Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kathleen Pouls - Acupuncturist from Hell

About three weeks ago, I pulled a rib in my back. It affected the muscles in my collar bone, and my shoulder, and my rotator cuff in my right arm. I was doing squats and lifting a 10 pound medicine ball. It was an exercise routine I've been doing for almost three months. Suddenly, that morning, a sharp pain zinged down my collar bone, about six inches down my back and stopped. I dropped the medicine ball. I went home. My upper back felt like it was off its tracks.

I went to see a chiropractor who was highly recommended. He did some adjustments and got the rib mostly back into place. I have had three follow up visits, because "the adjustment" does not "last".

Now the thing about this is, I am a personally conservative woman. I do not like strange men touching me. Chiropractors do this thing where they kind of whack your limbs and shoulders and neck around. Almost like they are beating you up. So for me, it becomes an act of physical violence from a strange man directed at me. It makes me very uncomfortable and very fearful. I know I am not the only woman who feels this way. The whole thing is really unpleasant. I don't think I could go back and do it again unless I was under anesthesia.

Problem is I am good for a few days and then the pain is back. A lot of pain. Intense pain on the right side of my back at T3.

The chiropractor recommended I get acupuncture to try and bring down the inflammation. Today I went to Kathleen Pouls, one of the acupuncturists he recommended.

This is only my second time getting acupuncture. The first time (15 years ago) was great. This time was a nightmare.

First, the needles really hurt. Ms. Pouls never asked me "does this hurt?" "are you uncomfortable?" She just stuck the needles in and left the room. For 15 minutes! Gee how about coming back and checking on me after a minute? Maybe I am not okay ... did that cross your mind?

So there I am face down with my head over the side of the table, pulling on my neck muscles in a terrible way. I realize I am in a bad position for me. I could not turn over and get up because of all the needles and if I turned the wrong way, I might drive them in further! (Shudder.) The pain in my neck muscles is causing me to tense up which probably is counteracting any effect the needles have.

I cannot cry out for help because of the way my neck and head are wedged into the table bed, and I doubt anyone would hear me over the newage music.

I tried to scoot down --- kind of wriggle myself further down the table so my head can have some support. As I lifted my legs a little, the pain from the needles really intensified, so I quickly dropped back. So there I was, stuck in this horrible awkward position, causing me to tense up even more.

Finally, I just gritted my teeth, bore the pain and got my body moved down about three inches so I can have some support for my head and neck.

Then Ms. Pouls entered the room. She is blabbing on about some kind of laser treatment. What? Lasers for inflammation? I thought she was an acupuncturist. So I turn to look her and she says "I need to identify your greatest area of pain so I can shine the laser light at it." She then shines this laser right in my eyes! Hey! My eyes are not in pain!!! Unbelievable! So now I can have terrible back pain, go blind, and pay for the privilege.

I think it is the same type of laser I use when I play with my cats and they think the red laser light is some kind of new mousey.

As far as I know, there is zero scientific evidence that laser light shows directed at one's back alleviate back pain. Perhaps there is a placebo effect in some individuals. On me, there was no effect.

Well let's see... does that about cover it? No. I got a lecture about how I should "get on top of the pain". I have no idea what that means. The pain is actually behind me, in my back. How do I get on top of what is behind me? I don't think I am flexible enough to stand on top of my back. Maybe those Cirque du Soleil performers could do that. Not me.

So I wonder if she realizes that my purpose in seeing an acupuncturist was to alleviate the pain? I suppose I never spelled this out. Perhaps she thought I was there for some other purpose?

Ms. Pouls concluded with a newage lecture on all the stuff I should be taking and doing etc. to manage this.
Strangely, she never asked any follow up questions. For example: "Are you feeling better?" "Do you feel some relief?' "Was there any effect from my laser light show?"

It was kind of like she went through her perfunctory performance/routine and I was kind of incidental collateral. Or perhaps I was just life support system for a credit card. In other words, my role in her life was to have a piece of plastic from which she could appropriate $85.

For $85, I could have purchased a fabulous bottle of very fine wine. If I had two glasses of the very fine wine, I know I would be out of pain.

I do NOT recommend Kathleen Pouls, Acupuncturist.

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