Guest post: Patient perspective

I know you all get sick of me going on and on about how I love my work, and how Des Moines or some such place doesn’t have a CA clinic yet so get the hell on it…so for a change, allow me to present the first guest post by one of Detroit Community Acupuncture’s many wonderful patients, writer brownfemipower (aka “bfp”). This was originally posted on 4/1/09 on her blog,, and linked to in the Forums section of this website.  Bfp agreed to it being re-posted here so that it might reach a different/wider audience of (non-CAN-member) acupunks and (potential) patients. [By the way, the author also has a piece in the current edition of make/shift magazine, which is an awesome publication worthy of your support – get a subscription for your waiting areas!]

Acupuncture thoughts

I had another treatment tonight.

It is only because my acupuncturist is a part of the community acupuncture network that I am able to go so often–because this network uses a different business model, they are able to charge sliding scale fees. My acupuncturist goes from 15$-35$ (you should TOTALLY check out and see if there is a community acupuncturist in your area!). 

So, I’ve been going–and have been posting small blurbs about what the experience has been like for me.

It’s hard for me to get too specific or to explore things in a larger post–as acupuncture is a deeply personal experience for me. The model that the DCA follows is that the poker lady (not sure what to call her!) has us all in a larger room (rather than individual rooms), sitting in nice, relaxing lazy boy chairs (although a table is available if you need it), and then she takes a few minutes to check your pulse, ask a few questions, and then poke you.

She then leaves you to sit with the soft music, warm air, quiet light, and inner thoughts for as long as you need to.

And that’s it. There is no pressure–the number of times she’s told me to lose weight? Zero. At conventional doctor treatments, I’m usually told within the first fifteen minutes that I would “feel better” if I lost weight. There is no shame, no embarrassment–people snore up a storm, other people (me) sort of fidget and wiggle, other people zone in and out–there is no pressure to be one way, no “guidance” on the “right” way to do it–it’s just a time of no pressure and yourself.

Which means that I spend a *lot* of time mediating on emotions and feelings that the treatment brings up in me.

Which, ironically enough, means that I’ve been spending a LOT of time very pissed off. 🙂

Apparently, many women who go to acupuncture go through this. They find that as energy moves around it reminds them (I guess would be the word) of all the shit that pissed them the fuck off, but they were “good girls” and so never said anything. Or pretended it didn’t bother them. Or that they were “ok,” really. Etc.

I don’t feel comfortable sharing some of the *many* things I’ve been just on a raging screaming terror about since I started treatment–but I *promise* you–I am in a much different place today than I was as a four year old, as a 13 year old, as a 20 year old. And as such, I have spent a LOT of time expressing my feelings to the fullest extent possible.

W* has caught an earful, in other words.

Tonight at treatment, two amazing things happened. One, I went in with a *raging* sinus headache. It hurt so badly, that when she poked me in my eyebrows (which is where the headache located itself), I almost cried, it hurt so badly–something that is very odd. I’ve *never* felt pain from the needles ever. But after the treatment was done and I was driving home? Headache was completely gone. Usually it takes a steady diet of Clariton D and prescription nasal spray for that to happen.

The second thing that happened was that in a very odd way–tonight my stomach and my brain had a conversation. I’m not sure, really, how to explain it. It’s a very weird sensation–different parts of your body talking to other parts of your body. But my stomach just very gently told my brain that it didn’t trust my brain. My brain then asked why, and long weird conversation short, my brain and my stomach signed a peace treaty tonight. My brain and my stomach agreed that they will each start trusting each other to make the right decisions and supporting each other on the road to health.

For the first time in *years*, my stomach and my brain are moving on the same road in the same direction with the same purpose in mind.

Something that even as I type, I know sounds really really weird. Believe me, I know how weird that sounds. I want to erase it because I know that the Bears of the world will get all, “OMG, bfp you’re totally getting all kumbaya peace love dope let me go vomit all over you now!”

So I know it sounds dopey. But I wanted to share, because to me–that offers a very optimistic reality for myself. I *am* getting better. I *am* healing. I am helping myself to do it. I will wake up one day and be at peace with myself and my body.

Acupuncture isn’t the only tool I’m using to get better. But it is one that people often think is inaccessible to them and as such, is rarely talked about within the context of working class poor/liberatory movement making sense.

