“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We have all heard that saying a myriad of times. What does it mean to you? I am a very visual person, as I am sure many of you are. I believe my patients do well when I give them a visual or depict imagery, rather than boring them with a lot of complicated medical terms. It is important to me that they understand what is going on within their body, and what our treatment is focusing on. There are a few metaphors that I utilize often, as they can properly convey the image I am trying to illustrate.
I often treat stress and anxiety in my practice. In many cases if left they escalate and can fester into a pain syndrome. Stress left unchecked after a prolonged period can cause stagnation in the body. Where there is stagnation, there is pain. Our acupuncture treatment would then focus on relieving the pain caused by the stagnation, and simultaneously getting to the root of the issue and relieving the stress. We are focused on true healing, so the pain does not recur, and the stress levels are kept at bay. Many people are familiar with the concept that stress leads to pain. They often read books and utilize self-help tools such as meditation, exercise etc., to partake in mind over body for pain relief. This is an amazing adjunct to acupuncture in helping yourself.
We are all familiar with the local traffic in the Five Towns area. I often describe the junction of Peninsula Boulevard and Rockaway Turnpike. I explain that an oil tanker is trying to make that turn. However, as the oil tanker sits blocking traffic, there is no movement on either Peninsula Boulevard or Rockaway Turnpike. Nothing is flowing, nothing is moving. Traffic has literally come to a standstill. This is like what happens within your body and within your blood vessels with stagnation. After a prolonged period of stress, the body stagnates. A person can literally get stuck both emotionally and physically. Qi, for our purposes here we can describe as energy and life force, as well as blood circulation, fails to flow and instead becomes stuck. In this case it is as if we pick up the oil tanker, allowing traffic to flow freely. By removing the stress and relieving the stagnation, there is complete pain relief. The image helps us understand both the root cause and symptom that we are experiencing. Acupuncture is amazing at resolving the root issue and relieving the symptoms for optimal health and wellness.
Another simple metaphorical image I like to use is when I have a patient who is under stress and anxiety. They may be feeling like they are not rooted or grounded. Picture the image of a 300-year-old oak tree whose roots are buried deep and strong within the earth. During a storm, the branches may sway back and forth, the tree may lose some leaves. However, the tree will not get uprooted. The foundation of the tree is so strong and solid that it can weather the storm. The same holds true for my patients. We build and support a solid foundation by utilizing acupuncture to strengthen the immune system overall. Consequently, even during times of extreme challenges, whether they are going through emotional or physical trauma, they will hold strong and remain upright. They too will be able to weather the storm.
Imagine if you will, you go into a party store to purchase helium balloons for a birthday. You leave and fiddle with your car keys and in the process, you let go and the helium balloons fly away. Still needing the balloons for the birthday, you go back into the store and re-purchase the helium balloons, but this time ask for weights to hold them down. The scenario repeats, but this time when fiddling with your car keys, while the helium balloons still have a propensity to be drawn upright, the weights keep them tethered, and thus they remain rooted. I often treat patients who have anger management issues. Their baseline for tolerance is unfortunately not at a great level. We all know people like this. The slightest things can set them off. They often show up with red eyes and are practically steaming from the head. Much like the old cartoon show Tom and Jerry! Tom repeatedly loses his temper. He shows up with red eyes and actual steam coming out of his ears. In this case the person is not properly tethered, they do not have the weights keeping them stable and rooted. Their temper and frustration are rising and always ready to go off at a moment’s notice. They are literally boiling over. By helping support the meridians that keep them tethered, we are treating the root, helping ensure they remain grounded, to stop the temper from flaring.
The benefit of accurately presenting my patients with clear metaphors has been evident to me throughout my practice. When you illustrate a complex scenario into a summated visual, and relatable concept, it enables people to understand what exactly is wrong with their body, and what is required to cure it. This is the cornerstone in establishing a foundation for improving your health.
If I were to perforate points on your ear like needlework to help with a seemingly unrelated issue elsewhere in your body, you would have no clue what is going on and think of me as a Voodoo doctor. (It wouldn’t be the first time I have been called that, and I don’t take offense!) You would be confounded as to how working on the ear can cure issues going on in another part of your body. However, if I were to explain the crossover meridians and how different parts of the body are connected, I would further express such a concept to you in a lucid and relatable manner. Then not only would you be content with the paradoxical process, but you would be excited and convinced that the methodology would work. You would understand that the ear is in fact the choicest place as it is a microcosm of the whole body and highly effective in treating pain. So, the next time I am treating your neck pain by needling a point on your wrist, simply ask me how that would have anything to do with your neck, and I’ll do my best to clarify.
Imagery can help us understand what the imbalances are within our bodies. Achieving homeostasis and balancing the meridians for proper qi and blood flow is vital. Preventing illness and keeping our daily stress and anxiety at bay, is what we must all strive for. Strengthening our immune system is essential. Utilizing acupuncture and holistic healing to achieve all this, well that is priceless! If that makes me your Voodoo doctor, then I wear that name proudly. n
Dr. Deborah Rothman is a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, as well as a Diplomate of Acupuncture. She is in private practice and runs a wellness center in Lawrence, offering a complete solution for all your health and wellness needs. Comments and questions are welcome. She can be reached at 516-203-4500 or Deborah@AcuZen.com. Please visit AcuZen.com and follow AcuZen Wellness Center on Facebook and Instagram.