out of the mouths of babes….

My partner’s daughter Hannah is 11 years old and is
currently in 5th grade. I have known her since she was six. That’s how old she was when I gave Hannah her first
acupuncture treatment. That summer she had been to a hippie day camp in Berkeley

and a couple of acu practitioners came and did a demonstration. She came home and
requested to be needled! 
Now she likes acupuncture and behaves better than her
dad when it comes to resting with needles in her. Last year when she had the
whooping cough, we treated her several times per week. The last time she had a
treatment in our community clinic, she slept for an hour. Sometimes she likes to just hang out and read a book in one of the recliners. She has also told me that when
older she wants to help us at the clinic front desk. I’d hire her in a second –
that kid GETS what community acupuncture is about.

Her recent school project was to memorize all of US
state capitals (why do they make kids do that, I wonder?…). She and her dad
really got into it and made the whole thing into a really fun game. At the same
time I have been putting together a CAN map for our clinic – using stick on
labels and red thread to identify CAN LOC clinics on a laminated map of the US,
mounted on a big piece of foam core board. Hannah is fascinated by the map
project and spends long periods of time checking it out, commenting on the
different clinic names. The other day she said to me:

“You know, when I first heard about you from my dad, and he
told me you were an acupuncturist, sticking needles into people for work, I
thought you were COMPLETELY CRAZY. And now… acupuncture is just so NORMAL to
me. I wish it was that way for everyone.”

I almost cried.

Author: tatyana

<p> I grew up in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States as a teen, living in New York and Chicago before moving to the Bay Area in 1998. I began as a Yoga instructor and as a practitioner of Ohashiatsu bodywork and have been practicing Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine since 2003. Before switching to community acupuncture practice model I had a sporadic and struggling private practice, worked as an herbal pharmacist, as an instructor and clinical supervisor at an acupuncture school, plus did a two-year stint doing acupuncture at a public health clinic, working with mostly HIV/HCV+ populations in San Francisco. </p> <p> My discovery of Community Acupuncture practice model (via Lisa Rohleder's Acupuncture Today columns) profoundly transformed my life -- not just my work life but many other aspects of it. I gained a vocation, a community of friends and the most stable and rewarding job I have ever had. I see community acupuncture practice model as the most sustainable and most fitting to my values. It makes sense to me from the point of view of healthcare access, social justice, spirituality, and as an antidote to isolation. In 2008, together with another stellar acupunk Pam Chang I...

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  1. Best blog post ever (I know, I always say that).

    But this one is really great – I almost cried too!  Thanks, Tatyana.

  2. I have a lady who comes into

    I have a lady who comes into the clinic and really loves it.  She brought her teenage son in two thursdays ago.  When he came back this week, I asked him how his first treatment went.  He said, “It was awesome, I really liked it, and I told all my friends about how cool it was.  Now they all want to come!” 

    Tatyana, your story reminded me of this, and I think that as we continue to grow and more CAPs form across the country and world; breaking down barriers and making acupuncture accessible for more and more people, these stories will become more common.  Envision a CAP in every neighborhood, and every child living “acupuncture is just so NORMAL to



  3. I love treating kids

    and used to treat an ex’s son when he was 3 and 4 years old.  It took a little doing, but he could tell that cups, or even a single needle, would help his cough, etc.  It was also great to hear “being an acupuncturist” as part of the repertoire of things he would become when he grew up… in addition to being a policeman, a shovel guy, a measuring guy, etc.  What a vision, acupuncture as a child’s aspiration of a helping job… 



  4. I love how community

    I love how community acupuncture “normalizes” the whole experience for the next generation.  Great post, Tatyana!

  5. reminder

    This post reminded me of two young people we’ve treated.

    More recently Tracy and I have been treating a 4 year-old boy with chronic respiratory problems. Following his 2nd tx, he now jumps into an over-sized recliner in our office, and rolls up his sleeves and pant legs without prompting. In fact, he has been pointing to where he wants to be needled…”here! and ….here!….and…no, not there…here!”

    He’s become my favorite teacher.

    Another young man, whom I haven’t seen in a few months, remarked to me following his course of treatment, “I want to do this when I am old enough.”

    Very very cool…

  6. high school student observers

    I had the last of a series of high school student observers in the clinic this morning.  She asked good questions about acupuncture while I had some time inbetween patients.  I had her hold the needle pack  and shadow me as I treated patients, like what my classmates and I did for each other in acupunk school.

    Appealing to younger communities will definately make acupuncture more accessable and mainstream.  Afterall, “all the cool kids are doing it.”