or the Power of Acupuncture.

Those who have been following me for a while will know that I am not a spiritual person. I am firm atheist (sorry if that offends you) and have strong beliefs in science and technology. The idea of yoga and meditation sends my anxiety levels up instead of down, which you will agree defeats the point. I am not trying to say it’s no good, just that it’s no good for me.

However, there are some medicine, labelled “alternative” which I am willing to experiment with: osteopathy is one, which I used before and acupuncture another.

I read on the breast cancer care blog that acupuncture could be useful to relieve pain for those like me who suffered the inconvenient side effect of Letrozole (Femara) which caused arthralgia (stiff and painful joints). Now, from what I read, some women have it bad…strong painkiller bad. For me, it’s a mild annoyance. I look like a 90 year old lady every time I start up after sitting for a while but the discomfort goes away after a few paces. The pain remains but it’s dull and manageable. I feel that it is not bad enough for me to get on painkillers and to be honest, with all the medication and drugs I have had to take over the past 2 years, I am reluctant to pop more pills (I was always one to try to avoid taking medication if I could). So, I google searched acupuncturists in my area – I didn’t want to have to travel far –  and found a lady who operates down the road from me and who had very good review on the local forum. On the Breast Care Blog, they recommended to make sure that the acupuncturist was familiar and comfortable with treating someone who had had cancer.

acupuncture-points-chartSo I contacted Acupunthil and was quite candid about my situation. I know that people may be uncomfortable sharing this much information with a stranger but I am not. Unfortunately for her (and fortunate for me in some sad way), she had first hand knowledge of breast cancer having gone through it herself. It reassured me. I was still nervous a bit about it when I went for my session on Saturday. After all, here I was about to go, voluntarily, to get needles stuck all over me. Was it going to hurt? Was it going to work?

I explained why I was giving it a go and H was very open and calming. I didn’t feel that we were shifting into ‘ohming’ territory – I would have been out of there like a flash – and she made some valid points. After a 30 mins discussion about my health history (and that of my near family) and confirming what I was trying to achieve, she had developed a plan for me and I was lying on the table, pants off so she could stick needles in my legs and feet.

Because of the axillary nodes removal on my right side, I wasn’t comfortable getting needles there…although she explained to me that she had hers completely removed and stuck needles in her own arm, she understood my reluctance with it and recommended that I spoke with my oncologist first chance.

It took about an hour for her to stick small needles in my left hand, both my legs and feet. As it was my first session, she stayed away from my face (I had the beginning of a head cold and she could have helped she said) because she didn’t know how my skin would react, especially considering the blood thinner I am on.

acupuncture_5The first needle was a little painful, right in the crook between my thumb and index finger and she apologised for not warning me on that one – apparently it’s one of the most painful spots – doh! The rest of them (maybe 20) I didn’t feel going in at all… Once the needles were in, she left me and lay there for 10 mins. I regretted I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture of what it looked like, but it was something like that.

When she came back, she took them out relatively quickly checking if it bled or not (it didn’t).

She recommended 6 sessions for a long term effect as effect is cumulative, but told me to see how I felt before I booked the next one. I liked her. She didn’t try to push for me to get more sessions. If there is one thing I do really hate is hard sales. She told me I was going to feel tired after so to take it easy and to assess if I felt different the following morning – when my joints are the most painful.

So what is the verdict? Well, I don’t know if it is psychosomatic or really it works but since then I can certainly feel a difference between my left and right hand. The left feels looser and my feet don’t hurt as much every time I get up. Yay. Suffice to say that I have booked session number 2 already in 10 days time.

So it’s a thumbs up for acupuncture for me. I let you know if it works long term.