I’m recovering from an episode of Pain (intentional capitalization) in my sacrum. It started as a dull ache but grew to the shooting variety (the I-can-no-longer-ignore-it proportion) 2 weeks ago. With a combination of treatments from an excellent team, including acupuncture, activator-method chiropractic, and massage, as well as much soul searching, posture work, ergonomic improvements and dietary changes I’m healthier, and in better physical alignment than I have been in for six months.

I’ve experienced the same type of thing before, but not for many years. Illness has always been, for me, a search for meaning. My body was reacting to several stressors, one of which was related to my spending more time at the computer since I started blogging at the beginning of 2008. It was winter when I started, I was indoors more than I would have liked, my snowshoes were left to lean forlornly against the front porch. I lugged my laptop around, from office to home and back again as if it were an appendage or a pet in need of frequent feeding. Sometimes late at night I perched my beloved aluminum mac on my lap while stretched out on the oldest couch still in use today (which lives in my living room). It’s mod 1970s orange velour, however warm and cozy, was no protection against the structural collapse that is our couch. Shopping for new couch begins now. As does shopping for computer for the office, so that laptop no longer has to make the commute, like a child of divorced parents, to two part-time domiciles.

Despite the structural issues that may have resulted from said deplorable posture my muscles were doing things that were highly suspicious of the dreaded food allergy. Any time I see (or experience) unexplained muscle spasms severe enough to misalign the structure of the spine I have to think of the gut. This is true especially if:

  • spasms wander to diverse muscles in proximity to the gut and attaching to the spine–such as psoas and hamstrings.
  • when (despite the picture of me lolling on evil comfy couch), the individual with such spasms is not a total couch potato but had been exercising well and often until onset of the debilitating-ouch.
  • when there is a family history of gut and back issues: in my family almost everyone has or has had “a bad back,” and there is IBS, Crohns and Diverticulitis up the, yes, the whazoo. Most recently a cousin a few years older than me was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Yes, you read that right. Type 1. In the latter stages of the 4th decade of her life.

Oh, the gut. I gave up dairy in my thirties, gave up gluten at 40, rice at 41 or 42 (after massive rice consumption following elimination of gluten), and was heading towards 50 with just a twinge of awareness here, a flash of intuition there. Would I slide into that decade free of an irritated gut? No. Last Saturday I became certain without a doubt that soy is no longer my friend.

It has been only 4 days since my last bite of anything soy (a piece of my son’s gluten-free/dairy-free chocolate birthday cake), and the last vestiges of irritation to gut, muscle and bone are disappearing. I’ll be experimenting in the kitchen again soon to see what flours and what milk I can use to make my excellent birthday cake special a soy-free special next time. In the meantime, this change brings me increased awareness of that balance between lightness and heaviness which food literally embodies (and embeds within us). Soy was tipping me too heavily in the direction of that which is heavy, damp and overfull.

Some Western scientists (and the media) failed to get excited about the role of acupuncture in reducing the presence of certain molecules in the brains of people with fibromyalgia, and the reduction of fibromyalgia-related pain which followed. These folks preferred instead to get all excited about the biochemical possibilities which researchers would explore for creating the same effect with pharmaceuticals. I, on the other hand, got very excited to learn that acupuncture had an immediate and measurable effect on both brain and pain. To me, it was an example of how we are skirting on the edges of a natural convergence between Western science and acupuncture. I wrote a somewhat hot-headed post about this subject, which you can read here.

