When All Else Fails – Stick Yourself With Needles

By Kellie Edson

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cross-posted from Kellie’s personal blog – the Sac Happiness Project.

Nearly another month since I’ve found the time to post…sheesh, and sadly as I go into my master’s program in a few weeks, it’s going to get even harder. With all of the forthcoming stress, it really has been time to get some health issues in order.

Those of you who know me well know that it’s been a roller coaster of doctors, specialists, labs and many, many months of no real explanations. It short – it hasn’t been fun and I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the whole western medicine philosophy of “find a symptom, treat it with a drug.” For me and my particular problems…that just hasn’t been cutting it. So on top of a lot of work on my own (with still more necessary) and some other lifestyle adjustments, I recently decided to try acupuncture.

Despite the fact that I am deathly afraid of needles – and anything unknown really – the major draw to acupuncture was that eastern medicine treats you like a whole person, treating multiple symptoms at once and taking into account multiple factors in your health. I’d been to so many doctors who didn’t really seem to care about trying to find a root cause to the problem.  “Well, it’s just probably stress,” they’d say. “It could be related to stress.” “You need to calm yourself down.”  “Stress management.” Great, thanks. Super helpful.

Obviously, I was ready for something different.

According to eastern medicine:

The Eastern Explanation for how Acupunctures works is that the life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee) can be influenced and balanced by stimulating specific points on the body. These points are located along channels of energy known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.  

I also liked the whole concept of pulling your body into “balance.” Though I may not always succeed…balance is a state of life I am constantly striving for. I’ve always loved yoga – even if I don’t make enough time for it in my life, etc.

Thank god for good insurance, seeing the multitude of doctors I have in the last ten months, because we’d probably be out on the street without it. And even more fortunately, acupuncture is partially covered for us. Yay!

So three weeks ago, I went over to Steve Phillips at Acupuncture Healing Arts for my first treatment.  I was extremely nervous – of the needles, of pain, of it not working and who knows what else. I’m sure it also didn’t help that the most significant way stress manifests itself for me is anxiety…

But Steve was incredibly warm and understanding of my needle phobia. And I don’t mean to sound all mystical on you all, but it was amazing what just a few needles did on the very first try. First off, he pushed down on my stomach – which has always caused me some degree of pain. He inserted just one needle into my wrist and one into my foot.  Then he pushed again. The pain was immediately somewhat better.  I was shocked by the rapid effects and also relieved.

Maybe I had found something that could actually work?!

Steve continued placing needles strategically in different places on my body – a total of about 15 or so. And most of them I didn’t even feel at all.  Ones near cartilage were a little bit more sensitive, but nothing more than a pinch. I was then left with some quiet music for about 20 minutes while the needles worked their magic. The only way I could describe it was that my body felt like it was buzzing with energy. It was an odd feeling and I still struggled fighting the wave of rising panic of being forced to sit still for a long period of time with a dozen needles sticking into me. Afterwards, my stomach felt even LESS pain when he pressed down and I was thoroughly relaxed for the rest of the evening. I was still in awe at what acupuncture had the potential to do for me.

My second treatment was much more relaxing…probably because I knew what was going to happen. The third (last week) was a little more nerve-racking, because I was worked up from a long week at work and he was trying some new needle positioning to treat additional symptoms.

But I am confident in the long-term effects that it can have on diseases and issues that have been plaguing me for more than half my life. Like any good thing…it just takes time.

But my takeaway is – if you have ever considered acupuncture and were afraid, don’t be. Coming from one needle-phobe to another, it might be the best decision you make for your body, your health and honestly your overall wellbeing.

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