One of the most common questions I get is why did you become an acupuncturist? So, here’s my personal story…
When I was a freshman in high school, I began having lots of abdominal pain with exhaustion and weight loss and change in bowel movements. After a colonoscopy and biopsy, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I was immediately put on antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs, with a stint of Prednisone which is a heavy duty steroid that can only be used short-term. My face puffed up, and things mostly got under control. But something wasn’t right. I was dependent on these drugs for my every day functioning. If I stopped taking them, what would happen? Pain? Progression of the disease?
During my junior year of college I went on a 3 week camping trip across the American west, studying plants and ecosystems. My passion in college was wildlife biology and ethnobotany, which is the study of how humans use plants. I don’t know what possessed me, but sometime in those 3 weeks, sleeping in tents in South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and more, I got the idea in my head to just stop the meds. Was it because I was feeling good, being out in nature, exploring, which is my heart’s true home? Was it a personal dare to see what would happen? Was it the land exerting a longing for freedom from outside in? I remember having a flare up in my tent, which consisted of pain for a couple of days. Around the same time I changed my diet – no more wheat, no more dairy. Having been vegetarian and then vegan for the past few years, I slowly reintroduced animal protein as well.
After graduating college, I still was having digestion problems, including constipation (an ironic opposite to the loose stools with Crohn’s that I’d had). I made an appointment with a doctor of Oriental Medicine and instructor at National College of Naturopathic Medicine’s School of Oriental Medicine, and he and his students listened to me as I explained all my symptoms in great detail. They felt my pulses, peered at my tongue, gently probed my abdomen. A diagnosis was formed, and both acupuncture and an herbal tea administered. I was so impacted by the thoroughness and hopefulness with which the doctor cared for me, and the humility I sensed in the students. They had solutions. Real, naturally derived, time-tested solutions.
Meanwhile, I’d also incorporated homeopathic remedies for severe menstrual cramps I’d been dealing with for years. I remember the immediate relief from sipping the remedy-infused water. Again, I was in awe at the efficacy and stark contrast to the medical system I’d been a part of for the previous six years.
There was no going back. Answers and solutions as to why I was sick and how to change my internal environment using substances that don’t require infinite dependence. I went into remission from Crohn’s after coming off the medications, and have been CD free ever since.
Two decades later, I am feeling stronger and healthier than ever. I recently came to understand that health is also a mindset. What am I striving for? Perfect health every day? Or an understanding of my own body, and how I tick, and a way to navigate life with vitality, hope, and joy. This is what I want to give to my patients. A way out of suffering, and a way in to their true self, in true health.
I wish the same hope for each of my patients. If you are ready to discover your inner wealth and tap into that potential for wellbeing we all possess, I urge you to call me to schedule an appointment.
~ Amy Cohn Rieselman