I’m 38 and have a degenerative joint disease that affects most of the joints in my body.

The “standard of care” treatments that insurance and government programs cover are worthless.

The only viable treatments are part of a novel discipline called orthobiologics. This includes stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Both are cash only. Stem cells are more powerful, but exorbitantly expensive. PRP is less powerful, but less expensive. It’s unknown which provides better “bang for the buck.”

I have had several treatments with both over time with mixed results. They can work, sometimes spectacularly well, but there is always a risk of failure. It’s also possible to damage the joints again after treatment. In the six years since my first treatment, I’ve had a net decline, thanks largely to an incident in 2019 that badly aggravated things. I’m now teetering on disabled, where I can only do very conservative exercise and the pain significantly impacts my ability to work.

I have to make a hard treatment decision now: what portion of my net worth to invest in further treatment. I could invest a "small" (i.e. 1/3 portion of my net worth) on treating the worst areas of my spine and hands, which are the most crucial areas, with stem cells, or to invest a much larger (i.e. 2/3 or more) portion to treat everything as aggressively as possible, in the hope of getting whole-body improvement and increasing my exercise level.

I could ask my dad for money, and there is a good chance he would oblige. However, I feel pretty bad about it, because although he has some finite amount of money, he’s been pretty irresponsible, and needs all the money he has for his own future. He’s already helped me a lot, and I feel pretty bad asking or accepting anything more.

There was a time when I would have gone for broke on these treatments. The love of my life is exercise, and I was desperately trying to save it. But because of the limits of the treatments, and how expensive they are, I consider it pretty unrealistic at this point.

I'm basically sandwiched between getting wiped out physically and wiped out financially. Still, I have to make a decision here.