Honolulu Lite

Charles Memminger

New ailment
has to be seen
to be believed

KANEOHE (Honolulu Lite News Services) >> Doctors are fighting a newly discovered health threat that literally millions of people may be suffering from: Invisible Problem Syndrome, or IPS.

Researchers say more people may suffer from IPS than from Repressed Memory Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, dermatitis, hepatitis and halitosis combined. What makes Invisible Problem Syndrome so insidious is that those with IPS display absolutely no symptoms. "These poor people are unaware that anything is wrong with them," said Dr. Larry Finklebean, an IPS pioneer.

Finklebean has come up with a diagnostic protocol to identify IPS patients.

"We put them through exhaustive screening tests, from blood work to CAT scans to a battery of psychological examinations," he said. "If those tests come back perfectly normal, we know the patient has Invisible Problem Syndrome."

Patients are shocked to learn they have the ailment.

"It's hard to break it to a fellow who runs marathons or someone who runs a corporation that he or she is seriously ill," the doctor said.

But a 36-year-old cosmetics salesperson who asked to remain anonymous said she was relieved to learn she has IPS.

"I mean, I felt good all the time. It was so weird," she said. "I played tennis a lot, walked an hour a day, never had a cold in 20 years. Once I learned I had IPS that explained everything."

IPS TREATMENT so far consists of giving patients a wide spectrum of placebos, either orally or by injection.

Finklebean and his associates recently published their preliminary research results in the prestigious New England Journal of Quasi-Medicine. It rocked the American psychiatric community as well as several large semi-accredited chiropractic organizations.

"We have not been this excited about a health issue since the days of Past Lives reversion Therapy," said Dr. Charley Ton, renowned for his successful treatment of a Hollywood celebrity who thought he had arthritis of the knee only to learn he sustained a nasty sword wound at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

"There's a lot of very expensive work to be done here," Dr. Ton said. "But we won't rest until every IPS patient is treated, damn the cost."

Dr. Finklebean has asked several federal health agencies for millions of dollars in grants for IPS research and the development of more effective placebos. Through his Invisible Problem Syndrome Foundation, he's pressing Congress and state legislatures to include IPS among disorders that can be treated under Medicare, Medicaid and HPOs.

The cosmetics salesperson already is seeing results from her treatments.

"Since I've been taking my placebo injections, my arms hurt and I've given up tennis," she said. "I have headaches in the morning but tequila seems to help. I threw up twice yesterday. It's like I'm doing SO much better!"

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail


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