So I wanted to put it out there. And mention that in many places–even if you are like I was a few months ago, barely able to squeeze together enough money to pay for groceries, much less a 75$ treatment–acupuncture may not be out of reach for you.

Again–check out your state here (Canada and the U.S. are the places located within *this* particular network–there may be others in your country!), and see if you have a place near you!

Author: noraneedles

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  1. I’m so glad

    you shared this with the larger audience.  I see all that you are saying in my clinic.  So many women are suffering because of “good girl syndrome” and acupuncture can help!  THANKS!

  2. What a great post!

    I love it!

    I’ve always wanted to get a post from a patient… yours is such a great perspective.  Isn’t it amazing to see the things that happen in our treatment rooms that we may not even know are happening?  Just fascinating.

    Justine Deutsch, Lic. Ac., Acupuncture Together

  3. challenges & opportunities

    I love reading about patient experiences – and the praise is always so inspiring – but this one is especially lovely to read because so many women and girls (and increasingly men and boys) are hating thier bodies and under constant pressure from the dominant society to change.  this is never more apparent than in the rampant fat-phobia in western (and also other) cultures.

    i’m a fat person, and i when i was in school i was treated by a classmate in the school clinic and she presented me as a case study to our teacher, jeffrey yuen.  i was seeing her for lifelong heel spur pain brought on from my non-existant arches.  during the presentation in front of the class she commented to jeffrey that she wanted to figure out how to give me “lifestyle” advice about losing weight.  (something that she’s never discussed with *me*.) 

    he asked her a basic question that i wish all practitioners – eastern and western – would ask themselves: “what does that have to do with your patient’s main complaint?” when she answered that she thought that maybe my weight was a contributing factor, he pointed out that people of all sizes have heel pain, and that maybe she should consider the possibility that her own pre-judgment of who i was might be getting in the way of her offering treatment to me.  one of many reasons i love my teacher!

    in my next session with her we had a good talk about it all, her assumptions and my needs.  she came face to face with her own investment in a cuturally supported paradigm that says fat is sickness, and came to a place of considering that maybe size and health aren’t mutually exclusive.  the experience taught us both a lot.  i learned that i can be a strong advocate for myself without becoming defensive.  i think the experience may have made her a less judgemental healer, able to approach each person as an individual instead of a sub-conscious template of assumptions.

    good stuff!  yay for learning *


    “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” – June Jordan

  4. Weighty issues

    I love that we work in a model where it is the patients priorities for their health that are treated . There is nothing worse than going to a health care professional and leaving without your chief complaint having been addressed or to going to a an alternative health care professional and leaving with your constitutional issues havng been addressed because that was the doctors priority and the raging sinus headache still painfully intact.!

    A couple of thoughts on the weight issue. My mother has always been overweight.5 children will do that to a person!.She has always been a very energetic teacher and coach and in her latest incarnation a busy potter lugging huge sacks of wet dirt around. Her health indicators, cholestrol, BP etc however have always been normal and she has always said that she just feels better with a bit of weight on.When she  dealt with cancer a few years ago she lost a lot of weight after treatment to become in a range that was considered for the first time in her married life to be ” normal”

    She was like a different person.There was a lack of vitality and energy in her and she dealt with all the helpful advice from her doctors about maintaining this so-called healthy weight.Without any real change in her pretty healthy lifestyle she gained back the weight lost and with it her vitality and energy returned.And with the weight she just feels like herself again….


  5. What a great post!

    Thanks for posting this.  I love reading patient experiences, and now I’ve got a new blog to check out. 

    One of my very favoritest things about practicing community acupuncture is that we get to help all the revolutionaries and potential revolutionaries feel better and be more effective as revolutionaries.  Her “really wierd” kumbaya moment about her brain and stomach starting a conversation is so cool.  It seems like so much of what we do is about relationships, both internally and socially.  Getting rid of the blocks, establishing connections, and allowing things to flow, on so many levels.

  6. yay for learning, indeed!

    Thanks stillwell for sharing this really helpful story.  This is EXACTLY the kind of story that makes me not give “lifestyle” “advice.”  I’ve never met or studied with Jeffrey Yuen, but this story makes me really want to meet him.  And you!