I know we say it a lot, but the old CA adage “frequency trumps cleverness” bears repeating.
This week we had some new patients come in, let’s call them Frank and Marie. Frank and Marie are a vivacious couple in their seventies who both have widespread pain and arthritis, compounded by many years of working physically demanding jobs. Recently Frank and Marie saw a news story about how acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain, so they decided to give it a try. The thing is, they live way up the mountains, with nary an acupuncturist for a country mile. They broadened their search and found our clinic, so they budgeted some money, drove four hours, and stayed with old friends in Nashville for a few days.
Since their time was limited, and they wanted to get the most out of their trip, Frank and Marie decided to get two treatments a day for three consecutive days. It’s not often that we get a patient coming in twice a day for consecutive days, especially a couple of patients as charming and fun as Frank and Marie, so naturally all of our staff wanted to know more about them and just fell in love with them. Trey was the first one to meet them: he did both of their treatments on the first day, then briefed me in preparation for day 2; I handed them off to Jenn, then I got to wrap up with them on the last day. They actually didn’t have time for the second treatment on day 3 – they had to get back home – so instead they brought in their local friends and hosts, and treatment #6 for Frank and Marie became treatment #1 for Bill and Sandy (also not their real names).
Have you ever witnessed what will happen to a body that gets 5 acupuncture treatments in less than 72 hours? Even an arthritic, 70-year-old body in a lot of pain? I hadn’t. And let me tell you, it’s pretty freaking phenomenal. Marie was walking better; at her last treatment she told me that her back and ankle had really improved, and an unexpected result was that acupuncture had profoundly affected her emotional well-being as well. Frank’s sole comment in our last intake was, “I feel great.”
Now, I know Frank and Marie aren’t completely cured; they know it too. Their pain isn’t gone forever. But after three days of intensive treatment, they feel better. Remarkably better. I’ve been thinking about the treatment plan I might have recommended if they’d been locals. But they weren’t locals, and they didn’t have much time, so they scheduled as many treatments as they could in three days, all within their modest budget. It was eye-opening for me. I think of how very slowly Frank and Marie might have progressed, if I was a boutiquer recommending treatment once a week, or even in my regular CA mode of recommending 2-3 treatments a week for acute pain. I know acupuncture works; like most CA punks, I’ve done thousands of treatments. But seeing so much improvement with so many treatments in such a short amount of time with such dedicated patients – that was a new one for me. And I have a whole new respect for these little needles and what they can do, and especially for our patients who will do whatever it takes to feel better. I wonder what would happen if all of our patients got two treatments a day.
And just so you know, I didn’t do anything special in terms of point selection or treatment techniques. None of us did. We ain’t theory purists at ENCA, that’s for sure. We all have our favorite points and we do them again and again. Frank and Marie feeling better had nothing to do with us being exceptional practitioners, and it had everything to do with us being available and accessible and open and loving. And more than that, it was because Frank and Marie showed up, for six treatments, three days in a row.
After their last treatment we all exchanged hugs and vowed to stay in touch. I really hope Frank and Marie come visit us in Nashville again. But what would make me even happier is if they didn’t have to drive four hours to get acupuncture. Anyone want to move to Knoxville? Message me. It’s beautiful there. You’ll get to meet Frank and Marie, and I have a feeling you’ll meet everyone they know too.