Acupuncture: Getting Under My Skin
In my last post, I hinted that recipes in the Moosewood Cookbooks could make one weak in the knees. Well, knees and feet have been uppermost in my mind lately as I deal with the increasingly annoying arthritis that's reared its ugly head in both these places. In desperation, I visited my GP three weeks ago to ask what medication might ease the discomfort I experience when I'm on my feet for an hour or more. He prescribed Ibuprofen, together with Omeprazol, which, he said, would work against the known side-effects of Ibuprofen: namely, nausea and diarhhea. Being largely opposed to pharmaceutical drugs, I wasn't too happy, but thought I'd give them a try. Thus far, herbal remedies like glucosamine and chondroitin had helped, but not enough.
I filled the prescription and then headed to the local supermarket for fruit and vegetables. And happened to walk past the Oriental Clinic that had opened a couple of months previously. A closer inspection of its services list revealed that acupuncture was among them. I thought 'What the heck', and waltzed in to make an appointment for a course of ten sessions. I'd already read that acupuncture was helpful in many situations. I knew as well that my health insurance would reimburse what I'd pay for the treatment, though I'd have to shoulder the cost of the herbs that were recommended to be taken as tea. Not cheap at € 13.75 per bag, per day for a fortnight. Still, one's health and quality of life are invaluable, and I felt it would be a small price to pay if the treatment really worked. And because I opted to pay for the course upfront rather than per session, I was given a 15% discount.
As is my habit, I set off in this new direction with a feeling of optimism. My first appointment would be the following day, on Saturday.
I went home, took the first Ibuprofen and Omeprazol tablets. Side-effects resulted, and I felt nauseous and had cramps. Still, I thought, give them a chance. The next morning I took another Ibuprofen and Omeprazol. Same result. Hence, I decided to stop the medication altogether and focus only on the acupuncture. After all, mixing an alternative therapy with prescription medication would defeat the purpose of seeing how effective acupuncture might be.
That afternoon I had my first session and was impressed. After my pulse, blood pressure, and tongue were checked (even I knew the tongue clearly showed that my innards were out of harmony; I was lacking in Qi), I was taken to a small, bright room, where I was told to lie down on a massage table.
Two efficient doctors, both Chinese, asked me questions, discussed the situation among themselves, and then placed needles (completely painless) at various points on my feet, knees, and even hands. Then the light was turned out and I was left alone to relax and to listen to a meditation music CD. Twenty minutes later, one of the doctors came back in and 'turned' the needles. I was then left for another 20 minutes. Afterwards, all the needles were removed and my feet were massaged. What bliss! The doctor then placed a pain patch on the top of both feet and instructed me not to get my feet wet for 7 days. I can tell you, it was quite a feat (no pun intended (-: ) showering with my lower extremities tightly wrapped in plastic foil!
In subsequent twice-weekly sessions, needles were set in various other places (e.g. hands, elbows, head, forehead) as well as in the feet, knees, and lower legs. A heat lamp was also used on both knees, as was a device that sent a low-level electrical current through the knee joints. The massage also began to include my knees. I always left the clinic with my feet and knees feeling very supple. It was as though I were walking on air.
I can say that there has been a tremendous improvement. Though they still feel a little stiff in the morning (well, hey, I'm not a 21-year-old (-:), there's no pain or discomfort in my knees when I climb stairs or walk.
The feet are still problematic, though considerably improved. As the doctor explained to me, because the arthritis is chronic (e.g., been present more than 10 years) it will take longer for substantial results to manifest. However, I can walk now for longer periods and distances. What a relief. In the meantime, I've finished (thank goodness, because it tasted ghastly) the herbal tea concoction that I drank twice a day, and am now taking the same herbal ingredients Du Huq Ji Sheng Pian in tablet form three times a day. Much less expensive, though of course not as strong as the 'real' herbs. Still, I'll see how it goes.
A particularly encouraging side-effect of the acupuncture is that I sleep much better at night and feel overall more energetic and enthusiastic. This, according to Chinese Medicine, is a result of the Qi - the vital energy - becoming harmonised. I've also recently ordered the book Curing Arthritis Naturally With Chinese Medicine. Can't wait to read it and to see what else I can do to help my body.
My last appointment is on Tuedsay. I'm going to miss these sessions, but the past couple of weeks have been a tremendous learning and healing experience. I highly recommend acupuncture, particularly to anyone who suffers from arthritis.