months, and was confident that he could help me.

There was an initial appointment to assess my condition. One part was to answer a long list of questions about my symptoms and their severity, trying to grade them and to quantify my condition. This questionnaire I found mostly pointless, I was asked about 40 different questions and told to answer without thinking, rating each symptom on a scale of 1 to 5, depending on how it applied to me.

The symptoms ranged from "dry mouth" to "frequent urination" to "muscle pain." A lot didn't really apply to me, or else only vaguely, and also there was no mention of certain problems that I do have, like food intolerances. My answers were totalled and then used to offer me a grade as to how severely I was effected. I was given a 6 out of 10 and told that the idea was to get me up to 9 or 10 out of 10. Frankly I found the assessment procedure to be a kind of weak attempt to give some kind of scientific credence to the process, while not being at all scientific.

Anyhow, I began my weekly appointments. This was tough as I had to do a two hundred mile round trip in the car every week to see the Perrin therapist for half an hour. This was a major investment of time and energy for me. The first appointment cost €150, and thereafter it was €50 a time, plus the €40 or so it cost for petrol.

Each session consisted of the specific lymphatic drainage massage, which was mainly on the chest and back, massaging upwards towards the clavicle, where the lymph is supposed to drain away. There was also some cranio-sacral massage, which worked on specific points on the head, the idea being to aid drainage from the brain.

I was also given a set of daily exercises to do at home, basically reproducing what was done in each treatment session, with a few extras. I did these religiously every day, and didn't miss a week of the treatment, despite the distance I had to travel.

My therapist was friendly and helpful, though he did seem very anxious to make sure I knew how effective the treatment had been shown to be. To be honest he protested too much, it became a bit tiresome every time hearing about this breakthrough with a certain patient (he never named his patients to me, I stress), or hearing about whatever new research was being done which showed how well the treatment worked. It smacked a little of desperation.

Still, I kept it up. I was told that I may feel a lot worse at the beginning, as the toxins left my system, but in truth I had no real reaction. I felt neither better nor worse. This went on for seven or eight weeks. No reaction, no change, no improvement.

Around week eight or nine, I was told that the man himself, Raymond Perrin, the originator of the technique, was coming to Ireland to give a talk and would be seeing patients. I booked an appointment with him. I was hoping he would have some ideas to get some change happening. At that stage I still held out some hope for improvement, but it was fading fast
(For the continuation, check out the following blog post here. )

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