Accupuncture Visits for Rheumatoid Arthritis

I admit it, I’ve done a terrible job keeping up with posts on how acupuncture is going for me.  So rather than waiting to write a post where I tell you exactly how many visits I’ve had and what’s happened at each one, etc., I’m just going to take the easy road and make it simple.  I’ve gone to every Saturday appointment except for two and last Saturday I got a parking ticket….so much for letting that relaxed feeling linger……

I can tell you that whenever I do go in for acupuncture, I get a flare during the visit.  You might think that sounds terrible, but to me I think of it as progress.  Anything natural will make you flare up, it’s just part of the process.  And that’s the hardest part really, is how to tell the difference between something that is making you worse or something that is making you better when they both have the same reactions.  This excludes immune suppressive drugs because they work entirely differently.

Within an hour usually, my flare subsides and lately I feel fairly great for a few days before the inflammation comes back to its normal state.  I would definitely say the acupuncture is making a positive difference, however it’s very slight.  I’ve decided to keep going however, based on theory.  So here are my theories on why I should keep going to acupuncture:

1.  Acupuncture increases endorphins.  Endorphins help heal the body.  Therefore, I must be doing some, even if it’s small, amount of healing during the visit.

2.  Acupuncture increases circulation.  Over time, perhaps increasing the circulation will make a bigger decrease in the amount of inflammation in my body.

3.  Even if the decrease in inflammation is very slight, it is still something.  And perhaps that small amount will slow down the erosion and disability.

4.  The Placebo effect.  As long as I don’t get any more parking tickets, perhaps the placebo effect of thinking the acupuncture is helping somewhat, will help decrease the inflammation.

Michael has been using a Chinese technique that would make some people cringe where you prick near the fingernail with a needle in certain spots (on a few of the fingers on each hand) and cause your hands to bleed for a moment.  Maybe that doesn’t sound fun to you, and it isn’t really.  It’s nothing compared to RA pain.  I do, in all honesty feel like it is decreasing the inflammation more so than it was before he had tried this technique.  I was glad that he was open to asking me if I’d like to try it because most people would probably be against the idea.  To me it makes logical sense as well, that it would increase circulation.

So there you have it in a nutshell.  I’m going in tomorrow and this time I’ll circle around for 10 minutes if I have to so I can find a parking spot that doesn’t allow for any more cruel tickets.  I hope you all have a great weekend and thanks as always for visiting!

The Alternative Route Can Be Lonely: A venting story

Choosing your own path isn't always easy

"Landscape at Twilight" by Van Gogh

Even though my RA is pretty under control, I still have setbacks emotionally and physically from time to time. If I overuse my body or don’t sleep enough, I might wake up with sore ankles, stiff and swollen fingers and aching wrists. This is a breeze compared to the indescribable pain and debilitation I used to experience. The other day I became upset when my favorite RA blogger didn’t put me on their blogroll. (I have since been put on the blogroll but my point is, is that it made me realize I was feeling insecure.) It really occurred to me how alone I am on this particular path. I may visit my support group frequently to read posts, but my contribution over time has become less and less.

Over a year ago I had met two other women on Daily Strength who started taking LDN at the same time I did. We were a bit fearful and excited that the new drug we were on would change our lives. We were right. Soon enough , one of the women dropped out of the group. Her symptoms of RA had mostly disappeared and so she no longer needed the support group. She was active with horses and life. I love support, friendship and sharing, especially online. So even if I were to go into complete remission, I don’t have any intention on leaving Daily Strength. It helps to remind me how lucky I am that I feel as good as I do. The other women stayed in contact with me for some time until she went into complete remission. She no longer needed LDN or Antibiotic therapy anymore. Although she had the occasional swelling of a finger she felt she needed a break from the support group, i.e., a break from the reminder that RA had ever existed for her. Maybe I will feel that way if remission hits me completely, where I no longer need a supplement or a drug. Here’s to hoping. But until then, I definitely need people to lean on.

A couple of recent events have made me feel even more alone. I am lucky to have people visit me on this site and share their appreciation and for that I am very grateful. I met an older man at a BBQ and his daughter, thinking we’d have a good time talking, let me know that he had RA too and that I should tell him about my blog. I knew instantly that this might not go as well as hoped because taking alternative therapies is hard to talk about to someone who isn’t. I know first hand what that feels like because I’ve been on the other side. Although some people have been helpful with suggestions, most people have lead me to dead end streets. Avoiding the nightshade family is a good example of a suggestion I tried that didn’t work.

And here in front of me was an older, N.Y. crass, kind of dude. I knew we were going to butt heads. So I tried my best to find our common ground. We talked about methotrexate and what dosage he was on, etc. When he found out I was taking other things and not even seeing a rheumatologist he started hounding me on how I needed to see a doctor….. Sure I’d love to see a doctor I told him, but I don’t have insurance. He continued to hound me anyway. I explained again, “I don’t have insurance and besides I feel so much better now.” He certainly was not interested in what I take at all. He was talking down to me like I was a kid.

He even said the dreaded, “You’re too young to have RA.”

Obviously he was in the dark with his own disease, a crime in my opinion. I tried to switch the subject asking, how bad his RA was when he was at his worst. He had never experienced RA in any other joints besides his hands…lucky man. It didn’t even occur to him that RA can affect other parts of the body. I tried to explain to him that the dosage of methotrexate that he was on, 7.5 was honestly a real breeze and if that’s ALL that I had to take to keep my RA under control, I never would have gone looking for alternative medications. We also talked about the onset of RA. His happened slowly over time. Mine happened almost overnight.

He told me, “Well it doesn’t sound like you have RA. You have something else.”

Oh boy…now for some really frustrating conversation! I had to let him know he was wrong and this kind of overnight arrival of an autoimmune disease like RA was really quite common. He wasn’t part of any support groups nor did he know anyone else with RA. Luckily the chat ended civilly but I was ready for it to be over the moment it began.

This wasn’t the first time that conversations along these lines have happened. On the other side of the spectrum, on my support group a person who joined was claiming Monavie healed everything. I told her I tried it for a month and it did nothing and that maybe I was willing to try it again some other time in the future but it was too expensive, and that I had found other products like Acai Berry V-8 at the grocery store that I figured may work just as well. I’m extremely rational when it comes to taking supplements or medications. I research, reasearch and then research some more! I have never found anything substantial on the positive effects of Monavie. We went back and forth, her frustrated that I wasn’t defending Monavie and telling me medicines are terrible for everyone. I don’t agree with this and I never will and it doesn’t matter that I’m taking alternative treatments. Every human body is different and I can’t say for sure what is best for someone else. I eventually told her what I took. She continued to sound like a sales person and she probably is, stating what I was taking couldn’t possibly help me. I eventually just stopped posting hoping she’d go away.

So what group do I belong to? I don’t really feel like there’s very many people to chat with about my trials and errors.  I have Hashimotos too, and I’ve had that for years. That’s hardly expensive compared to my RA. I try to remind myself that if I was on a biologic, I would be spending enormous amounts of money.   It still feels lonely though not to have my own personal support group where we talk about RA, Serracor-NK, LDN and other supplements we are giving a shot.

So thank you all for reading out there… you are my support and I’m incredibly glad to have you.

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