Friday, May 10, 2013


At my wits ends, still covered in hives and having only just recovered from the realisation that I am in fact suffering from stress, I was left with a dilemma - How do I recover right here and now? The decision to reduce my working hours had been made but that won't kick into effect for a couple of weeks.  I sat and looked at my painful broken skin on my arms and legs and felt nothing but sadness that i had let it get to this point. 

As a nurse I am often the one handing out the advice to everyone else, not having to take the advice myself.  In my mind I was replaying everything I would tell my patients, their relatives and even my own friends - eat well, drink less, move more, do something you really enjoy, hug your loved ones, take a stroll on the beach... I have even been known to throw in meditation.  That's when I felt despair, I was beyond having those actions help bring me back to a place of tranquility.  Given time they would most definately help me, but in that exact moment they would not stop the ugly outbreaks on my skin, they would not help me to sleep at night instead of staying up scratching until I almost bled. 

I had another lightening bolt thought, a flash back to a conversation I had with another friend only a couple of weeks before.  My little scottish friend YummyMummyS, a fellow nurse and expat on the other side of the world from her extended family.  YummyMummyS had suggested acupuncture, she herself had it in the lead up to fertility treatment and during her pregnancy.  It reminded me that Tomcat had it years before he met me and has raved about it ever since.  YummyMummyS reported it greatly helped her morning sickness (perhaps it could help my hives) and Tomcat had reported it helped him relax after long stints at work.  I felt a sense of hope and excitedly rushed off to check if I was covered through my private health fund.  Voila, I was and they recommended a practitioner a short 5-10 minute drive from my house.

It was after hours so i was unable to make an appointment at that time, then at the back of my mind I started having doubts.  I found myself thinking "you are a critical care nurse, you know that medicine and time is what you need, none of this airy fairy stuff".  Don't you just love those little voices that pop up, burst your bubble and plant doubt in your mind!  I decided that I should research it before making an appointment.  I jumped straight onto the World Health organisations (that's WHO to you and I)  website and discovered that they recognise acupuncture as a valuable treatment and recognise research that has been done in this field.  That was good enough for me.  The next day I made my appointment and found myself sitting in the clinic 90 minutes later.

I have to admit to being excited, nervous (it was needles after all) and if I'm 100% honest still a little sceptical.  The practitioner was lovely, not a hippy like I had made up in my head, he made me feel at ease instantly.  I few simple questions about what had brought me to the clinic and he learned about my stress and being signed off work.  I then hopped onto the couch and he started to take my pulse.  Recognising this as a great first step in any medical treatment I felt at ease, this guy knew what he was doing.  I took a few deep breaths and then realised he was taking the pulse on my wrist and using different levels of pressure on 3 different spots and then did the same on the other side.  At the end he said I had a "very low kidney pulse".  Bang, there it was the sceptical side of my arose once again.  I stopped him in his tracks and said "I'm sorry but i should probably tell you I am a critical care nurse and you are holding my radial artery which isn't even near my kidneys".  Fair play to this poor man who had suddenly encountered a nightmare client, he smiled and listed a lot of symptoms associated with a low kidney pulse.  Here are some of them:-

Feeling deeply drained
Feeling tired but wired
Fear, anxiety, paranoia, panic
Lack of inner calm
Afternoon sweat attacks
Night sweats
Dry mouth especially at night
Needing to go to the bathroom a lot at night (nocturia)
Foot pain, in particular high in the arch and heel

The only thing I could say to the poor guy was "oh ok, point made there is no way you could have known I have all of those".  He simply smiled, put me at ease and next thing I know I had needles in my feet, ankles, up my legs to my knees and one in each wrist.  For the record I didn't feel them at all. 

I was then told he would leave me to relax (there was that horrible word again!) and that he would return in awhile.  As he left I was thinking how long is awhile, what if I need you? But he was gone. I spent the first few minutes alone looking at the needles and cursing why I decided to do something that so clearly was way out there that it would never work. I heard the acupuncturist taking a client into another room and starting her treatment. I thought, oh great, now i have to lie here with no relaxing music (like at the beautician) even longer while you sort her out as well. Well this is stupid.  Can you tell I don't particularly like new experiences?

Having been awake since 0400 that morning I decided to close my eyes for awhile and then 'it' started happening.  I felt myself relax, I felt like I was melting into the bed, I felt peace.  I could feel tension leaving my body, my breathing slowed down and I felt calm for the first time in weeks.  I don't think I have enough words to describe the feeling of rest that I had during and after the treatment.  On the drive home I found myself thinking that if I drove into something I would probably shrug and say oh well.  That was how relaxed and chilled out I felt.  That feeling lasted for a good 3 hours after treatment.  I slept well that night, not for a long time - just 5 hours and the next day I didn't have the same level of anxiety or worry.  My hives were settling down, no new outbreaks but the intense itch was still there.  I am learning that i can't expect things to be fixed overnight.  I didn't get into this situation overnight and it will take time to recover.  Acupuncture is going to play a key role in helping me get there.

I am going back for my second treatment this afternoon and this time I can't wait. 

Have you had acupuncture?
What was your experience like?

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