Perry had been diagnosed with TB of the spine many years ago, albeit not before severe damage was done. His spine he joked was like “Swiss cheese”. Part of the pain management was a Fentanyl patch which still allowed serious breakthrough pain every second day. When Perry was brought in for acupuncture by his wife, I noticed that he appeared to have the hiccups. It turned out that he had been dealing with that side effect of the Fentanyl for over ten years. It was causing continual spasm (myclonus of the diaphragm) . Perry said kids would try to scare the hiccups out of him!
I felt there must be an answer to this and encouraged him to come once a week. Primarily our goal was to help with his breakthrough pain. He came for just over two months, nine or ten times and one day came in grinning broadly saying something was missing... His hiccuping had quit during the night and he awoke free of those wracking spasms for the first time in ten years! Two years later they had not returned.
His back pain was also less severe, but we never did manage to alleviate it, given the damage done to the spine.
With the cessation of the myoclonus, Perry also began to swallow properly again, dysphagia being something else that he had suffered with for so long. The side effect acupuncture is to subtly and gently restore the body's self healing powers.
If you are looking for a quick fix, acupuncture is not for you. It is usually not a quick fix. People who come for one session looking for that silver bullet are often disappointed. Healing is a process and it demands patience . Your body is programmed to heal or rather regain balance and that takes time. Acupuncture, one of the two main pillars of Chinese Medicine (along with Herbal Formulas) involves true healing, not masking symptoms with a prescription drug. .
The nature of Chinese medicine insists that you slow down and get in touch with your body. Diagnosis and treatment can only move forward with your input as a patient. For example, you know that your headaches are migraines. To be effective, your practitioner will need to know more… Is it one-sided? How often does it occur? Does the painful area like pressure or not? Is it related to changes in the weather? What else is going on with your health? Seemingly unrelated details are frequently big clues, and your practitioner can only be effective if they know those details. And for that to happen, you need to pay attention to your body. This is a good thing, as it leads to insights about your health that you might not have considered otherwise.
Acupuncture is not only slow, but it is also gentle. Western medicine offers drugs and surgery. Chinese medicine offers herbs and an hour or so of relaxation on a massage table during an acupuncture session. For example, each acupuncture appointment is 60 minutes long. During these appointments the practitioner reviews a patients health emotionally and physically. Appointments are typically weekly to bi monthly over long periods of time.
The acupuncturist truly gets to know and understand their patient which is part of the treatment goal. Better communication and understanding of a patient helps the practitioner treat more effectively.
Which would you rather do?
In slow medicine, a patient must participate in their own treatment, as lifestyle is a major factor in their condition. If your diet is making you sick, you are responsible to make changes. If over working is leaving you exhausted and irritable, acupuncture can only do so much. So if change is part of your treatment plan, you can plan on it taking some time. The improvements you will feel are real, not the effect of medication that has temporarily alleviated symptoms, but left the cause in place.
If you have the choice between the gradual and gentle deep healing of acupuncture, over drugs and surgery, which will you choose?