As I drove through Concord recently, I noted the amount of acupuncturists in the area. I thought back to what I knew about acupuncture as I was growing up, and how far we have come with this amazing medicine, and how lucky we are to have ample access to it.
I STILL VIVIDLY REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I THOUGHT ABOUT GOING TO ACUPUNCTURE SCHOOL
In my twenties, I started out as a high school teacher. I was quickly disillusioned. In my mind, I had pictured being that inspiring teacher from a movie like Dangerous Minds. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was no Michelle Pfieffer. My students were horribly behaved, and every day was a battle. Some days I would get sat on. Others, I’d get locked in closets. I was constantly being sworn at, threatened, and belittled…and I was actually one of the teachers the kids LIKED! I’m a determined person, so I tried to stick it out…but threats and abuse aside, I had no passion for the field. I was creative, and loved reading and writing, but teaching what you love is a completely different animal than doing what you love. After two years of suffering, I began to plot my escape. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I had always been drawn to healing professions. I had also grown up in a home with a mother who had a lot of health issues, many of them stemming from mistakes made within the medical system. Seeing this, being immersed in it for years, sparked my interest in various holistic health modalities. One day, as I was eating lunch in my office, something caught my eye on the internet. I saw an ad for a graduate program in acupuncture. I felt an instant spark of excitement and longing that I hadn’t had in months…maybe years. At that time, I didn’t realize that it was my passion relighting as I contemplated this career change. Reading further, I was interrupted by another teacher who had come into the office to grab some paperwork. She saw me reading the ad and became curious. “You’re interested in acupuncture school?” she asked. “Maybe?” I said. “I’m not sure. But I just don’t think I’m supposed to be teaching. I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something else.” She nodded and left, and the next thing I knew, the bell rang. It was time for class to start, and I grabbed my papers and left the office, the idea of acupuncture fading from my mind as I busied myself with getting through another day alive.
TWO YEARS LATER, THE ACUPUNCTURE BUG BIT ME AGAIN
This time, I was working at a restaurant. I had left my teaching job and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. As I sat at a table on my break, I zoned out and began staring at the TV. Something flashed across the screen, and all I could see was the word “acupuncture.” I focused on the news story; it was something about doctors using acupuncture to treat brain injuries. “This is what I want to do,” I found myself saying out loud. “I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.” There was a pause as my fellow waitstaff all stopped and stared at me. “You want to become an acupuncturist? That’s weird. Why?” one coworker asked. “I don’t think you can. You’re not Asian. Also, if you become an acupuncturist, don’t you need to move to China? There are ten billion jobs in this world, you can’t do something more normal?” (This was actually something that I would hear over and over throughout the course of my career. And no, you don’t need to be Asian to become an acupuncturist!) “Of course I can find another career, but this is what I want to do. I’m going to go back to school and become an acupuncturist. A Caucasian acupuncturist. And that’s ridiculous, you don’t need to live in China to practice acupuncture. I’m sure there are plenty of acupuncturists right here.” “Really?” he challenged me. “Where? Tell me the name of one acupuncturist you know.” I had to admit, I was flummoxed. I had never actually seen an acupuncturist in real life, only in the movies. I wondered if he was right, and if becoming an acupuncturist was a realistic goal. I decided to make it my mission to search the area until I found one, if only to prove him wrong.
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH ACUPUNCTURE MADE ME REALIZE HOW MAGICAL THIS MEDICINE CAN BE
This was before the days of Google, so I got out my Yellow Pages and began to search. I was pleasantly surprised to find an acupuncturist in the next town over. I called her, set up an appointment for acupuncture, and wondered what I was in store for. Soon enough, I knew. I was happy to see that she was most decidedly NOT Asian, and I couldn’t wait to tell my coworkers how wrong they were. My acupuncturist had long blonde hair, a bright white smile, and seemed very young. As we walked back to her treatment room, she asked me a number of questions about my health. I answered honestly, and waited with some trepidation for her to insert the acupuncture needles, wondering if it would hurt. To my surprise, I barely felt the acupuncture needles going in. When she was done inserting them, she whispered, “Close your eyes and relax, I’ll be back in a little while,” and then left the room. Lying there, I began to notice certain sensations in the acupuncture needles. They weren’t unpleasant; rather, I felt some tingling and pressure. I began to feel very relaxed, and almost dozed off, when suddenly I began to hear tiny little pings. I opened my eyes, and saw that my needles were popping out in rapid succession. I wasn’t moving at all, yet they were shooting out as if propelled by something. “Um…help?” I whispered. I HATE calling for people when I’m in a room alone. “Hello?” I said a bit more loudly. No help came.I was still so relaxed that I wasn’t caring TOO much, but as I had never had acupuncture before, I had no way to determine if projectile firing these needles out was normal or not. After a few more attempts to get the attention of my acupuncturist, I gave up. I closed my eyes and drifted for a while. Eventually, she came back. She flipped on the light to find piles of needles on the floor. “What did you do?” she asked. “Did you try to get up?” I told her no, feeling like a naughty child, and vowed that one day, when I started my own acupuncture career, I would always leave patients with a way to contact me if they needed me. She picked up the needles, removed a few more that had stayed in me, and then told me to meet her out front to pay. I did, paying attention to how I felt after the session. The mild knee pain that I always had from waiting tables was completely gone. I was sleepy and calm. And that night I had the best night’s sleep of my life. My decision was cemented: I was going to become an acupuncturist. Click here to learn more about us.