I want to express the gratitude I feel for having been given my life back through acupuncture. I am only now realizing how much the pain had caused me to withdraw from the things that are important to me and the activities I enjoyed so much. How much it has affected my spirit. How circumscribed my world had become--doing the bare minimum in everything. How diminished and defeated I felt. I started a course in October and made a commitment to myself to stick with it for the full month, twice a week at least. Then I decided to stick with it through December. I was getting some relief in the intensity of the pain, but the constancy was still the same. And the relief rarely lasted more than 5-8 hours. But I stuck with it.
I cannot take analgesic or narcotic pain reducers other than Motrin or Morphine. Needless to say, Motrin is the daily go-to choice. Morphine tabs are few and far between. With acupuncture, I was needing smaller and less frequent doses of Motrin. But I still had constant pain through January, February, March and April. I started to give up and come in only once a week for several weeks.
Then I had one pain free hour in May 2011 after 7 months of 2-3 treatments a week. I was at work and I suddenly realized I felt nothing for the first time since a horseback riding injury in 1975. I wanted to run up and down the halls shouting. (I didn't!). 36 years of regular nagging, weary-making, sometimes defeating pain that was increased 5 fold by a biking accident in 2001. Gone for one hour. I just sat in my chair marveling--doing nothing. Crying.
By 2006, the pain had robbed me of being able to ride my bike. And thus of my main endorphin-rich, stress processing activity.
By 2008, the pain made it impossible to hold my flute up and thus forced me to quit flute choir and to stop playing for the first time in 30 years. I cannot express the gut wrenching devastation that has caused.
That one pain free hour made me VERY angry and heightened the alienation I felt toward this "earthly vessel" I was stuck with. And it made me VERY ANGRY that my imagination, intellect and spirit were smothered by the distraction and physical limitations of pain. Regardless of how strong and stubborn, persistent and determined I am, at some point in 2005, I gave up the fight for what I knew I could do and was capable of accomplishing. I withdrew and felt defeated. (And I knitted a lot to manage the anxiety.)
Then I had a wholly June. A whole evening. It was odd, disorienting. Like hiking in the woods and losing North. Like being on a carnival ride and not knowing which way is up. After 15-20 minutes, I figured out the reason I was so wifty was that the pain was gone. I had temporarily lost my anchor (more like my ball and chain). But it was a welcome strangeness.
I recommitted to sticking with acupuncture to see where it could take me. I started to have sessions with Joseph where I experienced nearly instantaneous relief of localized pain. As long as I came in 2-3 times a week, the pain and inflammation seemed to stay shallow and quickly relievable. If I endured the pain and postponed treatments for 4-5 days, the pain seemed to become more entrenched and more difficult to reach and relieve.
It began to seem like a merry-go-round. Go every 2d day and have manageable discomfort or space treatments 3-5 days apart and descend into severe pain by the time I got to the clinic. The answer seems like a no-brainer but the time commitment to treat more frequently is HUGE and can be difficult to juggle.
Then in late June/early July, I had two periods of five days each with NO PAIN. NO STIFFNESS. NOTHING. That's when I started to have hope. Unless you have lived with a chronic health challenge yourself, I think it is hard to know what that transformation is and means. It is impossible to describe the universe of possibility and delight that renewed hope of being free of pain has given me. There is so much I want to do. Sleeping seems like a waste of valuable time because who knows when the pain will take over again.
Flipping the switch from "I can't" to "I am" is something I cannot put a monetary value on but is worth many-fold more than I have been able to pay. I wish I had the resources to adequately compensate Joseph, Shauna and WCA for the true value I have received.
This weekend, I rode my bike for the first time in 4 years. No pain during or after. Amazing. Being back in that zone of trance-like focus with raging endorphins--nothing like it.
The hope mixed with fear of relapse persisted until today when I jettisoned the pessimism and skepticism and began to trust that my relationship with pain HAS changed. FOR GOOD. I now know what to do and the potential for acupuncture to provide lasting relief.
When you live with chronic pain, it takes up a lot of space in your life. It is very limiting. It can destroy relationships. It erodes security and independence. It can be financially, emotionally and mentally devastating.
If acupuncture is able to keep the pain under control and if I can have a few days at a time of being totally pain free then it is truly a miracle.
I don't think it realistic, at this juncture, to expect or hope to ever be pain free and finished with acupuncture. And that makes me sad. But I no longer want to die to be free of the suffering. And that, I think, is the ultimate gift/accomplishment/insight that acupuncture has given me. I can control the pain even if I never totally vanquish it. It is a bittersweet victory but a victory nevertheless.
If approached with an open mind and suspended judgment, acupuncture can be life changing. Even if these few months are the only lasting relief I get and even if the pain never gets better than it is right now, at least I had this window open up which allowed my determination and resolve to come back. Acupuncture has given me my life back. And I plan to move a few mountains while I can.
Now I know what the revolution is all about. ;-)
To Lisa, Moses, Cortney, John, Skip and the super front-desk crew:
I just saw Moses' video and left a post there, and after coming for about two years or so, this is my first visit to the website. I wanted to copy the post here as a note of gratitude, and you can use it as a testimonial if you want. Thanks!
"Moses was my first acupuncturist. After about 2 years with him and others at WCA, in weekly visits that I can afford, I have seen great results in diminishing anxiety and depression. Acupuncture promotes the state of mind and body that I need to make the right diet, sleep, and exercise choices. When I was under great stress in grad school, then job hunting, WCA helped me get through. Soon I'll be a new dad, and acupuncture will continue to keep me at my best health possible.
Thanks, WCA, for all you do."
