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I was 6 years old the first time I went to the hospital because of an asthma attack. I had a room in the basement of my parents’ house, and I woke up in the night coughing. The coughing got worse and worse, bad enough to wake up my parents. By the time my mom came downstairs I could hardly breathe. She sat with me for a few minutes and then a quick quiet conversation with my dad decided that we should go to the emergency room. We arrived under the glare of lights and were rushed immediately into the back, where I was given a nebulizer treatment and an IV with medication which opened up my tortured airways. That was the start of my journey through the medical system, which included many trips to the doctor’s office, the ER, several overnight stays in the hospital and LOTS of medication for allergies and asthma. There were several times when the asthma symptoms got so bad that I thought I might die.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I did not very much like most of the medication that I had to take for the asthma. Most of it felt very strong, and it made me jittery and light-headed. I liked that it saved my life, and I am still grateful for that to this day.
I had severe allergies as well. My nose ran constantly, all year long, and the medications that were available for that didn’t seem to work very well. I would take them, and get the revved-up feeling that antihistamines always gave me, but my nose would still run or I would not be able to breathe at all through my plugged-up sinuses. For the eczema that I had from the age of about 2 months, according to my mother, I had this thick greasy cream that I was supposed to use on my skin. It felt like shortening mixed with tallow. It seemed like I would put it on my skin and it would actually itch more, although I had to use it anyway.
My first introduction to Chinese medicine came during the summer after I graduated from high school. I had a bad asthma attack that was not going away with my usual inhaler treatment. I was getting very short of breath, and the friend that I was with didn’t know what to do. I asked him if he would drive me over to the emergency room. He looked surprised, and very concerned. After a few minutes, he said, “I think there’s a better way. Let me call Lowell (the local acupuncturist) and see if he can work on you right now.” I panted, “No, take me to the ER. I can’t breathe.” He made a telephone call and came back, saying “He says we can come over to his house right now.” I was in no position to protest, but I made him promise that if the acupuncture treatment didn’t break the attack, he would take me straight to the hospital.
The acupuncturist took my pulse at the wrist and the neck on both sides, quickly took my hands in his own and made some m marks, and placed a couple of pieces of tape with tiny round pellets on them on my fingers. Then he took my pulses again, at wrist and neck, and proceeded with the treatment. He placed one of the pellets on the back of a knuckle, adjusting it a couple of times to get it on exactly the right spot, and he said, “This point releases the body’s natural cortisone.” A light bulb went off in my head, because the first thing that they give an asthmatic in the hospital is a shot of synthetic cortisone! It had never occurred to me that the cortisone was actually supposed to be in my body already and for some reason there just wasn’t enough of it. If the cortisone was already there and could simply be stimulated to release, that was such a much nicer solution than getting the medications from the hospital. But the acupuncture treatment plus a dropperful of a very foul-tasting herbal tincture took care of the attack. It was not necessary to go to the hospital or take the medications at all!
I attended college with the original goal of attending medical school. I loved the idea of working with people to keep them healthy, and liked being in the hospitals and clinical settings. At the same time, I was starting to make my own healthcare decisions, and the first thing I did was to stop taking most of the medication I was on. I did keep a rescue inhaler on hand, which I still needed to use sometimes, but I didn’t notice any bad effects from not taking the daily medications. I also found a book on herbs and started looking through that, trying experiments on myself and learning some of the principles and terminology.
I pondered that experience with the acupuncture all through my four years of college, and when it came time for me to decide what career I was going to pursue, it did not take me long to decide that studying Chinese medicine was going to be a better fit for me than pursuing a degree in medicine. The Chinese medicine school that I chose offered an internship in China, which I very much wanted to experience. In China, I saw how the Traditional Chinese Medicine was practiced in the same hospitals as Western medicine. I was fascinated by the treatments for pain and dysfunctions of the joints.
It was a natural fit for me to specialize in pain management after graduation. But I gradually became dissatisfied with the one-size-fits-all acupuncture treatments targeting pain. Sometimes the treatments worked, and people would walk away and never need to come back again. Sometimes they didn’t work, and I never knew why. About 6 years after I started practicing acupuncture, I attended an extensive workshop focused on treating myofascial pain and trigger points. This system focuses on the structure of the soft tissues of the body, which wraps around the bones and makes them move. These soft tissues can get hard knots in them and become painful, and then these knots can radiate pain to other parts of the body or cause problems with the joints. I was instantly hooked, as there is a great deal of overlap between the acupuncture points and points in the muscles and soft tissues that tend to build up tension and create problems in other joints or even in the organs.
In the years since then, I have been able to continue studying muscles, connective tissue, joints and organs, and the effectiveness of my treatments has improved immensely. Many people have come to see me with pain, sometimes pain that they’ve had for many decades, and acupuncture treatment has decreased it significantly or eliminated it altogether. For the people who react to prescription drugs like I did, acupuncture has been extremely effective, helping many people get rid of their pain for good.
Some people even say that acupuncture is like reversing the effects of aging! Lots of health problems are blamed on aging, such as pain in muscles, tendinitis, low energy or arthritic joints. Treating the muscles, connective tissue and joints with acupuncture is effective for all these problems, and can sometimes help people avoid invasive, dangerous surgeries.
Do you have pain in your muscles, tendons, or joints?
Do you want to avoid surgery on an injured or sore muscle, joint or tendon?
Are you unable or unwilling to take pain medications?
Would you prefer to heal your body rather than just covering up the symptoms?
Call BriggsHealth and experience the natural pain relief of acupuncture now!