Simply put…I was in pain. Chronic Neck Pain that radiated up both sides of neck down into my shoulders and lived primarily in the large bone at the base of my neck.I had tried everything: chiropractics, reflexology, yoga, massage, muscle relaxers, opiates, inversion therapy and detox treatments. Nothing relieved my pain long-term. I would get small breaks but it always returned so I just learned to live with it.
I am the symbolic “everywoman”—a busy working mom of two beautiful boys. I have a husband who loves me, friends I neglect, and an aging mother I worry about. I make lists, volunteer, cook meals, help with homework, squeeze in a yoga class between work and car pool and eat an energy bar (and beet juice) in the car on my way to a meeting. This life I have created is full and amazing and no different from most women I know. We wear many hats, play many parts and give of ourselves. A blessed yet unbalanced life.
THE INITIAL CONSULTATION
Dr Alison Warren DAOM,L.Ac.at OrthoCarolina was my last resort and at the risk of sounding over dramatic, I told her so. Her response was, “I get that a lot”. Among the select few in the top of her field, Dr. Alison Warren holds a Clinical Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
I will admit I was skeptical at the initial consultation. After-all, every mode of healing I had tried prior had let me down.
Dr. Warren went through my medical history, asked extensive questions about my eating habits, bowel movements, took my pulse and looked at my tongue. Digestion is big in acupuncture. The organ systems and meridians that regulate digestion are connected to all body functions, so a person’s digestive health says a lot about their overall health. The tongue can tell that story. A normal tongue in TCM is pink or light red with a light coating.
Determining that I am (besides the chronic neck pain) a healthy person with no pre-existing medical conditions who takes no medicine, exercises regularly, drinks plenty of water, doesn’t drink or smoke, and has a moderate level of stress; it was time for some acupuncture.
MY FIRST ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT
I wasn’t afraid. Truthfully, I was exhausted from carrying around the pain. Dr. Warren explained that upon insertion of the tiny acupuncture needles I would feel a dull ache that would dissipate after a few seconds. Lying face down on the table with my “wound” exposed (the large bone at the base of my neck) I was ready.
She began placing needles in both sides of my neck, lower back, feet and ears. It was exactly as she described: dull ache which dissipated quickly. I felt some needles-meridians more than others but none of them were painful. What followed for me was rather interesting. Instead of lying there and peacefully allowing my body to relax, I had an overwhelming urge to get up and run out of the room. A “fight or flight” kind of feeling. It was as if I didn’t want to let go of the pain. Then I began to cry.
Sometimes people cry during acupuncture. Emotions get stuck/blocked as we push through life. Piercing these points of pain allows the energy and emotion to begin to flow. It’s completely normal and actually a sign that the treatment is working (thank goodness!).From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, physical and emotional health are interconnected, so emotional shifts can precede physical changes. This does not happen to everyone. An emotional catharsis is not a requirement of acupuncture or healing. It was;however, the case for me.
The needles were in for approximately 15 minutes. She followed the acupuncture with some pressure point massage as if she could see through my skin hitting the exact places where my jumbled up muscles lived.
Upon leaving, I felt calm, pain-free, exhausted and ravenously hungry. My instructions were to eat something hearty, drink plenty of water and rest…so I did.
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