Saturday, May 5, 2018

No Pain, to Cane

This was another of those patients I have been treating for awhile for his back pain and leg pain with routine care. It would work for a while. Then he would come limping back. No real breakthroughs. No significant, sustainable improvements. My silent question tickling the back of my throat is in those instances, "How good can you stand it? I speak for both of us.

As I stared at his smooth, cloesely shaved know by now what was running through my silver-coifed cerebellum.  Why haven't I asked him if he would like to try scalp acupuncture? So I gave him the usual advantages. I allows us, real-time, to see how it's working, since he can use the the affected part of the body because, rather than pocupine peppering the affected area, rookie style, we are going up to the CPU to do a software fix. Reprograming operating systems that drive the hardware. His muscular/skeletal hardware. Reminding him that software operates hardware. And we were needling over that part of the brain that operates the affected part of the body. With the bonus that we would get immediate feedback how the rewrite was working, Kind of like an instantaneous neuroplasticity patch. Installing modified drivers to help improve affected back and leg function, along with simultaneous pain reduction.

The the first round of needle insertion in the Zhu points, and mindful "bucket down the well" stim, allowed him to get up caneless, and do the stroll down the central corrider, while the Attendings, Fellows and Nurses clapped their ears muttering "La, La, La, La, La, too much information!" (just kidding, not that overt).  Rather "Oh no here comes Yurasek again, rubbing it in. "Has he no respect? Or humility?" Actually I have neither. Just a deep respect for my paired teachers. In this case Dr. Zhu. And my patient at the time. They teach me whether what I have learned works or not. "No tickee, no laundry." That simple. Following my the Barefoot Doctor operating principle. "See it. Do it. Teach it."

 Perfect practice makes perfect. And with each stim and stroll he got up easier and walked better. Pain-free. You can't tell me we didn't have some real-time Neuro-Plastics going on. Even though it catches everyone by surprise (get over yourself) it's really quite predictable. One just has to risk looking like a fool (both patient and pricker) and do what might mean more to the patient, than just hanging another scalp on your belt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Triple Header Friday

She was zoftig, with salt & pepper hair, hunched over her walker, every agonizing step a memory of how bad the next one would be. She had responded well to her first acupuncture treatmen, scrunched on the hard, high floroscopy table that doubles as an acupuncture bed. We went local on her back with e-stim on Bladder 23, 31, 57. A protocol I inherited from my second senior acupuncture mentor from Liaoning Provencial Hospital. We worked together for bubkas at the Westside Health Authority clinic in the hood in another life-time. Vanilla. Safe. The Plain Jane treatment had worked ok. No knee pain for 4 hours and no back pain for 4 days. Time to bring out the big guns. Zhou. Particularly after Monday's success. I peppered her head with a handful of Zhou's points and, to her surprise, asked her to stroll with me sans walker, down the corridor.  She took the leap of faith, and walked strong, first with the help of my hand clenching hers. And then free fall, re--learning what it is like to be self -powered again.

I told her the story of the grapholigist I called in Colorado decades ago. In my Mad Ad  days. To inquire about her classes in handwriting analysis. She didn't answer. I repeated the message she left for callers to hear. " When you get to the edge of the circle of light, and step off into the darkenss, one of two things will happen. Either your foot will hit solid ground, or you will fall, grow wings, and fly." My patient  flew that day. But it doesn'end there. While she was sitting in the room, getting well, I saw a second patient, the calligraphy of pain etching her face, and thought I would walk her back for some salt & pepper. With her consent. She sat their. Like the Queen of Cures. The angle of the chin. The sureness in her voice, Head tilted just so. Lips pursed to add emphassis to her pronouncements. I was mesmerized. I, and the patient beside me were charmed by what she saw and heard. How these slender needles blending into the black & white landscape, might also help her own condition. Lessen her pain. Take the hitch out of her get-along. We went back to the other treatment room. And it did. But not before we paid it forward. With a surley black sister who wasn't going to let anyone pull the wool over her eyes.

When I suggested the flavor of the day to her, Zhu Scalp Acu[ncture,   she said "What ever."  Rolling her eyes at this frosty-haired white guy who had no idea how many miles of bad roadshe had traveled in this lifetime. Time for the hand off. A Black sister with terrible back and leg pain having a Hispanic sister tell her how those needles in her scalp had instantly made a difference in her pain level. And added a fluidity and grace to her gait. Somehow I felt separated from it all. Like a spectator. Someone in the audience of a play called "This works.  Pass it on." Or part of some kind of conspiracy. That needed secret passwords. And twisted finger handshakes. To gain access to hidden, life-changing knowledge.  Passed down through the centuries. Carried by Otzi up through the Alps 5,000 years ago. Shouldering his back pain and abdominal pain from the whip worms in his belly with him. To be found bled out in the Otzil Alps Glacier. By a honey-mooning Austrian couple. Waving up at them. Whispering "share my secrets." They did. And so did the Lancet British Medical Journal. Which postulated that the strokes and hatchmarks tattoed on Otzi were short-hand for the acupuncture points he used for his arthritic back, and wormy belly. pain. And now a varient of this Wisdom Medicine, had been passed on by another Time Bender,  from Northern Italy where Otzi had lived, to a busy Chicago clinic nested in a much larger vortex dedicated to easing pain. Offering people of all shapes, ages and color hope. And healing.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Single on Monday and a Triple Header on Friday.

