Acupuncture Cures a Skeptic’s Back Pain

Maybe alternative medicine isn't too alternative, after all

When I was a kid, there were certain behaviors that normal, well-adjusted people just didn’t engage in. Black people didn’t marry white people; divorcés were all “loose” women; and anyone who went to a psychiatrist was really wacko and should be avoided. It was Middle America, before the Internet and cell phones and microwaves. We had neighbors who recycled way before anyone even thought of such a thing. We thought they were from a cult or commune or something and eyed them warily as we crammed a weeks’ worth of newspapers, plastic bottles and cans into our seven trash cans. On the “out of the norm” list were alternative practices, things like yoga and meditation. Anyone into such things was surely from California where all the loonies lived.

Age, wisdom and common sense have eliminated most of those precepts but, I have to admit, I had a hard time shaking my distrust of alternate medicine, even as Western culture began to embrace it. Then along came acupuncture. Well, to be more accurate, a couple herniated disks came first, followed by chiropractic, physical therapy and two attempts at spinal steroid injections. After all that, I discovered BethAnn Corr, my acupuncturist, and just in time. The last option offered to me by my doctor was surgery so I reluctantly opened my mind to the possibilities of that voodoo stuff. My relief was immediate, overwhelming and lasting—relief I had not achieved through all the Western protocols I had tried.

Being the skeptic, I approached the process assured that most practitioners must be quacks, charlatans and snake-oil salesmen. As with any health practice, some are, but I found that most are dedicated to a centuries old discipline. Still, I did my homework to find a board-certified acupuncturist licensed in Oriental medicine, as well as herbal medicine. The needles are small, and most of the time I can’t see them anyway. They don’t hurt, not even a little. There’s more too it than just needles—seeds and pulses and meridians, heat and massage and lots of other woo-woo stuff that still strikes me as crazy medicine, but I can’t argue with results. I’m out of pain and looking forward to skiing this winter.

So now that my back isn’t aching anymore I have to wonder what else I have my mind closed to. Should I rethink Area 54, global warming and Sasquatch? Should I consider the crazy notion that there might be aliens out there, a monster floating in a lake in Scotland or a wild creature called Chupacabra? I suppose I could grapple with these issues, but there will always be the one crazy idea that I’ll never be able to get my head around: Eagles winning the Super Bowl. Just too far-fetched.