I probably shouldn’t have been so hot-headed. After all, the researchers plan to investigate drugs rather than the signal system of acupuncture reflects the dominant paradigm of western medicine–a deep and abiding love affair with pharmaceutical answers to biochemical problems. But in my mind–the mind of someone who navigates along the acupuncture meridians of the body with the attentiveness of a physically blind sculptor–their lack of enthusiasm pointed to a general malaise in western science–a sad lack of curiosity.   Albert Einstein reportedly once said,

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

The good news is that (the above-mentioned researchers aside) passionate curiosity is alive and well among other western scientists and practitioners of Chinese medicine. I’m not talking about the largely misguided attempts to reduce acupuncture or herbal medicine to technical protocols to treat western diagnoses, and verifications of these standardized protocols with randomized controlled trials. Such scientific inquiries are misguided because acupuncture and herbal medicine are not protocol-driven. The kind of curiosity I’m talking about is different. It’s more fundamental. The fundamental question is not how can Chinese medicine fit into the evidence-based protocols of Western medicine, but rather what don’t we understand about how people heal, and what can we learn in this regard from Chinese medicine?

I am not a scholar, or a scientist, just a passionately curious acupuncturist who has a decidedly intuitive appreciation for bridge-building. The reason I love Chinese medicine (because it’s all about making connections, understanding connections, and being in dialog with active processes) is the same reason I am attracted intellectually and spiritually to quantum physics and biological research about information transfer through connective tissue. But since I am not a scholar, and much of what I feel intuitively must be true I do not understand well enough to write about with any degree of authenticity, I won’t attempt to summarize this vast subject.   There are some great books out there which I am reading or rereading, all of which provide clues to the intelligence of healing, the brilliance of western science, the need for Western medicine to progress from it’s mechanistic, Newtonian practices and to embrace the new frontier where biological regulatory systems meet Quantum physics, acupuncture meridians, and the X-signal system talked about by a brilliant Japanese acupuncturist of the 20th Century, Yoshia Manaka.

Without further ado, here is my reading list. Enjoy.

Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, by James Oschman.

Chasing the Dragon’s Tail by Yoshio Manaka, MD with Kazuko Itaya and Stephen Birch.

The Extracellular Matrix and Ground Regulation: Basis for a Holistic Biological Medicine by Alfred Pischinger, Edited by Hartmut Heine.

If you dig into any of these books, please post a comment and let me know what you’re reading. If anyone is up for an on-line book club, we could all read a chunk and chew the fat together.

When the wind works against us

Originally uploaded by chinkon

One month ago I sat on a glider rocker in the bedroom of a 90 year old client. I had just taken his pulse, and put some needles in to alleviate his back pain and shortness of breath. I was taking a few minutes to watch the sparrows and chickadees at the generously stocked feeders outside the window before writing my treatment notes.

The sun shone so brightly, I could barely look directly at the snowy landscape for the glare. I was about to turn my eyes back into the room when, just outside the window, beneath the suet and the sunflower seeds I saw a patch of dull yellow grass. Given a few months time it would be renewed again, becoming green, lush and plump with the rains that are April’s promise. And with that comforting thought, I turned again to thoughts of my client, and his relationship with the coming spring. Maybe he would get out on the rider mower again, releasing that pungent but sweet, just-cut aroma to mingle with the sea-salt air blowing in from the nearby cove.

It was quite possible, however, that he would not. Unlike the spinning earth, whose sun-bound rotation promises spring, my client’s physical fluidity and cohesion turns upon the unpredictable axis of aging, from which departures can be swift or slow, gentle or painful. Not knowing accompanies each of us, as friend or foe. The challenge my client would face as spring lurched forward, would be finding the shifting rhythms of his own life-giving fluids. Even as they move with the primordial rhythms of nature–oceans, forests, planets, moon and stars–they also trace a lone trajectory of waning vitality. Some activities, such as riding on a gas-fueled lawn mower, may generate more fire than is safe for his small internal sea. The same is true for each of us. The flow of our internal sea –were we to freeze it in time at any given moment like a snapshot–would consist of a precise wave-form. Perhaps the greatest task of aging is learning with each passing moment how better to gage the quality and resonance of our own internal sea, and with a combination of acceptance and intention, learning how to ride that precise wave-form rather than be taken under by it.

