Tag Archives: acupuncture

Experiencing Japanese Style Acupuncture

Part and parcel of becoming a good practitioner of acupuncture is to be treated by other acupuncturists.  A few months ago, as I had a needle inserted into bladder 1 (a point that lies in the corner of the orbital socket), my intern remarked that when the time came to practice needling this point on a classmate, I would have an advantage because I had had the point needled on myself.   There is a certain logic to this, because while I have never stuck a needle into someone’s eye socket, feeling how the needle is supposed to go in and what the sensations are like is helpful to making the experience a little less (hopefully) traumatic.

Being treated with acupuncture also played a fundamental role in bringing myself and many of my classmates to this field of study, and influences our belief in this field of healthcare as an effective treatment modality.  So, having done Chinese acupuncture with a number of different practitioners and having taken herbs, I decided, on the recommendation of my roommate, to explore Japanese style acupuncture this semester.

Many of you may be surprised to learn that there is such a thing as Japanese style acupuncture, but there is.  Acupuncture encompasses a wide variety of treatment styles, and Japanese differs from Chinese in the needling technique, the diagnostic process, the inclusion of palpitation of the abdominal area, and the number of needles used.

The differences became apparent at the beginning of the treatment, as I sat down to do my intake.  Instead of going through the categories (skin, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, digestive) straight off the bat the way the CAS (Chinese acupuncture) intake goes, we talked at length about my eczema before moving on to these other points.    I then lay down on the exam table, and she proceeded to take my pulse (again, slightly differently than CAS), and then raised my shirt to press my abdomen, searching for tender/sore spots.   Unlike CAS, there was no tongue examination.

After her supervisor came in to meet me, she then set about needling me – imagine my surprise when she told me I was getting a heavy-duty JAS treatment with a grand total of…12 needles! Whenever I’ve done CAS treatments, I’ve ranged from having between 15-40 needles inserted at any given time, so 12 was a big change in a way.  The needles were also gold, another difference, and she used an insertion tube (something we are initially taught not to do in this program, but that is central to JAS insertion technique).

All in all, the treatment was very relaxing and seems to have helped.  I’ve felt considerably better since going, and I’m looking forward to being treated in this style for the rest of the semester.   I think it’ll be a good modality for me at this stage of my healing process, and I’m feeling very optimistic.

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Purpose and Meaning

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a close friend about regrets in life. Specifically, how it was kind of hard at times to not feel envy when I see Facebook posts from friends off to London or Paris or NYC for grad school or work.

That easily could have been my life had I chosen to pursue a policy degree or an IR program.  I had my life plan mapped out (in vague term): grad school at a prestigious university, a career path that would involve international travel, work at the UN or a similar body, writing insightful policy and opinion papers.   But then I chose not to go down that road, because I came to the realization that for me, that kind of work would be intellectually stimulating but would not feel very purposeful.   Having worked in NGOs before, and grown up around academic/political circles, I realized that I get frustrated with the constant talk and the perceived lack of action.

More than that, though, after working in the corporate world, I realized that I craved more activity in my work life.  I desperately missed the connection I had with my students in Taiwan.  Even on one of my worst days, I didn’t mind getting up and going to school because something made me smile.  And so it was that I came to apply to library school.  It’s also why I decided to not pursue acupuncture as a full-time career, because it would mean not working with kids.

I then told my friend how my projects this semester had helped reassure me that I am on the right path.  It was such a tremendous rush of satisfaction knowing I’d created projects that the librarians needed and intended to use, and their gratitude more than made up for the hours of hard work and complaining I did while putting the projects together.   I put together projects that had usefulness, that will impact students in tangible ways,  something I struggled with as a speechwriter.  It was extremely hard,  wondering what, if any, greater purpose there was to what I was writing, if it really truly mattered beyond boosting the image of the company.

This path, the work I’m doing, it has meaning, and that means I made the right choice, and remembering that makes it easy to overcome those brief moments of envy.

May the Madness Begin

Like many librarians, I harbor a secret yen to be a published author.  And so, in an attempt to be vaguely proactive about attaining this goal, for the last two years, I have participated in NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month.   I have won both years, which means that I have two terrible, incomplete manuscripts of about 53,000 words apiece sitting cozily on my desktop, and I’m determined to give it another shot this year.  But this time, I’m scared.

You see, it was a lot easier to meet my word count totals when I was teaching or working last year, because I had a great deal of free time.  Now, I still have free time, but I also have major projects due throughout November and early December, when the semester ends.   To give you an idea:

– Reference Visit to be done and written up

– 3 part lesson on American history to be written for curriculum

– Collection Development project for Kid’s Lit

– Annotated Bibliography project for Reference

– Literature Review for Kid’s Lit

– Anatomy class – tests and final, with two papers thrown in

In short, I may well go insane.  Or not sleep.  But therein lies the beauty of NaNo; teaching you that writing is always possible, and if you wait, you’re never going to write your novel.  Technically, I’m cheating by recycling a few plot elements and a character from last year’s endeavor, but she won’t leave me alone, and I want to try and write her story, so let’s see how this goes.

