East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture to Heal What Ails Us

East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture to Heal What Ails Us | OMventure.com

While we were preparing for a four-month trip…

I had a shoulder injury that turned into a particularly painful frozen shoulder. I couldn’t move my body freely without excruciating pain shooting deeply through my right shoulder, back, neck, and down my arm. That pain, when not shooting through me, would then sit inside me like a permanently installed torture chamber.

  • Western medicine doctors said there was nothing they could do for the pain, except to give one, and only one, pain relieving injection (which helped a little, but didn’t last long).

  • Western medicine doctors and physical therapists said the only remedy was intense physical therapy, even though that physical therapy exacerbated the injury, increased the pain, and caused nausea.

  • Western medicine doctors and physical therapists both sternly warned that it was imperative I do exactly as they said, plus brace for 1.5 to 3 years of pain.

There was no way I was going to be able to endure this pain for 1.5 to 3 years.

This pain was unbearable.

I also didn’t want to take heavy-duty pain medication.

But I couldn’t move without writhing in pain.

(And now I was feeling fear about what might happen if I didn’t listen to the Western medicine practitioners.)

There had to be a better way.

In the past, when all else has failed medically, I’ve headed to Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Because Bastyr’s student teaching clinic provides:

  • a team of Bastyr students and supervising medical doctors/licensed practitioners, who work together on a problem as the students practice their skills

  • the opportunity for me to use my health insurance, when my health insurance covers the appointment

  • a discounted rate when insurance does not cover appointments (for cash payments, can be based on income, with special rates for students, seniors, and those on medicaid or medicare)

However, truth be told, I was in too much pain to believe anyone could actually help me. I feared that the Western medicine doctors were correct and I was going to suffer for the next 1.5 to 3 years in extreme pain.

East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture to Heal What Ails Us | OMventure.com

Yet after some research—and because the thought of needles plunging into my pain actually sounded like it might bring relief—I made an appointment with Bastyr’s Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine team (a department at Bastyr that I’d never before utilized).

Miraculously, this department had a bag full of relieving medicine to apply to this situation:

  • fine, sterile needles inserted into the skin

  • cupping

  • moxibustion

  • heat therapy

  • manual massage

  • gua sha/spooning

  • electrical stimulation

  • topical herbal medicines

  • Chinese herbal tea

After the first appointment, there was such significant improvement—less pain and surprising improvement in range of motion—that I cried and told them I loved them.

So I asked if they might be able to throw the most intense treatments possible my way, at future appointments, because there was only a short amount of time to heal the shoulder before heading out on the road.

Their concern was whether I could handle intense treatments, but I assured them that I was already enduring much worse and they were my only relief from it.

(For those who believe only in Western medicine, you should know that I assumed it possible that any improvements could be due to the placebo effect, and if so, that was just fine. Because the placebo effect is legitimate healing. Let the brain believe and the body might just follow. It can’t hurt to try and see.)

For weeks, Bastyr gifted kindness with each treatment. Nothing was too intense (compared to the pain I was already feeling). And everything just kept getting, and feeling, better.

Even a deep manual treatment that felt as if they’d just inserted their hands directly into my scapula, and where bruising was part of the healing. The results were so helpful, I wanted more.

East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture to Heal What Ails Us | OMventure.com

After several months of treatment, it was time to hit the road.

At this point, nearly all of the pain was gone. To treat any residual pain, and to keep improving the range of motion, it was suggested that I bring the following on the road with me:

  • heat therapy (an electric shoulder heating pad was amazing throughout this injury)

  • Pain Terminator (applied when needed, especially before bed)

  • traditional Chinese herbal tea (prescribed/fulfilled at Bastyr)

  • the names of East Asian practitioners I could visit on the road, should the need arise

East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture to Heal What Ails Us | OMventure.com

I also brought along a pretty sleep mask.

East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture to Heal What Ails Us | OMventure.com

Then there was a surprise.

Soon after we arrived in our new location, the remaining pain disappeared fairly quickly and my range of motion improved to near normal (likely assisted by the very dry air).

It’s amazing how our climate can also potentially impact our healing.

(NOTE: Months later, when I returned to moist air, some pain returned, but it took just a few treatments and some tea to fix it.)

I was very lucky.

This injury occurred where I could access the incredible healthcare at Bastyr, which I trusted. This helped me feel safe in trying Bastyr’s Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine department for this injury. This also made me feel safe about obtaining acupuncture and East Asian medicine while on the road, should that be needed.

There are not enough words to adequately thank Bastyr for all they have done.

In addition to healing my frozen shoulder, I’ve since been fortunate to trek back to Bastyr to have their incredible team help heal the following challenges I’d lived with for quite some time (which Western medicine doctors had not been able to heal)…

  • Back pain (tailbone, sciatica, hip)

  • Insomnia (I now sleep through the night; what a quick fix!)

  • My body used to feel exhaustingly heavy, like a lead weight, all day long (it now feels light)

  • I had no energy (I now have it)

  • Trauma/PTSD (their prescribed herbal tea and acupuncture was so helpful)

  • Neuropathy (we’re now working on this; I’m so hopeful about the improvements)

I am so deeply grateful for—and now a complete believer in—the vital importance of East Asian medicine and acupuncture.

There are not enough words for me to express my gratitude for Bastyr’s Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine department, so I’ll try to succinctly summarize:

  • To receive medical care that balances the body is incredibly logical.

  • To receive medical care that does not require pharmaceutical medication is an incredible relief.

  • To receive medical care from those who are so kind and calm is healing in itself.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Bastyr. You. Are. Brilliant.


Bastyr might be tickled to know that my certain someone truly listened to Bastyr’s guidance, so he could personally help me during this healing process:

  • he gently held and comforted me

  • he gently listened to me and wiped my tears

  • he gently massaged my injury and applied pain medicine

  • he gently dressed me and fixed my hair

  • he gently fed me and made sure I drank my tea

  • he lovingly made sure I was warm and that I applied heat to my shoulder

  • he lovingly protected my shoulder from others bumping into it

  • he lovingly helped me do my exercises like the East Asian medicine practitioners instructed

  • he lovingly reminded me to not do exercises like the Western medicine practitioners instructed

  • he continually asked me what he could do to make me feel better

  • he carefully drove me to and from appointments

  • he lovingly helped me in appointments (getting me dressed and undressed)

  • he carefully propped me up so we could try to snuggle at the end of each day

  • he gently held and massaged me through the night

I feel so blessed to know a human being who actually wants to lovingly care for their partner in their time of need.

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