We surfers have an ally in acupuncture. Acupuncture, a non-verbal education in fluid dynamics, schools us in how not to fall off the ride that is right now. It reorients each of us to our own central cores, so that the essence of our experience embodies who we are. The trick is carrying that sense of being in the flow of one’s life out of the treatment room and into the cacophony of modern American existence, which includes for many older adults a long-list of medications for a long-list of ailments that are often not envisioned as a whole (except by specialists in Chinese medicine).

I returned again to visit my 90 year old client yesterday, four weeks after I mused about him on his riding mower. In that time all the snow in the field outside his house had melted, leaving a dull carpet of rough, yellow grass. This time it was not just chickadees and sparrows at the generously stocked feeders but robins and a blackbird, too. The wind blew strongly against the house, and a squirrel climbed onto a ledge outside the window and scratched the glass. He actually seemed to want to come inside, standing on hind legs, front paws scratching. His belly was white, his gray cheek was turned against the glass, and the black iris of his eye darted around.

Wind. It stirs inside us, too. Sometimes it’s a light breeze that motivates us to clean closets and drawers and sometimes it’s a tornado, stirring a rock slide of stones inside our gallbladders. I’ve been experiencing the former, while my 90 year old client got the latter. 10 days ago he suffered a severe pain in the right lower quadrant of his abdomen. After he waited on a gurney in the ER for 14 hours, a doctor said,

“Stones, your gallbladder is full of stones.”

After some debate about the wisdom of operating on a 90 year old man, the surgery was done. He was discharged the next day, and 10 days later, I could not find his liver or kidney pulse without pushing deep to the bone of his wrist. He said his hips were hurting him, a pattern I’ve seen often repeated: the removal of the gallbladder took only the most solid form of the problem out of the body. The energetic problem remained in the meridian, knocking about like an old tin can.

We are all such vast seas of fluid. It’s the water content of our bodies that makes our cells semi-conductors, piezo-electric communicators speaking a vibratory language of signals our western science does not comprehend. And the truth is, neither do we acupuncturists. As I feel for that variable alteration–whether it’s a softness or a hardness, a moistness or a dryness, an openness or a stickiness– that makes a spot on the skin a living, breathing acupuncture point, I am acknowledging that I don’t know, that the only intelligence that matters here is the intelligence of the client’s meridian system, to which I must give my deepest attention, despite the fact that my intellect can not articulate or communicate what it is that I am looking for. I’m only looking for that moment when I know I have arrived. It is not a “what” that I look for, because the “what” changes and can be different things at different times. It’s more of a “what-when” that I’m looking for, a “right here right now” to use the famous words of Ram Dass. Once I have found the acupuncture point (or the acupuncture point disclosed itself to me), and I insert the needle, I direct my awareness to the tip of the needle and figuratively “aim” at the center of that wave-form, looking for that confirmational tug of Qi.

Meridian medicine requires attention to wave-forms that are constantly in flux. Therefore, it is imperative that I make up every treatment as I go along. Of course traditional or classical point combinations are the places I start. But the true art and science of acupuncture lies like a fox in the grass, a shadow of the moment, to be discovered or not. That fleeting opening that appears out of nowhere, if only for a moment before slipping again into the closed places of our habituated lives is what we acupuncturists look for, a new science of the body and medicine of the soul starts in those openings.

Yesterday, as I touched the body of my 90 year old client, seeking under the light touch of the index finger of my left hand, that special quality of liveness in the points, I was struck by the lack of what I sought. The meridians of the lower legs in particular were like oily asphalt highways–slippery, soft and hard all at the same time. But there was no traffic. No palpable wave-form open to the surf-board needle to carry a message to the center of the sea. I felt that my client’s recovery from surgery, despite the dismissal from his doctor’s care, was not nearly complete. His family members thought his recovery was quick, uneventful and complete. I struggled with how to articulate my findings to the family. I wanted to caution them to allow for more recovery, to encourage them to recognize the toll that had been taken on his overall health and the need to proceed slowly but steadily towards revitalization. At the same time I didn’t want to make it sound too dire.

