This is a post that walks alongside the Q+A post with my acupuncturist Stephanie Ray that you can find here. It helps answer some basic questions about the practice. I hope you’ll give it a try! But, as always, this is not intended to be medical advice. You should use not this information to treat or diagnosis any illness or health issue without consulting your doctor first!
My very first appointment with Stephanie was May 9th, 2013. I had gone to high school with her, but we were never really friends (she was 2 years older than me). We both ended up in Gainesville for school, but still were not connected until a chance meet-up in early 2012. She was working at an acupuncture office that was across the street from where I lived (literally, we were probably 20 yards apart) and we ran into each other. At the time I was pursuing midwifery, so I sought insight into the “holistic” world from her. We had lunch together and were instantly connected (this is beginning to sound like a love story…and it is!). But because of schedules and the fact that she was living in Ocala, we didn’t see each other again until I reached out for her help.
I had emailed Steph hoping that she could shed some light onto what was becoming a very frustrating life. I was suffering from a multitude of symptoms, none of which a traditional Western doc could put a finger on, even through multiple tests. Some of those symptoms/issues included:
- Pain from what I thought (and docs thought) to be endometriosis
- Mood swings
- Distended stomach (I looked like one of those pics of sweet little African babies who are very sick, with their tummies sticking so far out. I compared my stomach to a pic of a friend who was 5 months pregnant…I won)
- Hair loss
- Excessive sweating
And there was more. But she reassured me that it was extremely likely that acupuncture could help with all of these issues, it might just take some time.
I showed up to her office and seriously felt like she was my long lost sister. I opened up to her immediately about all of these “problems” and found that she was asking questions about symptoms that I had, but that I hadn’t told her about (i.e. she knew that my headaches usually came when it was raining). It was wild. She checked my pulses (not like we would think of pulse…she held her fingers on my wrist in a few different locations for a few minutes, feeling for minute changes and patterns). She looked at my tongue. And honestly, if I didn’t know Stephanie and know how educated and smart she is, I might have thought this was all crazy. But like I said, she knew things I hadn’t shared.
We probably talked for 45 minutes to an hour about my medical history, my family’s medical history, my emotional state, what was going on in my life, and what had gone on in my life. It was amazing to have a doctor finally be so invested in the WHOLE Amanda, not just the symptomatic one.
After all of that, she said the magical words that I hadn’t been able to hear from any other doctor: You’re a textbook diagnosis. WHAT?! Finally! You know when you almost think you’d rather hear something bad instead of nothing at all because it would finally make sense? This was that moment (and thankfully wasn’t a “bad” diagnosis).
After that, I began seeing Stephanie weekly for treatment. She also got me on some herbs to help complement her treatments. The first thing that I saw change (awesomely) was my anxiety. It didn’t completely go away, but I knew things were changing. I was calmer and I cried less. And if you suffer from anxiety, you know what a relief that is.
She would fully explain to me what each symptom meant…how my body was using it and why it wasn’t necessarily symptoms at face value. They were all connected, sending clear signals about what the root “blockage” or “traffic jam” was. And it made sense! Ugh, such a relief.
Now, almost a year later, I’ve seen major changes. I feel so much better. I am relaxed. And I can tell when it’s been too long since I’ve gotten acupuncture! I go monthly right now (although I wish it was weekly) and drive almost an hour just to see her. (Seriously, she’s amazing)
I sooooo strongly suggest that you try out acupuncture. Like Stephanie said in her interview, it is literally for everyone and can not only help you get “better”, but can help prevent things. I’ve learned that there should be a beautiful meshing of Eastern AND Western medicine in our lives and culture. They both bring so much to the table, and I can’t imagine life without either.
Have you had acupuncture? What’s your story?!
Image via Flickr