Definitely most of my practice is helping my fellow human beings to relieve pain. Most folks will seek acupuncture for back pain, neck pain or sciatica. Acupuncture is not thought of helping a quadriplegic person. Well I’m finding out first hand that it can. The process is slow and the results are subtle.
As an acupuncturist, I decided that I would donate charity cases. I was never sure how I would find the person that needed my help, but it came through a simple request on a local facebook forum exclusively for acupuncturists. Someone was looking help in treating quadriplegia. Since I have never treated a quadriplegic person, I waited a couple of days to see if someone would respond. If no one responded I planned to reach out. I wrote and the next week I was on route to meet my newest patient.
To provide the acupuncture treatment I go directly to the family’s home. It’s heartening to see how many caring people are rallying behind the girl’s recovery. There is a massage therapist and a chiropractor also donating their time. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover any of of these modalities so it has to come from the community.
The mother and the nurse explained to me how she was a vivacious young girl, full of life and then suddenly there was a shift. She began having seizures that led to brain surgery and now she in a state of paralysis, maybe locked in syndrome (a state of paralysis with consciousness) with hypertonicity (increased muscle tone). Treating a patient that cannot speak requires observation. I take in everything from head to toe to figure out where to start. Pulse diagnosis helps to assess her blood and Qi. Facial diagnosis can assess many things too. The more I see her the more I will understand subtle differences in her eyes and complexion.
Not knowing how she will respond to the acupuncture, I began with very gentle treatments. I’ve seen her three times and so far each visit there are small improvements. The improvements are subtle such as her feet feel slightly warmer instead of freezing cold. Her foot and toes appear slightly less hypertonic and she spasms less. The mother noticed that she appears very relaxed after the last visit. Tiny sprinkles of hope for any kind of improvement in quality of life.
During my last visit I met another home care nurse that is taking care of a 17 year old quadriplegic. ‘Can you help? Can you take another pro bono case?’ they asked me. The teenager is in a constant state of low grade pain. Nothing is helping. We’ll see what happens in this.
If I can help, then in the long run many other can be helped. It’s important that we widen our minds and accept alternative health care as viable. While I was traveling last month I was delayed at the Denver airport. I had a long conversation with a bio-tech scientist dedicated to creating new medications for all sorts of conditions. We had a great talk sharing what we do. “I wish you guys had more research for us” he told me. He’s right. In acupuncture we treat the whole person. Every person is different and every person will respond to treatment in their own way so the Western model of randomized trials are not an effective way to understand results. Case studies on the other hand can be. So I will be sharing my stories of treating quadriplegia.
Have a great week.
Remember! Deep breaths…..