by Michael Braunstein
My first encounter with acupuncture wasn’t the greatest. It was 1979 and I had just arrived in Tokyo after a 16-hour flight from Los Angeles. I was late, arriving after the band I was supposed to record because I was stuck in a studio mixing a single for Stephen Stills that took three days longer than we thought it would. So I was already behind the eight-ball.
But the Tokyo Prince is an elite hotel — at least it was then — and after a rushed dinner alone, I retired to my room. On the bureau was a menu of personal services available from the health spa. At the very bottom was the offering, “In-room massage.” “Ahh,” I thought, “That is exactly what I need. A massage.”
I dialed up and twenty minutes later, I was getting the rub I deserved. After about 45 minutes, the pert, diminutive Asian masseuse asked if any part of my body was especially troubled and I groggily replied, “My lower back is pretty stiff.”
A few minutes later, my foggy mind registered that it was not her delicate fingers on my lower back that I felt but, “That’s. A. Needle.” my mind said. Another 20 seconds and scenes in an imaginary movie rolled fast-forward in the fear-based fantasy of my mind: Tingling. Numbness in my legs. Hotel doctor. American embassy. Flight back to LA. Wheelchair. Lawsuits. I was to become the “Ironside” of record producers. “Stop!” I yelled to the shocked masseuse. And like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein, I said, “Take. The. Needle. Out!” That was my close encounter of the first kind.
Itchy Dog. Roll forward ten years. Driving home from Westlake Studios with my two Scotties, Johnson and Buffy, I was on Lankershim in North Hollywood. Johnson had just spent about eight hours in the studio tearing the fur off her back because of her lifelong allergies. It had been a constant challenge, taking her to doggie dermatologists from Beverly Hills to Toluca Lake, Hollywood to Culver City for her entire life trying to keep her from constant scratching and itching and now her back was again red raw. At that point, the next step was to take her to my local vet and have her back painted with this antibiotic yellow stuff that dried and caked on and in another three or four months, she’d have fur again. And the cycle would repeat. Nothing had worked. I was feeling exasperated when my eyes spotted a neon sign in the shape of a dog with the words “Holistic Vet” on the top. I said, “Why not?”
Long Story Short. Inside, a seventy-something vet held a dowsing rod in one hand, rested his other hand on Johnson, declared that her supra-renals were compromised, did twenty minutes of acupuncture in front of this totally skeptical dog-owner and sent me home. Johnson never had another allergy attack — ever. So much for placebo. A dog doesn’t know acupuncture is or isn’t supposed to work. But it did. I was sold.
I’ve used acupuncture (and other Traditional Chinese Medicine adjuncts) dozens of times since. And now I’m taking our ten-year old German shepherd to see our veterinarian, Dr. Susan Kyle. Here’s what happened.
Last summer, Duke was playing frisbee with Gina (our five-y.o. GSD) and me. He leapt for a catch and somehow landed wrong. He took a couple steps then his back legs crossed and he was paralyzed in both of them, draggin his butt across the lawn looking at me quizzically. Of course, I was in horror, loaded him up and took him to Rockbrook Animal Clinic, our regular (http://rockbrookanimalclinic.com).
Diagnosing exactly what was wrong with his spine was pretty difficult and we opted for an urgent-care solution of a steroid shot to ease inflammation. We were hopeful because he had sensation in his back paws. Dr. Kyle said that was a good sign but if he took a turn for the worse and lost sensation, we had about five hours to get him to Kansas State University clinic for emergency surgery. She had already alerted them.
Well, after a couple more hours of nervousness at home and a few scares where he temporarily seemed to show no feeling in his paws, we rested. The next day he was still immobile but sensation was better. We returned to the clinic and Dr. Kyle suggested acupuncture. We set up appointments two days apart for two weeks. By the end of week one, Duke was walking again; ungainly, but walking.
Ongoing Duke has since recovered most of his mobility. He’s still weaker than a young pup would be but walking and running. When he gets tired, it seems a little rougher. So we decided to continue with maintenance acupuncture. He’s 105 pounds and doesn’t like confined rooms so Dr. Kyle does the treatment in our mini-RV. You can see a video at https://youtu.be/PNaSIw_G0ZM that gives you 10 sec tour of a treatment. After a treatment, it’s like Duke dialed it back in time by three or four years. He plays with Gina like a young pup. He’s noticeably more mobile and happier, more active. He stays that way for a couple or three weeks then starts to act more his age, but still in good shape. Then we drop by for another treatment.
It’s nice that the cycle that we’re in is from good to better, good to better, over and over. It sure beats what I went through with Johnson until we found that doc with the magic needles back in North Hollywood.
Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com.
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