After three acupuncture treatments I feel okay announcing that it is working for me. Alternative medicine has a bad reputation mainly because much of it is bad. But if it is stupid and it works it is not stupid. Traditional Chinese medicine is not stupid but much of it does not stand up to clinical trials. My logical mind wants valid experimental data on most things, especially when they are life and death issues. My faith allows me to explore things that may not be explained by the scientific method. I believe that we have a soul and it is hard to set up a control group to test that hypothesis.
The evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture is not conclusive. It would be hard to make a control group. Would you stick fake needles in them? If the points are indeed effective would stimulation of the point with the fake needle skew the data? Acupressure therapy seems to be founded on that argument. Anecdotal evidence supports the undisputed fact that acupuncture works for some people especially in the treatment of chronic pain. The human brain is a powerful tool and testing against the “placebo effect” is central to all analytical testing.
My personal experience may be a tale of the fool who is tricked by hocus-pocus or the fool who is cured by ancient techniques redirecting the chi. I have had a reduction in the intensity of the peripheral neuropathy. The process was fairly straightforward. The therapist reviewed my medical background and determined our goals. Then I lay down on the treatment table and they began to put needles in me. I closed my eyes so it would not freak me out. The needles mainly felt like a mosquito bite. The advantage of the neuropathy is that it did not penetrate the background pain on a lot of the needles and I did not even notice it. On some of the needles I could only recognize that they were putting pressure around my neck. Other needles did not hurt going in but felt “hot” like an electric charge was going through them. The therapist would jiggle the needle until the feeling went away or on a couple of occasions they removed the needle and reinserted (maybe in a slightly different spot?) the needle. It is not supposed to hurt. After about forty or fifty needles they put an infrared lamp on you and let you sit for about thirty minutes. Soft music with the sounds of the ocean in the background help you relax. I felt like a burrito in the microwave with the radiation therapy now I feel like the stale chicken entrée under a hot lamp.
After the first session the pain was less intense. If the pain were like layers of clothes I shed a few layers. The therapist advised against exercising after our treatment sessions so prior to the second session I exercised. I think that was an error. I took a twenty hour nap afterwards. The pain again changed in intensity. My hands and feet have felt like they are on fire and several days afterwards they felt kind of like when you fall on the pavement in cold weather. That is a big improvement, instead of a ball of pain at the end of my arm; I can differentiate pain in the individual digits. My lovely wife did not go in during the first session because she did not want to see needles in me. She did go in and talk to the therapist the second and third sessions resulting in more needles in some more specific points. I am among the luckiest men in the world; my wife massages me and pays attention. She was able to provide specific feedback to the therapist on places that are inflexible.
Today is the day after the third session. The intensity of the neuropathy seems to be another notch lower. It is difficult to assess the progress because I have made a conscious effort to ignore the pain as much as possible. The reprogramming of my brain has had some success. I can function at a reduced capacity from my pre-cancer activity level but significantly better than immediately following treatment. I was being pushed around in a wheelchair at one point. Later I was celebrating being able to walk, then being able to walk around the block. Now I can jog around the neighborhood. I can even “run” for a few yards at a time. At one point I could barely lift my arm. Later I was able to lift a 2 lb. weight. Now I am able to perform several repetitions with five pound weights.
Thanks for the prayers and support.