Wish me luck.  I’ll see you December 1st, sanity possibly not intact.

Three Weeks In

Time is flying by – the beginning of September seems more like a distant memory now as we approach the middle-end part of the month.  Fall is just around the corner – the weather changed seemingly overnight here.  My first week here was characterized by sweltering temperatures, minimal clothing, and desperate hopes of catching even the slightest breeze.  And then I moved into our apartment and it got really cold, really fast.  Since then, it’s been warm during the days but almost consistently cold at night, necessitating the purchase of a fall jacket, socks, and close-toed shoes.   I dread to think of what the actual fall and winter period is going to be like.

Classes are going well – there’s a sizable amount of reading to be done, but not too much work.  No long papers for the most part, but lots of small assignments and projects.  I plan on starting my field work soon for both reference and kid’s lit, and I’m looking forward to them, actually.   I’ve also signed up to volunteer in the teen room of a local library once a week on Wednesday evenings, so we’ll see how that unfolds.

It’s so funny, taking these four very different classes.  Curriculum frameworks is a very education-esque class, where we spend lots of time talking about lesson plans, activities, and are going through the state curriculum standards one subject area at a time.   Kid’s lit is my most fun class, though I’m still worried about analyzing my beloved childhood favorites from the more cynical lens of adulthood, because it can sometimes be a very upsetting process.  Reference is kind of boring subject wise, but we did have an interesting talk this week in class about drawing the line in terms of censorship and grey areas like providing pornography to young people who ask for it in the public library, and what to do if someone is surfing porn on a public computer (the answer: by the ALA’s standards, nothing, but your individual library’s policies may vary).

And then there’s Anatomy and Physiology, which is like a completely different ballgame.  Different knowledge, different skills, but comfortingly familiar.  I haven’t taken science since graduating from high school, but I’ve always enjoyed it.  Taking this class is like a nice trip down memory lane as terms and concepts come flooding back, and although I have a functional and decent self-taught grounding in the basics of anatomy thanks to my interest in massage, I’m excited to solidify that knowledge as the semester progresses.

All in all, classes are looking pretty good.  Here’s hoping the rest of the semester goes as smoothly and well.

One Week In

It has now been a week since classes started.   This semester is going to be a lot of work in some ways, but I’m very excited.  It’s always nice to get confirmation that you’ve chosen the right path in life.

I suppose the first thing I should do is explain why I’m willingly putting myself through four-five years of grad school and two separate degree programs that really have nothing to do with each other.  Everyone is understandably curious, and it’s a valid question.

The simple answer is that I’m selfish and didn’t want to have to choose between the two.  School librarianship is hugely important to me because it means working with children.  Teaching them, interacting with them, helping them to become (for lack of a better phrase), life-long learners.  I was lucky to grow up surrounded by books, with parents who read and read to me, and access to great public and school libraries.  Not all children have all of those benefits, which makes school librarianship that much more important, because it’s where kids spend the majority of their day for most of the year.   More than that, however, it’s the chance to really make a difference in a kid’s life that speaks to me. As someone pointed out in my curriculum class last week, a teacher has a limited time frame to work with students.  Seven or eight months to achieve their objectives for the year and hopefully inspire a little bit something more in a kid’s life, and then they’re gone, handed off to the next set of teachers.  A librarian, however, has several years to work with students.  If you begin working with them at the age of 5, when they’re fresh new students and continue seeing them until they’re 8 or 9 and ready to go to middle school, that’s a huge chunk of time to develop relationships and cultivate learning.   Is it always easy? Of course not, nothing in education is.  But, if there’s one thing my time in Taiwan taught me, it’s that slogging through the nitty gritty to get that moment of insight, that lightbulb going off, or triggering a kid’s innate curiosity to learn more is completely worthwhile.

And then there’s acupuncture.  I know there are people out there who dismiss it as fluff science, voodoo, or quackery, but all I can speak to is the difference it has made in my own life and in the lives of people I know.  I suffer from eczema that, at its worse, completely rules my life and makes it rather unpleasant.  My sleep is disrupted, normal movement is impacted, my mental health takes a beating, and more.  I also have other health issues that are less serious, but bothersome nonetheless.    Acupuncture has made an enormous difference to my quality of life, and as I’ve undergone treatment, I’ve learned to be much more aware of my health and well-being, which is empowering.   I’ll admit that part of my desire to study acupuncture is to gain greater insight into my own health, but the knowledge that I could also help people live better lives, to be healthier, and to be free of pain, is immensely satisfying.

It’s going to be a hell of a ride, but it promises to be an interesting one.