Thursday, October 26, 2017

Heart-based Healing/Marine Style

I have my brother John Howard of Battlefield Acupuncture fame to thank for the gift of my  Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marine Amputee Grand Rounds experience. From which I have never recovered.  Walking up and down a long corridor housing 17 Marines, hanging on, wracked by phantom pain, and trollied down to ICU regularly for debraiding, and recovery from the lala-land of morphine. We entered each room geared up in gel, gloves, and disposabal gown over our scrubs. Infection was the new enemy.

One Marine we looked in on was fading fast. Both legs and an arm blown-off. Tubes everywhere. Hyper-ventilating. Waxen, ashen face, covered with a light sheen of sweat. What to do? Anything? I looked down at his stumps. A voice said no Kidney channel, Kidneys pull down Lung Qi. Ear is the Entrance to the Kidney. Some force took an ASP dart clutched in my hand and pushed it in the Kidney point on his ear. He grinned weakly, started breathing more evenly, and whispered "Oooorah".

John and I finished up our rounding, and on the way off the ward passed by a door with a big red placard taped on it, with the following Marine message:

                                   ATTENTION TO ALL WHO ENTER HERE!
If you are coming into this room with sorrow or because you feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received  I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the Freedom of a Countyr I deeply love.

I am incredibly tough, and will make a full recovery. What is full?  That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 25% further through sheer mental tenacity.

This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense, rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that GO ELSEWHERE.

THE MANAGEMENT

I can say nothing more. Only committed, full-out action is the appropriate response.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This Little Piggy went to market...

Actually it was her thumb. Her right thumb to be exact (and she is right handed to boot).  It hurt worse then her back. Which I usually treat for her. But thing about it is that the thumb is what separats us primates from the rest of the animal kingdom. And makes our brain bigger. More cpu's necessary to operate its multiple vectors. So there she was, pained and frustrated. With a simple band-aid wrapped around its tdj.
Because that skinny splint was enough to immobilize. And lock in the pain. Thumper (remember the rabbit in Bambi?) was sceptical when I explained one needle in Gall Bladder 34 on the opposite leg would begin to address the issue...("they laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I began to play...the old headline reads).

Needle in I asked her to move her thumb. "Touch it to the base of your little finger," I gently prodded. She did. Grimaced. Said it hurt. "More movement..., " I said.

"But it hurt."
"It did. It will. Less and less," I replied. Slowly (hypnotically?) To add emphasis.

I left the room to go next door to check with a newby that our Charge Nurse said had some questions. She was disappointed (it showed on her face) that I wasn't Chinese.
I get that with some frequency. My usual reply is "Not in this life."  I asked her to follow me. Grabbing the new Pain Fellow (he's Romanian, thus slightly more open to what looks like magic, not getting a rapid scientific explanation rattled off regarding what just happened, other than "you hit that first valve down, the music goes round and round, oh oh oh oh, and it comes out here". There we were. The 4 of us, waiting for the teaching. From the patient. (God I love this work! You actually get paid to practice). I twirled the needle a bit. And asked her to touch "thumper" to pinky, and beyond. She did. Anticipating pain. Of which there was very little. But significantly more movement. Then I walked over to the right ear and pointed to the ear chart I had brought into the room early. We found the thumb point I palpated, and, showing her the ASP dart (she had had seeds before and I told her this was a step up, and would, in so many words, and velocity to the new ascending vector of relief/function we had established today--we're still talking about the dart) said dart into the auricular thumb point. I explained the care and feeding of said dart, which would pop out of her ear like a stainless steel splinter in a few days. She was happy. The newbie was happy (but I warned not guarantees, to which she asked how long will it last?) What a great, and frequent question. To which I smugly answered,  "Your body will be the first to let us both know." I went on to add my usual spiel that we are all different. And that I could speculate. As most do. But I would rather we both listened to the wisdom of the body. Whether it whispers, or yells. Listen. And honor the communication. We all temporarily got it. And went on our separate ways.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

And then he kissed her hand!

He was a first-timer. Never had acupuncture before. All 325 pounds of him. And he had a heap of hurt. And I had a newbie acupuncturist. Very tentative. Particularly when it came to Sacred Turtle Abdominal Acupuncture. Shipsley wrote a book recently about it's use in his clinics in London and Dublin. Published by Singing Dragon. It works. A lot.
So I had her watch our Neuralogist/Acupuncturist intern from Mongolia. She's good at Sacred Turtle. And we had used  it last week for 8 out 20 patients. For back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and the teethgrinding immobility that goes with them.

The Newbie and I conferred about the big guy's intense hand and foot pain. And what  5 points she should needle on his Hara (Japanese for  belly).  So I decided to run the table (5 ball in middle pocket). I directed the new intern  back into the treatment room, fortified with 2 viewings of the Mongolian's handiwork.
After her maiden-flight Sacred Turtle Treatment she burst breathlessly back into my office. "He had no pain for the first time in 5 month," she exclaimed. "And he kissed my hand!"  "Trained monkeys can do it," I replied. Quoting an admonition used by Dr. Michael Smith during my NADA training 30 years ago.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Heart of the Matter

In Chinese Medicine, the relationship between the Organs and the Sense Organs has always been a mystery to me, and an inspiration. I have learned that developmental disorders exhibited in kids, is a function of Kidney Energy. And have found that treating youngsters with autism, ADHD, and other developmental issues is best addressed from the external opening of the Kidney Meridian, the ear, and Auricular Therapy.

