Alternative health care fascinates me. Not only are the tools for providing care different from “traditional”, allopathic care, but the methods can also vary.
Often, alternative care finds ways to reach people who don’t have access to doctors and hospitals due to expense, scheduling and other concerns. As I learned through my herbalism training, it often works just as well, or better, than mainstream treatments.
After my unexpected trip to the Emergency Room on Friday, I discovered that the pile of medicines prescribed to relieve my pain helped… to a point. Even with a full dose, I was still in considerable discomfort, particularly as I tried to sleep.
Looking for a solution that would work in tandem with the medications (not wanting to chance herbal remedies this time around), I considered acupuncture, something I had tried once in the distant past for a similar issue. I discovered a small clinic in Austin called Acupuncture Together that advertises low cost treatments ($30 for the first one, and $20 thereafter).
I did more research and it turns out that this clinic is part of a national cooperative of affordable acupuncture clinics, the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture. The goal of this co-op is to make acupuncture accessible and affordable to everyone.
So I decided to give it a shot. In the case of Acupuncture Together, they have one common room with 8-10 recliners, and staggered appointments every ten minutes. The room is quiet, with a peaceful meditation music playing. The recliners are draped with sheets, there are pillows and blankets for comfort, and mandalas on the walls and ceilings for relaxation and mediation. One acupuncturist attends to the room, greeting you when you come in, reviewing your file, and discussing your treatment briefly, and then you recline and they insert the needles. All you need to do is take off your shoes and roll up your pants legs/sleeves, and sink into the comfy recliner. This is in contrast to standard acupuncture treatments where you are in a private room, you may need to at least partially undress, and may have a longer consultation.
After the first treatment on Saturday I felt very relaxed, and the pain was significantly diminished, to the extent that I took a nap and without even thinking about it, slept on the side that had been hurting all week. I actually was able to skip a dosage of the pain medication and didn’t need any until the evening. As a side note: I also found the hour in the clinic provided a great meditative experience. (I should also note: there should be no pain or discomfort from properly-administered acupuncture. While you might feel the needle slightly, they are so tiny that it isn’t even comparable to a sewing needle or a hypodermic; and if needles make you uneasy, you can just close your eyes, like I d0.
So I felt great the rest of the day Saturday, but by night time, the back pain returned, so I scheduled another appointment and went back on Sunday. Again, the pain diminished, lasting even longer this time. Today, the pain came back, but once again, after the treatment, it was gone. This is in line with the recommendation that I go for four treatments, as the acupuncturist warned me that one visit was unlikely to completely relieve the pain. I can definitely sense an improvement over the course of the three days.
I discovered that one hour’s acupuncture has a longer lasting effect than two+ doses of my pain medication, and seems to be helping the overall pain diminish. I’ve also had three very relaxing contemplative sessions in which I’ve gained a few personal insights and a great idea for my Camp NaNoWriMo novel. Plus… I got an idea another blog post for my challenge. 🙂 So all in all, it’s been a big win.
The best part of all, perhaps, is that it didn’t break the bank. The entire recommended course of treatments will cost me less than $100.
If this sounds good to you, I’d suggest you consider acupuncture as a legitimate tool for managing your pain. You can check out the POCA website and find out if there’s a cop-op member acupuncture clinic in your city.