All the world’s woo-woo couldn’t cure man of his hiccups.

As if we needed yet more proof that homeopathy, acupuncture, and all the rest of the woo-woo “alternative” medicines don’t really help, here’s a story about a man who suffered from the hiccups for years until he was finally cured after doctors removed a tumor from his brain stem:

He tried yoga, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, pickled plums, mustard, vinegar and every single way you could imagine to drink water but now Chris Sands, the man who suffered hiccups for over two and a half years, has finally been cured.

[…] Mr Sands, who is an aspiring musician and lives in Timberland near Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire, first got the hiccups in September 2006 and, after a few days, began searching for a diagnosis.

After finding that hiccups could be linked to brain tumours, he went to visit a doctor.

“They said, ‘don’t worry about it, it’s probably just linked to your heartburn, here’s some Gaviscon’,” he said.

The hiccups went away but returned for good in February 2007.

What followed was a two-year search for something to stop the hiccups that took him to the other side of the world.

“When you first tell people about the hiccups they do laugh straight away and I suppose they don’t think about how debilitating it is.

“It has ruined my life pretty much.”

I’ve boldfaced an important bit of text in the quote above. It’s important because Mr. Sands’ initial concern that it might be brain tumor ultimately turned out to be correct. When the hiccups returned in 2007 he should have gone back his doctor’s office and asked that they do a more in-depth examination.

Instead he decided to try just about every form of “alternative” medicine he could find and made a few TV appearances along the way. One show in Japan invited him back after their initial story about him generated some 500 suggested cures from viewers. It was during that visit that his true problem was found:

Straight off the plane, his first day was spent with a hiccup specialist who had been studying the condition for years.

It was there that he underwent the MRI scan that revealed the tumour.

The man who diagnosed Mr Sands in Japan, Dr Condo, said: “CT scans are extremely poor at detecting in this area – unless you use an MRI scan you won’t be able to detect it.

“If they had done an MRI scan in England, they probably would have found it.”

But Chris is not angry about the way he way was treated.

In fact, despite being offered the opportunity to have the operation in Japan, he chose to return to England.

“Everyone else seems to mean harm to the NHS for various reasons but I really don’t.

“They probably should have done [an MRI exam] but it just never happened.

“I don’t blame anyone and I got treated well no matter where I went.”

Think on that for a moment. Two years of constant hiccuping and trying all manner of oddball treatments and a simple MRI scan was all it took to find the problem. A tumor that, had it continued to go untreated, likely would’ve killed him before too much longer.

Mr. Sands underwent surgery that removed most of the tumor and his hiccups have largely subsided, though he still gets occasional bouts from time to time. His doctor’s made a mistake in not taking the condition seriously in the beginning, but Mr. Sands made a mistake in not insisting they take it seriously and opting to try any ridiculous idea that came along. I can only imagine the desperation he must have felt that probably drove him to trying anything he could, but two years is a long time to suffer for want of insisting your doctor refer you to a specialist. Stick to the stuff that’s been shown to work. The “alternatives” are a waste of time and money.

2 thoughts on “All the world’s woo-woo couldn’t cure man of his hiccups.

  1. Obviously, God had mercy on this poor hiccuper, and moved this doctor to remove his tumor. That proves that God exists.

  2. That’s an exceedingly unfair assessment.I presume you were watching the same documentary as me, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you nipped out of the room for a cuppa at the point where he was talking about his treatment under the NHS.

    At the time the show picked him up, he was still being examined by the NHS, he was taking his disease and their treatment exceedingly seriously and had been referred to several specialists along the way, almost all of them stomach related but that is hardly his fault! After two years of trying everything under the sun – including stomach surgery to fix his faulty stomach valve – he was getting desperate and started to try some more off-the-wall alternatives, always with a healthy dose of skepticism. Perhaps his lack of credulity is why none of them worked – he scuppered his placebo response by being intelligent. His decision to get his story on the various TV networks was a very canny choice and obviously taken in the hope of finding someone with the knowledge to diagnose the problem – it turns out it was exactly the right thing to do because it directly led to his meeting the Japanese Dr who gave him the much needed MRI.

    I would challenge any lay person confronted with a clear CAT scan and a specialist telling you there is nothing wrong with you to push for an MRI. How on earth was he expected to know that he had a condition that only an MRI could pick up?! I doubt anyone would have acted any differently in his place, in fact, most people would probably have given up and never pushed for the TV exposure that ultimately led to his cure.

    Incidentally, some other points of inaccuracy:

    He didn’t pay for most of his alternative treatments as they were given to him by people so convinced of their own efficacy they treated him for free.

    His hiccups got a bit worse after his brain surgery because of swelling but after they subsided they stayed gone.

    His tumor was, and is (the surgeon was unable to remove it all), exceedingly slow growing and it would probably have been a very long time before it killed him.

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