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Posts Tagged ‘acupuncture’

  1. Trigger Finger, Part 2

    January 13, 2014 by Diane


    woman with pistol

    The official medical term is Focal Dystonia. It’s a condition where the finger is permanently cocked as if pulling the trigger on a pistol. Ergo, trigger finger.

    Does it only happen to gunslingers? Apparently not. It happens because the bearer of the hand is engaged in a rapid, repetitive motion with the fingers, causing the tendon to become inflamed. The fingers are flying…on a keyboard, say, if you’re a pianist. In my case, it happened because I was a fast typist. I typed so fast that my fingers were a blur to my brain: it no longer recognized my right index finger. For my brain, the finger didn’t exist.

    Doctor Garcia wanted to treat the finger with Botox injections: a band-aid that would need to be reapplied every six months. Botox is what he knew. Botox is what he was trained to give.

    I wanted to get to the source of the trouble.

    I wanted to lure the brain back on board.

    So I decided to play matchmaker, to attract the brain’s attention by showing off the finger in a new light.

    I powered up the internet and after pecking around I pulled up the name of a medical specialist in San Francisco who had researched the condition and had experimented with exercises to un-cock the finger. I called her and asked if she would send me a copy of the exercises.

    “It’s best if you do them with guidance,” she said. “You can make an appointment…”

    I didn’t want to make an appointment. I didn’t want to get lost on those one-way streets in San Francisco and have my brakes fail at the top of a hill and crash into a cable car. (For those of you keeping track, this is thinking distortion number 12: Expecting Disaster.) I just couldn’t do it.

    “Can’t you send them? Please? My only other option is Botox.”

    A week later I received a manila envelope in the mail.

    I immediately sat down to practice. I studied the grainy black-and-white photos and followed the directions diligently. This was calisthenics for the fingers. Push-ups. Stretches.

    My brain stirred.

    I added the power of visualization to further engage the brain. I visualized reaching out to shake someone’s hand, my fingers extended; of taking a stroke in a swimming pool, fingers extended. Lovely, soft, warm, fingers.

    My brain perked up.

    I added regular acupuncture treatments, with a specialist named Emerson.

    I expected Emerson to be a burly man, but she was a petite Japanese woman who ushered me into an antiseptic room in the inner recesses of the medical clinic.

    “I don’t want to lie face-down,” I said.

    I had attempted acupuncture once before, for back pain, my face wedged between two hard cheek-rests, unable to see anything but the floor, feel anything but the adrenaline pounding through my veins. I had to beg the acupuncturist to take the needles out of my back until he finally screamed, “There’s no needles in you!”

    Emerson invited me to lie face-up on the exam table, on a sheet of thin tissue. She tapped the first needle into the top of my scalp. “For anxiety,” she said. “In China, people walk around with the needle in their head all day.”

    Good reason to move to China.

    After several months of finger exercises and visualization and weekly acupuncture treatments my brain made a move.

    It phoned in.

    And my finger, without assistance….straightened.

    Later, the medical clinic conducted a study on trigger finger. My doctor asked if I would be interested in participating.


    “For fifty dollars.”


    I received a call from a cheery medical student. I answered questions for an hour.

    How did it start, did it affect your daily activities, did anyone in the family have it, what was going on in your life at the time…

    on and on and on, question after question until the last question:

    “Do you have anything you want to add that I haven’t asked?”

    “Yes,” I said. “Do you want to know how I cured it?”

    Silence. Then…

    “Of course!”

    “Well…” I settled back in my chair. “It didn’t involve Botox…”

  2. Trigger Finger, Part 1

    January 6, 2014 by Diane

    woman with pistol

    Years ago, my right index finger was permanently cocked as if pulling the trigger on an imaginary pistol. I could straighten it with the help of my left hand, but as soon as I released the finger it flopped back into the cocked position. After about a year of this I went to see the doctor.

    The doctor scratched his head and sent me to a plastic surgeon, who called in the head of the department. They all puzzled over my finger and decided I had a neurological disorder, so they sent me to a neurologist.

    I don’t know where they dug this guy up, but he was ancient.  ANCIENT. He shuffled in carrying a clipboard, and slapped it down on the counter.

    “What’s going on in your life?” He barked.

