I scurried up the stairs to the doctor’s office in Beverly Hills. I’d spent the morning working fervently: writing posts via social media to promote my new hive-meets-health venture titled HoneyColony; swapping perks on my Indiegogo campaign (Selina Naturally sea salts for Nutiva’s organic hempseeds ; ”circling back” with Whole Foods on their honeybee campaign; and discussing Vanishing of the Bees with our domestic distributor FilmBuff.
I am eternally a busy bee (a much better label than ‘workaholic’).
I hoped they wouldn’t be too upset that I was running late.
The placard on the door read “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.”
Was I in the wrong building? What the hell did plastic surgery have to do with fibromyalgia?
I was working on a story for Cosmopolitan Online on the rise of fibromyalgia amid women, and slated to try western medicine’s take on an alternative treatment. The technique was aimed at soothing symptoms of fibromyalgia—symptoms like my chronic everyday widespread pain.
I walked in. I always wanted to see the inside of a plastic factory.
Wood panels. Brown carpet. An old building circa 1967. Not as glam as the vagionoplasty office I’d visited on assignment years ago, that was for sure.
Immediately two pretty assistants assured me I was in the right place.
After filling out oodles of paperwork, I was led into an examining room and handed a sheer white one-piece leotard scrunched up into the size of a tennis ball.
“You need to wear this since you can’t use the LPG technique on bare skin.”
When the girls exited, I noticed I was sharing the room with a futuristic white machine on rollers with a tentacle jutting out and a touchscreen embedded in its trunk, featuring an image of a holographic woman.
I stripped down to my undies and hopped on a padded bed before hearing a knock.
The Iranian assistant with wicked threaded eyebrows proceeded to place a rectangular thingy on my back, which was attached to the end of the tentacle. Electronically-controlled rollers shifted over my skin, pinching with a kind of aspiration effect.
What was this robotic matrix I’d found myself in? Things on earth had become too automated.
Take for instance, every consumer care specialist from AT&T to American Express; they all sound the same whether they’re working out of Texas or India.
I am so tired of hearing assholes over the phone tell me that they “understand” when they clearly don’t have an effin clue what I am going through. Or worse yet, they do know but have been forced into sounding like inauthentic cold robots for the sake of company policy.
What has happened to singular expression?
But I digress.
If you are going to use a robot to ease my pain, why not employ assistants who actually care to give the treatment? Or at the very least, let’s kill the overhead fluorescents and give the room a few candles and a paint job.
By the time the assistant reached my “tush,” Dr. Kinney waltzed in and sat down on a stool by my bed. He reminded me of a poor man’s version of Mad Men’s Roger Sterling.
As I was prompted to flip over, Dr. Kinney explained how in 1985, a man by the name of Louis-Paul Guitay (LPG) from Valence, France, experienced a devastating burn injury. During his excruciating and prolonged physical rehabilitation sessions, “Guitay began to fantasize about helping the therapist by mechanizing his protocols for greater consistency.”
He designed the first working prototype of the CELLU M6, which was said to encourage collagen growth. Eventually the apparatus traveled across the Atlantic where it devolved into a post-liposuction/cellulite treatment.
“It’s like physical therapy for those who have had cosmetic surgery,” Dr. Kinney explained.
Because of course people who have been sucked and pulled also need PT. Duh!
The machine helped make you dimple free but improvements could also be observed on “pathological manifestations” such as fibrosis (sclerodermia, scars, irradiated skin), edema (lymphedema), stiffness, post-surgery pains, and minor muscle aches and pains associated with fibromyalgia. Depending on the problem, five to 15 successive treatments were recommended, at a frequency of two to three times a week.
In a preliminary study on the treatment of fibromyalgia, pain intensity and the number of painful tender points decreased by 60 percent and 50 percent respectively, after 15 sessions of mechano-stimulation with LPG Systems Cellu M6.
So why wasn’t Kinney advertising this to more Fibro patients rather than solely focusing on those who wanted to trim fat and remove cottage cheese?
And why had my own rheumatologist prescribed Cymbalta (an anti-depressant) without batting an eye, but not LPG? Was she unaware? Was she motivated by kickbacks?
And even if she did suggest it, would I drive all the way to Beverly Hills for a mechanized massage?
Don’t get me wrong, some days my body aches so much that pressing up against the corner of two walls feels pretty spectacular. But given the choice, I’d opt for human touch rather than a robotic sucking rectangular thingy.
Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.
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