Perhaps the best way to have explained it would have been to have turned to that rough carpet of grass, it’s liveliness still dormant deep in its roots, awaiting the spring showers and spring winds that will supply the necessary water but keep it from pooling unduly. We all need the same thing. Older adults more than younger, and older adults after surgery even more. We need to cultivate fluidity without flooding. We need golden elixirs in the form of nourishing broths, deep sleep and the pulsing wave forms of the meridians. We need clean water, refreshing breezes and the warmth of the sun.

As I began giving my 90 year old client with the asphalt-like legs an acupuncture treatment, the wind was howling. We were clearly on the cusp of renewal on this small finger of coastal Maine. I put my intention into every needle: may this needle carry the resonant chord of the season into the channels of your body, let it ring true like a harmonic overtone, bringing the rejuvenation of the spring into your body, your consciousness and your heart.

Today it is raining. Tonight I will make soup.

March wanes today, and supposedly in this corner of the Northeast, winter is waning too. While it certainly is dwindling, there are still good bits of snow and ice about, making our transition to Spring and its bursts of blossoming energy slow, and halting. Two steps forward, one step back. I write this in the middle of a snow squall, much like the one that left 5 inches of wet snow on Friday. Yet, our dirt driveway is thawed enough that plowing the snow would just dredge a mountain of muck in front of the garage. Instead, we wait. We rest.

One of the most enjoyable, hard to grasp, profound yet frustrating aspects of Chinese Medicine is the shifting landscape of 5 Phase correspondences. On the one hand, Spring time corresponds to the Liver and Wood phases, but also to the Lungs, and Metal phases. Michael “Delli” Dell’orfano’s article at Deepest Health posits that one reason for this wealth of correspondence could lie in the importance of developing an internal environment that will balance the influences of the external environment. In this way, the Sagely Living project, has stretched me to consider multiple correspondences in new ways by pairing certain activities with each month of the calendar year. This month our charge is to balance rest and activity.

Others in the sagely living project are experimenting with habits of waking, sleeping, and mindfulness, but not me. For me, this month of march madness (and I ain’t talking basketball) in Maine during which spring winds and warm sun play hide and seek with storm clouds, snow squalls, hail, and brimstone, no, no scratch the brimstone, I wax melodramatic…, I am called to experiment with a different type of rest and activity, to draw yet another correspondence from within the wisdom of Chinese Medicine to illuminate the rest/activity motif of March. For me. As someone with a sensitive gut all these thwarted bursts of spring have called my attention to my Spleen. In response, I’m called to the task of reinvigorating the rest and activity of digestion.

Alert to the 5 phases of Chinese Medicine, I experience this (and other) seasonal transition times as a call to make right what is in my belly, the whole long digestive track. The unpredictability of the weather like a storm at sea, turns us in towards the palpable, reliable and stable, keel at our center, the body’s middle, the pivot between heaven and earth. The Japanese call the abdomen ‘hara’, and much attention in Japanese acupuncture goes to palpating the abdomen or hara to find the places in the middle where the energy cannot travel freely. With blockages in this central keel, the innate drive to homeostasis is off-balance and falters.

In paying attention to the eat/digest/rest cycle this past month I saw ways in which I could increase the rest portion, allowing myself more emptiness in an otherwise very full life. Failing to heed my own need, choosing fullness over emptiness a time or two too many, I was given the opportunity to learn my own lessons this weekend, granted by the ungraceful visit of an intestinal virus. I fasted and feel as a result refreshed, cleared and ready for spring. If only it would come to stay. Even the skiers are sick of snow.

One of my favorite people in the world is a woman with cancer who despite an extremely serious metastatic disease can light up the room with her smile. She knows how to graciously accept the love, caring and support of her friends, as well as her acupuncturist, but it’s never a one-way street. She asks after my family, and passes on fresh Florida grapefruits and other delights. What is more, she consistently passes on random acts of kindness: paying for a young girl’s membership at the YMCA, shoveling the driveway of her neighbor after a storm (this, on chemo!), and certainly in other ways I’ll never know.

