Posts Tagged acupuncture

Patience Heals

There’s been times on this blog where I’ve complained or wondered about the efficacy of acupuncture. I wanted to share the very positive experience with acupuncture I had this week.

When I first took a chance on acupuncture, I went to an eastern medicine school close to me. They were VERY affordable, at only $25 for acupuncture or herbal recommendations. The only problem was, it was never relaxing.

The students weren’t always sure of themselves and the teachers who answered their questions were teaching more than treating me like a human patient.

And then after they stuck me with needles, they would leave and I could overhear them chatting with fellow students in the hallway. It was not relaxing at all and, being new to acupuncture, I would have panic attacks when they left me in the room.

I gave this clinic about four chances and then pretty much swore off acupuncture. Then my friends started recommending an acquaintance of mine who had just started her own practice. They weren’t just recommending, they were raving.

So despite the hour drive and much higher cost, I decided to go see her. I bought a five session package to save money. So there I was, committing once again to something I’d tried and given up on. I’m so glad I did.

Off the bat, the experience was more caring and relaxing. She took time to go over every bit of my history, from medical to personal, in a very human (read: not just doctor to patient, mhmm, mhmm) kind of way. I found that leaving her sessions would at the very least put me in a better mood. I couldn’t say with certainty that it was helping my RA though.

And then, last week, something very miraculous happened. It had been about three weeks since my last session with her, and I’d been struggling with joint pain and all over aches and fatigue pretty consistently for about a month. I was bordering devastation because I had been feeling so good before and during my March trip to Spain.

Not to mention, I had consulted with a doctor in March who had given me the go-ahead to get off methotrexate since I was doing so well. My constant pain that seemed to getting worse and worse was making me really nervous about getting off MTX, so I haven’t done it yet.

So last week I go to her and tell her the positives – my digestion’s been great, my wrist is no longer shooting nerve pain up my hand – and the negatives – I’m stressed and freaked out, achy all over with pain points in my joints, and struggling with fatigue.

We chatted and she stuck me with needles and let me relax (yes, actually relax) for about thirty minutes. By the time she took the needles out  and I left her office, I felt like a new woman. I wasn’t in pain.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve had mild pain in specific joints – my left wrist, my right foot. But that is more par for the course and hasn’t stopped me from signing on for training for a sprint triathlon or running a 15k benefit run for Boston yesterday. The mysterious, horrible, unrelenting all over achiness has lifted.

I don’t know if it was actually being able to relax, or venting my problems, or the needles, but I’m so happy I could kiss her. 🙂 I settled for sending her this card:

I have now decided to buy 10 more acupuncture sessions with her. I hope each one is as magnificent.

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The Science Behind Acupuncture

The Science Behind Acupuncture

I’m sure we’ve all been told to get acupuncture for some sort of ailment, but should you expect results? This article looks at studies of acupuncture’s affect on fighting pain in osteoarthritis, and other chronic pains. It then looks at whether those results translate to rheumatic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis. Like all thing rheumatic, the answers are a bit ambiguous…

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Emotions and Other Sharp Things

No, it has nothing to do with this post, but this baby hedgehog is waaaay cuter than any of the sharp things in my life. Give me a baby hedgehog over acupuncture, blood tests and Enbrel any day!

I went for my second acupuncture appointment a couple of nights ago.

I would love to say that it was an enjoyable, healing, relaxing experience. But, in truth, my heart was racing and blood pressure was high before the needles even came out. I’m not sure why – it wasn’t so bad last time.

So my heart was racing, and I was sweating, and my acupuncturist and an observing student (who I had recently met at a party and who now knows way too much about me – awkward!) were sticking me with needles, and I was talking myself down from a panic attack.

Weirdly, the needles hurt more this time than the first time. I felt each one going in, and some of them felt uncomfortable as they were in my skin.

After the acupuncture, they gave me earnest tips on how to improve my circulation – ginger foot soaks, chi generating hand exercises…

They were well-meaning and those things might actually work, but in that moment I was so overwhelmed. How many things can I try? What other ridiculous suggestions is the world going to throw at me?

So leaving the acupuncturist, I just felt depleted. Every part of me felt heavy and I felt overwhelmed with emotion.No matter how much you do, how many new things you try, how much sleep you get, how kind you are to your joints, how much effort you put into positivity, there’s always one more – one hundred more – things you should be trying.

It was enough to make me want to curl up in a ball under my covers and cry.

The following morning I saw my rheumy. The report was more of the same – I’m improving, I’ll improve more. Things will get better.

I’m due to get X-rays in February and am very curious to see how those will go.

He did say that he’s doesn’t think going down on meds before my marathon (March 17th) is a good idea, which is disappointing, but I understand the reasoning. I don’t want to not be able to do the race, and I don’t want the race to do more damage than good.

I told him about the problems I’ve been having with the Enbrel pen (button not depressing correctly, bruises and welts, etc.) and my wonderful, amazing, patient, kind, God-send of a nurse gifted me four Enbrel syringes to try out. I am about to do my first one (post for tomorrow!) and am so nervous, I’m procrastinating by writing this.

The beauty of the syringe is that you have complete control of when the medication enters you and how fast. The downfall is that you have complete control and you get to see the whole thing. AHHHHHH!!!!!

I’ll let you know how my injection goes…

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Needles

This isn’t me. I wasn’t nearly this calm.

I’m way overdue for a post, and realized I never told you about my acupuncture experience. So, here goes…

Acupuncture has always really freaked me out. The needles! Ack! But in my determination to let myself try anything to feel/get better, I felt like I couldn’t ignore this option any longer.

A friend of mine is actually training to be an acupuncturist, so she suggested I go to her school’s clinic on a day when their “auto-immune expert” was working. Going to a school clinic keeps the costs really low, and having a teacher there ensures that I’m getting someone who’s really knowledgeable.

So, I went. You can’t really feel the needles, but it is a kind of scary process. I found it impossible to relax and when I accidentally looked down at my legs, I got a bit freaked. The needles don’t hurt being taken out either.

I did have one needle, placed in the front of my left shin (supposedly on the autoimmune line or something), that felt really uncomfortable. A dull, throbbing sort of uncomfortable, not a sharp pain. The acupuncturist took the needle out based on my reaction before I even had to ask.

Afterward, I felt really dazed and emotional. Driving back to work, I realized my thoughts were drifting to a friend’s death I hadn’t thought about for quite awhile. I looked this up later and some sites do say that it’s common to have acupuncture stir up old traumas.

Another thing was that my left wrist hurt, which was where I was hurting the most before the acupuncture. But now it was hurting in a slightly different, burny way for about a day after. A couple days after that, my wrist felt fine, I felt lifted – like emotionally lighter – and a little bit better physically. Weird.

I’m going for my second appointment in a couple of weeks, so maybe I’ll be able to better see and articulate the benefits more clearly then.

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