Now that I had a few mind/body exercises in my toolbox, it was time to expand my options even more. I would now be entering into another realm of treatment opportunities, which has also turned out to be quite fortunate, and necessary, for my healing.
My pain psychologist suggested that I move on from trying to find answers from Western medicine for my undiagnosed conditions and start taking more control over my healthcare. That was great advice. My many doctors couldn’t provide answers, and taking drugs with no diagnosis was not the solution for me. He suggested acupuncture, reassured me that it was not painful, and gave me the name of a local acupuncturist who he knew personally. I read her biography and found her background impressive. (She has given me permission to include her website in my blog.)
I definitely knew of acupuncture, but I didn’t understand how needles could help and I was skeptical. I admit that. After a bit of pondering, I made an appointment. I had nothing to lose and it was definitely worth a try. Besides, if acupuncture has successfully endured for thousands of years, there is definite merit to it. My phone call was the right decision – why?
Below, I’ve listed some of my experiences with my acupuncturist that I rarely or didn’t experience recently with medical doctors. She:
- Initially took an extensive medical history and evaluation
- Really listens to me and my concerns
- Is also interested in my emotional health
- Is compassionate, gentle and kind
- Is empathetic
- Understands some of what I am experiencing and feeling, physically and emotionally
- Shares personal experiences where she thinks will help me
- Provides a calm, soothing and relaxing environment for treatment sessions
- Explains the treatments very clearly and patiently
- Talks with me during the treatment sessions
- Takes a holistic approach, or whole person approach, rather than just address my primary physical complaints
- Coaches me with mind/body exercises
- Provides nutritional counseling
- Provides guidance about natural remedies rather than focusing on drugs
- Shares resources, such as books, music, etc., which she feels will help with healing
- Suggests other treatment options, both alternative and conventional, where she feels may help or provide more answers
- Provides a clear plan of approach
- Gives me a hug at the end of each session!
Whole person approach
My acupuncturist explained that some of the approaches of oriental medicine (which includes acupuncture) include prevention, balancing the body and helping the body to heal itself. We also approached the combination of body, mind and spirit. I understood the importance of these given the education I received in my pain psychology sessions about the power of the mind/body connection. I believe the “whole person” approach (as preferred by Dr. Andrew Weil) helps people take more control over their health and life. Conventional medicine seems to focus more on the physical body and symptom management instead.
I learned that three key aspects of healing are eating, breathing and sleeping. Along with addressing my primary concerns, we also had to focus on these three key areas. Because I still had concerning digestive issues, we needed to get that back on track so that the rest of my body could start healing. The plan was acupuncture, mind/body exercises and nutritional changes that would help balance my digestive system and nourish my blood.
So how has acupuncture helped me?
The first and most profound improvement I had involved my stomach. I still had intense pain, nausea, esophageal pain and some difficulty keeping food down, which had started several months prior. After about three acupuncture treatments on my digestive system, I had a huge breakthrough. I finally had a day without stomach pain! I never thought that day would come, but it did, and the break was a welcome relief! It was obviously an emotional experience for me. I still had other problems and pains that persisted, but the digestive issue alone was huge. Stomach pains would still persist after, but with lesser intensity. Over time and subsequent treatments, the nausea and vomiting subsided, the pain lessened, I gradually evolved from a primarily soft food/liquid diet to a more normal diet, and I gained a few much-needed pounds. I also received other alternative treatments, which helped improve my digestive system even more. I will be posting about those treatments later. Right now, I would estimate that my digestive system is at least 90% better – with no drugs! Yay!
Although the third and last gastroenterologist I saw prior to acupuncture was very nice, I wonder why he couldn’t have suggested acupuncture or alternatives other than drugs. His final words were that since I had undergone extensive testing with no answers, I just needed to go home. He felt my stomach eventually would heal on its own, but it would take at least “six months to years.” This doctor was not rude, just truthful. But I felt lost because I didn’t know how long my body could continue with its symptoms. I had already lost significant weight. For me, that was a bad thing.
Acupuncture has also helped with other issues, such as temporary pain relief, PMS including hormonal migraines (this is huge) and hormonal emotions. As I continue to heal, I still plan to continue with acupuncture treatments for periodic balancing. As I post more about my healing process, I will include more benefits I have experienced from acupuncture.
So – why acupuncture? Because it works…..at least for me.