I saw Raymond Perrin last August. I was into about week nine of a proposed twelve week course of treatment, and nothing had shifted, I had had no real reaction.
Raymond Perrin is a doctor, though his doctorate is in osteopathy, not medicine. He has worked in the area of ME for a couple of decades, I think, and has developed his technique over that time based on research that he has carried out.
We got off to a rocky start when he repeated the questionnaire that the therapist had done with me in my first visit. I was told to answer without thinking to a list of symptoms he read out, giving each one a grade from one to five. I really spent almost no thought on answering, though he seemed to take it seriously, and told me that I had actually slightly improved, according to his questionnaire.
The truth was that I hadn't improved at all, and I knew that. I didn't need his totally unscientific list of questions to tell me how I was feeling.
The next thing that he did was to check that I was doing the home exercises properly. It turned out that I was rushing some of them, and was also not doing the head and neck massage often enough. My therapist had told me to do them once a day, Perrin said that I needed to do them three times daily.
I sensed a certain amount of impatience from him. There was an element of blaming the patient for the failure of the therapy, as if it were my fault that I wasn't feeling any better. I had just driven two hours to see the man, and was not in the best of moods.
It didn't improve our relationship very much when I told him that I hadn't bought his book. I was advised to do this at the beginning of my treatment, and I purposely didn't do so. My reasoning was, I'm already paying a lot of money for weekly treatment, if that doesn't help me, reading his book isn't going to make any difference.
He went on to do the same treatment that my own therapist had been doing, as well as some manipulation of the back, which he said was very stiff. He gave me an extra exercise to do, that of alternating hot and cold compresses on the small of the back, which was supposed to loosen up my back and so encourage drainage.
In fairness, I did find him eager to help, and he did give me his card with a personal email address to get in touch if I had any questions.
I went away and increased the frequency of the home exercises. It began to take up a lot of my day, all of this home treatment. I continued with the weekly sessions with my therapist, all the time waiting for a change, an improvement, even a worsening, anything. And nothing happened, and continued to happen.
I gave it fourteen weeks. Originally I was told that I should begin to see some change by week twelve, but I wanted to be absolutely sure. I was disappointed, but at that stage not surprised. Really by a few weeks in to the treatment I had an idea that this was not going to do anything for me.
My experience, however, is not shared by everyone. Dr Perrin himself claimed that 80% of people he treats experience some kind of improvement. I have looked for some substantiation for these claims, and actually more objective studies give a figure of about 50% of people who get some benefit from the technique.
That in itself makes it worth a try, if you can afford it. It probably cost me, including the cost of travel, over €1000. I was hopeful at the beginning of at least some small improvement, and so the long slow realisation that I wasn't going to get anything from it was tough to take.
Yet I don't regret giving it a go. It is one more thing I can tick off the list. And it apparently does help some people. Unfortunately, I was one of the unlucky ones.
(For more on this, check out the first post, The Perrin Technique)