And nope, this isn't my leg and foot. Many of my IRL (in real life) friends just can't believe that I am doing acupuncture. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on the matter. If you had asked me even a year ago I never even would have dreamed of doing acupuncture either. However, I began to learn about it as we went down this whole infertility nightmare path. In the beginning it still didn't seem like something for me. Earlier this year, during the 3rd IUI, when I realized that IVF would be the next step, I learned a little more about it. Like it can almost double success rates for IVF. That tidbit alone had me hooked. Also, my RE's office recommended it. Once the IUI had failed and we were on the IVF fast track I made an appointment with an acupuncturist. At that point the extent of my knowledge was that acupuncture could bring the body back into balance by correcting energy flow. It sounded kinda like a bunch of hocus pocus. However, I was willing to try anything that would improve my chances for success.
My first visit lasted almost 2 hours. There was quite an in depth health questionnaire to fill out, and then R (the acupuncturist) and I went over it and I was asked a bunch more questions. The "exam" also included sticking out my tongue at him and having my pulses checked out on both wrists. Then the fun began. I was already laying on a massage table with my knees elevated and with a comfy pillow under my neck. We started with a bit of neck and shoulder massage to relax me and loosen me up. And make me forget about the upcoming needles, I think. When it came time for the actual acupuncture I had needles placed below my knees, on the inside of my ankle, around the inside of my elbows and wrists, on the top of my head and right between my eyebrows. Oh, and in my ears as well. None of the needles hurt at all, in fact, I couldn't even feel most of them go in. He then left the room and I just closed my eyes to relax. Within just a few minutes I felt myself in that weird place between being awake and being asleep. You know the one, where you know your arms and legs are still there but you can hardly feel them. When the session was over I thought I had been asleep, but I wasn't really sure. All I know is that afterwards I felt very relaxed, but extremely energized as well. It was a wonderful feeling. From that moment I was hooked.
However, by the next week's session I had just found out I was pregnant. I continued to go weekly as acupuncture has been shown to help sustain an early pregnancy and it can also help with early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea. Each session was very relaxing and I would leave feeling great. I took off about 2 weeks around the miscarriage before starting back up. During that break I started to read a book called "The Infertility Cure" by Randine Lewis. It explains all about traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture and how it relates to infertility. I found it to be very detailed, and often technical, and to this date I haven't finished reading it. However, one of the best things it said was that a person doesn't have to understand how acupuncture works in order to benefit from it. Good, that works for me!
Since starting acupuncture I have also made a few other changes, as recommended by R. For example, I take fish oil capsules each morning. I took a 2 week course of pro-biotics to balance my intestines. I took up eating organic fruits and veggies. I banned all caffeine and artificial sweeteners. Was I able to do all of the recommendations? Well, I am probably capable, but I just didn't want to do most of them! Come on, fried foods and sweets are tasty! Who wants to totally give that up? Let's just say that I have made improvements and leave it at that. R didn't have me taking any herbs though, due to the fact that I am on mild medication for my blood pressure.
There have also been some changes in my cycles since I started acupuncture. All changes that are encouraging. First of all, my first period came just 30 days past my D&C. That was really good. Both cycles since then have also been exactly 28 days. I ovulate at exactly just the right time. PMS symptoms have virtually disappeared. And (here comes the TMI part, so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to know) my periods start full force and bright red, rather than spotting brown for a day first. These are all things that make it look as though my hormonal systems are balancing out, which is really important when the diagnosis is "unexplained" infertility.
Also, acupuncture really helped me in the weeks following my miscarriage. I had horrible headaches. I was tired, yet couldn't sleep and suffered from insomnia at night. Acupuncture helped me get over those symptoms and feel better, more relaxed.
So once a week I make the 2 hour round trip for my acupuncture appointment, and I wouldn't miss it for anything. However, due to the fact that I'm in the two week wait, and scheduling conflicts, my next appointment won't be until the first week of September. Then we will be gearing up for the IVF cycle with aggressive treatments and with two treatments at the RE's office on the day of transfer. Unless, of course, lightning strikes twice and I conceive (again) naturally the cycle before (that would be THIS cycle) beginning IVF. But by mentioning it here I have probably just jinxed myself. But I wouldn't be being completely honest if I didn't mention it. And I do strive for complete honesty here.
Have I succeeded in clearing up the questions about why I do acupuncture and what it can do to help?