Guest article written by: Rebeca Simpson Holloway
Have you ever tried something new that you absolutely loved—so much so that you can’t understand how you lived without it for so long? I felt that way the first time I listened to Johnny Cash in my mid 20s. I just couldn’t believe I had gone on for so long without his music—especially considering that I went to college in Tennessee! How could my friends and parents have neglected to teach me about The Man in Black? This was a major injustice!
I now feel the same way about acupuncture. Since early childhood, I have suffered from regular migraines. Yet, at the age of 30, I’m just now realizing the power acupuncture can have over this horrible condition. How can that be? I will admit that while I was growing up I was usually able to manage my once or twice a month migraines with various pharmaceuticals. Now, my stomach lining has most likely worn away, but that wasn’t a concern at the time. I was just happy to lessen the pain. However, after I had my first child, I just couldn’t find the right pills to handle each headache. You could say that pregnancy and childbirth had scarred me—and this was much worse than flabby abs or a closet full of shoes that no longer fit. For some unknown reason my headaches became much more frequent and even more severe after giving birth. There was nothing I could do to prevent them or treat them effectively. Eventually I was taking prescription pain medications on a regular basis. Imagine what life was like then!
So, why is it that nobody has ever told me about the wonderful realm of healing? OK, it’s not like I’ve never heard of acupuncture. I just never knew anybody who’d done it, nor had it ever been recommended to me directly. Over the course of my life, I’ve seen at least 20-30 different doctors for my migraines, and not one has ever brought it up. I’ve gone through every test imaginable and God only knows how much money was spent on all the specialists, testing and medication. Yet, the solution was there all along. In retrospect, it’s very frustrating!
For some reason there seems to be a disconnect between western medicine and that of the Far East. I’m not exactly sure why, though. Acupuncture has been studied for thousands of years, with clear empirical data to back it up. It’s not some voodoo practice; it’s a real science with real research behind it. The people who practice it have gone through years of rigorous training and education—at least those who are licensed have gone through about four years of intense training. Acupuncture is just different from what we know, and for some reason we naturally associate different as being weird.
Luckily I was able to get hooked up with an MD specializing in Integrative Medicine, which happens to be one of the coolest specialties I’ve ever encountered among the medical world. And remember, I’ve seen my share of specialists. Basically, the treatment encompasses the body, mind and spirit, in addition to all the other aspects of a person’s lifestyle. Each course of treatment is individualized using all appropriate therapies. Seems like a foreign concept, huh? Well, this isn’t exactly the kind of medicine you grew up with. But, then again, it’s not exactly new either. It’s an integration.
When my doc realized how debilitating my migraines were, he suggested acupuncture. At the time, I happily would have injected snake venom into my veins if I thought it would stop the migraines. However, I will admit that cost was an initial concern. I’m not averse to trying new things, but I don’t need to tell you that we’re in a recession and finances are tight when you have a young baby. I was surprised to learn that acupuncture treatments were actually going to be cheaper than the traditional methods I had already tried. In fact, when I added up all the doctor visits I’ve made over the last year and a half, in addition to tests and various medications, I’ve spent well over $1,000—and that’s just with my insurance co-pays. Insurance has likely kicked in close to $10,000 and you know what that does to the overall cost of health care! So, going to an acupuncturist was really a drop in the bucket when I thought of it in terms of money.
I still wasn’t totally sold on the idea, though. But, like I said, I was desperate and willing to try anything. When I went in to my first acupuncture appointment, I was battling a migraine for more than four days. I took everything in my medicine cabinet, including Vicodin pills every four hours. Nothing worked, and I was desperate!
I called Acupuncture of Indiana on a Monday morning and (thankfully) he wiggled his schedule to fit me in that afternoon. The appointment was for two hours and I had to call hubby home from work to watch our son. I went into that appointment with a hefty level of skepticism, along with blinding pain I absolutely couldn’t get over. I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I arrived for my appointment—I thought it would take several treatments—but I was ready to give it a try. So, it’s really an understatement to say I was pleasantly surprised when my pain was significantly diminished before I even left the building. I was downright astonished! The headache took about 48 hours to completely go away, but it was so much more tolerable. I really felt like a new woman!
Since then I’ve gone back twice for follow up treatments. The second treatment was even more dramatic and I haven’t had a migraine since. This is just the best thing in the world for me! I honestly feel like I should send him a fruit basket or some chocolate for the relief he’s given me. Do they make gift baskets for acupuncturists? If so, I need to send him one!
I’ve also learned that acupuncture isn’t just for headaches. According to Dr. James Nicolai, the medical director for the Franciscan Center for Integrative Health in Indianapolis, while used as part of an integrative medical approach, acupuncture has been proven to be effective in treating and/or aiding in a number of things which include:
Depression and anxiety
Digestive problems, including morning sickness (I’ll have to remember that for the next pregnancy)
Knee pain and swelling
As for me, I’ll go for bi-weekly treatments over the course of the next two months. At that point, if all is well, we’ll cut back to once a month or every other month. I’ve already been able to eliminate two prescriptions from my daily routine. So, I think I’m off to a great start!
Guest article written by: Rebeca Simpson Holloway
Rebeca is an average mom raising an active toddler in the Midwest. In additional to taking care of her family full time, she also works as a PR chick for Designed Write Public Relations and is the creator of the facebook page, The Average Parent.
In addition to spending time with her friends and family, Rebeca enjoys trying new things and spreading the word about her experiences. Contact Rebeca at email@example.com.