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pain, Pain, PAIN - GO AWAY
PLEASE BRING ON THE NEEDLES*!!
Ac.u.puncture (ak’yoo punk’char) the ancient practice, esp. as carried on by the Chinese, of piercing parts of the body with needles in seeking to treat disease or relieve pain (definition found in Webster’s dictionary). Do you wonder why anyone in their right mind would want someone to “bring on the needles”?
A number of years ago, I took a bad fall in a local store, landing on my right hand and buttocks. I had many x-rays taken, saw many doctors and was prescribed pain pills. Because I did not break any bones, the doctors wondered why I continued to complain of pain. I was almost convinced that “it was all in my head” and I knew better because the pain was so intense and constant. I was finally diagnosed as having sustained soft tissue damage in the right shoulder similar to what some athletes suffer. Soft tissue damage does not heal quickly nor does it regenerate itself readily. I was told to get use to living with chronic pain.
From childhood I was familiar with alternative medicine. As children we went to osteopaths and chiropractors rather than depending on traditional doctors and drugs. I am also familiar with and use biofeedback. Today too many doctors prescribe drugs as an easy solution to a medical problem. People can become addicted to prescribed medication so easily. When told I would have to get use to living with pain, I began once again going to a local chiropractor. These treatments would help, but only for a short while. It would be necessary to continue these manipulations for a long time and this it was becoming very expensive and time consuming.
Having a very rare breed dog (Chinese Foo or Choo), I asked everyone who looked as though they had come from anywhere near where this breed originated, whether they knew anything about the breed and could they help find an appropriate Chinese name for him (I call him Kobe Xiao Xiong). And so it was that one day, while working part-time in a local store, I had the opportunity to meet a unique and very special man - Master Tam. Through him I became involved in VOVINAM.
It was not until recently that I got to know Master Tam even better and we have become like family. I discovered that he has been an acupuncturist for many decades and was very highly respected in Viet Nam for his knowledge before he came to America. When he volunteered to help me control the chronic pain with acupuncture, my immediate response was, “Sure, I will give it a try”. It is not easy to become completely comfortable with the idea of allowing someone to stick pins in your body. We usually try to avoid needles, don’t we? Do you ever try walking on nails, tacks or even sharp stones barefooted just to see how it feels? I certainly don’t!
It is well documented that many of our best medical treatments and cures come from the ancient arts of the use of herbs and procedures developed centuries ago in China and the Far East. Not only does Master Tam believe strongly in the use of acupuncture and its medical benefits, but as a pharmacist he is very familiar with herbs and the benefits gotten from ordinary plants you can buy cheaply in the grocery store. For example, the daily use of parsley can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Of course, most doctors are not going to tell you that.
As I lay on the bed while Master placed the needles in my body, he explained why he placed each one where he did. The first needle to be inserted was in the face near the ear to deaden the pain of the insertion of needles in other areas of they body. The needles are inserted deeper or not so deeply depending on what illness is being treated. They are twisted to the left for treatment of the illness and twisted to the right when the desired benefit is to give you a better sense of well-being.
One can use only a few for a very specific illness, or many. Today Master Tam used 17 needles which were used in combination for the relief from pain and healing in both my right knee and in my right shoulder. Others were used for weight loss. When the needles are placed for weight loss, three systems are influenced: 1) the kidneys - to increase the release of more toxins, 2) thedigestive system - to control the appetite and, 3) the nervous system - to reduce depression and stimulate more physical activity. His treatment for me is not complete without my turning “up-side-down” (over). Needles are then placed and turned in specific locations to relate to those placed earlier on the front side of my body.
As I lay on the bed I try to relax and not feel the pain of the needles. To help me relax in my mind I walk along a sea shore, hear the birds and the waves rushing against the beach. (OUCH! that hurts) With the sound of running water in the kitchen I am able to relax enough so that the pain of the needles nearly disappears and I allow my body to be stimulated to heal itself.
There are more than 360 main pressure points in one’s body!! The needles cannot be placed randomly, they must be placed very carefully and in the exactly correct spot to do any good. A practitioner of this ancient way of healing knows by a light touch of the skin where to exactly place the needles. not only can it hurt badly when incorrectly placed; one can become injured - indeed even paralyzed if care is not given to precise placement. Since Master Tam is a Master in VOVINAM Martial Arts and a practitioner of acupuncture for over 40 years, he only has to touch the skin in the area of insertion and he knows precisely where to place the needles for maximum benefit. Like the discipline and study required to become a Master in VOVINAM, acupuncture requires years of knowledge and use to become a trusted practitioner.
Before beginning with the needles Master Tam places heated gel packs behind my neck and under my ankles to stimulate better circulation. In the summer he uses cold or frozen packs to do the same. After the needles are withdraw, he places thinly sliced pieces of ginger over the my back and legs in the areas where the needle points were. On the ginger is a small ball of Artemisia Vulgaris (the leaves of a plant similar to the Chrysanthmum) mixed with Moschuh Muschiferus (this substance is taken from glands found in the lower abdomen of a small male mountain deer). This is lit with a lighter. As the acid malic gets hotter, the acid malic (which causes my muscle to make me feel fatigued) is drawn from my body. I can actually hear the thick sticky substance sizzle as it is drawn out of my body. When the heat is too great he moves the ginger to another location.
Next he massages my back with a specially prepared combination of oils. Some of the ingredients are Methyl Salicylate, Eucalyptus, Menthol and Peppermint. These oils continue to heal, relax and comfort all day as they turn into a powder on your skin.
If you are open to the idea of alternative (bypassing regular doctors and drugs) medicine, you have to have a strong belief that this is going to benefit you. If you go into it with the attitude that “it won’t work, but I will just give it a try” - guess what, it won’t work. However, if you are willing to try another method of healing open to the hope of it working - “I can do it and I will be happy with the results”, it will work. There is a lot about how our body works that I do not know or understand. But I do know that my attitude directly affects my health. A negative attitude causes frequent illness, constant fatigue and makes the pain so much more intense. On the other hand, a positive attitude of love, acceptance and giving to others has its own reward - good health and a deep lasting sense of well-being and contentment.
Yes, the pain in my body is diminishing. The swelling caused by the constant contraction of muscles around the point of pain is nearly gone. And I am also losing weight!! In addition, I am experiencing a higher level of energy and a much stronger sense of purpose and well-being. Has acupuncture alone done all of this? I don’t think so, but it has a lot to do with my healing process combined with the use of herbs and a strong positive attitude.
Perhaps the most important part of my treatment is the therapeutic touch of Master Tam. As he inserts the needles, he touches my skin. His touch is as soft as a butterfly’s wings or as light as the breath of a baby’s kiss. It is through this touch that he transfers part of his Chi or spiritual love to me. It is this touch which removes the pain of the prick of the needle, begins the healing of my physical body and energizes my inner spirit.
Where before I was very stress-out and fragmented, now there is a feeling of wholeness and working together of my mind, body and spirit.
GEORGIA D. JACOBS