Friday, August 7, 2009

My acupuncture experience

A few years ago, I was going to an acupuncturist to work on some physical issues that I was interested in resolving. I had spent a number of years studying alternative medicines; especially with a focus on food energies and diet—personally favoring a hands-on, preventative approach to health and healing. I’ve never been one to run to a doctor, but out of interest and having read quite a bit about acupuncture, decided to test it out.

I went weekly for about 10 weeks. Each week the practitioner would ask me about the week and if anything was up—I always assumed in regards to my noticing any effects from my previous treatment. Finally, on one Monday morning when she asked the question, I did have a health issue. I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it, if she’d not asked. I was unused to sharing my maladies with others, and it not being the original reason for my visit, hadn’t even considered bringing it up.

I had been out walking in the park with a friend the previous Friday evening. At one point, I had skidded on some gravel and fallen off the curb, twisting my ankle. I used to twist my ankles quite a lot when I was a young girl, so I didn’t think much about it; just hobbled up and limped back to my friend’s house. That night and the following two nights, I noticed that I could not sleep on my left side without feeling severe, sharp, stabbing pains in my chest, near my heart. This was a nuisance as I usually alternate sleeping on each side of my body throughout the night, but I did not feel any real panic about the pain, I just shifted back to my right side.

When I told the acupuncturist about it that Monday morning, she did a rudimentary test of my meridians—the energy channels which run through our bodies. She literally took a cigarette lighter, holding it near the meridians of each of my toes and counted how long it took for me to feel the heat. In this simple, nonintrusive way she determined that my heart/small intestine meridian which runs through the ankle near where I had sprained it was unbalanced. She then inserted needles in various spots of my body for about 45 minutes and viola; that was it.

I never again experienced any pain. I was stunned and amazed, but not so much by the procedure working as I was in considering what might have been a western medical alternative. If I had been keen to run to a Western doctor, what might have been the diagnosis? Would it have cost the $60 fee; my normal acupuncture session rate for an hours worth of treatment? Obviously a doctor would not have suggested that my meridians were unbalanced due to my fall. Would he have given me some drug I didn’t need, or want? The pains were near my heart and quite acute, would the doctor have diagnosed a heart problem? If I was open to such a typical examination and diagnosis, what would have been the repercussions of taking drugs or treatments that did not correct the underlying imbalance in my energy field and perhaps caused greater harm over the long term? I was fascinated by how easy it would have been to rely on such a treatment which might eventually lead down a slippery slope to real dis-ease.

Another interesting idea captured my imagination: we often hear of the elderly falling and never recovering from their tumbles. Could it be as easy to correct their imbalances as well? If so, a lot of suffering and hardship might be prevented by an inexpensive and nonintrusive visit to the local acupuncturist. Those are two words that we don’t associate with our system of medicine: inexpensive and nonintrusive. The whole experience resulted in an even more profound respect for the ancient traditions. Naturally now, when I experience some type of physical problem that I might feel ill-equipped to deal with myself, my first thought, after looking into what I can do myself, is to set an appointment with the acupuncturist.

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