Just about a year ago I had an almost adventure with acupuncture. I say ‘almost’ since the practitioner refused to actually give me treatment because of my feeding tube. I always intended to find another practitioner and try it again, but then I got too sick to put time or energy into anything other than survival and it just never happened.
In an effort to get rid of this stubborn headache that’s been hanging around since December I decided it was time to try acupuncture again. I was recommended to a clinic that ended up being less than five minutes from my house. Hoping to avoid a repeat experience, I laid everything out beforehand…my medical history, my feeding tube, my central line…and after talking with one of the naturopaths over the phone I had a really good feeling about it. He said that I definitely need western medicine in my life, but that he thought he would be able to help with the headaches and just my overall energy level and quality of life. And there was no expectation that just because we spoke on the phone I had to make an appointment.
Awesome! Sign me up.
So last Wednesday I went for acupuncture round one. After three hours at the hospital on Monday for an iron infusion, and just an all around bad day on Tuesday, my week was not off to a great start but I was feeling really positive about this appointment. Perhaps it would be just what I needed!
Long story short: it was really bad.
And now for the long story…
The naturopath himself was great; he was very knowledgeable and kind. He did his traditional Chinese medicine evaluation thing, no problem. Then he put the needles in, no problem. Then he dimmed the lights, put on the nature sounds music thing and left the room so I could just relax, telling me he would be back in about 15 minutes. No problem.
Oh wait, problem.
A few minutes after he left I started to feel kind of weird. And then the weird got worse and I started to feel just plain old awful. I was nauseous and despite the fact that I didn’t feel anxious, my heart was racing and pounding my chest. It was as if someone had injected me with epinephrine (a feeling I am familiar with because it has happened before). I just kept breathing deeply, listening to the nature sounds and trying to ignore how sick I felt. I wanted to curl up on my side but seeing as there were needles in the side of my head I figured that would be a bad idea. I tried closing my eyes but that just made the dizziness worse. All I kept thinking was that 15 minutes must have gone by, it must be almost over, he must be coming back any moment now.
Side note: There was a needle right in between my eyes that I could clearly see and in between the feeling sick and feeling even more sick, I kept thinking of this YouTube video that you should watch because it’s funny.
Finally he came back in and he was quite concerned by how awful I was feeling. Beforehand he had warned me that a lot of people experience significant blood pressure drops following treatment, but my blood pressure afterwards was really elevated compared to my normal. I was so happy to get out of there, but when I got back to my car I still felt so sick so I had to wait a while before I could actually drive myself home.
Yikes. That did not exactly go as well as I had hoped! And for the next four days I felt particularly symptomatic. I can’t say for sure that the acupuncture made me feel worse, but it definitely didn’t make me feel better!
So then I had to decide whether or not to go back this week for round two. On the one hand, I feel like I should give everything at least two strikes, if not three, before I rule it out. In chronic illness the two or three strikes rule is pretty common. Our bodies are so inconsistent and hard to understand even when we aren’t changing things up, so a few tries is usually necessary to untangle what’s causing what. But on the other hand, I had a really bad experience and I don’t particularly want to put myself through that again.
I hummed and hawed over this for a few days and then I remembered that my word for February is trust. Trust my gut.
The irony here is that just last week I actually had the thought “Hm. Perhaps my February word is all for naught. I don’t think I’m going to be in a situation where I need to apply it.”
Anyway, I decided to trust my gut and cancel my acupuncture appointment for this week. Maybe it would be better this week, or maybe it would be worse. I will never know, but my gut is telling me that acupuncture is not the answer for me right now and I’m going to listen. This is not to say that I won’t ever try it again, but I think my health right now is a little too unstable and I need to wait until I’ve seen the right doctors who can help me get things under control before I give it another go.
So there you have it. My actual adventure with acupuncture. It was not a positive experience but hey, at least I tried it. Plus, I got a chance to put my February word to good use.
Moral of the story? Trying new things doesn’t always work out well, but I still say it’s worth a shot because sometimes it works out better than expected, instead.
And hopefully my next post about acupuncture won’t be about an ‘almost’ or an ‘actual’ adventure, but an amazing one. Or awesome. Astounding. Awe-inspiring.
Thank you thesaurus.com.