Epiphany on Classical Acupuncture & Chronic Fatigue

“All this time I thought I had Chronic Fatigue,” Jackie said as a light bulb seemed to appear over her head.

I was at a new dentist this week after accepting that I wasn’t going to make it to Palo Alto, where my dentist of over ten years is located. Jackie was taking X-rays of my mouth while she asked me questions about the condition that was causing me to snack intermittently. At one point, I said something about how the fatigue wasn’t the worst part – although that’s bad enough. But it’s the difficulty recovering, including the inability to sleep though wiped out, that’s the toughest.

That was when Jackie had her moment. Like many people she struggles with her energy level but, unlike this Chronic Fatigue patient, she rests and returns to normal. 

I kept thinking about my conversation with Jackie while I spent the rest of the day on my sofa, trying to recover from the effort of going to an appointment. It had been really exciting because I hadn’t been in downtown San Francisco for years.

“That’s the building where I had my Evangelist Marketing book event! And that’s where I got the jacket I’m wearing,” I thought to myself as I walked from Sutter Stockton garage to Green Dentistry. I felt more than a little nostalgia at the funds that have since been diverted to medical care.

I was lying down at home afterwards, my ears screaming, my body increasingly in pain as the adrenalin subsided, when I had my own light bulb moment. The “chronic fatigue” that Jackie thought she had must be the same “chronic fatigue” that my new acupuncturist in 2007 had believed would be resolved in two or three months…

I first tried acupuncture the day before Thanksgiving in November 2006. As he put his fingers on my wrists, “Dr. Kendall” explained that two of the six pulses he was reading are connected to the kidneys (and adrenals). I think he said that when the body’s energy is out of whack, one of those pulses gets too low while the other one becomes too high. In my case, they were both really low. Dr. Kendall admitted later that this had scared him.

In my efforts to focus strength and money on the treatments that were producing the most results, I gave up acupuncture a few months later. But after I had to put a pause on plans for a second round of chelation therapy in the Fall of 2007, my friend Cecelia suggested Classical Acupuncture.

“Dr. Logan” explained that it should be less overwhelming than mainstream acupuncture. In Classical Acupuncture, twelve pulses are read and the goal is to trigger the body’s own healing rather than intervention. But Dr. Logan could barely detect any of those twelve pulses in me and expressed surprise that I had walked into her office.

The first few times I heard this kind of comment from a doctor, I went into shock. But this time I just said I’d heard that before so what do we do? The answer, unfortunately, was to essentially reboot my energy system. In my opinion, the words needle and perineum shouldn’t even be in the same sentence. Do you know where the perineum is? Wherever in the world you may be, if you heard a new classical acupuncture patient screaming in the Fall of 2007, it was me. I took it out on Cecelia later. “Sorry,” she said trying not to laugh. She’d been afraid of turning me off something that she believed would help me and anyway she’d given birth to two children. It just wasn’t that big a deal to her.

Soon we were past the time Dr. Logan had believed I would be cured. His retired mentor was brought in to evaluate me while I tried not to expose too much of myself to the acupuncture students who were observing. The new plan was to treat me every day. Basically they were chasing my chi upwards, using both needles and moxa, and trying not to give it a chance to collapse after treatment. I think we kept his up for a couple of months when – miracle of miracles – my qi levels started to hold!

In those days it took a lot less than a trip to the dentist to reduce me to a recovering blob on the sofa. And sleep was a lot harder to come by. I devised ways of taking naps in the middle of the day using recordings from Brain Sync and later, a brain wave iPhone application. Slowly, I began getting through the day without scary, disorienting dips in the middle. I was improving in myriad little ways.

Then the most startling thing happened. But I’ll tell you all about that, next week. Stay tuned…


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