How I Got into This, Part 1

Often, during the course of the interview with a new patient, the tables turn such that the patient starts asking me a few questions about how I became interested in acupuncture. It's a fair question and one that I am happy to answer. I usually try to keep my reply short in the context of the appointment setting, but here, I can elaborate a little. Sorry if it's a bit indelicate at times, but here it goes.

When I was younger, I had problems with my menstrual cycles. Looking back, many of the problems I experienced were probably largely related to my emotional states at the time, but nevertheless, the problems were real and debilitating. I had painful menstrual cramps for two weeks of every month throughout my teen years and twenties. Once the bleeding "hit", as I referred to it, like a natural catastrophe, I was down for the count with unrelenting nausea, vomiting, spasmodic cramps, fever and chills, and sometimes diarrhea. I couldn't drink or eat anything, couldn't take pain medication (because I'd throw it up), couldn't go to school or work, couldn't even sit up in bed, sleep, or do anything to take my mind off of the excruciating pain. It was horrible, and I didn't understand why it was happening or what to do about it. My whole life revolved around my period. Nothing could be planned for the expected dates of the monthly scourge's next Days 1-2. After trying everything I knew in terms of changing my diet and taking advantage of what Western Medicine had to offer, I tried acupuncture. My acupuncturist, Dr. Yajuang Wang of Seattle, opened a new world for me. I noticed differences in my cycle immediately once I started getting treatments from her and taking the herbs that she prescribed. For once in my post-pubescent life, the cramps and the vomiting seemed to let up somewhat. The bleeding started and stopped on a dime instead of trailing on and off with days of spotting at the beginning and end of it. When I was not as much better as she thought I should be after a number of treatments, Dr. Wang referred me back to my Western physician for additional testing. Soon afterwards, I was scheduled for laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis. Stage 2 endometriosis was discovered and removed (for the most part; some of the endometriosis was left behind because it was deemed too close to vital structures in the pelvic cavity for safe removal), resulting in what turned out to be one or two months of relief. The pain and vomiting returned, but my condition was not as debilitating every month as it had been before the surgery. I was really disappointed, but I kept seeking natural cures for my health problems. I soon accrued a bookshelf full of all manner of natural health-related texts. I continued with acupuncture, and eventually I got better. Now, I don't vomit, and the cramps are not too bad most of the time. Still, I take painful and disruptive periods as a sign that something needs to change. It really is not supposed to be like this. I'll write more about how I decided to become a licensed acupuncturist in Part 2.

Kerri Winston, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in Atlanta, Georgia's Buckhead area. If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture can help you or your loved ones, please call 404-949-0550 or send email to