“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
- Lao Tzu
I am often asked by patients why I became an acupuncturist, and feel the story resonates with the founding philosophical beliefs of Taoism and the famous quote above by the philosopher credited with founding Taoism, Lao Tzu.
During my late twenties, I began to suffer excruciating lower back pain from basic movement and often had to be rolled out of bed because my back was so stiff and painful after sleeping. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis – a progressive rheumatoid condition causing inflammation and fusing of the spine.
I managed the pain with high dose steroids and painkillers. The condition began to affect my daily life, even the commute to work could leave me in tears. If another commuter accidentally jostled me on a busy train I would be in severe pain, and as an IT consultant I struggled to carry my heavy laptop to meetings. I was also a very keen runner which became impossible for me during a flare.
I remember this being a very low point of tests and condition management. The final straw came when I underwent CT guided cortisol injections into my spinal joints. My joints were so inflamed the procedure was excruciating. It was at this point I realised I needed to find an alternative way of managing my condition.
Meeting an amazing physiotherapist was a blessing that I am still thankful for. She supported me to strengthen my body through a regime of daily exercises and introduced me to acupuncture. I committed to the treatment plan and was amazed at how quickly my condition improved. After suffering years of pain, I was able to move pain free.
I found the effects of acupuncture amazing, immediate and enlightening. I was inspired to learn more, and before I knew it I had embarked on a five-year diploma in Chinese Medicine to learn the art of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and naturopathy.
During this time, I remained under a consultant rheumatologist, who was amazed I didn’t use pain relief. I was finally discharged as an outpatient the day after I ran the London marathon for the second time, a year after becoming a mum (4 hours 40 mins!)