Monday, January 31, 2011

Adventures in Acupuncture

Sometime early last spring my NP suggested acupuncture as a possible way to work with my infertility. I thought about it for, oh, about 3 seconds and decided it wasn't the route for me. I'm not afraid of needles or anything; in fact I was the masochistic kid in high school who liked to go to the blood drive and watch them stick me and see my lifeblood drain out. No, it was more a distinct uneasiness that, I'm sure, was born totally from ignorance. I had no idea what it really was nor was I sure I was comfortable with whatever spiritual underpinnings might be connected.

Fast forward to November of this year.  After an enthusiastic foray into the booming business world of infertility medicine and an equally spectacular and decisive failure,  I found myself at one of the lowest points I've been on this journey.  Ironically, it seems that the drugs we tried didn't work because my body responded TOO well to them. Thanks, body. Thanks.  So, I began to sort through the options: stop trying altogether, begin again the route to adoption (which I still had no real leading on nor confidence that this time around an agency would deem us financially viable), stop thinking about the whole thing altogether and just see what happens or check out this whole acupuncture route.  I didn't feel ready for the first, the second still made me uneasy and the third is just absolutely not conducive to my personality.  So.

As I think back, I was looking for some kind of confirmation, some way of knowing that this route (Eastern medicine) was no less confusing to my faith than any other.   And as I was still abysmally ignorant about the whole process I hadn't made a decision by the time I made it to a staff event. One of the first conversations I had there was with a friend who approached me and said, "Hey, I've been praying and thinking about you a lot. Have you thought at all about acupuncture? A friend of mine just tried it and it worked!"  Well.

The afternoon I arrived home I made the call and scheduled my first appointment for just a few days before Christmas. Because school was out, I had to bring my child with me. I figured that would be the least helpful thing in the world, envisioning all sorts of chaos involving him panicking because I had 50 needles sticking out of various parts of my body. However, these people are no amateurs. Within 3 minutes of walking in, he was happily surrounded by roughly 1000 lego pieces, creating away, perfectly oblivious to any adult conversations happening around him. One hour later, I walked out with a new dietary plan and a deliciously relaxed body.

I've been back twice now and each time I have fallen asleep during the procedure. It's true what I heard - the needles don't really hurt and the whole thing just puts your body into this totally warm and peaceful state, sort of like the way you feel after a bath but without all the rigamarole of drying your hair and cleaning the bathroom. I haven't had any awkward conversations that have left my faith reeling or even felt the least bit uncomfortable. The interesting thing is that this way of doing medicine actually makes a lot of sense in view of a faith that thinks the mind, body and soul are all deeply connected. It's not just treating a symptom or even one body part, but it takes a holistic look at how your body is functioning overall. So, while my forays into fertility medicine kept our focus just on one area of my physical body, this has been looking at my blood pressure, anemia, diet, exercise, stress, home life, etc.  The changes I've made to my diet are good for my whole body, not just tricks to make it more conducive to a pregnancy.  A friend of mine had recently prayed that I wouldn't be angry with my body and the way I think it's let me down over the past two years- interestingly enough, this process of really looking at the whole picture and prayerfully submitting the process to God has given me a new appreciation for my body and the ability for the first time in two years to be truly thankful for this body I've been given.

Ok, I'll admit there are still times that I'm skeptical, not the least of which are when I find myself twice a day imbibing the worst tasting concoction of herbs ever conceived, closely followed by a slimy dose of fish oil. "Really?," I think. "Is this actually necessary?"  In those moments, which are often softened by the giggles issued from my four year old who enjoys watching the contorted grimaces my face makes when swallowing, I just have to trust that this is yet another step on this confusing journey, one that may or may not end up with the outcome I'm hoping for, but one that God is ultimately using to continue to draw me closer to him. 


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