I have spent a great deal of time searching for and sifting through information about herniated discs since my own herniation at the beginning of November. There is so much information on the internet, and it has been challenging to sift the good information from the bad. So several weeks ago when I stumbled upon an online support group for people with herniated discs, I joined. I’m not sure what I expected from such a group, but I was almost instantly overwhelmed by the broad scope and complexities of this one group. People of all ages from all over the world with all sorts of herniations, treatments, medications, and opinions.
Normally I avoid taking part in online arguments or inflammatory conversations, because such conversations seldom go well and benefit no one. The loudest voices in such conversations tend to come from those with the biggest attitudes, the narrowest minds, and an unwillingness to expand their knowledge. I will never claim to have all the right answers, but I do like to be considerate and thoughtful in my perspective and responses. I’m even willing to agree to disagree! Well…unless you think Star Trek is better than Star Wars! 😉
Yesterday morning there was a conversation regarding a specific home treatment…an inversion table. Although I have yet to try an inversion table, I do own one and have talked to my chiropractor more than once about using it. I shared my thoughts on the table in this discussion, mainly the fact that my chiropractor had discouraged my using the table when my herniation was new and has now said I can try it with care and caution. It wasn’t too long before someone replied directly to my comment by stating that my chiropractor wouldn’t want me to use an inversion table because it would keep me from seeing him and giving him lots of money.
And that’s when I broke my unspoken rule to avoid argumentative online discussions! Kind of anyway. I did manage to keep my response civil and non-threatening. I agreed that there are many chiropractors who are exactly like that, but then I said there are indeed good chiropractors out there and mine is one of them. My chiropractor’s concerns about my using an inversion table had nothing to do with keeping me coming to see him for treatment and everything to do with ensuring I was being treated properly and safely. Since herniating my disc, I’ve seen my chiropractor 3 times. The first was when he initially diagnosed the herniation, and he performed no treatment at all. The second was because my neck was in desperate need of an adjustment, and again no treatment on the back. The last and most recent visit was primarily motivated, on my part, by the need for an adjustment on my neck and concern over my knee/hamstring. He did a bit of treatment and said to come back in a month or so. I know I can be highly skeptical at times, but that doesn’t sound like my chiropractor is looking to keep me coming back like a yo-yo.
I made my post. There was no further response, but I was highly irritated for a few hours after the fact. That took me by surprise, because I don’t even get that upset over bad drivers. My fits of anger or irritation are typically as short-lived as a lit match. I was so upset that I considered blogging about it right then and there, but sanity prevailed enough to use my annoyance for more productive things, like cleaning the bathroom. Today, as I type this blog post, I am no longer angry or irritated, but I think I am dismayed.
I like my chiropractor, and I will always speak highly of his integrity and practice. However, I know from experience that not all chiropractors are the same. I respect my chiropractor and ones like him…not so much the other kind! And yet, I think my irritation stems from something more than just the broad insult directed towards chiropractors. I think the problem is the nature of many online groups, regardless of the reason for their existence.
I joined this support group, because I was looking for support, emotional and informational, from people who knew exactly what I was dealing with. While there was definitely some of that support, there was also a lot of contradictory information and information that wasn’t relevant to my situation. After seeing many people’s stories, I have come to believe that my herniation wasn’t all that bad! Certainly I haven’t been having a sunny picnic these past few months, and my pain and struggles cannot be compared to those of another. But there are people with multiple herniations! People who have been suffering intense pain for years, even decades! People who can’t get out of bed, can’t walk, can’t function on the most basic level. Those aren’t my experiences, and my own feel shallow in comparison.
I have seen posts asking for advice on every topic related to our injuries that you could possibly imagine, and sometimes I wonder why. Why are some of these questions even being asked in an online support group? Shouldn’t you ask your doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist, surgeon, pharmacist, whatever? Do you not know how to do a google search to find out the side effects of whatever drug you’ve been prescribed? And even if you still want the human perspective on your question, why is it so difficult for people to hear opinions and experiences that differ from their own? Why assume the worst? If Joe says that back extensions really helped with his back pain, then why trash back extensions simply because the exercise wasn’t helpful for you?
I recognize that there is a measure of irony in my complaining about online groups, and putting my thoughts into words is difficult sometimes. I know there can be value to online groups, but I suppose I have little tolerance for scenarios where some ideas are immediately shot down for no other reason than that someone holds a different one. Jane shares a post about eating well to reduce inflammation. A dozen or more posts soon follow which ridicule Jane’s post as being irrelevant and ineffectual. Hey, if you want to eat refined and heavily processed food with nary a vegetable in sight, that’s your choice and you’re welcome to it. But why the stubborn arrogance? Not everyone wants to rush into surgery or pop pills forever to deal with the pain. Some people are willing to consider alternatives. Some people are willing to look at our bodies as complex, inter-connected machines, which will run and heal more efficiently when we treat all its areas properly. Jane’s not demanding that everyone give up their fast food. Jane’s just offering an alternative point of view. Thankfully, some people get it. Unfortunately, the internet is full of people who don’t, and I don’t have time or energy to waste on the negative. Well, I’ve got the time right now, but I am not so inclined to waste it in such a forum. I do have a life to live, and I plan on living it.
Guess that means I’m going to have to leave the group.