I had first considered acupuncture for colitis treatment a couple years ago and on and off in the years since, but never pursued it, probably partly because my flares could always be controlled by drugs. After beginning to take the holistic approach to healing, however, I was even more open to the idea, and my chiropractor recommended it, and so the time to try it had arrived. She recommended someone in particular – an acupuncturist named Tom Tam, who practices in Haverhill and Boston. It turns out that he’s not only a licensed acupuncturist, but also a writer and a poet, and he developed another form of energy healing called Tong Ren, which I have also taken part in.
Tom’s Haverhill location is on the second floor of one of the old brick mill buildings downtown. When you reach the second floor, there is a hallway with the treatment rooms on the left, bathrooms and a kitchen area on the right, and an open, high-ceilinged room straight ahead, where Tong Ren and Tai Chi classes are held. A corner of this large room serves as the office, and there are always people around, either because they work there, are waiting for treatment, or just choose to be there for the community aspect of the place. That’s an important piece of going here for energy healing – the fact that it is a community; there are many people with a range of illnesses and severity of illnesses that come through, some for acupuncture and many for the free Tong Ren sessions, and all of them are friendly, warm, and always willing to share experiences and advice with others. It was here that I met someone with Crohn’s who has been a wonderful person to talk with about our similar symptoms and healing tactics. She’s been through everything that I have, and more, and her advice and thoughts have been invaluable to me.
The acupuncture rooms are not in spa decor, with linens and candles and climate-control, but they absolutely serve their purpose. I lay face-down on the table, and Tom comes and puts in the needles, mostly along my spine, but also on my legs and head and neck. The points along the body where the needles are placed are unique to each person. For me, these points are along the meridians (pathways) that correspond to the digestive system. Placing needles is supposed to remove blockages in the body to help the chi (life-force) flow through these meridians. The premise of acupuncture is that a body without blockages will not develop illness.
After the needles are in for about 25 minutes, either Tom or someone else at the studio takes them out and gives a massage for about 20 minutes. The massage is another way of removing blockages – by physically working out knots. After my first appointment, I noticed a difference. That night, I only woke up once to use the bathroom, whereas lately I had been getting up usually three times. The night after, I slept through, and after that I tended to get up once every night, with the occasional sleep-through. It makes such a difference to my energy during the day when I sleep for long chunks of time. Also, undisturbed sleep maximizes one’s healing potential, so I was really grateful for this change.
I’ve had six acupuncture treatments so far, and this week I had an hour-long massage instead. I’m sore and exhausted from it! I have many, many knots, and they don’t go away in one session. I have an acupuncture appointment next week, and then I might rotate between acupuncture (which includes the short massage) and the hour-long massage. I think that clearing blockages is a really important aspect of my healing, so shame on my insurance company for not covering it…