Despite chemotherapy, she actually gained weight, which was necessary after her surgery. She lost some hair on chemo–but mostly only the gray ones fell out! She’s still on chemo, and will be for some time. But her multiple inoperable tumors are either disappearing or, at the very least, shrinking. A few months ago she asked her oncologist if she would be alive next summer. He shook his head in wonder and told her to look around at the other people receiving chemo in his large treatment room. He said,

Of course you’ll be alive.

She looked around and didn’t see anyone who looked like her. Everyone looked far, far sicker than she, even though many of them were probably at the tail end of their treatments, their cancers completely (or nearly completely) gone or in remission. 8 months ago she was told she could be dead in 6 t0 24 months. She fired “Doctor Doom,” as she called him, and found this new guy, someone who was willing to be amazed by her recovery, to shake his head, and say, look around. But now, just a few short months after this interlude with the new doc, she is no longer satisfied with his head-shaking wonderment at her progress.

I gave her a treatment a few days ago. Recently she had been given antibiotics for a throat infection, but the throat was not getting better. She wondered if the infection was viral–thus unable to respond to antibiotics–but she was also wondering “what it is I’m not saying,” as the throat corresponds in many traditions to the ability to voice our deepest truths.

As I did some tui na and acupuncture to clear the energy from her head, sinuses, and throat, and boost her immune system, she talked. It turns out that many feelings were emerging for her about her Doctor and his office. She felt her doctor doesn’t really believe, as she does, that she will live much beyond the original prognosis–the outer edge of which is a just about 16 months away. Passively acknowledging that she looks better than most no longer feels adequate. Plus, being in his office frequently interrupts her cool because one very jovial, very clueless, dark-haired nurse repeatedly tells “dumb blonde” jokes to anyone within earshot, even my blonde (not stupid) client. Feeling disrespected while intentionally taking in massive quantities of poison makes it just that much harder to focus on the healing that this crazy chemical intoxication is supposed to achieve.

And that is where acupuncture comes in. Unlike the three jewels of oncology–chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, acupuncture needles are not concerned with tumors. Acupuncture needles are concerned with, they in fact seek, like little metal detectors, the electrical energy of the body’s innate drive for homeostasis. I’m looking for each client’s spectacular humanness in the specific moment in which she sits with me. That is the moment we aim to heal. Not the tumor. If we achieve a healing in the moment, then the larger healing follows. The body, mind, and spirit is far more intelligent than oncology conceives. And if we can learn anything from my beautiful blonde friend, we can learn this: We, as a society, need our oncologists to conceive of healing in broader and deeper terms than the chemical and surgical techniques of modern western oncology. While many oncologists do have this perspective (as integrative oncology centers can be found in many American cities) we need more, now, in this corner of the world. Even though this particular oncologist has this perspective on some level (He told my client to continue doing everything she is doing–including acupuncture, because she’s getting better–envision his head-shaking wonderment here) he can come even further, further, further into belief. Maybe that huge brand new building under construction where he and his associates will be moving into soon is big enough if not for an integrated center, what about a wing or a hall or a few rooms for integration?

I have been allowed to give my client acupuncture during her chemotherapy. But every time I’ve been there, someone else getting chemo has caught my eye, someone in the start of a panic attack, or merely with fearful and sad eyes, or by the ashen color of skin, or the redness of complexion. All the people who come through the doors of every oncologists office everywhere have dynamic inner lives, vibrating with energy that could be aligned for healing, given the support they need from an integrated approach. It’s a wonder my own throat hasn’t begun to hurt. It’s not only my client who needs to talk to her doctor, I think I do as well. I’ve been thinking about it for months. I think it’s time I did it. I envision a future for the cancer patients in Mid-Coast Maine in which they all have the option of receiving acupuncture in conjunction with chemotherapy. And why not? If it’s good enough for the big cities, why not here, where the state motto is “the way life should be?”

