Last year, I wrote about my experience trying acupuncture to treat my fibromyalgia.
This was not traditional acupuncture by a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor. It was done by a physiotherapist who is also trained in some acupuncture. She used a method to release the fibro "trigger points". The treatments did provide me with great symptom relief for a few days after each session.
However, the treatments were quite painful and I'd be out of commission all day from the after-effects. In addition, the treatment was very localized. It only worked on the trigger points the needles touched. We did as many as I could tolerate, but I have these painful trigger points all over my body. It would be way too painful - plus enormously expensive and time-consuming - to hit each one. And, as I said, the relief was only for a few days. It wasn't practical as ongoing treatment.
I tried this for a few sessions, then gave up. The supplemental health insurance we get through Allan's work covered it. (In Canada, that's always called "having benefits," but I'm reluctant to use that expression since it means something very different to US readers.)
This year my fibromyalgia got worse. I might be doing too much - that is, I might have fewer symptoms if I cut back on activities more - but I haven't been willing to do that yet. So I decided to try traditional acupuncture from an actual TCM practitioner.
There are a zillion TCM doctors, acupuncture clinics and holistic or naturopathic centres in Mississauga. They are everywhere. How to choose one? I was reluctant to just choose any clinic off the street,and that held me back for quite a while.
Over our US Thanksgiving trip, I spoke to my nephew D and his partner. They are massage therapists, she is a herbalist, and they are both studying acupuncture and TCM now. Nephew D suggested finding someone also practiced with herbs, saying that TCM is a combination of herbal medicine and acupuncture, and a good TCM should do both. (Forgive me if I'm stating the ultra obvious - this is new to me.)
My wonderful nephew also spoke to some of his teachers about me, and was prepared to do an evaluation by phone. But long-distance isn't the best way to do medicine, so I decided to use his advice to find someone here.
Even so, I still didn't know how to find a doctor. I have a Chinese co-worker who goes for acupuncture treatments, but I don't like to talk about my health issues at work. So what to do? Sometimes the meaningless universe of random chance provides.
I was having my hair done a few weeks back - you know, becoming blond again and reading The Shock Doctrine. It was a new stylist; she asked where I live, and said, "My acupuncturist is right near there." She's been getting great relief from headaches from acupuncture; she said her TCM doctor is very experienced and has reasonable rates in order to be more accessible.
I took his card, and looked him up online. He is indeed highly experienced, the director of the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Canada, degrees from both China and the University of Toronto, 20 years of experience, and two busy clinics. Plus, he's right around the corner from me, and his rates are reasonable. Also, unlike many practitioners who have high fees for an initial consultation, Dr. Wang will evaluate you for free. What have I got to lose.
Dr. Wang understood fibromyalgia perfectly. I also told him about my inability to lose excess weight, which I have long suspected is related to the pain, low energy, sleep disorder, and so on, of fibromyalgia.
So I had my first treatment. It was relaxing and painless, and I brought home a week's work of herbal meds. I'm definitely going back next week.
Dr. Wang cautioned me that although acupuncture will work immediately on some conditions, such as allergies or headaches, fibromyalgia would be more complicated. If there will be results, it will take longer to see them. I'm not surprised!
My attitude about this could be called open-minded neutrality. I neither mock TCM as nonsense nor am expecting a miracle cure. I'm open to change, and I'll recognize it if it happens, but I won't be crushed if it doesn't.
I'll be sure to report back as things move along.