I’ve been flirting with the idea of acupuncture since I began with this disease and today I had my first session.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wanted to give holistic medicine a chance. I’m hesitant when it comes to chemical drugs because they seem to work at masking the problem, relieving symptoms instead of fixing the problem or they create new problems and come burdened with nauseating side effects. The extreme reactions I had while on steroids (to reduce inflammation) and pain medication were awful, and I’ve gone back to sticking with Advil if the pain gets too bad; otherwise, I suck it up. (Of course, I say this now, during the summer, when I’m feeling overall better thanks to the frequent naps and resting and the lower work load – we’ll see what happens when the semester begins).
Now don’t get me wrong – we need medicine and I am taking some medicine (Plaquenil) for my condition. When we have serious problems that threaten to kill us, they help us stay alive and maintain a relatively normal lifestyle. But, we’ve gotten to the point where we forego general maintenance of our bodies and instead rely on artificial means to return some of what we lost. We learn, too late, that simple lifestyle changes can impact how much disease and medicine we’ll need later on. Some diseases are inevitable – they’re genetically ingrained in us and the triggers are too common and bountiful. But lifestyle changes, true lifestyle changes can help lessen the severity of some diseases.
I’ve noticed this with food. With all this process junk we have in the supermarkets (though I have to admit it’s delicious junk!), we’re feeding our bodies the wrong foods. It’s not optimum fuel and we’re killing ourselves with it. Reading Michael Pollan‘s books has been enlightening; he gives some clear and concise rules on what we should be eating, and really, it’s all common sense! If something has a shelf life of several years, it can’t be that good for you! And what about the ingredients. MSG, pesticides, artificial sweeteners and artificial food colorings are toxic! I’ve noticed a direct correlation with ingesting these things and pain. I was a huge diet-soda drinker. Huge. It’s all I drank. And I haven’t touched one in almost a year. Correction – the one relapse I had, I paid for with barely being able to walk the following day. I’ve gone through my pantry and taken out all things with MSG, which left it quite bare as MSG has made its way into almost everything, from seasonings to take out food. I’ve also tried to incorporate more veggies (especially dark, colorful ones) and fruits into my diet, really focusing on anti-inflammatory foods, like pineapple, blueberries, chia seeds, broccoli, mushrooms, celery. Even though I’m not crazy about some of these (mushrooms and celery – eh), I’m finding creative ways to consume these foods.
But I went off on a tangent. The acupuncture session today. It was good. Weird, but good. It’s funny because just entering into the room, I felt the change of energy. The soft music, the incense (which I don’t always like, but today it felt just right), the soft colors on the walls, and the Buddha in the corner – it all came together in a peaceful manner. We started with a consultation where the doctor went through all of my medical history and asked me questions about my physical and emotional health. She gave me some feedback and suggestions, and then we started the session.
I never really liked the idea of sticking needles in my skin, but everything I read said it was painless. Not quite so. It hurt many times and I definitely felt the needles going in! There were some areas that hurt more than others, which she explained was normal. Once all the needles were in, she dimmed the lights, put on a small lamp near my feet, and left me to my thoughts and sensations. I felt a sort of tingling (which, she explained, was the energy moving through), and some I had some aching specifically around my right ear and left arm. I think she said the ear was emotions. But don’t quote me on that.
The thirty minutes were up quicker than I anticipated, and when I got up, I felt somewhat dizzy. Soon after, however, I was feeling good. Not perfect, not 100% pain-free (and my stomach was as upset as before), but I felt a little more energy which, over the last few days, had been declining again.
I can’t say it was a great experience, but it wasn’t bad, either. It was different. And I think I’ll be repeating it for a few weeks to see if I notice an improvement. I hope to also take up yoga in that center. I really liked it.
A quick side note: my husband also went and had a session. Instead of feeling more energized, however, he left feeling groggy, exhausted, dizzy.