This is why it is important to remember the following:
- It takes times for treatment to percolate through, so we should not expect patients to feel an immediate effect. It may takes some days before patients are aware things are beginning to change.
- Some people are not sufficiently self-aware to register that things have actually improved. This may be for several reasons. They may be reluctant to trust that things can get better, or uncertain whether things won’t just go back to being how they were. They may also be unwilling to admit to any improvement for fear that we may start losing interest in continuing to see them.
- “Feeling better” is a very subjective assessment of how we feel. As energy starts to return to greater balance, there may be all kinds of reactions as patients get used to adjusting to the changes inside them. There is often an unsettling time as patients have to learn to cope with what may be strange new feelings.
The only things we as practitioners should learn to rely upon are our own observations of change (or no change). We should look carefully at our patients as they leave at the end of treatment to see whether they look any different. And these changes will always be very subtle, a slightly brighter look in the eye, a brisker way of walking, a slightly warmer smile.
I was reminded of this yesterday after I had treated an Earth patient of mine, who came in looking worried and rather depressed, and left looking as if his spirit had received a welcome uplift. I felt that the person walking out of the door was quite different to the one who came in. He himself said as he left, without any prompting from me, “I feel much better now”. This was an unexpected bonus for me, and left me feeling, yet again, what a lovely, yet profoundly simple calling is five element acupuncture.
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For those interested to know what treatment I gave, it was: GV14 (Great Hammer) (5 moxas), AEPs (back shu points) of Stomach and Spleen, III (Bl) 20, 21, (7 moxas), followed by the source points of Stomach and Spleen, XI (St) 42, XII (Sp) 3, (3 moxas). When he came in, he looked so resigned in a passive kind of a way that I thought his Earth element could benefit from being given a boost from GV 14, Great Hammer, before I did the AEPs.