Skip to main content

Reclaiming Acupuncture

A couple of years ago, I went to see an acupuncturist for the first time to see if he could help manage some of my autoimmune symptoms. It was such a good experience for me, that I wrote blog entries about it and continued with my treatments for about a year. It could have been longer, I forget...

However, at some point, I stopped going because I felt that I had reached an end point in terms of my improvement, and because I had started seeing a massage therapist who did trigger point massage therapy. At that time in my illness, the trigger point therapy seemed to be helping more and both modalities of treatment were out-of-pocket and not covered by insurance. I find this fact extremely disturbing in itself because out of ever single thing I have ever tried to manage my autoimmune symptoms, acupuncture and massage therapy were two of the most effective treatments.

Then eventually, I ventured into the land of integrative medicine and while some of it is covered by my health insurance, a lot of it isn't and that adds up after a while. So I put acupuncture on the back burner for a period of about two years, give or take.

Recently, I weaned off prednisone and started to have some nasty symptoms: fatigue like I have not experienced in well over a year, joint pain, constant menstruation (yes, that was fun), mood swings to go along with the messed up menstrual cycle, and overall just feeling like hell. It took all my energy to shower, get my daily basic tasks accomplished, and to get through the day without crying. And I mean a LOT of crying; for no reason. It felt like I was premenstrual ALL THE TIME! The days where I had to work, I would rest for a few days before and after each day I worked and I did nothing but get to work and my medical appointments.

I first thought this was all autoimmune related, but the menstrual abnormalities and mood swings made me think peri-menopausal otherwise. I also thought maybe it was from coming off the prednisone. I didn't think I was under a lot of stress, because I was very happy with my life, but when I objectively looked at what was going on in my life: publication of my first book, the new job, the upheaval in my church life, some personal issues, an upcoming trip, training for a recent road race, I did have a lot of stressors in my life. Most of them were GOOD stressors, but stressors all the same.

I didn't even know what to do about all this as I didn't know the exact cause. I was certain that the autoimmune stuff played a role, but I didn't think it was the sole culprit. I happened to have a scheduled appointment with my integrative medicine practitioner and I talked to her about it. Part of the problem was that I had stopped my low-dose naltrexone (LDN) because it was keeping me awake at night, which was making things worse. For the autoimmune symptoms we decided to go back on the LDN, but take it in the morning, and add back my boswellia supplement for the autoimmune symptoms as well.

She then told me she suspected I may have adrenal gland exhaustion (also called adrenal gland fatigue) from a combination of the prednisone and stress. It seemed to make sense to me. She prescribed a few specific supplements (Adreset and Adrenal) for adrenal gland support and also something to help regulate my adrenals, and subsequent cortisol levels, for sleep. I came home and researched adrenal fatigue and it was like seeing the past few weeks right in front of my eyes!

I was getting nervous because I was due to fly to Chicago for the SSF National Patient Conference in a week. Our plan was to give this treatment plan two weeks and if I was not getting better, or worse, I would have to go back on a small dose of prednisone for a while. Well, two weeks wasn't going to help me for the trip if I didn't get better. Then, it hit me on the drive home: why wasn't I back at acupuncture?

So I contacted my friends at The People's Acupuncture Clinic in Amherst, MA, which is where I used to go, and made three appointments  for the next week until I left for Chicago.

Best decision ever.

I went to my first appointment a wreck. I was so exhausted and in so much pain, I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for six months. Within a few minutes of the practitioner inserting the acupuncture needles, I began to feel a sense of calm and relaxation flowing through my body.

That morning, I could not even open my right hand all the way because of the joint pain and swelling. Four hours after my treatment, my hand was fine and I had NO JOINT PAIN.

Swear on a stack of bibles.

By that evening, I was still very tired, but actually managed to go out for a bite to eat with some friends after church.

By the next morning, I had finally stopped menstruating and didn't feel as moody.

Twenty-four hours later, I went for a run with my husband. It wasn't easy, but it was doable.

It has now been six days since I started my adrenal gland and autoimmune supplements and today, I had my second acupuncture treatment since starting three days ago. And, I am better. The mood swings are completely gone, my joint pain is significantly improved, I am sleeping better, my anxiety level is down, and overall, it feels like my body is moving its way back to a more even keel. I am certain the improvement  is due to the acupuncture and the integrative medicine treatment plan. I have also worked on other ways to treat the adrenal fatigue such as getting a lot of rest, no matter what is going on, and overall, just taking better care of myself.

I definitely am not in as good a place as I would like to be in, or was in, before this all blew up on me, but I am well enough to know that in 2 1/2 days, I will be able to make that flight to Chicago. The first thing I will do the day after I get back?

Go to my acupuncture appointment....


  1. Glad to hear you've managed to give up prednisone. That's a really scary drug. So very jolly well done.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

After careful consideration and a lot of research, I made a decision after the holidays to embark on a cleanse/detox. I will start by saying that I have never done anything like this before, mostly because I don't believe in fad diets, or any diet for that matter, and also because I'm not sure, with all my health issues, how good it would be for my body.

However, I had been having some new digestive issues and some of my other autoimmune symptoms were acting up sporadically here and there. I also really overdid it and made some consistently bad food choices over the holidays and I was trying to get my food cravings under control. The digestive issues were not anything severe that impaired my daily living, but I am slightly paranoid about my family history of ovarian cancer and I am at the age my mom was when she was diagnosed. The most overlooked and under recognized symptoms of ovarian cancer are the digestive issues I was having such as bloating, gas, and constipation. Sinc…

Low Dose Naltrexone

In my last blog entry I discussed my current experiences with an integrative medicine doctor. (Going Down the Road of Integrative Medicine). In that entry, I mentioned a new medication I was prescribed by this doctor called low dose naltrexone (LDN) and I think that it is worthy of its very own blog entry so here we go. Be forewarned, it's a bit complicated...

Since we have the modern day miracle of Google, I am not going to spend a lot of time describing LDN and exactly how it works, but I think there are some basics that are important. Naltrexone is a medication that was created in the late 1970's as a treatment for heroin overdose and subsequently used in larger doses (50-300 mg) to treat heroin addicts. It blocks the opiate receptors in our body, which are also found on immune system cells. The next discovery, in the 1980's, was that naltrexone at lower doses (hence why it is called low dose naltrexone), blocks these opioid receptors and increases the endorphin level…

Sjogren's and Disability

I have been reading a lot of posts of the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation Facebook page lately about disability for this disorder. People seem to have a lot of questions and comments not only about the process itself of obtaining disability, but also about the journey which is at best, extremely stressful. Having gone through the arduous process myself, I thought it might be helpful to blog about my experience in the hope that someone may find the information useful or at the very least, know that they are not alone in their struggles and frustration with getting through this system.

My journey with disability began in 2008 when I was put on short term disability through my former employer. After a period of time (I believe it was ninety days), it converted to long term disability which was a benefit I had elected through my employer, thank god. What that meant was that a private disability company, contracted through my employer, paid me sixty percent of my previous year's gro…