Yesterday we celebrated our clinic’s five year anniversary with a big, noisy, high calorie, live music included party. It was great to unite my open mic peeps with my acupuncture peeps in a sort of community soup. A lot of the acu folks had no idea you could hear such good music being preformed locally, generally for no money. Most of the music peeps had never been in an acupuncture treatment room. (Although one of the musicians, who had come in previously for treatment, added an acupuncture verse to one of his songs for us). For me, it was magic to combine so many of the things and people that I love in one place. For everyone I think it created some togetherness…the opposite of isolation, very nice to have on a cold January day in New England.
Cape Cod is a 15 town peninsula with a year round population of 230,000, according to wikipedia. It is now home to four community acupuncture clinics that treat in five different locations. This means most of our residents are now within 10-20 minutes drive of a CA clinic, and a fair number are within 3-5 miles. While we are still nowhere near as prevalent as chiropractors, package stores or “The Christmas Tree” shops, this seems like pretty good coverage to me, for the “end of the beginning” of our movement.
Five years into this practice, five years out of private room, boutique style practice, there are lots of things that contribute to the feeling of integrity, or right livelihood, that I have about my work here. Probably the biggest of these is, I no longer have to lie.
I don’t have to lie to my prospective patients about what kind of response they can reasonably expect from 2, or 4, or 6 treatments, delivered once per week. I knew, in my private room acupuncture days, that if I didn’t “oversell” the treatment in this way, I’d never get most patients in the door. I don’t have to lie to myself about whether the treatment plan I’ve suggested is likely to produce the desired results, or is simply the most I feel comfortable asking a patient to commit to, and more than likely will just scratch the surface of what’s needed.
It makes me feel really squirmy and uncomfortable to write here that I lied to anyone about anything, and I certainly didn’t think of any of it as lying at the time. I did have an uneasiness about it all, a low level feeling of dread that, whatever it was the patient was looking for, I wasn’t so sure I could help them find it.
In the early days of my practice, I thought this feeling was based on inexperience, and that it would go away. But it didn’t go away, even 10 years in, because I didn’t get to see acupuncture really work wonders very often. And so, what faith I had in this medicine began to erode, and my discomfort with suggesting a course of treatment, or predicting a particular outcome, grew.
Community Acupuncture fixes all of this, in the most elegantly simple way. Here’s the math: Frequency=effectiveness. Effectiveness=confidence. Confidence=no more lying.
I don’t need to lie to anyone about how well acupuncture works. By making acupuncture affordable, we’ve also made its effectiveness completely obvious.