Dr. Nisan S. Cerami, DAOM, LAc.
OR THE STORY OF THE UNLIKELY ACUPUNCTURIST
When I speak to people about acupuncture, I usually hear the same story about why they don't want to try it. "I don't like needles," I'm told again and again. "I don't think I can ever like them."
Honestly, who enjoys the notions of being stuck by a dozen or so pins? I have patients who love acupuncture, who look forward to their sessions each week, but not one of them came in for their first treatment thinking, "This is going to be great!" Everyone begins in a place of apprehension. This is normal!
I certainly was no exception.
In fact, mine was a particularly bad case. I used to suffer from a rather substantial case of aichmophobia (an irrational fear of sharp objects, needles topping the list). I had a run in with a feral cat as an infant, and received rabie shots in the stomach. I was about 18 months old. I have no memory of the incident, but have suffered the lasting effects of this trauma for most of my life.
To lighten the mood, I sometimes tell new patients about my first experience with acupuncture... how I clutched the sides of the table, went as white as the sheets and kept repeating, "I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be okay..." like some sort of broken record.
I was suffering from some weird stomach pain. Life had been particularly stressful the few years prior to this. I moved back to California. I had to make significant career decisions. I left an important relationship. My cat died. I felt like crying a lot.
The stomach pain was unlike anything I'd ever felt before, sharp and stabbing and constant. It was also making me extremely moody, sometimes angry.
My MD, a man for which I have great respect, wanted me to take an antidepressant. He said six months is all I would need to feel myself again and jump these hurdles that were causing my body to freak out.
After discussing the issue with some close friends, I decided that I would do as my doctor said, but only after I tried an alternative method of medicine first. If it didn't work out, I'd take the antidepressants and know it was the right choice.
But what alternative medicine would help? I had no idea. I turned to the internet and put my research skills to use. I found a study where participants had great results after receiving acupuncture twice a week for 8 weeks.Acupuncture!?!? My heart sank. Of course it would be acupuncture! Because needles were my nemesis.
I cannot express to you how much stress needles caused me back then. If I needed a shot or blood work, it always meant facing this thick wall of anxiety and having to find the courage to get myself to the other side of it.
To this day, I don't know how I was so brave as to voluntarily go for acupuncture, but I'm thankful that I made the right decision.
After three months, I noticed that acupuncture had cured me of my stomach pain. It also cured me of knee pain that I never told the acupuncturist about. (I now know was knee pain was along the stomach meridian of the leg.) It quelled my anxiety, which I didn't realize I had until driving at night became much easier. It also made acupuncture easier to bear. Finally, continuing on with acupuncture greatly reduced my fairly severe seasonal allergies. I can now smell flowers and burn incense and react to such things normally.
It's fair to say that acupuncture changed my life.