My Healing Journey

My Journey to Becoming an Acupuncturist Began with My Own Pain

I came to be involved in acupuncture as a patient with multiple injuries. Through that amazing experience I decided I wanted to become a practitioner. Here is my story.

Catastrophic car wreck
In July of 2001 I was working as a massage therapist. I decided to drive from San Diego to Phoenix to visit my grandma. On the second day of my trip, suddenly my car flipped five times and I flew out the back window. As I was flying through the air, a fire truck was passing in the opposite direction and they stopped immediately. They found me 36 feet from my car.

I had so many injuries! I broke my neck in two places, I broke my left shoulder, and I broke my right hip. I also ruptured everything in my right knee except the skin. They life-flighted me to San Diego and there were multiple things going on so they didn’t know what to do first.

The doctors didn’t give me pain medicine because they were so unsure of the extent of internal damage. So I spent nine hours on a back board, feeling all my injuries. My right foot did not have blood flow for nine hours.

After a series of surgeries and more than 30 days in the hospital, I went into a rehabilitation hospital. My first day, they said I would spend a minimum of six months and that I should just get used to the idea. However, I was determined to go home. I asked for the check-list of requirements in order to leave. I was home within a week. I could not walk. I was restricted to absolutely no weight bearing movement for three months. As soon as I was allowed to walk, I started. I did excruciating physical therapy five times a week for more than a year.

During this same time, I was going to an accomplished massage therapist and he was working on getting my knee ready to walk. I was screaming and crying in pain through every treatment. I confessed to him that I was afraid I’d never be able to walk again. He recommended acupuncture. When I balked at the idea, he asked me a fateful question: “What do you have to lose by trying it?”

Trying acupuncture
An acupuncturist named Justin, a recent graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, took me on. He made no promises, but through each treatment I gained mobility in my knee. After a just few treatments, I was walking and I have walked every day since then with no further treatments on my knee.

It took two-and-a-half years for my full recovery. Acupuncture allowed me to walk again. Acupuncture resets muscles – just like control-alt-delete resets your computer, clearing away problems that came before.

Learning what is possible
Acupuncture changed my trajectory. As an acupuncture patient I learned what is possible. I was able to ask to be taken off my permanent disability benefits. When I went in, the clerk told me I was the first person in her 35 years of working there who asked to be taken off disability!

I knew I was lucky and I knew I was ready. It was time for me to move forward.

Studying acupuncture
In January of 2006 I began my program to earn a masters degree in Oriental Medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego. It’s an extremely difficult program, first, to get accepted into, and then, to complete. There’s a high attrition rate. You’re immersed in learning Chinese, Latin, and a whole new way of seeing the body. You’re conceptualizing what the body is, how the organs flow together in unison, and how the environment can affect the body. Studying the body through the lens of oriental medicine is a profound experience. It’s a paradigm shift. You have to twist your brain. I understand why the typical American has a difficult time wrapping their minds around this type of medicine.

I made my way through the very difficult four year, year-round masters program. In normal college terms, it would probably take six to eight years. That intensity, that totally immersion, is what breeds the success.

One of my professors in school said a really wise thing about acupuncture. He said that the best thing about it is that putting the needles in is virtually side-effect free. It’s a medicinal form that’s virtually side-effect free, that a person can try for their solution. So many options, like surgery for example, are not side-effect free. The healing available through acupuncture is the profound answer to ‘what have I got to lose.’

Acupuncture can help you
My advice is go for the best acupuncturist you can find and give it a try. I am convinced that acupuncture can help you. Now it’s your turn. I would be honored to help you write the story of how you left your pain behind.