Opportunity in Disguise

Welcome to April!  A new month and another opportunity to grow in health and wellness…..I’m often asked *why* I made the decision to study acupuncture and obtain my master’s degree after nearly 4 years of intensive study while working full-time as a certified diabetes nurse educator.  While I’ve shared my story individually many times, I thought I would share it here in this community so you can share in my passion and commitment for this truly amazing healing modality.

A “Minor” Procedure

In 2003, I had a biopsy for what was fortunately a non-malignant tumor.  Unfortunately, the procedure resulted in severe and unrelenting pain for days which led to weeks and then many months.  Additional surgical procedures resulted in infection, more pain, insomnia, decreased appetite, frustration and fear.  Non-narcotic medications prescribed for pain provided little relief and added unwanted side effects including dizziness and low blood pressure making any activity challenging.  Working was becoming challenging, as concentration was difficult, especially without adequate sleep.  There had to be another way.

The Healing Path

After seeking a second surgical opinion, it was suggested to me to “try acupuncture”.  Let me just preface this by saying that I will never forget this female surgeon for her recommendation.   Without it, I doubt that I would have discovered the healing power of acupuncture for myself and for others.  At the time, I was ignorant of what was possible with acupuncture and knew little about the diagnostic and treatment process utilized by a licensed acupuncturist.  I was desperate for relief at my first visit and remember asking rather impatiently, “do you think you can help me?”  I received an answer of a resounding “yes” and immediately felt calmer.  Everything about my usual lifestyle:  sleep, digestion, appetite, mood was disrupted by the pain I was experiencing.  I clearly remember sleeping more restfully after the initial acupuncture treatment.  With successive treatments which I had initially twice weekly, my appetite and digestion also improved.  Gradually, the pain was decreasing in intensity.  After several months, I was finally pain-free!  Though I was extremely grateful and relieved, I couldn’t believe it.  How did this acupuncture work?  How could this tiny little needles have such a profound effect on physiology?  Why isn’t this taught in nursing school?  As a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator, I wondered if acupuncture could help others living with chronic illnesses.  My curiosity was peaked, and I needed to know.

A Nurse-Acupuncturist

I applied, was accepted and pursued my Master’s of Acupuncture in Science degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City from 2005-2009.  I attended class and clinic every Friday through Sunday evening during that time while working full-time as an RN and certified diabetes educator in multiple capacities during the week.  My classroom and clinical experience quickly taught me the value of acupuncture in treating chronic  and challenging conditions such as anxiety, pain from multiple causes including cancer, migraines, neurological issues such as trigeminal neuralgia, Bell’s Palsy and post-stroke recovery, nicotine addiction, asthma, fibromyalgia and many others.  Many people seek acupuncture treatment due to pain, but every person’s pain is different.  So, too, must be the treatment protocol.  The holistic approach to assessing and treating individuals, though a unique process in acupuncture and Eastern medicine, is a familiar paradigm to a nurse.  It is this holistic and individualized approach that leads to a positive therapeutic effect in acupuncture.  After graduating with high honors in 2009, I opened my first part-time acupuncture practice in 2010 and began introducing those with chronic conditions to the healing power of acupuncture.  After several years in part-time practice, I provided acupuncture full-time to individuals within a health care organization for a short time before deciding to open my current full-time private practice in Moorestown.  There, utilizing biomedical knowledge, incorporating nutrition and other modalities such as cupping and gua sha, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with individuals with multiple challenging, chronic conditions, developing individualized acupuncture treatment plans designed to achieve positive therapeutic results.

None of this would have likely occurred if not for my own experience with chronic pain.  So remember, when you encounter an obstacle in life, view it instead as an opportunity.  For, you never know what a blessing it may evolve to be.

Wishing you health and peace,

Cathleen