After my morning chemo treatment on Thursday, I went to be acupunctured for the first time ever. It was the gift of a dear friend. I’d read that acupuncture can help with chemo side effects, so I didn’t hesitate in saying yes to the offer. Yes, acupuncture involves needles (thus the “puncture” part), and I still don’t like needles, but I figured that I’ve almost gotten used to them. I’m stuck by a needle at least once every week and have been since September, so I was sure I could handle some of the tiny acupuncture needle sticks.
The practitioner talked with me first, discussing very briefly the 2,000 year history of traditional Chinese medicine, and he told me that he’d do the acupuncture on my ears. Ears are a case of microcosm/macrocosm. The ear has points that correspond with the body, and it’s much as if a fetus were curled up in the ear. The ear is a microcosm of the macrocosm of the whole body. The diagram below gives you an idea of that. After talking with me and getting an idea of my treatment path and general health, the practitioner took me into a room where I lay on my back on a table like a massage table. He inserted the needles into specific places on my ears and left me to relax for 20 minutes. Yes, it hurt some when he inserted the needles, but not much. Some places hurt more than others. I guess I’d describe it like an IV. I felt a little pain at first but then didn’t really notice that the needle (in this case more than one) was there. I did feel a sensation like a chill run through my body at one point as he was inserting the needles. It was only on the right side of my body. That was interesting, because I don’t ever remember feeling that sensation only on one side. When he left the room, I relaxed and dozed off at the end and woke up when he came in to finish the session. He removed the needles and wiped my ears with alcohol. I left feeling alert and physically sound and contented. My ears didn’t hurt.
Did acupuncture help?
I haven’t had the bone aches so far like the last two times. I didn’t have any bone aches until this morning at 4 am, and they weren’t very intense. The previous two Taxotere treatments, I had bone and joint aches start the afternoon on the day after chemo. I did get an upset stomach on Friday afternoon, but no bone or joint aches. Yesterday was a rough day when I felt generally bad and couldn’t taste food because of the chemical taste in my mouth, but I didn’t have as much specific pain as the last two treatments. The headache wasn’t as strong, and I didn’t have the bone and joint aches. So maybe the acupuncture did indeed help. I’ll go back this week for another treatment and will have a total of six treatments. I was surprised at how many of my Facebook friends said that they’ve had acupuncture and gotten relief from pain. Maybe it’s about to become mainstream – and maybe insurance will start to cover it.
I also had a massage last week, and I’d put acupuncture in that same healing category. My massage therapist is a gifted healer, and I always leave my massage sessions feeling better. I’ve also had Reiki (energy work) sessions from another healer friend. I’m very blessed in that I have gifted practitioners of alternative medicines who are working on (and with) me. I hope that conventional medicine will more willingly embrace other healing practices in the near future. I do think that attitude is changing now, and it seems to me that medical schools are more open to other ways of healing and are starting to acknowledge that we aren’t just bodies that doctors and nurses and technicians are to poke and prod and stick and scan and run tests on but are instead whole human beings with emotions and thoughts and spirits as well as bodies. At least I hope that attitude is changing. My experience has been that alternative practices are healing to me in ways in which conventional medicine is not. I’m grateful for both schools of thought and certainly will continue to use each one.