Thursday, July 7, 2011
Acupuncture Part Two: The Benefits
My original purpose for starting acupuncture treatments was to help deal with symptoms related to an autoimmune disorder. Although my symptom list at that time was more extensive than most people's grocery list, my primary focus was on alleviating the joint pain, fatigue, and difficulty breathing related to my autoimmune disorder. I knew from what Ben told me and what I had read online that even though positive effects from acupuncture can occur as soon as after the first treatment, it would probably take a bit longer for me, as many as twelve to fourteen sessions. I really wanted more symptom control and was interested in avoiding as many steroids and other autoimmune drugs as possible so I was committed to the long haul. I didn't get sick overnight and I knew it might take some patience to get myself well.
It did work too. I started off by doing sessions almost every other day for the first ten-fourteen days, then to twice a week, and eventually to a point where I go every two weeks unless there is an acute issue. As a somewhat skeptical Western medicine health care professional myself, I was quite surprised at the results. My joint pain which I had been managing with heavy duty autoimmune drugs was improved with taking Motrin and not all that frequently even. I did still have some difficult days but found that between the acupuncture and other non-medication pain management techniques, I could get through those tough days. I was sleeping better and having an easier time of handling the autoimmune related fatigue that could cripple me for most of the afternoon. After we added some prescribed Chinese herbs to my acupuncture sessions, I had much better control over my asthma symptoms. I went from being on oral steroids, a steroid inhaler, and a frequently used rescue inhaler to just a smaller dose of the steroid inhaler and a very occasional use of my rescue inhaler. I even started singing in my church choir, something I had always wanted to do!
There was also other autoimmune symptoms that improved, some autoimmune related, some not, and some where it was anybody's best guess. Middle back pain that had plagued me on and off (mostly on!) for over a year finally went away. Some of my dryness symptoms related to the autoimmune disorder, called Sjogren's Syndrome, got better. Other issues such as seasonal allergies, sinus inflammation/infections, and an injured knee improved or even disappeared. It has gotten to the point where if I have a medical issue, I typically will actually meet with my acupuncturist first before seeking medical attention from a western medical doctor because over and over again, I see positive results without unnecessary medications, tests, and such. My biggest success was managing to stay off the steroid prednisone for almost six months after I started acupuncture treatments. Prior to that, I was on it on at least ten separate occasions, lasting anywhere from days to months, within a time span of approximately two years. I think it is important to state that I am not implying here though if I thought I was having a heart attack that I would go to my acupuncturist before heading to an emergency room. I strongly believe that there is a place, in my life at least, for some Western medicine. However, I am making a concentrated effort to reserve Western medicine for emergency type situations only, as much as I possibly can.
I have also experienced many benefits from acupuncture that do not have to do only with physical symptoms. My loved ones as well as I have noticed a significant difference in my stress level and how I cope with everyday issues, as well as crises. Now, I have also had other positive lifestyle changes which could contribute to this and I have not done an actual research analysis on myself. However since I started my treatments last November, I am much slower to anger. Things that used to frustrate the living hell out of me are no longer such a big deal. Anxiety over tests and procedures has dropped dramatically and I am much more flexible in my interactions with other people. I know some of this, if not most of it, is related to the acupuncture sessions because I can physically feel my body relax about ten minutes or so into my treatment. I have gone to sessions immediately after attending a friend's funeral or during other stressful times to find myself leaving the building in a better frame of mind and with clearer thinking. I don't need research studies to prove that!