Back in October, Ginger Shekell left a message on MUIH’s Facebook page raving about the acupuncture treatments she’d been receiving at MUIH’s Natural Care Center from her student practitioner, Angela Becker.
So we decided to reach out to Ginger and learn more about what she thought of her acupuncture treatments at MUIH. What she shares in her inspiring interview is nothing short of amazing.
What prompted you to start getting acupuncture at the Natural Care Center?
In January 2013, I developed Bell’s palsy. My oldest daughter’s coworker recommended acupuncture since his wife experienced excellent results after her Bell’s palsy was treated. I went for six weeks and noticed improvement, however, I felt like the practitioner treated me as if I was just a fee ($) walking through their door. I knew that the experience could be better if I found the right practitioner. I’d known Angela Becker since 2005 and recalled she’d posted on social media that she was a student at MUIH so I got in touch with her. I found the experience I was looking for: a clinician who was able to treat my whole being, not just the paralysis on the left side.
What was your first session like for you? What did you think of it after that first time?
My very first session at MUIH was scary because I didn’t know what to expect. I have tattoos and didn’t know if the treatment would hurt like when I had those done or if it would be more like getting an injection; it’s neither of those. It’s hard to describe however, but in my experience I can’t feel the acupuncture needle until it hits the desired point and then it feels like a vibrating hum radiating out from the spot. It’s very soft and if I concentrate on it, I get the sense of flowing, like a river. Initially I thought acupuncture was for “other” people until I started sleeping better, noticing my paralysis very quickly diminishing, and simply feeling better overall. I wanted that feeling to continue.
Even though my first session was a bit scary, it was also amazing. Everyone was so friendly, warm, and welcoming and I knew that I would be treated as a whole person. I looked forward to my bi-weekly sessions because it was the 90 minutes a day that I was truly focused on my physical, mental, and spiritual healing. The sessions with student partners often provided an opportunity to consider other ways of thinking about events in my life. For example during one session a student partner asked me, “What brings you joy?” Instead of feeling pressured to give a canned answer, I was in an environment that allowed me to focus on what joy really meant to me.
Are there any benefits that you’ve noticed since beginning treatments?
The benefits I’ve experienced are amazing.
I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affect Disorder in 2003. I’ve been on many medications that have made fall and winter tolerable, however, I realized after several acupuncture treatments that I’d felt better in January and February than ever so I knew there was something to the treatment process. By becoming more aware of and sharing with my practitioner details about temperature changes in my body, feelings of overwhelming anxiety, changes in bowels and sleeping habits enabled her to develop treatments that have resulted in me being a much calmer, more focused, and less anxiety-ridden woman.
I’ve also had several injuries: right now a fractured left foot and a torn Achilles tendon in my right leg at the same time. Each of these injuries on their own are quite painful, however, my practitioner has utilized various points to help me use almost no pain medication and to experience less anxiety about sitting and doing nothing while my body heals. My podiatrist is impressed with the results, too, especially in light of the fact that typically patients with these injuries require multiple pain medications to function.
How did your practitioner enhance your treatments?
My practitioner was never judgmental. The suggestions she gave were always lovingly phrased in such a way that I did not feel rebuked or reprimanded. I always felt that I was heard regardless of how silly I might have thought an issue was. Even the clinic supervisors helped me feel that I mattered. When I worked on implementing my practitioner’s recommendations, she encouraged me and I felt celebrated for my progress. She always explained the treatment from the anticipated benefits I’d experience to the reasoning behind her decisions to use particular treatments.
Is there anything you’d like to add about your experience?
I wanted to heal, to stop needing so much pain medication, and to begin living a better life. I’m finding that since my treatments began, I am more focused and remain present in stressful situations without making myself crazy. Utilizing acupuncture in conjunction with counseling has helped me immeasurably, and the increased progress of my physical healing keeps my doctor happy, too.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting acupuncture but isn’t quite sure if it is for them?
My experience at MUIH is one that I will forever treasure and have referred several friends who were tired of the “another doctor, another pill” treatment plan. My recommendation is to keep an open mind about the process and remember to be honest with your practitioner. I’d always felt that acupuncture was a sort of mysterious kind of thing and didn’t really understand how it could possibly help me. As with most things in life, I believe you will get out of treatment what you put into it. Give it 12 weeks of getting treated twice a week. It’s an investment in you that has the potential to pay off in unimaginable ways.