A good CA day

when you get to share acupuncture with your community, including:

a young woman who had been put on pain killers last year for massive menstrual pain but now is left with unrelenting pain and restlessness in her legs, for which she was only offered more meds–none of which she wants to or can afford to take.

a dedicated massage therapist struggling with extreme anxiety, digestive and skin problems from Grave’s desease who said after her treatment “i feel completely different in my body.”

a man with low back pain that had filled out his paperwork in May and finally made it in today and can’t wait to come back

another young woman feeling depressed and low energy who came in to get
turned around so that she could go perform dance for two different community
fundraisers this weekend

a man who came in so that “being here can be my relaxation time today” because it is his WEDDING DAY

god, i love this life. tag, you’re it…

Author: melissa

Found community acupuncture in my last year of acupuncture school and it was like cool water on the dry desert of aculand. It addressed all those nagging questions of how to make acupuncture accessible and inviting to people like me, in my own communities as well as actually make a living and I knew I would practice this way for the rest of my life. I have learned more (about acupuncture, about people and community, about myself) in the past few years of running a CA clinic and being an acupunk at another BDC clinic than ever before. It's one of my all-time favorite places to be. I am eternally grateful to this community for its welcoming support, its passionate determination and its irreverence for useless sacred cows. I look forward to our continued work in supporting community acupuncture clinics worldwide!

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Conference Keynote: Breaking the Ceiling

The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.


  1. You Go Girl!   How cool is

    You Go Girl!   How cool is wedding day acupuncture! 

     I treated Asheville’s deputy Sherrif on Friday and today.  Can I now say “I shot the sheriff?”

  2. When a patient with chronic pain

    tells you she’s 35-40% better, after 3 months of almost daily treatments for pain so disabling that she can’t work, pain that she’s had for over a decade. Another good day — when another chronic pain patient tells you that after about a month of treatment he’s no longer sleeping 20 hours a day due to being overmedicated, and can now play with his 9 year old daughter. So many good days! Thanks for this thread, Melissa.

  3. good days

    When an adult with severe autism and cerebral palsy answers “good!” and starts giggling when you ask him how he’s doing — that’s a really good day.

    When a teacher with anxiety, chronic insomnia, and ADD tells you that after his last treatment it was the best he’d felt since he was 14 years old — that is a good day.

    When your patient who had a colonectomy tells you that she had her first solid BM since before the surgery — that is a great day.

    thanks for the memories..

    The Hammer from SF

  4. When two patients who keep

    When two patients who keep ending up here at the same time decide to have lunch to get to know one another after their treatments.

    When 3 new patients in a row come in b/c their loved ones told them acu could change things, then literally cried with relief to have found some help.

    When your vet abandons your dog on the last day of its life and you call a patient who is a vet tech and she brings a doctor to your house. And you cry bc YOU found some help.

    When you’re planning a bbq and realize most of the people you really like best are members of your clinic community. 

    I’ve had some slow days and I’ve a few frusterating days, but I’ve never really had a bad day.


  5. * A patient who has cancer is usually too sick to drive herself to the clinic, so she arranges for her friends, siblings, and children to chauffer her in for acupuncture after chemo and radiation . And then one day, her two teenage daughters show-up together–but without mom–because, “this is just a really good place to get away.”

    * Five family members–3 different generations–get treated simultaneously, but without planning it that way…they wake with giggles to find that they’ve all shared space together.

    * You realize that your entire support system consists of patients and Comrades.

  6. seeing God

    i was given permission to share both of these comments by the patient who made them:

    today my 78 year old patient  told me:” i’m not really religious, but i come here twice a week and see God.”

    last week, she confessed like a giggling teeenager
    that she “had made love for the first time in seven years!” crediting
    her treatments with giving her the energy.

    all rightie, then.


    Good health is not a measure of adapting to a sick society.

    When the power of love outshines the love of power, the world will know peace.

  7. Love it

    THAT is a great CA day!

    One of my best days came a few weeks ago when one of my regular patients told me that she’d like to help out around the clinic by cleaning.  I was thrilled to have some housekeeping help, but more so because when she started acupuncture a few months prior she walked with a cane and could barely tie her own shoelaces.  Now she zips around the clinic without a problem.  She does a fabulous job AND she loves to clean!  Give and receive. 

    Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  8. A few conversations I recall from the past week…

    – While covering a shift at a friend’s community clinic recently was informed, “acupuncture literally saved my life, as my docs couldn’t get a handle on the chronic rectal bleeding that had left me anemic and losing my mind. The bleeding stopped after my first acu-treatment and hasn’t returned. You have no idea what that has meant to me.”

    – Upon waking from her third treatment 56 year-old “Nancy” asks me with all the earnest wonderment of a child, “where do I *go* during these treatments?” I ask if it’s the same place she goes during sleep at night. She answers, “No. This place offers much more clarity.”

    – Within an hour’s time we had the honor of assisting an expecting mom into labor and receiving news of another’s recent conception.

    – 3 co-workers unexpectedly run into each other at the same time in clinic.

    – Just after giving an on-camera interview in support of our local CSA, the filmmaker asked what I do for a living. I mentioned CA briefly, noting it’s strong relationship to CSA. At that moment two of our clinic-goers walk out of the share pick-up area and holler over to us”Hey! that’s my acupuncturist…”

  9. This is the best job ever

    because I see hope over and over again right there sitting in a black Lafuma recliner.

    -the skeptical patient who tried acupuncture as a last resort for shoulder pain that had been intense and intractible for three years. After the second needle I asked her to move the shoulder and rate the pain on a ten point scale. She moved, gasped, and burst into tears. “I can’t believe it,” she whispered. “It’s gone!”

    -the young woman recovering from a stroke who has not walked without a leg brace for nine years. Today she pulled me close to explain that she has been secretly practicing walking without the brace for the past week and is feeling so strong that this weekend she will surprise her friends by walking across the room unassisted at a community event. She credits acupuncture with restoring sensation and mobility to the affected leg.

    -the man with the bleeding stomach, bleeding rectum, headaches, dizziness, back pain and depression who this week graduated from daily acupuncture after three months – to a body that no longer has any of those conditions except an occasional back ache. He’d had every test in the book to no avail or diagnosis.

    I could go on but you get the picture.
    Oh, and last week I was in a car accident and spent a lot of time in one of those black chairs while friends treated me in my own clinic b/c they were covering my shifts and my ass for me…and I am completely recovered after 5 treatments in 4 days. Yesterday was an awesome day at the clinic because thanks to acupuncture I was able to treat my full shift and not feel the slightest twinge!

  10. why i love you people

    because what breathes life into my work is the same stuff that breaths life into yours. 


    “Educated criminals work within the law.”- Morrissey