Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A good day in the clinic

There are times when I take what five element acupuncture can do a little bit too much for granted, but then I will find myself heartened by a treatment or series of treatments which reignites my wonder at what my needles have achieved.  It also adds to my gratitude at having been given the chance quite late in my life (for I ventured into acupuncture in my mid-40s) to have found my way to a calling in which so much can be achieved with so very little - just through this comparatively tiny, one inch of flexible steel gently inserted to a comparatively very shallow depth in the skin, but able to stir the deepest depths within us all.

This has happened to me again this week, and fortunately, too, since I came back from China re-energized, only to fall foul of a bug of some kind which laid me low.  I needed a good pick-me-up and the one I am writing about today provided this so amply for me.

A new patient rang me in great distress.  He had developed excruciating lower back pain which was almost making it impossible for him to move.  It sounded as if he needed what, in other disciplines, might be called emergency treatment.  Here lies one of the traps for the unwary five element acupuncturist, because there is a myth deeply embedded in some acupuncturists’ psyche that somehow five element acupuncture cannot treat acute conditions, and that five element acupuncturists need to look to other acupuncture disciplines to supplement what they do.  This is something I have never understood, because it is belied by my many years of treating acute pain successfully using exactly the same treatment procedures as I use for any patient.  And yet all of us, even the most experienced, when faced with an acute condition may feel an impulse to forget the carefully graded steps which start every course of treatment, and think first only of which points we could use in the area of the pain to counter it.

As we all know, these first steps consist first, and above all, of what we call a TD (a Traditional Diagnosis), followed by an AE drain and the source points of the element we have chosen.  A TD should usually be as exhaustive as is necessary, firstly to set up a good relationship with our patient and then to find out as best as we may at this first encounter what is really going on in our patient’s life.  With acute pain, we may feel it better to shorten the bit of it we do face to face, only to continue it during the AE drain, an ideal time to do so for every patient.  And in this patient’s case, what I discovered was a great deal which helped explain why the backache was occurring just now, and was not just the first occurrence but a re-occurrence of one which had last occurred some 20 years earlier.  This had been when his father had died and he had blamed himself ever since for not having reconciled himself with him before he died.  Why did he think it might be recurring now, I asked him, and it turned out that his mother, too, had just died and all his feelings at this loss appeared to have brought to the surface the suppressed grief from long ago.

Reading this stated baldly like this, it might seem slightly fanciful to make these connections, but my patient certainly did not think so.  And the strong reaction to his first treatment only confirmed this, because over the next few days he experienced feelings of deep grief, which made him examine his relationships to his own children, particularly his son.  The most interesting thing from my point of view was that on his second visit a few days later he hardly mentioned his back pain, and when asked, said almost with surprise that, yes, it certainly seemed much better.  By the third treatment the pain had completely disappeared, and he felt as he said, “A completely new man”.

I hope this adds another nail to the coffin in which should lie buried the myth that five element acupuncture cannot treat acute physical symptoms.

For my acupuncture readers, I give below the very simple first three treatments I gave him, all, as you can see, directed at the Metal element.  

Treatment 1:   AE drain (a little AE on Lu and HP)
                        LI 4, Lu 9 (3∆ & needle)
                        SI 19- Bl 1 (SI-Bl block – see next blog today for explanation)
                        LI 4 – Lu 9 again (no moxa)

Treatment 2:   CV 8 (3∆ on salt)
                        LI 20 – St 1 (LI-St block)
                        Lu 8, LI 6 (3∆ & needle)

Treatment 3:   Bl 38 (42) (5∆ & needle)
                        LI 11, Lu 9 (3∆ & needle)


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