“I am writing to share with you my experience so far of treating my patient with terminal cancer, where, without your guidance and influence, and your mantra of 'the simpler, the better' I feel I would not have been able to do my best.
(When I saw this patient for the first time) he was complaining of severe abdominal pain, had lost a huge amount of weight and was now having difficulty breathing. A&E had been pumping him full of morphine and then discharging him within hours of admission. In the first two treatments I was able to carry out IDs, AE drain and source points for Wood, after which he said he felt energised and went out for his first walk in months. He cancelled his third treatment as he was admitted into hospital for chest x-rays and investigations (finally), whereupon it emerged that he has a very aggressive form of lung cancer (secondary), with the primary suspected in the large intestine. He started chemotherapy there and then, but expressed a wish to carry on with his acupuncture treatments as soon as he was able.
Just after I saw you last at Guy's Clinical Skills Day earlier this month, I was reading your book 'The Pattern of Things' on the train on the journey home, and came upon the very moving chapter describing your treatment of Martine just before she died. This was a very poignant moment for me as it was whilst I was reading this that I received a text message telling me of my patient's diagnosis and asking whether I would be willing to treat him in hospital, to which I agreed, thankful for the strength and insight I had gained from reading your piece.
.. I was finally able to see him in the hospice today. I had mentally planned my treatment - AE again, possibly H/W, possibly Rich for the Vitals (Bl 38 (43)) or Kidney chest points - only to be told that I wasn't to put needles in his chest or back, and to be honest, he is now so emaciated that I would have been a tad fearful to do so (even the muscles either side of his spine had disappeared to nothing). He was barely able to talk because of the breathlessness, and his pulses were non-existent except in the LU/LI position. I contemplated H/W but thought him to be too weak to tolerate that many needles, so in the end I did source points in one foot only, which sent him off to sleep for half an hour or so.
As an ex-asthmatic myself, I know how incredibly tense my back used to get during an attack and so I offered to gently massage his back, which he was very grateful for, and proceeded to massage neck, shoulders, arms, hands and feet for about an hour. He was visibly more relaxed afterwards and his breathing had become much less laboured, and so at this point I took my leave.
My apologies for the lengthy prose here, but I will finish now by thanking you, Nora, for instilling in me the courage to do less in order to do more, and to carry out my treatments with utmost humility.”
I think this is a good summary of an excellent approach to helping the terminally ill. (The only thing I suggested was that there would have been no need to worry about clearing a H/W, because clearing it reduces the stress on the Heart, which can only be helpful.) Thank you, Jo, for sending me this.
I have just received the following after the patient's next treatment:
When I saw my patient again today I just couldn't believe my eyes - what a transformation! He was sitting up in bed and was able to chat lucidly and freely. He said that the last treatment was amazing and he felt as though something had definitely shifted. His visitors later that evening all commented that they could see his old self was back again, something they hadn't seen for a very long time.
… He said he feels very strong, in fact he used the words 'normal again' and knows absolutely that this is not his time to go.
It's always heartening to receive such welcome confirmation of the effectiveness of what we do - with the simplest means.