Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Getting to the point - Accupuncture

I've been dealing with chronic pain for the past 16 months or so, ever since a botched vasectomy caused some nasty nerve damage in places you really don't want to have it.  I've gone to doctor's all over the place and after two surgeries, they've now told me it's just something I'm going to have to deal with for life.  Not being one to give up, I figured I'd try acupuncture.  What do I have to lose?

I was skeptical.  I don't know a lot about eastern medicine, but the concepts of 'getting my chi aligned and flowing' were pretty foreign concepts to me, hence I went in skeptical.

The first acupuncturist I went to Dr. Paul Sheng,MD in Brighton.  I knew a few other people who'd been to him and recommended him.  I went in, explained my problem and he explained to me in very western, medical terms that I probably had a nerve injury (I forget the medical term) and that he thought he could fix it.  He had me lay on the table facing the wall.  He proceeded to put needles all over, in my ear, my abdomen, my back and my pelvis.  I know what you're thinking: he didn't place any needles in the area of injury, thankfully.  Dr. Sheng didn't do a very good job explaining what he was doing and why.  He took a very doctorish approach to the treatment, very different from the Lotus Center approach.  Interesting side note on the guy, he's a Christian, whose family escaped from communist China after being persecuted for their faith.

This went fairly smoothly.  The needle pricks were tiny and I really couldn't feel them.  What surprised me was the next part: hooking up electricity to the needs and laying there while a current is running through you.  Very strange and slightly painful.

I didn't really feel a change afterwards.  I was still in pain, and Dr Sheng recommended I start to wean myself from the pain medicine I was on, as they would only the dull the pain in my mind, not really deal with the problem.  It was a bigger ask than it sounds, as it had taken me a month or two to build up to the medicine I was on and quitting was no small task.

After a period of feeling pretty due to a group of friends at church praying and fasting for me, I went off the pain meds.  I kept going back to Dr. Sheng, even though I wasn't seeing any kind of immediately release.  The fifth visit, it felt different.  The shock went all the way down my leg when he turned the current on. Leaving the office, things felt the same. A few days later, the pain started subsiding, probably to about 80%.  I had no idea why at the time.  I'm still convinced it was because of the Acupuncture.

At the time, I wasn't sure what was working, and decided I'd try a different acupuncturist.  I went to a place in Ann Arbor called the Lotus Center based on a recommendation from Dana.  My acupuncturist was named Brody.  He sat down with me, looked at my tongue, took my pulse and my chi.  He explained that the flow of my chi was out of whack, hence the pain, and that his job would be to align the energy and take away the pain.  I did my best to be open minded and give it a try.  Brody did a great job explaining everything and making sure I was comfortable.  Very different than the place in Brighton.  Brighton had a very direct, medical approach.  This was a little more squishy and tougher to wrap my brain around it.

I laid on the table and Brody began putting needles in my hands, my feet and my head and then I laid there for about a half hour.  It was the craziest thing, but I actually felt like some kind of wave was flowing around me, I could feel movement.  Maybe it was the needles. Maybe it's something I don't get with a western mindset of believing only what I can see and prove.  It was a weird experience.  I don't know right now whether it's had any impact or if I'll go back.

I feel like the first doctor took a balanced eastern/western accupuncture mixed with medicine view, but didn't have the 'warm fuzzies' of the second guy.  In the end, I'll probably continue with #1 for now as it seems to be working.

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