Coming from a conventional medical background working as a nurse generally in the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Room, the switch to Acupuncture school was quite the culture shock! I went to Acupuncture school never having had traditional acupuncture before. My decisions to re-direct my career are numerous, but not in the context of this article. After having met my educational requirements, I was able to start my internship. This is where my story really begins.
I had just stepped into the clinic on my first day of my internship, when I heard a rushing noise behind me. I whirled around, to find 3 men, practically carrying a mostly limp man between them. The man in the center was having a severe asthma attack, and was cyanotic. He was in bad shape. I would expect most people to take someone like this to a conventional emergency room or call 911. But they hadn’t. He wanted acupuncture.
My first thought as I observed what was before me, was “where’s the epinephrine or oxygen or nebulizer?” I was clearly out of my element, so I briskly sat the man down in the waiting room sofa and ran off to get the head physician/Clinic Director. He responded amazingly quickly, prepared with 4 needles in hand. In a flash, he expertly inserted the first two needles. The asthmatic man instantly calmed, drew in a good breath, and pinked up. We’re talking 30 seconds. I was stunned. Never had I seen any treatment in the emergency room work that fast! He inserted the other 2 needles and the man relaxed into a deep sleep. I looked at the Doctor with an obvious shock to my countenance, and said “Wow! This stuff really works!” He laughed and walked back to his other patient.
I hate to admit it, but the culture of acupuncturists tends to be a bit odd. I think to be an acupuncturist, you have to think differently. When I first started acupuncture school, I kept trying to pigeon-hole what I was learning within the context of conventional medicine, because that’s what I knew. Nursing, conventional medicine, was my background. I came from a family of nurses and started in medicine at an early age. Now, in acupuncture school, I was really struggling and not doing well the first few weeks. It wasn’t until a teacher in acupuncture school told me to forget everything I know about conventional medicine and learn with a clean slate, that I finally got it. Now as a seasoned practitioner, I can explain it in conventional medicine terms.
The most important thing that I took from school, and from that first day, and first real experience in clinic, is that Acupuncture works. After a number of acupuncture treatments, that first man was eventually cured of his asthma. Since then, I have seen some pretty remarkable ailments resolved with acupuncture. While I still believe the first place to go to while in an acute asthma attack is the Emergency Room, I sure enjoy helping people resolve or lessen their asthma condition.
©2013 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.