dimarts, de setembre 05, 2006

A Needling Good Time (English)

I have been receiving accupuncture now for around two years. When I first went to my accupuncturist, Gregg St. Clair, I did so at the behest of my clinical nutritionist and chiropractor, Dr. Richard Herbold. Dr. Herbold had recently invited Gregg to work with him at his Halfmoon Vitality Center in Halfmoon, just north of both Schenectady and Albany. I have variously described why had taken the path of alternative medecine in earlier posts. I was continuing to see Dr. Herbold for occassional chiropractic adjustments, and was frequenting his in-house Massage Therapist at the same time for a persistent upper back problem, which had been described by my traditional doctor as a chronic, pinched nerve. That actual location of this nerve is just to the right of my left shoulder blade, and rather than cause pain, per se, it causes incredible tension in my upper back, shoulders, neck and jaw. Periodically it causes symptons of "TMJ" and strange tingling sensations in various parts of my body. While strength training and yoga along with the chiropractic and massage therapy made it feel better, nothing really got rid of it. It was persistent, annoying, made driving excrutiatingly difficult (especially since I do a lot of driving), and just in general sitting anywhere, in any kind of chair, unpleasant. Standing was generall all right, but even then, from time to time, the long trapizius muscle, which runs near or through this area where the pinched nerve is, would tighten up very quickly, causing me discomfort even when standing. The only position in which I was truly comfortable was prone, preferably on a hard surface.

I was certainly unsure of Dr. Herbold's recommendation. I was still new to the idea that all this "mumbo-jumbo" (including his "mumbo-jumbo") would really do any good, groso modo. Still, my back was not really getting better, and after my bout with medications previously I was not ready to go back to that route. So I went, with much fear and trepidation. I mean, after all, they were sticking very sharp Chinese needles into my tender northern European flesh. I had done enough research online to learn that sometimes needles would go in an inch or more depending where on your body they were placed. I read some anti-accupuncture propaganda that decried it as dangerous and akin to witchdoctory.

Gregg was very kind, and patient. He explained that in the last 90 years only one person died from an accupuncture treatment in this country. I thought to myself that those numbers would be good, even if it had been 90 in 90 years, considering how many people die ever day from "traditional Western medications." Still with trepidation I lay on the table and experienced my first needling.

It is not, actually painful. The needles are very very sharp. Sometimes they get rather near a nerve and might pinch a little or cause some strange sensation of heat or cold, or tingling, but the accupuncturist and adjust the needle to help, and sometimes the effect is only temporary.

More importantly, it actually worked. I don't pretend to know the science behind it, but it does in fact help. After about a year and a half, I stopped going, until today...

Two weeks ago, I had an uncomfortable relapse, and so I decided it was time for another course. Most likely I was foolish to quite cold turkey. When last I had seen Gregg, last November, I was on a once a month maintenance schedule, but since my back was doing well, I let is slide.

Today was my first treatment, and I do notice a marked improvement in my muscle tension. I think it will be a few weeks till I'm up to snuff again, but I have little doubt that I will be. Gregg still has to be patient however. Positive experiences and all the intellectual reasoning in the world cannot erase years of neural pathway development that scream out emotionally at the idea of having more than a dozen very sharp needles poked into my body, but my experience with this ancient art has been nothing but positive and beneficial, and it has kept me away from allopathic medications, one of which very nearly killed me just a few years ago.