An Introduction to Acupuncture for Healing
Last updated: November 2022
In 2018, after returning from volunteering in Southern Africa, my HS went from barely stage 1 to serious stage 2 and landing in an extreme case of stage 3. It was so bad that my surgeon was shocked. She said it was the worst case she had ever seen. I take that as a compliment. I'm a winner at something, HA!
I make jokes about it because it makes me feel better about the crazy facial responses people have, but the reality is, at that time I was in excruciating pain. I could barely walk, I sat down slowly, got up slowly, and every movement was exhausting because it was so painful and required so much delicacy.
Surgery helped so much
Luckily, I was able to get surgery on April 30, 2021 and it changed my entire life. I will write another article about that experience because wow was it an experience, but what's important here is what happened afterwards. My surgeon was able to remove more tunnels and damaged skin than she or I thought she could. It was really amazing, but she was not able to remove the damage from my labia. She came and spoke to me post surgery, rightfully proud of her work, and said "I was able to get your thighs and buttocks, but I couldn't get your labia because you would have been left with nothing and I'm not in the field of disfigurement. I don't disfigure people." Music to my ears because I didn't want to be disfigured!
But this also meant that my flares had a greater chances of returning since the tunnels were not 100% gone. So that started me on my journey of alternative healing. I am someone who doesn't believe in long term medications like biologics, so I chose to try acupuncture. I'm glad I did because it has been a beautiful journey in the past year.
Acupuncture: What it is and what it isn't
Acupuncture is a practice that is thousands of years old and uses the magic triggering certain body points to promote self healing and homeostasis. Logically, it makes no sense. Even the studies to become an acupuncturist focus a lot on the theoretical. Acupuncturists go through 3.5-4 years of schooling in order to receive a masters of acupuncture (or oriental medicine) and have the option of going for another year or year and a half to receive the tile of Doctor of acupuncture (or oriental medicine).
After all of this education, they then sit for FOUR separate licensing exams. If they want to specializing in things like reproductive health they can pursue that licensing exam 2 years after they have been practicing. So this isn't something they walked into lightly. These are people who have taken a large chunk out of their lives to pursue a passion in something that can't even be explained in concrete terms. The classes they take include things like biology, pathophysiology, Western diagnosis, Eastern diagnosis, herbology, acupuncture points, and clinicals. Again, this isn't for the faint of heart so the respect is well deserved.
It's not a cure all, but it may help
Acupuncture is not a cure all. It is not the magic potion that will heal all ailments and make you never have an autoimmune disease again. I'm sorry, I wish it was. It can be a really amazing aid in helping you heal and can do things that we take medications to do.
It can change how easily we may flare from something, it may make flares disappear easier, it can help our bodies naturally burst and drain flares instead of them just growing continuously. It can make you feel like HS has disappeared completely, and yet, if you were to get too reckless with diet or too stressed, you may be quickly reminded that your body is not like others.
When you need to vent about HS, who do you turn to first?