Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Search for Sanity: Part I

The purpose of this post is to discuss my recent acupuncture appointment.  In order to understand why I am going in the first place, here is a bit of background info:

When I was born, well... let's just say I had some issues.  To make a long story short, my mother's water broke three months before I was born and I suffered what I just learned is called meconium aspiration syndrome. (Thank you wikipedia).  My Apgar score, (measured on a 0-10 scale) was a 1.  Since a score of 0=death, my mother considers me a "miracle baby".  She reminds of this status at every landmark event in my life.  Thanks mom :)

Amazingly, it became clear that I did not have any of the brain damage expected by the doctors (although my siblings might argue otherwise...).  The only long-term effect of my traumatic birth is migraines.  When I was a baby they were exhibited as cyclic vomiting.  A lot of vomiting. I have lots of good puke stories... maybe another day.

As I grew older, they turned into traditional migraines.  I would lose my vision for 20 minutes or so (called an aura) and then the pain would hit.  Additionally, I was generally very nauseous and threw up a lot.  In Kindergarten I threw up all over the inside of the tee-pee... Sorry.  I forgot I'm saving those stories for later.

I have taken a lot of different medications over the years.  I don't remember what they were all called, only what the pills looked like and how gross they tasted :)  Right now I take Imitrex.  It works well at suppressing a migraine if you catch it early.  However, I don't really have auras anymore so it makes prediction a bit more difficult.  

It has been nearly 22 years and I have come to accept migraines as simply a part of my life.  I have learned to work through pain (and puking), and it's no big deal anymore.  

But Grant takes a different approach.  He has had experience with acupuncture that has really worked for him.  He's convinced me not to give up on the possibility of getting rid of migraines or at least, making them less frequent.  (Do you watch Glee?  Kind of like the Tina/Artie plot where Tina convinces him not to give up on a cure and Artie fantasizes about dancing in the mall...  I'm fantasizing about not throwing up and sleeping for 2 days straight...)  That's where the acupuncture comes in.

I went to my first appointment with Calli (Dr. Wang) last week.  She asked me all of the questions a normal MD would ask as we talked about my general health.  She told me that Traditional Chinese medicine believes that your body's energy is called Qi (pronounced chee).  In my case, my qi is too highly concentrated in my head, causing pain.  Acupuncture acts to balance out that qi.  

Next, we proceeded with the treatment.  That first day I laid on my back and she put in probably 10-15 needles.  There were a few on my face, arms, stomach, and legs.  It didn't hurt much at all to have them put in.  Calli said they only go about .2 inches in and that they are so small that multiple acupuncture needles could fit inside a hypodermic needle.  

Then Calli did something called acupressure.  She used a tool that looked a bit like a small hammer and tapped it all over my face and head for about 30 minutes.  It was nice and relaxing-- I almost fell asleep. After leaving me to rest for a few minutes, she came back, removed the needles and sent me on my way. She also recommended I remove sugar from my diet, as it is one of my main triggers for my migraine.  I love sweet things so that has not been easy. 

So... do I believe in acupuncture?  I guess my answer is a bit complicated.  I believe that it has worked and that it does work for some people.  I believe it just make work for me.  I'm not sure what I think about the concept of qi yet, mostly because it is so foreign from how I have been taught to think about bodies and about healing.  Right now, I'm trying to stay open to the possibilities that Chinese medicine might hold for me.  We'll see how it goes and I'll keep updates on the progress.

And now, I'm off to take some Tylenol... maybe some day I won't have to :)


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