    “Well, I started a new job…”

    “That’s one thing. Who’s breathing down your neck?”

    “Uh, no one.  It’s just, well, a lot of work, and a little overwhelming.”

    “What else?”

    “I was unemployed for a year-and-a-half…”

    “Who punched you in the eye?”

    I had a black eye due to an encounter with a wooden shelf in my bathroom. I explained this with a lot of head-shaking for my stupidity, and finally he got down to business.

    “Why are you here?” he said.

    I showed him the finger…the bent one…and he had me sit on the exam table and do a variety of movements to test my neurons. He decided that I had Bell’s Palsy when I was young, because, according to him, the lines in my forehead were only on one side. Trust me, they go all the way across.

    I insisted that I never had Bell’s Palsy.

    “But I might have writer’s cramp,” I said, having researched it online, and his eyes lit up.

    “Exactly! Trigger finger!”

    He said, “We can shoot the muscle with Botox to make it relax, or give you an oral medication that isn’t effective.” Isn’t effective. He said there was a law against Botox treatment at the time, but a couple of guys at the facility could do it. A couple of guys?  I asked about the side-effects to Botox, and he explained, “If they give you a big enough dose it could kill you.” Kill me. And then to really reassure me he added, “Look, we don’t know what we’re doing, but we have a treatment that could help.”

    That made sense.

    So he made an appointment with a Dr. Garcia for a Botox injection.  Maybe I could get a shot in my forehead wrinkles to straighten them out too.

    Dr. Garcia, a less ancient doctor of few words, explained the procedure.

    “You’ll need a shot every six months. Forever.”

    The idea of being injected with a neurotoxin twice a year for the rest of my years didn’t sound appealing. “What about acupuncture?” I said. “Could I try that instead?”


    “Have you ever had a patient try acupuncture as a treatment?”

    “No. Botox works.”

    “Well,” I said, “Now you do.”

    And with that parting comment I hopped off the table and walked out of the clinic and got in my car and drove home.

    …to be continued

  3. Superbugs: The Game is On!

    December 23, 2013 by Diane

    Pills, 10eps

    Superbugs appear to have super powers when it comes to antibiotic resistance. But there is a power more resistant to antibiotics than the lowly superbug.

    Human beings.

    Allow me to present Exhibit Number 1:

    A coworker showed up for work one morning in a grumpy mood. I asked, “How are you today?” and she shouted, “TERRIBLE!” She had a toothache so intense the pain radiated into her left eyeball.

    I suggested that she book an appointment with a dentist.

    “It’s the holidays,” she griped. “The dentists are all golfing.”

    So she marched across the street to see an acupuncturist.

    The acupuncturist looked at my coworker’s tongue and announced, “You’re stagnant. Stagnant!” She stuck needles in my coworker’s left ear; adhered tiny magnets to her ear lobe. “Press these when you feel pain,” the acupuncturist advised.

    So my coworker pressed them. And pressed them. She returned to work carrying a bag of Chinese herbs in one hand, and pressing her earlobe with the other. She spent twenty minutes pressing her earlobe, and then drove home to cook up the herbs.

    She needed antibiotics.

    Maybe a root canal.

    Instead, she chose to boil up and drink down a brew of herbs so foul, the odor alone would drive the infection from her tooth.

    Would a superbug survive such an experiment? Doubtful.

    Exhibit Number 2:

    Many years ago I was working a temp job, setting up a file system for a woman who had an infected growth on her neck. She had a fever. The growth, day by day, was getting progressively worse. This woman, a capable healer in her own right, telephoned a super-duper healer who told her to write certain phrases on a yellow legal pad and then beat herself on the back with it. Five feet away, filing documents, I pretended to be unaware that this woman was battering herself with a legal pad.

    She needed antibiotics.

    Perhaps a good lancing.

    Instead, she used the power of the legal pad to drive the poisons from her bloodstream.

    Antibiotics? Bah!

    The human mind has the capacity for resistance far superior to any bug. What do bugs have? A hocus-pocus evolutionary trick that transforms them into something super.

    From now on, if I ever develop a suspicious growth on my neck, I’m calling the exterminator to have it removed. If I acquire an abscessed tooth, I’m heading to the hardware store to get it fixed. I can resist antibiotics as well as any superbug.

    Game on!