The same goes for the eyes, the external opening to the Liver Meridian. Years back I had a  printer from Russia who was not able to pass his eye exam for his driver's license. It turns out he had been exposed to the nuclear fallout from the nearby Chernobyl reactor when it melted down. After his Liver Meridian was treated, through the controlling influence of the Lung Meridian, he easily passed the eye exam and got his driver's license.

Fast forward to this past week, and a Pain Clinic patient not responding to acupuncture for severe, deep pain at the base of her tongue. So bad that she could barely eat or talk. Yesterday she told me that her doctor had just found out she had "a hole in her heart". Hearing that, I remembered that the tongue is the opening to Heart Energy. And once more my therapeutic approach was tweaked in a way that could never be realized through the diagnostic filters of more conventional medicine. Now the challenge is to just find a way through, bringing together the many options opened up by that unique insight.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Sacred Turtle Swims Into a Cook County Hospital Pain Clinic

It was at the 200,000 member-strong World Federation of Acupuncture Societies Meeting in Houston 2 years ago Halloween that I first got a glimpse of the stunning power of Sacred Turtle Abdominal Acupuncture. They were one of 60 different presentations by Doctors from all over the world (next blog I'll talk about the Brazilian Doctor's research presentation on ear bleeding  to reduce rheumatoid pain, I promise!).

Italian men can be quite dashing. These Italian Docs, with their thick Tuscan accents, dapper haircuts and stylish couture we're no different. What was different was the stunning videos of their 2 patients, one with severe cervicalgia, the other sporting a nastty, angry incision from a recent knee replacement. In a matter of minutes these two Doctors tag teamed their way to an amazing demonstration of how one needle twirled in the turtle's neck area on the belly of the neck pattient, and the lower right flipper on the knee patient's belly, to the crowded rooms amazement and disbelief, got both patients mobilized in a matter of minutes.

Fast forward to Chicago, this past Tuesday. A 265 lb. white male in his 50's limps in to the acupuncture clinic with his mother. His speech is thick, his left hand knurled and twisted. The by-product of right-sided head trauma, and a brain bleed a few years back. Sprawled back on the recliner in my office, he could barely raise his left leg, dorso-flex his left foot, raise his left arm, or open his tightly clenched left hand. To the amazement of  the for of us, mom, son, my intern and I, foot, leg, arm and hand were working, with varying degrees of ability, rapidly following the placement and twirling of 2 needles  each, placed in the upper and lower flippers of the turtle envisioned on his belly.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Answer me this....

Recently I asked 100 patients 4 questions. In Spanish. And in English.
The questions involved their acupuncture experience in terms of Courtesy; Communication; Pain Reduction; and Continuity of care.

They could choose from 3 answers: a) Above Average; b) Average; c) Below Average. There was also a space below for additional comments regarding any areas of dissatisfaction. It was the first time in my 4 years at the hospital that I stepped out of the box of 100 patient visits a week to actually get a birds-eye view of patient satisfaction. And a valuable tool that I had left inside the door when I exited a 25 year career in advertising and P.R..

Feedback is not something that should be relegated to bats. To keep them from crashing into objects in their path. Our questions asked of those we serve can add trajectory and velocity to our flight as well. And make our navigation more precise and unerring.

This experiment reminded me of a training I did in Constructive Living Therapy with it's  founder David Reynolds about the same time I began my Acupuncture Study. He requested that we ask 3 questions regarding our key relationships:
What have I received from you?
What have I given you?
How have I harmed you?
I dare you.

Friday, February 5, 2016

And how does this work.....exactly.

It's the "exactly" that throws me. Every time. It happened again yesterday. From an attending. He had finished writing up a recent case of mine for presentation at an upcoming Anesthesia Conference. This was a 22 year old Hispanic girl with a small calibre through-and-through gsw entering at the left scapula and coming out through the left upper chest wall, barely missing her heart, but severely affecting her brachial plexis. She had come in for a nerve block, but had no driver to take her home. The attending asked if I could do anything for her, and I gave my standard answer. Sure.

I was introduced to her by the attending. She was crying. Her PCP had told her she had a 2% chance of regaining any use of her arm. 5 minutes later, with needles in Gall Bladder 34 and Stomach 38 on the opposite leg, hooked up to e-stim, she was raising, lowering, and rotating her arm. And opening and closing her fingers. I recorded a video of it on my cell phone, with her permission. I didn't want either of us to forget. Lift-off Houston.

Over the next 10 weeks I would see her once or twice a week, with less and less regularity. At that point she was working part-time as a hostess at a restaurant downtown. And able to drive with 2 hands on the steering wheel and flip the turn signal with her left hand to get there. She didn't really need me. She had "flown the coop". But there was the ever-lingering question. Curious minds want to know. How does it work?

My answer to the resident was standard. How does heating a point on the ouside corner of a mother's little toe (Bladder 67) cause her breach baby to flip head down? Not knowing doesn't seem to effect the outcome.  Trained monkeys could do it. Happy New Year!