I wanted to thank working class acupuncture for changing my life! 3 years ago I went to a doctor for lower abdominal pain & was told that I had a hernia AND a cyst on my ovary, and that they were dangerously close to one another and that it was necessary to schedule surgery. Several days prior to the surgery I became suddenly very ill at work, and went home to rest, by the time I got home I could no longer stand. I ended up on my bathroom floor calling 911, I seriously thought I was dying. The cyst had popped and it was filled with toxins which technically poisoned my body and my immune system has been compromised ever since. I was very sick for weeks after that, and I have been sick ever since. It has progressed over the last 2 years and I now suffer from chronic pain and loss of sensation in my arms and hands. Still undiagnosed, or rather mis-diagnosed repeatedly, I had grown seemingly exhausted with the X-Rays, CAT scans, MRIs, biopsies and lab testing, and the pharmaceutical prescriptions for pain only make the emotional experience of pain more intense. Finally, after telling my doctor that I was done, my doctor suggested I try acupuncture. I was a little apprehensive, I didn't know much about it but I was compelled to try it. Wow! It is amazing! Acupuncture has repaired things I wasn't even aware were broke! The sensation of control that accompanies each treatment in and of itself is partly responsible for the significant reduction in my pain! I can honestly say I feel better all over. My children notice, my co-workers notice and most of all I notice what a big difference acupuncture has made for me. It is very empowering and has had such a profound effect on my attitude that I am now a lifetime patient of Working Class Acupuncture! Thank you for giving me my life back!
I began with Working Class Acupuncture this summer. I had been diagnosed many years ago with what the neurologist called a "particularly aggressive form of restless legs syndrome" and also Fibromyalgia (chronic pain). I sought treatment from doctors for over 20 years and have been on over 30 different kinds of prescription medication (none good for you) during that time.
In five months the WCA and their amazing acupunks have done for me what western medicine and its accompaniment of prescription drugs could not do for over 20 years. Most days are pain free right now and my RLS is at the level it was when I first discovered it back in the early 90's.
I can not thank WCA or their Acupunks enough. You give me great hope for myself and my future.
Today I had an appointment to see an acupuncturist for a tendonitis problem I have had since the first part of this year, more than five months. It is a long story. I got a case of it after doing some furious knitting for a Christmas present. I did not even finish the item when I noticed the pain in my right wrist. It was not getting better on its own. I finally went to the Doctor and he prescribed some ibuprofen three times a day to reduce the swelling. Well it did not seem to work. When I went back to see the doctor I found out that I had misunderstood him. I was not taking enough of the drug. I went home to try again. It still did not work. I went back to the doctor and he gave me cortisone shot in the wrist. After three weeks that did the trick. I was very happy. Tendonitis is painful and I was glad to be rid of the wrist brace I had to wear. A couple of weeks later, after returning home from a five day trip I noticed my left wrist having the same problem as my right wrist. I had pain in the joint up my forearm from my thumb. I went back to the doctor for another cortisone shot. I felt sure that would clear it up and I would be “off to the races” so to speak. Well, after the shot I waited three weeks. During those three weeks I was a bit worried. The pain seemed even worse, but I thought my wrist would be all right eventually. That wish did not come true. I contacted the doctor and he referred me to an orthopedic physician. Well, that appointment was not going to come up for several weeks. I was really feeling discouraged, but that did not last long. A couple of people had suggested acupuncture to me. I got a name of a clinic here in town and made an appointment yesterday which I scheduled for today. In the meantime I contacted my health insurance carrier and they would not pay for acupuncture unless I had the pain at least six months and had tried a couple of conventional “western” treatments. Well, that did not deter me. I did not want to sit around waiting any longer. I need to find a job and get on with my life. This tendonitis has got to go. I had an appointment today with a clinic called Working Class Acupuncture. After I arrived I was greeted by a friendly young man and he had me fill out and sign some forms. I paid what I could afford. (That certainly is a change from what I have to pay with insurance deductibles.) I got myself a cup of tea and sat at a small table. The room was decorated with what looked like second hand furniture but it had a warm and inviting quality. A short time later a young woman, my caregiver, and I had a conversation about my issue. She was very calm and serene and I felt very at ease. She escorted me to a back room decorated with easy chairs with throws over them, no doubt to cover up their age. The room was large, and a very pleasant temperature with soft lighting. She told me what to expect. It was a lovely experience. I felt very little sensation from the needles which were very fine. I was relaxed and satisfied that I was doing all I could to help myself. I rested in that environment about forty-five minutes. I am going back for another treatment this week and I have three more next week. I will let you know how it goes...
PS I really like my regular doctor. It is not his fault our health care system is such a mess. The best thing about going to this clinic today is that I really felt cared for. That has to be an important element in healing.
About the book Acupuncture is Like Noodles, by Lisa Rohleder
I just read your Noodle book and am inspired and totally on board but unfortunately not an acupuncturist. I'm a physician assistant and couldn't agree more that other medical practitioners should be able to learn some basics and get to work. I'm also an acupuncture patient here in San Francisco. I was being treated early this year for chemo induced menopause and infertility which my insurance covered for 16 visits. I used those visits up quickly and was very sad to think that I couldn't afford to continue because all the TCM fertility centers were totally out of my reach. I guess only rich people can get this amazing treatment I thought. I'm not working much right now as I'm raising my son. Then I found out about CA and decided to give it a try although I was hesitant because I was a consumer of the white coat acupuncture model and thought I needed to work with someone who specialized in infertility and gyn and that I needed to do alot of talking. I was wrong! My sx's have vastly improved and I am so grateful that I can continue getting acupuncture twice a week! I love the CA model and will never, ever go to a white coat or zen spa noodle practice ever again!!! Thank for for starting the revolution! I'd love to see laws change so that I too can needle folks also. Love to you! W.M.