I have a weird itch. It’s always there, and some days are worse than others. Benadryl doesn’t help, neither does any soak or lotion. My itch is a desire to poke people with needles. I’m not a sadist…I’m an acupuncturist. Actually, I’m kind of an acupuncturist. I’m licensed in the State of Hawai’i but have not been in practice since 2007. I get my fix every so often, and when I do, I love it. Love it! It’s kind of like solving a puzzle – using a patient’s signs and symptoms to determine their patterns of health, then using a formula of needles to support and/or counteract those patterns. And bonus – having the “inside track” on someone’s body is pretty cool. Like how I know a patient has hemorrhoids because of a tender point on his leg. It’s fun, I enjoy the surprised responses.
Becoming an acupuncturist wasn’t easy, there were many times I wanted to drop out of school. Studying the ancient theories and practically learning a new language was awesome. But practicing needling and performing qigong in front of the school was way out of my safe zone. I also seriously wondered if I would be able to pay off my student loans on a fledgling acupuncturist’s income. And as I found I needed time away from work to finish my degree, I wasn’t comfortable with leaving my husband to pay for our expenses by himself.
It took me four years. Then there was board examinations. And then I was a practicing acupuncturist. I finally earned the “LAc” that followed my name on the business cards and brochures I carefully designed. I worked health fairs and a marathon, worked from my home and rented a clinic space in Honolulu with its high rental rates (one guy wanted to charge me $1600 for a room with one examination table, 20 hours a week, yeesh). I even traveled to visit patients in their home. I spoke at seminars and taught qigong and acupressure at a senior center. It was a blast. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was a great ride and I learned a lot.
We started our family. I was still practicing out of our home 7 months into my pregnancy. I remember my last treatment, my belly kept getting in the way and the moxibustion therapy (burning of mugwort herb) was making me feel ill. At the time I didn’t realize that would be my last treatment as a working acupuncturist, for a few months later, my life would change forever, from needles and moxa, patients and intake notes to diapers and feedings, play dates and singalongs.
Fast forward five years and here we are in Hilo, because we grew tired of feeling like we were raising our baby girl while sitting in traffic. Now we’ve got two kids. I’m a full time stay-at-home-mom (which means I’m busier than ever, for those who are not in the know! :)) I treat friends and family, every once in a while. I still get requests for acupuncture treatments but I usually refer would-be patients to my LAc friends on the island. And every time I do, my heart breaks a little and I feel that itch.