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Friday, February 25, 2011


Poke, Poke, Jab, Jab

This week I had a brand new experience. Acupuncture.

Now acupuncture is far from new, it’s been a way to cure ailments for centuries in ancient eastern cultures-but for me it’s new.

My rheumatologist and my physical medicine doctor conferred and decided to ask me if I’d consider trying this form of pain control. I think they figured-“we’ve got to do something here, this woman has way too many areas that are flaring.”

Now I know there’s a lot of people who swear by it and some who just won’t consider having needles stuck in various painful areas. Personally, after being jabbed with big old honking needles filled with cortisone in my most tender spots every 3 months for the last year or two-this sounded like a no-brainer.

No drugs, needles that are smaller than the ones my husband uses to give me my Enbrel (2 doses every Sunday morning) and pain relief-woo hoo, I am sooo in.

I asked around and posted on FaceBook and Twitter, everyone who replied said they loved it and each session left them feeling serene and with a lot less pain.

The more I heard, the more I could hardly wait to get started.

For me, I’m always joking “well despite everything, my RA is under control”. On the flip side of that-the osteoarthritis, the degenerative discs in both my lower spine and my neck and the bursitis in the various areas and the CRPS all are not in control. I’ve been unable to sleep for more than maybe an hour at a time before some pain wakes me up.

Yes, my hip and shoulder feel as if an ice pick is being jabbed into them. My neck discs are at the point where they shoot pain into the back of my head so much that I literally cannot see straight. And I’m not even going to tell you what it takes to find a comfortable position in order to sit at the table with the severe arthritis in my lower back.

For those of you who are wondering how I have been keeping up my power-walking, well my son did a comedy act by walking with a limp, grabbing his hip and saying ow and gasping in fake pain to show what I looked like walking.

Except my pain is real and documented by the outcome of that MRI I took a few weeks ago.

I interviewed 5 acupuncturists and chose a very nice woman who has practiced this art for almost 20 years. She also happens to be a dietician. And the best part-her office is only a mile away from my home.

First appointment consisted of an hour of her examining me, asking questions and going through her list of necessities. Then she said there was no way she could possibly treat my whole body in one appointment, but she would start with the most painful areas on the front right side.

Okay-I felt that would be great. So there I was, trying to relax and there she was putting needles into my neck, shoulder, hip and the area just above my knee. For added “relaxation” she put one into the top of each ear. The lights were dimmed and she suggested I close my eyes and just take it easy.

Being a reporter (and just curious) I asked her a few questions about how it worked, when I could expect to feel better and how long I could enjoy less pain.

She was honest-I’d feel some relief right away, but how long it would last is an individual thing-but I’d definitely need the five approved appointed to see if it was going to work at all.

As I left, I realized that while the pain in my hip and shoulder weren’t gone, the ice pick feeling was! I came home and went up to my office-WITHOUT holding my hip and crying out in pain.

I slept that night for 6 hours and I didn’t take a painkiller. The next morning-again, the pain was there, but it was now a manageable pain that required no medication. Today, as you read this, I will either be in my second appointment or be enjoying the results.

Nothing says happiness like being able to move as if you’re a normal person and to do so without pain.

Personally I don’t care if it’s “real” or a “placebo” effect-I just hope it continues.

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