Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Reluctant Acupuncturist

I've seen her twice now, and I haven't seen a needle yet.

She's actually an internist, with a background in research and integrative medicine. She specializes in treating illness without pharmaceuticals, utilizing nutrition, physical therapy, biofeedback and, most importantly, acupuncture. She was recommended by my PCP, who really hit the nail on the head with this referral.

It was a normal first visit, lots of talking. She did a rapid fire exam that left me a little winded and started asking funny questions, like what color would you prefer a blank wall to be? She looked at my tongue and told me my spleen may be wonky. Then she talked for a long time about how she doesn't like to dive right in to acupuncture without knowing the whole picture. It was a long speech and I don't remember most of it because she was talking really loudly and my head doesn't like that. Is there a nice way to tell someone they are loud? I haven't found one yet.

She's the one who ordered the super-duper blood panel and we went over the results in the second visit. She still talked loudly, but I was prepared with the full on outdoor earplugs in. This woman's voice is like a jackhammer, people. But she's fabulous, and went into great detail about my test results and what they mean. I did my best to retain the info so I could regurgitate it here, but I may have mixed some bits up, so forgive me if something is off.

The high cholesterol, but normal blood pressure and lowish sodium levels told her that my adrenals aren't functioning properly. And that, in combination with my lowish progesterone, iron and potassium indicated that my body is having trouble absorbing nutrients and regulating electrolytes. Or maybe the progesterone was part of the adrenals thing. Anyway, these are common results with chronic pain, but these imbalances can exacerbate symptoms, ie increased sensitivity to pain and feeling exhausted. OH, which are ALSO side effects of low vitamin d. I had googled it, but the doc was a lot more concerned about it than the internet was, for once. (The internet is usually a bit of a hypochondriac, right?) She said that I was way below normal for both types of D, at 14 ng/mL when the low range is 30. She said she'd actually like me at 80, for being a chronic pain patient. So she gave me a scrip for it (I had no idea you could get prescriptions for vitamins!), one 50,000 iu pill a week. Then, she directed me to the internets to buy a certain brand of multivitamin that has the right sources of nutrients, and the right amounts. I reassured her that I was already taking a multi and fish oil and then she burst my bubble with the knowledge that not all vitamin makers are searching far and wide for the best sources for their vitamins. I thought that little USP symbol on the side of the bottle was enough, but she says no, that you really have to look further and learn about the ingredients and their effects on the body. She actually said toxicity. Really, it surprised me how little that surprised me. The more I learn about regulation and practices in the business of consumables, the more I wish I had my own little organic and responsible island on which I could hide from the petroleum and genetically modified soy that are in EVERYTHING.

So, once I get enough cash (donate button!), I'll be purchasing some high-falutin', non cancer causing vitamins and hopefully we'll get me back to healthy. Ish. The plan is to retest me in a month or so (yay more blood draws) and then go from there. Maybe with some actual acupuncture. Sigh.

Anyone have any suggestions for the loud talkers? I figure I'm going to say something in the next visit, regardless. Help me not be offensive?


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I'm a loud talker, kinda deaf due to working around machinery when I was younger plus I have an annoyingly squeaky voice. I never take offense if someone just says, "hey, you are talking a little loud for my ears, can you tone it down some?" because with the hard of hearing part I really can't tell volume so well.

steph said...

Thanks for the advice, hopefully she's as understanding as you are!

Jessica said...

I, like Winny, am a very loud talker too. I don't mean to be...but I come from a long line of loud talkers. That's why family gatherings are so not good for me and my head. Anyways, people always tell me to tone it down! I don't mind, because mostly I don't even realize I am talking so loudly. But I can see your dilemna!

steph said...

Thanks Jessica, you're probably right. It's a (sort of) big deal for me because it hurts my head, but she probably won't bat an eye. I just need to stop projecting my anxieties on other people, is what. :p

Anonymous said...

hi steph!
it sounds like your acupuncturist is really doing a good job. she of all people should understand that you can't take loud noises. maybe you should just try telling her... it wouldn't be offensive if you avoid saying her voice is particularly loud. just say that you normally ask people to talk softly on days when you have migraines. but, i've never done it, so who knows!!
good luck!! i hope you start getting relief with the treatment plan.
xo, robin

steph said...

Thanks, Robin!

Bibliotekaren said...

Hi Steph,

New here but jumping in. Many times I've asked people to speak more quietly. However, I don't phrase it as them being loud. Rather I say something like, "I'm unfortunately quite sensitive to sound, could you speak a little more quietly?" And, I don't hesitate to do so.

Also, I've found acupuncture to be quite helpful for pain, especially head pain. Hope something in your treatment plan helps.

Take care, Donna

steph said...

Hey Karen,

That's a good suggestion, I may just use that line.

I seriously can't wait until we get to the actual acupuncturing. All this build-up is killing me. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Steph -- I started acupuncture too! I have my second appointment today. It'll be interesting to compare notes.

steph said...

Yeah it will! I look forward to reading about your experience. And to actually experiencing it myself. :p

Are you getting the needles or did you have to go through this extensive screening thing too? Part of me is digging the super careful technique this doc has, but another part of me is yelling at her, "STAB ME WOMAN!"