He was Polish (still is). Young. And saddled with RSD and MERSA. Waiting for knee surgery he doesn't want. Right-sided pain from his neck to his knee. To much area to cover with needles. Unless you go Micro. Like in Microsystems. Like in scalp. I was convinces the first time I saw Dr. Zhu in action. At a training in Chicago in the '90's.
Upstairs in a bank building in Boystown. The kid was a victim of a drive-by. Carrying 6 bullets around his spine. He had to white-knnuckle the  arms of his wheelchair just to keeep from swaying side to side. In 5 minutes Zhu had him standing up for the first time in a couple of years. With the help of several of us. And an 8 needle mosaic, in the shape of a face-up homunculus, from the his hair line to the apex of his head. Found by putting one's thumbs on the tip of the ear, and stretching the index fingers to touch each other on top. "Think of the needle as a bucket you are pulling up and lowering down a well," Zhu said, through his translator, "And never pull the needle, and the patient's sick qi into the palm of your hand." Pointers I still practice.  But back to this past Monday, and the young tattooed Pole.

I decided to treat him Zhu style. Since it was his first time, I used only 4 needles. One at the Middle Warmer area, to amp up his energy. And then one slid along his right arm point and another along his right leg point. Then I did my favorite manuerver, jockying him, caneless, by the busy Pain Residents lined up at their work station, facing the corridor we treaded. He muttering, " I can't beleieve this, This is great."  From there I boldly displayed him, with his joyful consent, to the 10 new Pain Fellow Candidates gathered in the conference room, where Dr. Linda was talking about the integrateive aspect of our clinic. And voila, there I show up with evidence. They were Mesmerized.

Because treatment space in short supply, I'll tag team him with Dr. Linda nextime.  A Psychologist I do "Simutaneous Therapy" with. I work above the brain with acupuncture. She works on the brain with Mindfullness. At the same time. We work togther for addiction and Xerostomia patients as well. Using the Auricular Microsystem. I work on the ears. She works between them.

(to be continued, with Friday's 3 Zhu Scalp Aucupuncture Patients treated the same time. They actually interacted with each other, needles deployed)

Monday, March 12, 2018

How do you spell relief, when they turned off the opiod faucet?

This 38 year old African American male had 3 surgerieslast year. Right shoulder in April. Back in June.  And Neck in December. Five days before Christmas. His pain meds got shut off January 29th. Happy New Year. He showed up around Chinese New Years for Acupuncture. Year of the Dog.
 I love Dogs. It spells God backwards. The Asian Astrological virtues are incredible. I've raised and showed Ridgebacks, brought up Afghans, Collies, Labs, Blue Healers, Standard Poodles, Staffordshires, and now a Dutch Collie puppy that's smarter then most people I know. Sometimes. Scary. And definately smareter than the folks that would drug this guy up 3 times for surgery, and between surgeries,  in the space of 10 months, and then  say......
  "Surprise! We're turning off the joy juice. Because we have to. Sorry.  But let's see if acupunctue can pull the rabbit our of the hat for you."

He;s been ridden hard and put away wet. But your turn, go ahead now, put some needles in him. We used to call that a hospital pass  in sand-lot football.  Shove it off  to the sap next to you just before you get hit.We don't know how or if it's going to work. But give it a shot.

I did. It did. Work. About 10,000 worth of out-patients a day. In China we would see him 3 to 5 times a week for a month or more.

Over here my interns and I are lucky to see him monthly.  There it's 5 bucks a treatment. They're still trying to figure it out over here. A penny a needle and 10 minutes of time.  Go figure. I used Zhu's scalp system to jump start this patient to less pain. . And added Chinese Carryout of ASP needles on the ear  Battlefield Acupuncture Points for carryover. With a lttle sprinkle of Sotai Corrective Exercises on the side. Go figure.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Bull Horns Showed Up Yesterday in Our Waiting Room

There's a saying that the way to avoid getting impaled on the bull horns of a dilemma is to grab one of them vigorously, and hang on. A patient sat in a chair near the door gasping for air last night. I had just gotten the skinny from the Resident working with her. She had been to E.R. at a sister hospital for her pain the night before. She received an injection which she claimed did not work. 

I walked over to her and told her that I was ready to see her. She struggled to get up out of her chair, holding her legs, and gasping how bad they, and her back hurt her. We walked slowly to my office. I took her intake, delivered in shallow bursts of fitful information. I walked out to her Resident and said he was right, I could not do much for her. I told him  I was going to do Battlefield points on her ear, to try to take the edge off her pain, which might be contributing to her difficulty breathing.

But in the end I grabbed the "shortness of breath" horn, and after little relief to show from peppering her ear with ASP darts,  like a clove covered baked ham, had her transported by wheel chair to the Emergency Department to address her worsening struggle to breathe.

 This morning the Resident told me that the ER's dx. was anxiety. And that resolved, he planned to work her into his rotation for a procedure for  her pain later in the day.

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.


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.