It has been a good while since the last time I’ve blogged, but I’ve been encouraged to start it back up, again. I have covered the main channels and organs that are associated with different conditions/symptoms and what I look for when treating patients, blah, blah, blah. For this blog, I wanted to be transparent to give you an idea of what it’s like to be in my shoes, meaning the practitioner. Often times, practitioners are often viewed as “above”, “nothing affects them”, or that “they’ve got it all figured out”. So, I’m going to be pretty vulnerable here because I think it’s necessary for people to see that practitioners don’t “have it all figured out”, and it also helps to know that we’re all in this crazy thing called Life together.
Obviously, Chinese Medicine is considered a little strange by some people, despite that it’s the oldest form of medicine still being practiced today. However, there is a boatload of clinical studies proving how it can help a wide variety of conditions. Some of these conditions are tough to treat and to provide relief to patients. That being said, it’s also tough to see people in pain and how it’s affecting everything about their lives. I always laugh when people say you can separate business life and personal life. It’s simply not true. Whatever is going on in your personal life absolutely bleeds over into your business life. For practitioners seeing patients, you can’t help but to see your loved ones through your patients. Is that good? I think it is because you obviously are going to do all you can to help your loved ones; therefore, your patients. On the contrary, what patients don’t see, is how it affects the practitioner when they can’t provide relief for them. It doesn’t matter if they are an MD, chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, whatever…I can help 9 out of 10 people, but that 1 remaining person that I didn’t help drives me nuts (not literally but I want to help!).
The hardest part of treating the general public, sometimes, is hearing their stories. Anyone who sees me knows I spend a good amount of time with my patients. Often times, unfortunately, people are not heard by their practitioner(s). Part of the healing process is talking about those stories. Some of those stories are absolutely brutal to hear. There is trauma, deaths, anger, depression, pain, and more, but if you really take the time to listen, you feel what someone is going through. I feel it a privilege that people feel comfortable enough to tell me what’s really going on upstairs, regardless of how hard it is to hear. But, I can tell you, I’m strong enough to handle it.
I want to tell you a story to give you an idea of what I mean by all of this. This story is about a patient of mine in grad school that I got to know pretty well. I was blessed to have a great clinical supervisor, Stacey, who felt comfortable enough to let me treat this person. Let’s call him Joe for privacy reasons.
Joe was a 35-year old African American male that had primary-progressive multiple sclerosis. When he came to me, it was clear that he was late stage and I was going to be doing my best to simply manage his symptoms. His mother would bring him, and he would have to walk with a cane. He would have to hold onto my arm to get back to the treatment room. Typically, simply getting him onto the table took around 10 minutes. Joe was a talker, though. He told me everything about his personal life. His wife would verbally abuse him, calling him every name in the book and insulting him, including “stupid”, “you can’t do anything”, and “you’re a piece of s@#&”. He actually recorded these rants she would go on, and he really had no choice but to take it. The worst part was that his kids were around during these rants. From a health standpoint, most of his doctors told him there was nothing they could do. He couldn’t hold his urine, he had severe muscle spasms, sleep issues, emotional swings, and extreme lack of balance. I typically let patients sit alone in the room after I needle them, but Joe would typically want me to stay and talk about stuff. It wasn’t all depressing stuff, though. He was into music, comic book movies, and food.
I was able to treat him almost weekly until I graduated, and the treatments were hit-and-miss, unfortunately, due to the advanced stage of his disease. Sometimes he would get improvements and sometimes he wouldn’t. The hardest part of treating Joe was seeing just how scared he was. He would ask me a specific question every treatment, but it was particularly difficult on the day of his last session with me, since I was graduating. I walked him out to his car with his mom and helped him in. I didn’t know it at the time because he was joking with me, as per usual, but he was crying. He asked me “Am I going to die?” Obviously, everyone will pass at some point, but Joe was only 35. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to say at first, but I knew he wanted hope. I just said, “Keep fighting, my friend. Continue getting treatments, and you never know what can happen.” Joe grabbed my hand and thanked me for everything, wishing that I didn’t have to leave. That image of him driving off in tears still bothers me to this day.
I know I helped Joe to the best of my ability. I tell this story to show you that we are all in this together. Not one practitioner is above a patient. My patients and I work together because they are in their own bodies and know them better than anyone else. I can speak for a number of my colleagues, whether they are acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, trainers, doctors…we will do our best to help you. I know what it’s like to not be heard or blown off by practitioners because I’ve seen quite a few, and I’m blessed to now have some amazing practitioners/people surrounding me that I know I can turn to for help. However, I also know what it’s like to watch someone you love that is in pain to not be heard. Rest assured that I will listen and hear your story.
Adam Gloyeske, LAc