Welcome to the Carnival of Healing, a weekly round-up of blog entries about spiritual, emotional and physical healing. I first ran into this blog carnival when I was checking out the archives of Deepest Health,where a student of Classical Chinese Medicine blogs about his scholarly pursuits and the medicine he studies. And let me tell you– this medicine rocks! I’ve chosen Chinese Medicine as my primary health care for over a decade and have never felt better. I’m happy to be hosting this week’s carnival of healing. Last week’s carnival (Carnival of Healing #129: Spring Renewal) can be found at Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul. Next week’s carnival will be posted by Jenn Givler at Create A Thriving Business.

Joshua Seth at Joshua Seth’s Tip of the Week Blog offers wise advice in Aspartame Dangers. He reminds us that that the FDA’s approval of Aspartame as a sugar substitute in no way means it’s safe or healthy. It’s not! Aspartame is a known neurotoxin. Joshua points out that it doesn’t even do what folks want it to do–help them lose weight!–and in fact it can lead to the opposite effect. Read his informative post to find out why, and for his suggestion to help eliminate cravings for unhealthy foods.

I agree with Joshua that (occasional) sugar is preferable to Aspartame. I would add that agave, a natural extract from the same plant that gives us Tequila, is even better. Not only is agave a natural sweetener it’s lower on the glycemic index than sugar, honey, or maple syrup, making it a better choice for people concerned about blood sugar.

Flash Gordon (I’m old enough to guess this is not his real name!) wrote a great post called How to Have a Rich, Healthy Life – Without the Sacrifice, in which he reviews the food-related book called Die Healthy, Pursuing the Dream of Wellness and Longevity, and incidentally greatly piqued my interest in his blog, Great New Books That Are a Must Read. I’m glad to have been introduced. His writing is clear, informative and personal.

James from Food Matters gives us an introduction to a new documentary film (called Food Matters) in his post Food Matters But Does it Cure Cancer? While James doesn’t talk about the question in that provocative title, his post draws attention to what looks like a great film. It’s about how the typical American diet is poisoning Americans, and how easy and inexpensive it would be to just eat right! Check out the film’s trailer and sign up to be notified when the film is released.

Tiffany Washko at Natural Family Living Blog wrote about dietary changes and natural supplements for kids, in Natural Remedies for ADD and ADHD.

Dave from Welcome Back Rosenthal offers Three Natural Remedies When You’re Sad or Depressed. Dave’s personal experience after a difficult break-up shows how supplements can help get you back to emotional health.

Angelawd presents I’ll be Damned, Here Comes Your Ghost Again.. In this article she recounts the story of a difficult relationship in her past, and then ceremoniously (You Go Girl!) releases all the negative voices from people in her past, which serve no purpose but to hold her back from her own extraordinary (aren’t we all?) human potential. I have done similar rituals of release. Repeat if necessary! Good work, Angelawd!

Neelakantha presents 101 Little Known Scholarships for Nurses | NOEDb posted at NOEDb: Nursing Online Education Database.

In this post, How To Be Happy, Astrid Lee of World Healing, gives more press to an original article by neuroscientist and writer, Gabrielle LeBlanc, whose article Five Things Happy People Do appeared in Oprah magazine.

Aparna presents, Home Remedies for Nose Bleed, posted at Beauty and Personal Grooming.

Susan Jacobs presents Laser-Guided Robot Helps the Disabled, posted at Medgadget.

Jenn Givler presents Can you make money online in your holistic business?, posted at Create a Thriving Business.

Lovelyn presents Quitting Caffeine Can Positively Impact Your Health posted at The Art of Balanced Living.

isabella mori presents frozen pea friday: a survivor tells her story posted at change therapy. And it’s an inspiring one.

Lori Jewett presents Doctor as Detective? – Why Patients may Need to Get a Clue posted at Between Us Girls.

Rena presents Saints to Pray to When You’re Stressed posted at Where We Relax.

