Before I begin, I just want to make it clear that when it comes to treating health conditions, I don’t take sides between western medicine and alternative treatments. I think that appropriate medical intervention is necessary, but that it can be very beneficial to complement it with other forms of intervention, whether that be naturopathy, acupuncture, herbs, diet modifications, meditation, etc. To reference Bernie Siegel (again), if a patient believes in a treatment and believes that it will benefit their body, chances are it will.
In the last year and a half since my stomach launched a formal protest against food and gave strike notice (consultations are underway to resolve this issue), my main focus has been medical treatment. I’ve done what I can on my own to help promote healing in my body, including yoga and practicing the relaxation response, but until the medical side of things was under control I wasn’t ready to actually seek alternative treatment. For years now people have been suggesting I try acupuncture and I’ve read about a lot of success stories from patients with gastroparesis who have tried it. I have kept it in the back of mind, but I haven’t been too keen on having a bunch of needles poked into me, even though people say you can barely feel it.
It’s not that I have a needle aversion; vaccinations and blood tests have never bothered me. However, just because I don’t mind being poked does not mean that I would willingly choose to do so. Well, a couple of weeks in the hospital changed that. Between IVs, morphine injections, daily blood draws, twice daily heparin shots, not to mention my recent ER visits to have my tube stitched back in, I have been poked a lot! Having direct access to my small intestine has also somewhat changed the boundaries of my body. Every couple hours throughout the day I turn a valve and push a syringe full of water through my tube and all night long I sleep while a machine pumps nutrition into me. When I stop to think about it, it’s really very weird. Basically, my body is not entirely my own.
As it turns out, I am now ready to willingly have a bunch of needles stuck into me. Okay, time to look into acupuncture. My hesitation was that I didn’t know where to go as there are so many acupuncturists out there. You hear success stories and horror stories, so you want to make sure you are putting yourself in good hands.
I think anyone with ongoing health problems can understand that there comes a point when you just don’t know what to do anymore. You want to advocate for yourself and seek out anything and everything to make yourself better, but there is a fine line before you start to get overwhelmed and maybe do more damage than good. I’ve been there. In the last four years I have put castor oil on my stomach (yeah, ew), seen two naturopaths, done two elimination diets, taken various herbal or natural remedies, read a ton of books and various other things. So recently, I made a deal with the universe. I’m going to advocate for myself as best as I can, and then when I don’t know what step to take next the universe is going to send me signs for which I always be on the look out. We spit and shook on it so I’m pretty sure it’s a done deal.
On Sunday evening our church bulletin was sitting on the counter and lo and behold on the back of it is an advertisement for a local acupuncture and physiotherapy clinic. Thanks, universe! I contacted the clinic and explained my situation. Since I don’t have a musculoskeletal issue they couldn’t take on my case, but happily referred me to a local acupuncturist with almost 30 years of experience. Perfect. I called and made a consult appointment for this morning.
Going to see any new person for a health care concern is always a bit stressful because I am a very unique case and some people can’t quite wrap their head around it. After explaining my condition, my symptoms and my feeding tube, all to which the acupuncturist was very sympathetic, she looked at my tongue and concluded that my problem is that I don’t drink enough. Again, let me say that I don’t discredit alternative medicine. I am sure that she can tell a lot about people from simple observations, including looking at one’s tongue. With that said, she wasn’t very willing to adjust her beliefs and advice to fit my needs. I tried to explain that it’s very hard for me to drink and eat enough because of my slow stomach but that I am sure to keep myself hydrated by flushing water through my tube throughout the day. Again, she said that my stomach is too hot inside and needs fluid. She also was very against my feeding tube and said that if I eat and drink slowly enough then I shouldn’t need it. I tried further explaining my situation, saying that I had spent over a year trying to eat and drink enough while my body starved and I slowly wasted away, and that right now I wouldn’t be able to survive without my tube, but she just didn’t come around to the concept. Apparently I don’t need acupuncture right now and instead I just need to drink more, including some herbal tea.
I completely understand that a tube is not a natural solution. However, at this moment in time it is my only solution. My poor body has been through so much and getting this tube was not an easy step to take. There was a lot of anguish, doubt, second guessing and stress involved in this step, so when someone suggests that I made the wrong decision I get pretty defensive. Needless to say, this acupuncturist and I are not a good fit.
Well thanks, universe, for sending me on a wild goose chase down a dead end road. This was not our agreement!
At least that’s what I thought. I now realize that I was in fact the one who broke the agreement by not looking for the sign. I think the universe actually sent me a very clear sign that it’s not the right time for me to try acupuncture but I was just too defensive in the moment to realize it.
So there it is: my almost adventure with acupuncture. This is not to say that I will never attempt to try it again but for right now I just don’t think it’s for me. If I can take anything away from this it is that the universe is always talking to me, even if I don’t like what it has to say, or in this case how it says it!