“I first came to acupuncture on the recommendation of a friend who, like me, was a lifelong asthmatic with all the attendant chest problems which that brings. I had a bevy of inhalers and was also being prescribed frequent antibiotics for chest infections, but, although I just about managed to get along, my chest was always tight, reverting to real shortness of breath and wheeziness at the slightest provocation such as cold weather, a dusty atmosphere or catching a cold.
Acupuncture did not produce an immediate cure or a total cessation of all the symptoms (NHS medicine also acknowledges that there is no ‘cure’ for a condition such as mine) but, even after the first treatment, my breathing felt easier and I was reaching for my reliever inhaler less frequently. That improvement has continued over the years.
Yes, there have been times when I’ve needed antibiotics as the result of catching a cold which has ‘gone to my chest’ and sometimes my chest has tightened just after treatment before easing and relaxing. But overall my breathing is much better as a result of the acupuncture treatment and my chest feels strengthened and supported in a way which was not the case before.
But it is not only my chest which has felt the benefits of acupuncture. Each treatment is very calming to both body and mind and I invariably come out from a session feeling relaxed and strengthened. It has helped other illnesses and problems too. It identified a problem with my gall-bladder well before the hospital diagnosed it and it has really helped the digestive discomfort and pain which I had both before and after having my gall-bladder removed.
Treatment from Lee really helped when I had an extensive outbreak of eczema and he has also helped with circulatory problems in my legs and with varicose veins.
Before I had acupuncture I had some misgivings about what it would be like having needles put into my body, but there is absolutely nothing to fear. Each session (and they are usually an hour long apart from an initial two-hour session where the practitioner takes time to find out about you as a person and your medical history and symptoms) is a very leisurely and relaxed experience.
After an initial chat about how you have been since the last session, you lie on a couch and Lee takes your pulses on both wrists – a quiet and almost meditative process. Then gradually he puts needles in at the points which he thinks are appropriate. Sometimes there are several needles; sometimes only two or three. Sometimes a needle is put into a point and then withdrawn almost immediately, but more frequently, at least in my case, the needles are left in for approximately 15 minutes during which time you can feel your body really easing and relaxing.
Because you are lying down you usually don’t see the needles but, when I have occasionally glimpsed them, I’ve been amazed at how fine they are, almost like a single hair. Because they are so fine, you hardly feel any prick when they are inserted – and not nearly as much of a prick as you feel if you have a blood test at the doctor’s. What you do feel is a slight ache at the point where the needle has been put in, and then a warming and calming sensation which can often be felt in other parts of the body too.
But it’s not just the physical process which is important. There’s also the relationship element too. Lee is a very warm, friendly person and very easy to talk to – and, because the sessions are about an hour long you get to know him well, almost like a friend. Add to this the fact that he offers advice and support regarding things like lifestyle and diet, each session becomes much more holistic than the brief consultation you generally get with your GP – even assuming you’re lucky enough to see the same GP twice!
Lee has sometimes talked about acupuncture as a journey, and I think that’s a very good way of describing it. It’s not a quick fix – although I felt improvements even after the very first session I had. But to enjoy the real benefits you need to persevere. If you do, my experience is that symptoms really are alleviated, even a long-term condition becomes much easier to live with, and you really are strengthened both physically and as a person too.”