When I was told that I’d have this illness for the rest of my life, I had the naive ideation that I would just take some pills, some Feminax and everything would go on as normal. Oh, how wrong I was. Chronic pain has seeped into all the cracks of my life, bringing with it- its entourage; fatigue, depression and an unhealthy reliance on pain killers. I am not addicted to pain killers, not yet, but I do rely on them most days. I have had to search all over the web, looking for natural methods to ease the pain, alternative medicines that don’t make me look like a zombie, so I don’t lose days at a time during my ‘pain storms’. For this I have put together a survival kit: heat pads, hot water bottle, Tens Machine and a long soak in a hot bath.
Within a month of my diagnosis, I had visited my GP several times and was given different prescriptions over and over. I changed my diet, reduced my caffeine, dairy intake and cut out red meat entirely, hoping that all the online forums were right. In April, I decided enough was enough and it was probably time to think outside of the box. Acupuncture?
- “a system of complementary medicine in which fine needles are inserted in the skin at specific points along what are considered to be lines of energy (meridians), used in the treatment of various physical and mental conditions.”
I had my doubts. But, in desperation, I picked up the phone and stated my interest in having a session ASAP- to help with the pain. Within a few hours, I was contacted by the acupuncturist. A lovely man that seemed to understand my illness and empathise completely- which helped in itself as I was used to receiving a lot of blank faces when I disclosed my endometriosis. He seemed eager to help and sounded so sure that he could help; brimming with complete confidence in his craft. I was given an appointment the very next day.
I travelled the few miles to the therapy centre, my anxieties growing, starting to feel uneasy. The idea of having needles all over my body was not comforting. My worries grew and soon I had the image of Pinhead from Clive Barker’s ‘Hellraiser’ answering the door, beckoning me into the treatment room, to my torture. I have included a picture, just to show you how quickly my imagination escalated! Oh dear.
The therapy centre is off the beaten track in a village just outside of my town, I had never really seen the area very well or visited it much. It was a lovely, uncharacteristic spring day as we drove down a lane adjacent to fields with spring lambs bouncing through the grass. My spirits lifted even more when I saw the building. New and shiny, it stands in what appears to be the grounds of an old school. With the sun bouncing from the round window and a light breeze through the trees, I walked the paved path and spied an overgrown tennis court with weeds covering the court lines and growing through the net. It truly is a lovely place and if you have the chance to look around, please do. You can find the website here.
Anyway, enough of the location and my wild imagination. Next- bring on the actual experience! A short young man welcomed me into building. It is light and airy, full of windows and has a minimalist style. I started to feel better already. I turned to my husband to seek reassurance; we had suggested him waiting around or accompanying me but decided against it in the end what with the session possibly taking over an hour. I was a big girl and didn’t need him to hold my hand- much.
Once in the session, I told my story of confusion, worry and pain. I told the acupuncturist of all my hospital visits, my surgery, my medications. He asked about my diet and lifestyle. I explained that since all of this started I’d not really had much of a lifestyle. When he urged me to discuss my diet, I faltered. I was embarrassed. At that point, I pretty much survived on a diet of what I ‘fancied’. My appetite was poor, but I had to eat as I was taking medication so it was mainly things that I liked; junk food. As I reeled off my list of food stuffs, I became increasingly aware of how it sounded like a child’s menu without adult supervision; chicken nuggets, noodles, chips, chicken/tuna pasta, pie, smiley faces and broccoli. I’m pretty sure if Turkey Twizzlers were still in production, they’d have been on the list as well! He laughed and wasn’t too hard on me about it.
It came time for pins. Pinhead’s ugly, cruel features flashed in my mind instantly and then was forgotten as my acupuncturist talked me through the procedure. He is extremely well trained and qualified. He had learned in China, had a university degree, but most of all, it was his absolute assurance that it would be beneficial to me. And after months of medical professionals “trying this” and “giving this a go” – it was about time! He told me that he could feel how different parts of my body were poorly based on the different areas he could take my pulse. For example, on that day, through close monitoring of my pulse, he could tell that my lower abdomen and intestine were extremely enflamed. Woah. Even CT and Ultrasounds scans, X-rays and blood tests couldn’t tell that in my 5 hospital admissions.
Bring on the pins. The first few were a little cause for concern; going in my feet and toes! Ugh. This was hell for me, the idea of having a needle in my bony feet, is harrowing. I felt them go in, but as I wasn’t looking, it didn’t hurt, and they were quickly forgotten. I had a total of 7-9 needles in my legs, feet and wrists. He continued to check my pulse through the procedure and after the pins were in for 20 minutes confirmed that my pulse showed that the aggravated body parts and eased and settled down a little. He stated that I may need ‘top-up’ sessions (it looked like I would be seeing more of Pinhead) and that he would contact me to see how I was feeling.
On leaving the session and building, the sun was shining. I don’t know whether it was a psychological thing as I expected to feel better, whether the pins had actually eased my raw organs or whether my painkillers had kicked in, but I felt like running. I felt more upbeat, laughing as I retold my experience to my husband, including all the Pinhead bits! My body felt alive, tingly almost, I felt ready to run a marathon; that sensation when all your muscles tighten in expectation of adrenaline. Everything felt slower, I felt ready, better able to cope with the day. It was £40 well spent.
I was under the impression this would last a week. It didn’t. Within a few hours I started to feel very tired, my muscles ached and it was hard to keep my eyes open. I collapsed into bed for an early night. The next few days I had pain but it was more manageable. I was able live close to normal, doing things I would normally do; work, eat, walk. And just for that, I would recommend, wholeheartedly, the Acupuncture experience.