Area Woman Confused by Acupuncture Terminology, Addicted to Illness

A woman leaving an acupuncturists office in Echo Park, California, expressed mild confusion and vague irritation after an appointment with local acupuncturist, Terry Vain.  “He told me that my liver was hot.  What the hell does that mean?” 

When asked to comment, Vain explained that the woman was suffering from symptoms that would indicate excess in the liver organ resulting in headaches along the course of its paired organ channel, the Gallbladder.  “I simply tried to explain to her the basic mechanics of Chinese anatomy and physiology as they relate to her condition.  A lot of my patients want to talk about what is happening inside them.  It’s like an astrological reading of the bodymind interior, very personal and very individualized.  I am the conduit of that understanding.  It can be slightly confusing for all of us, but that just speaks to the mystery of Chinese medicine.”  

When asked if she found the treatment helpful and if she would be coming back, the women responded indignantly.  “I only came here because my boss recommended it.  I have tried everything and don’t want to take drugs anymore.  I don’t care if my liver is hot or not, I just want relief.  If it works, I’ll be back, but since I don’t have insurance and the price is so high, it will have to show results right away for me to make another appointment.”  Her reluctance to reschedule was not a surprise to Vain, who said that often times, patients will make excuses not to come back and that finances are high on that list.  Other common excuses include practitioner shopping, fear of change, commitment issues and addiction to illness.  “People are somehow addicted to feeling sick.  It defines them and they ask the rest of us to be players in their sad, self-obsessed world of pity.  Without that sickness they would be nothing and so they come to me for attention, but they don’t actually want to get better.  Getting better scares them.  I see this all the time in my practice.  People who want to get better will simply come up with the money to do so. It’s part of the healing process.  The ability to be well is in each of us, though some of us refuse to realize it.”

Qualities that define a patient who is willing to get well include a good attitude, commitment to care, and patient compliance.  Often times it can be the slightest detail that leads to a patients failure to get well and a knowledgeable practitioner can tell the patient exactly what has led to their condition and precisely how the patient can act to turn their life around.  Said Vain, “Various lifestyle factors will need to be altered such as diet, exercise, meditation practice and even changing certain toxic relationships.  Sometimes, the difference between getting well and staying ill is a salad.  I can bring the horse to water, but I can’t make it drink.”  According to Vain, these patients are usually “one and done”.  Infrequently, they will come for a few treatments, but clearly aren’t willing to make the changes they need to make to get well.  “These people have issues.  They appear desperate for help, are willing to pay my fee, but don’t really want to get better.  They try to ensnare healthcare practitioners in some sort of twisted dance and feed off of their energy.  They’re parasites, really.  Fortunately, they drop off on their own and I don’t have to work with them very long.  This gives me time to work with the people who are serious about their wellbeing and the work it will take into achieving their goals.”

Asked to comment about her addiction to headaches, Vains patient responded with confusion and alarm.  “Are you kidding me?  Is that what he told you?  I will kick his skinny little ass!  Addicted to pain!  If that’s the case, then he’s going to get addicted to a foot in his ass the next time I see him!”  

Said Vain, “See?  Hot Liver.”

The Zang Fool
Author: The Zang Fool

<p> This is a satirical blog post by a practitioner that is serious in his attempts to both increase acupunctures accessibility to the public and challenge practitioners preconceived notions of what acupuncture is and how it functions in society. It may make you laugh, but that is just a means to an end. That end is thought and ultimately positive change. This is what all good satire does: prick, prod and provoke thought and positive change within a community. </p> <p> Satire has long been a part of muckraking and this profession is teeming with muck.  So, in the wake of the nonsense spewed from the foul anus of the Acupuncture-Industrial Complex come my musings on life, love and the proposed doctoral program. </p>

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  1. YOUR liver is hot, Fool. RRrrrrrahhrrrrrr!!

    I’m reading this at a coffee shop and laughing a little bit too hard to be comfortable in public. I’ve walked into a trap of reckless diagnosing a few times for sure.

    I DO think we can figure out how to get the language of Chinese Medicine to people so they can think for themselves about organ disharmony, internal climatic patterns, etc. It’s based on observations we all can make, so it’s useful for so many people in contrast to totally nondescriptive western disease categories. But, I guess when we try to hold on to our specialist power through name-calling (“hot liver”) like Mr Vain, we’re not liberting anyone. Especially if the person never gets acupuncture again.

    But, one of the biggest shifts in my thinking since doing community acupuncture is really letting go of a lot of the diagnosis beyond what I need to pick acu-points and maybe an approach to being with this person for the next few minutes.

  2. new career

    You are really a good writer. Have you ever thought about becoming a writer of satirical magazine pieces as another profession?

    That piece sums up alot of the ‘pyscho babble’ I have heard practitioners speak. 

    In the defense of one of the diatribes, I have had the mds send me patients who do come to the doctors over and over again because they want someone to care about them or someone to listen to them. Some people are pretty disconnected in this world. So, I do not mind listening when I have the time and fortunately, they find it  more affordable to come see me once a week to just have an ear and some relaxation in one of the chairs with other folks. It is one of the good things about CA.

    You go zang fool!

  3. I really love your

    I really love your postings.  I got inspired by your work and wrote a piece poking fun of my state board.  It is buried somewhere on this website.

    Too bad you are not a BA practioner who needs extra side work writing for The Onion.  Maybe that could be your next edition