One of the most common questions I get is about my story. Why am I an acupuncturist? The answer is rather simple: because I had it and it worked!
But there’s a little more to it than just that. I was 25 years old, just a few years out of school (UCSC, Stevenson College), and was working as an office manager for an educational non-profit. Just the perfect job for a history major…in any event, as much as I loved the mission of the organization and my co-workers, I knew it was not my passion. I also knew that I needed to be in the field of medicine. I considered many options before acupuncture even entered my consciousness: massage therapy, homeopathy, chiropractic, psychotherapy and naturopathic medicine. As I pondered the possibilities I realized that massage therapy was out because of an old wrist injury. But as all things serendipitous, it was this wrist injury that got me to where I am today. For two years I had been suffering from a wrist injury that severely impeded my range of motion. One day out of the blue, a co-worker mentioned that she was on her way to an acupuncture appointment. Suddenly it dawned on me. I had no idea what acupuncture could treat, but I thought I’d find out. I called my co-worker’s acupuncturist and described my injury. She sounded confident, so I made an appointment for the following week.
It was after work on a Friday in September, and after looking for her house on the wrong street (my partner, who was there for moral support, and I realized we needed to be on 2nd instead of 3rd Avenue), we rang the bell and were invited into Jan’s home. She had a special treatment room off the main hallway. It was small and cozy. She proceeded to ask me lots of questions about my health, the injury, and then felt my pulse and looked at my tongue. I mentioned that in addition to the wrist pain I had also been suffering from chronic allergies. For two years I was awoken every morning by a sneeze. She asked me to point to the my pain. Then she nodded knowingly: that’s on the lung meridian. There may be a correlation, she explained, between the blockage on the wrist and the sneezing. I was amazed.
I was further amazed that the needles were nothing to be afraid of; quite the contrary. I felt terrific, both during the treatment and when I got up 45 minutes later!
The most amazing thing to me, however, was that when I woke up the next day I did not sneeze nor did my wrist hurt. After favoring it for two years I suddenly had full range of motion–after one simple acupuncture treatment!
It is no exaggeration when I tell you that I made up my mind the Saturday after my first acupuncture treatment to become an acupuncturist. Within three months I had quit my job at the non-profit, began working with my acupuncturist in her new office, and had begun school.
Years later I was lamenting to a patient that I wished everyone would respond as quickly and thoroughly as I did my first time. She pointed out to me that perhaps that was the way it was meant to be–so that I would be compelled to change my course in life and practice this medicine. I believe she may have been right.