Andy* is a 54 year old chronic recovering alcoholic. He has numerous relapses, smokes like a trooper, has longterm asthma and arthritis. He is angry and is constantly getting into fights, he feels the world owes him something and he feels he is “entitled” and if others don’t agree he will ensure that he gets his own way. He never has to wait like others in the public health system for appointments, he shouts and intimidates and gets seen quickly.
Andy is a difficult individual, yet he has attributes that make him likeable (but don’t upset him). He has been coming for acupuncture with me (a free service) for a number of years and has given me all kinds of painful conditions to work on while also dealing with his more deep rooted chronic conditions, including his anger, Arthritis, Gout and Asthma
Andy was having a particularly bad week, he had recently relapsed and during the course of his 10 day alcohol binge, he had fallen badly and landed on his “arse” (bum). He had a lot of stiffness and pain in the lumbar area and also had a degree of discomfort at the coccyx where he hit the floor after missing the bar stool!
He was particularly agitated and angry with the world in general, the hospital he attended as an out patient would not provide a scan fast enough for him, the Physiotherapy treatment that they did offer wasn’t any use and his GP (General Practitioner Doctor) had just given him more anti inflammatories. The bus arrived late and there was someone playing music that he didn’t like. This was the final straw that drove his Liver Yang to flare.
He was late for his appointment as he had shouted at the person listening to music on the bus, causing the bus driver to stop and refuse to move until Andy got off the bus, he was half way through his journey!
He arrived very angry, he ranted and raved about the world contriving against him in such an orchestrated way. I asked about his pain, he knew the deal with referencing the pain and gave each of the painful areas a score of 10 out of 10. He wasn’t even aware of the tension in his shoulders and upper back, his shoulders were rock hard, aggravated by his anger and propensity to use his shoulders to breathe as a result of his asthma.
I started by propping his head up with 3 pillows as he finds it difficult to breathe, lying flat (surprising as he can talk a mile a minute without getting breathless). He knows that I don’t indulge in the reasons, the how’s, the why’s, the should have beens etc, that might have lead to him going on a binge or caused him to feel pissed at the world, we all potentially have reasons that could drive us to seek refuge in alcohol, or drugs and it is not my remit to address these issues with him, that is for the wonderful councillors that work so well with him! (Please note I am not being judgemental, I have a lot of experience with addictions and I am very supportive to caught in the grasp of addiction & those who want to engage in their recovery. I truly find working with people at various stages of recovery to be a privilege, insightful, humbling and incredibly rewarding.)
He started to settle as I measured up his large abdomen, I needed to give him a quick effective treatment. I wanted to get him out of pain, both physical and emotional, I also wanted to help him recover from his 10 day drinking binge, as he was obviously in the “Horrors”!
I located very superficial tight nodes between Ren 4 (Qihai) and Ren 3 (Zhongji), the whole of the lower Dantian felt tight.
I started the treatment with Lung 7 (Lie Que) on the left and Kid 6 (Zhong Hai) on the right, to open the Ren Mai, thus benefit the lungs, and also to help nourish Yin energies and calm the heat which had been made worse by drinking so much alcohol (fire water).
The abdominal points used were “Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan), to help immediately calm him and nourish the pre heaven Qi with post heaven Qi. "Abdominal Four Gates" St 24 (Huaroumen) & St 26 (Wailing) to move Zang fu Qi throughout the body and ease his emotional disharmony, while also correcting his upper & lower back problems. I also included Kid 13 (Qixue) to help further nourish the Kidneys depleted by years of drinking and late nights, it would also help strengthen the back and calm the “horrors and fear” he was experiencing. I needled the ahshi point I located around Ren 3 (Zhongji) and immediately even at a relatively superficial level of 0.35 cun the pain had almost completely gone. All other needles went to a depth of almost 0.5 cun.
Fig 1. Illustration of Andy’s Abdominal Acupuncture treatment.
Rationale behind the treatment
As time was of the essence, I wanted to give the best treatment possible in the reduced time that we had. As anger tends to make Qi rise (apparent by his earlier out burst), it can cause acupuncture to be more uncomfortable / painful (even abdominal can be uncomfortable on these occasions). I kept the treatment simple and comprehensive, I wanted to stop the pain and provide a calming effect for the Liver, while nourishing the Kidney Qi which were further depleted by the “fear” he was experiencing.
Andy responded so well that I didn’t use Liv Qi point Ab1 (elbow) on the right, I felt that the "Abdominal Four Gates" St 24 (Huaroumen) & St 26 (Wailing) with Kid 13 (Qixue) was enough to deal with the anger and related antagonist emotion of fear.
Nine needles was plenty and very effective.
After thirty minutes, Andy emerged, a new man, grinning like a naughty boy, he was completely relaxed, happy and out of pain. His enthusiasm always surprises me, he was incredibly grateful and warm, shook my hand and praised abdominal acupuncture as so much better than, the medication, injections or other western medical interventions he had experienced to date.
On the next visit two weeks later, he told me he was pain free for about ten days and managed to do a few jobs around the house, his journey home (on the bus) was pleasant and without incident!
TO BE CONTINUED………..
* Andy is not his / her real name and some other details have been changed to protect their identity.