Celebrating Needles

I’ve been going through this crazy health nightmare for almost a year. Whatever *this* is, it came on all at once with no outside influence that I know of. Like, I didn’t get hit by a car or suffer any other obvious trauma like that. I just felt like I caught a flu.

So after being shuttled from doctor to doctor, one specialist to another, and not making any progress either by way of gaining relief or a diagnosis, I had a little talk with my body. I want to be my old self again. I want to be able to do the things I used to do. So I acknowledged that whatever was off in my body happened internally, so my body needs to work internally to correct the imbalance. I promised my body that I would do everything in my power to help it out.

My symptoms were chills, fatigue, a headache that had been ongoing since day one without stopping, and increasingly worsening vision loss. All of the symptoms started on a Saturday afternoon last June; I honestly thought I caught a flu.  But a flu that never went away.

Last Friday, I went over the series of events and the list of symptoms one. more. time.  This time for a different kind of specialist. Actually, this was more of an anti-specialist. I’ve added an acupuncturist to my arsenal.  I want someone who will treat my body as a whole. After I told my story for the umpteenth time, I voiced my frustration at my neurologist wanting to treat my headache, my opthamologist checking my eyes, etc but all of the specialists ignoring the other symptoms when everything started at the same time. Whatever is going one, I feel it’s part of one big issue and it should be treated as such. So this is what I’ve asked the acupuncturist to do. I’m not discontinuing my care with any of my other doctors; I’m doing acupuncture to supplement the care I’m already receiving in hopes of speeding up my healing.

For those of you who have never tried acupuncture,  I’ll share with you my experience. I was a little bit nervous but I had absolutely no reason to be. When I arrived, I filled out the same paperwork one would fill out at any doctor appointment: Name, address, medical history, etc. The acupuncturist’s wife is his recepionist. At my appointment time, the acupuncturist sat with me in the lobby to go over the paperwork and discuss the reason for my visit. Part way through, the next patient arrived early for his appointment so we finished in the treatment room for privacy. Then he left so I could change into a hospital gown, leaving on my underclothes. 

When he returned, he took my pulse in three different points on each hand; each point represents an organ group in Chinese medicine. Then, he had me lay face down on the table and he and his wife started by giving me a light massage to read my energy field. They very very concerned with propriety so he stayed above my waist while she did my legs and feet. Then he did a technique called “cupping” where four cups are suctioned to the muscles on the back to pull and stretch them.  That actually feels way better than it sounds but it left four bruises on my back that looked like hickies. We joked about how I was supposed to explain those to my boyfriend when I got home.

It was then time to roll onto my back for the needles. Oooh… He explained that it was not a “No pain, no gain” situation. He said that I might feel a tingle or a jolt or a pick but if I felt anything at all to let him know. The goal was to not feel anything. That was kind of a relief. They went in everywhere. I had needles from the top of my head to my feet but I only felt one, in my right hand. I told him I felt it when it went in. After a couple more he asked how I was feeling. I replied that I was kind of woozy, nauseous.  And I could still feel the one on my right hand. He said ok, reached over and tweaked the needle in my hand and I felt lightning bolts shoot out my fingers!  After that, the nausea went away. Since then I’ve been referring to it as my exorcism. He put in a couple more needles for a total of maybe twelve. Not that many at all. And I honestly only felt one and not painful like when you have blood drawn; it’s hard to explain the feeling. It didn’t feel like I was stuck with a needle, it was just that I got uncomfortable about the same time that needle went in if that makes any sense.

After they were in, he said that it was time to rest for about 45 minutes. Most people fall asleep but it’s not required. I didn’t sleep but I just let my mind wander. There was soft music playing so it was a great time and place for meditation so I prayed and meditated on healing. I reaffirmed my promise to my body to do everything in my power to allow it to heal. The time passed way too quickly and before I knew it, he was back to remove the needles. That was extremely quick and painless and before I knew it I was dressed and checking out at the front desk.

So just a couple notes from checking out: my acupuncturist was a nurse prior to studying Eastern medicine so his fee is his fee like any other medical professional and I don’t tip him like I do my masseuse. I’m not sure if that’s industry standard so you might want to double check with your provider. Now what is similar to a massage is that acupuncture releases toxins that are trapped in your body so you will want to hydrate well the day of and the day after your treatment to flush those toxins out of your system (but you really want to be hydrating well all the time anyway, right?).

So the Result? I just had one treatment so far so I’m trying to reserve judgement but while I still have the headache  (excruciating at some points this weekend) I think it’s done wonders for my energy level. I went to a baseball game Saturday and a family barbecue Sunday and I’ve still managed to do quite a bit of housework today and I’m not begging for a nap yet. My thought right now is that if acupuncture can increase my energy level, maybe it can give my body the energy it needs to heal itself. If that’s the case, then I’m on the right path. 

I’ll have weekly treatments for the next four weeks so I could theoretically see a lot of improvement before I have my next round of doctor appointments in May. Fingers Crossed.

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