Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Farm

Yesterday was my first acupuncture appointment. I'm going to a clinic that my esthetician recommended because her friend had similar issues and was pregnant after just one month of treatment there. The practitioner was a Korean man, probably in his mid-40s, with a slight build but about 5'9'' and with a very thoughtful demeanor. While he does speak English, it is not without carefully considering his words before saying them, with a thick accent. During the interview portion of the appointment, he went through the five pages of medical history questions I had to answer and asked very detailed questions, which was assuring. Sitting there while we discussed my menses-the color, consistency, etc., I realized how this is never something that has been talked about with the medical doctors.
*WARNING* slightly graphic details: This is something my older sister and I have discussed before because sometimes the consistency made us think something was wrong with us. turns out, our mother (which my sister only recently found out) had similar issues with clots-the flow was not so much blood flow as pieces of the uterine lining. In addition, he asked me to detail my bowel movements, urination, temperature changes, etc. While it felt a bit strange to discuss these intimate matters with a male stranger, there was no embarrassment, just the feeling that all this information is going to help him, help me.

He palpitated my abdomen and chest and I could feel the difference between my left and right side. My right side was stiff and it hurt when he pressed on it. He told me I must have a high pain tolerance because the way my abdomen and intestines felt to him indicated I had severe menstrual cramps and he could tell I was constipated. It was remarkable that what he felt just by touching my body told him so much that was true about me. It was even more surprising that I could feel it.

He explained the way Eastern medicine approaches infertility is to think of the body as a farm. In order for the farm to be productive and fruitful, you have to prepare the soil before sowing the seeds. You have to get the body prepared to conceive so it can conceive. What we are doing first is to get my blood moving (blood stagnation causes many problems-constipation, bad liver function, digestion issues) and balancing my right side. Once these changes are made, then my body will be ready for a baby. It's simple, but it's so logical. He noted that changes will not be made right away, but over time, and I would have to take the herbs he gave me to complete the process.  It struck me how lacking, at least at our fertility clinic, is in treating the whole person. Not one of the doctors or nurses asked me about the consistency of my periods, how my digestion is, if I have body pain or concerns. Yes, they do have you  go for a whole battery of blood tests to check for diabetes, HIV/AIDS, STDs and other diseases. Yes, they do ask how long you've been trying and do test for problems-the follicle scans, the hysterosalpingogram, but it's all focused entirely on reproductive organs. They don't look beyond those organs to determine what is going on. I understand the philosophical differences between the two types of medicine, but I feel they should be united when treating infertility.

Anyway, the appointment went very well, the needles did not hurt and when he gave me the herbs with which I was to make tea, he had packaged them so all I had to do empty them into a pot-no measuring, just add water. I brewed the tea yesterday and tried it for the first time this morning-not delicious. Unfortunately I am not allowed to add honey or lemon to improve the flavor, so I just plugged my nose and drank it fast. It is to be taken three times per day, that's alot for something that tastes terrible. That's alright though, it's worth it.

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