After six years working as an acupuncturist, I think I’m more in love with it than ever. What’s so fantastic about acupuncture is that each patient gets the space and time to tell their own unique health story – almost always a bigger picture than just the troublesome knee or the recurrent acid reflux – and I get the space and time to respond to that fully.
I came to acupuncture in my 40s after a career as a journalist. It was a high-stress life, and in my late 30s I developed hideous migraines – as many as 10 every month, lasting around 36-48 hours, with screaming pain, nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity and parts of my body going numb. My GP and a series of neuro consultants tried very hard, but couldn’t really help; I worked my way through a series of medications which didn’t even touch it. I began to think I’d have to spend the rest of my life within 15 minutes of a quiet, darkened room with a handy bowl. I can’t really describe how miserable and frightened I was at that time in my life.
Then a friend suggested I try acupuncture. Although I was massively sceptical, by that time I’d have tried anything. I went along to the student clinic at the Northern College of Acupuncture where, in my first treatment, the students put just four needles in – two in my hands and two in my feet (a combination I now recognise as the ‘Four Gates’). I lay there on the couch cursing myself for being so gullible as to think this could actually have worked, and promising myself that as soon as the needles were out I’d never come back.
You can probably guess what happened. It worked. Brilliantly. That week I had no migraines – something that hadn’t happened for several months – so, slightly reluctantly, I did actually go back. In fact, I continued to go back for weekly treatments for about six months; during that time I had just two migraines, and they were much easier and lighter than before. I was absolutely thrilled to get my life back, and I became very curious about acupuncture. I pestered the poor students with questions like “so what does this one do?” and “why does that one always tingle?” until one day, one of the students said:
“Look, if you’re so interested, why don’t you do the course?”
“But I don’t believe in it,” I protested.
She snorted at me. “You don’t believe in it? Six months ago you were having two migraines a week. Now you haven’t had a migraine for months. And you reckon you don’t believe in it?”
Good point. I graduated with a Masters degree (Distinction) from the Northern College of Acupuncture in 2013.
I set up Love Community Acupuncture in 2015, because I’m committed to making acupuncture more affordable for a wider range of people. If you want to read about our community acupuncture values and how LCA works, you can find more information on our What is Community Acupuncture? page. I’m delighted to be working alongside Chrissie Thomas and Mitchell Macgregor: they are wonderful, warm human beings with a caring approach to their patients and a staunch belief, matching my own, that cost shouldn’t be a barrier to high-quality acupuncture care.
I now work as a tutor and occasional clinic supervisor at the Northern College of Acupuncture, and I also hold the role of Research Director there. I’m currently a year into my PhD at the University of York, on the first stage of a long-term project looking at how acupuncture and nutritional therapy may be able to help people with atrial fibrillation.
One way or another, you could say that acupuncture has truly changed my life. I hope that we’ll be able to work with you to help it change yours, too.