Eric Cech presents 2008 March posted at Synergy Essential Oils, Aromatherapy for Professionals and Enthusiasts. This article about custom-making your own essential oils includes a nice formula for mature skin.

Chris presents Tai Chi Ruler: The Cure For a Sore Lower Back posted at Martial Development.

Laughter is medicine! Madeleine Begun Kane presents Misspent Youth posted at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog.

Carol Bentley presents 3 time management tips and recommended reading posted at Carol Bentley.

Warren Wong writes that it’s possible to turn unsolvable problems into solvable ones if we’re willing to consider other perspectives. By using an analogy of a kid on the playground who loses a treasured toy to a bully, his article suggests that if we are willing to reassess our goals we may find a different kind of success than what we originally intended. He presents How To Solve Problems by Changing Your Frame or Perspective atPersonal Development.

James Chambers presents Natural Deodorants | Do They Stop Sweating? posted at Hyperhidrosis. The pearls for practice at the end of the article are two easy recipes to make your own 100% natural deodorant with ingredients you have on hand, or can easily obtain.

David B. Bohl presents 5 Situations Where It Pays to Act Instead of React posted at Slow Down Fast Today!

Semi-Charmed Wife presents Managing Anxiety by Self-Soothing posted at Semi-Charmed Wife. Just reading the list of things she suggests we try at home or at work made me feel soothed.

Tina Su at Think Simple Now, suggests that a diet of forgiveness will boost happiness, and that the most important person to forgive is often ourselves. She offers six practical exercises to invite self-forgiveness into body, mind and heart in the post, A Guide to Happiness via Self Forgiveness.

Weight Loss Dude presents his personal experience with supplements in the post, Calcium + Niacin For Weight Loss?

The Carnival of Healing is orchestrated byPhylameana lila Desy. The Carnival Home page can be found here, where you can volunteer to host, or check out the archives. Until next time…

The Iraqi Vet referred by the Veterans Administration for acupuncture for severe headaches, which his doctors believe are caused by high cerebrospinal fluid pressure, has been back in my office a few times. After initially referring him for only 3 treatments, the VA authorized 8 more treatments, and my contact has shown a willingness to work with me to get more treatments authorized after that, if need be. The first time we met again after a hiatus full of negotiating phone calls and mailings to the VA, my client was at a point of extreme pain in which he’d been in bed for three days. He walked with a slow, somewhat wide-based gait, and wore dark sunglasses that wrapped all the way around his face, covering every millimeter of his peripheral vision, even though it was a gray, late winter day.

His voice was guttural. He did not smile. The connective tissue on the outer (yang) sides of his body were extremely tense while the inner (yin) sides were soft. His tongue was pale and scalloped and it quivered. His pulse was rapid and wiry. He preferred the room to be cool.

I treated the palpable imbalance in his connective tissue. My theory was that the increased energy in the yang meridians was forcing too much Qi and heat to his head. The concomitant deficiency in the yin meridians meant his energy lacked the means to flow downwards through the connective tissue matrix, and become grounded. This treatment strategy seems to have been effective. He had mild pressure on his right cheek after the treatment, which he did not think was related to lying face-down in the face cradle, which lasted about a day, but aside from that the treatment triggered a steady, gradual improvement in symptoms over the following 24 hours. When I saw him again about 4 days later, he exhibited some more personality, being somewhat chatty and bordering on (but not quite) cheerful. He had hope. That’s a beautiful thing.

We worked again on the same premise. The imbalance was still present only not as severe, and this time he actually smiled once as he was leaving. My strategy, based on the teachings of Mr. Koei Kuwahara, a master practitioner of Japanese acupuncture and my teacher while I was a student at the New England School of Acupuncture., basically involves returning to palpation frequently, sometimes after every needle is inserted to follow the progress in relieving tension in the yang meridians, and redirecting that energy to the yin meridians. This type of treatment can not be done quickly.

I’ll keep you posted about how this works in the long run.