Last month, possibly because I was in the after treatment letdown phase (for those non-cancer survivors, it is very common to feel lost and set adrift once the weekly appointments end), I sought out a naturopath. I am good with western medicine physically removing the cancer and estrogen producing ovaries from my body and prescribing medicine to help prevent new occurrences of cancer. However, I am still having issues (hot flashes, intense pain in my right arm, a lack of mobility on my left side) and I want some relief. So eastern medicine, here I come. I found a naturopath who does acupuncture and massage therapy and since I am 100% paid up on my out of pocket maximum, all of these visits are free! I am not sure how I am going to fit 60 massages into the last months of the year, but I am going to try really hard!
The first time I visited the office, I had no idea what to expect. Many of my friends go see naturopaths and swear by them, but I had never made the leap. However, I was slightly taken aback when I walked in and saw a woman getting an IV of who knows what white sitting in a gravity free chair in the waiting room next to a giant gong. Hhm. I was trying to reserve judgement until I met the doctor. The medical assistant took me back into the room with a massage table in the middle of it covered in flowered sheets and a side table full of oils, crystals, glass balls (cups – more on that later), packages of needles, things that look like tongs with colored ends, lighters, etc. Not the sterile doctors office that I am used to. There was also a tall lamp with a red shade which is used during the relaxing time when the overhead lights are out and a pink post-it on the mirror with the hand written saying “Oh, I feel pretty, oh so pretty!” What have I gotten myself into?
The Dr. K came in and I really liked her manner. She asked a ton of questions about why I was there, my health history and what I wanted out of the visits. It was probably the most thorough initial visit that I have ever had. Eventually she asked if I wanted acupuncture and I thought “why not?” All in all, it was not that bad and I really liked the 20+ minutes where I got to lie on the warm table and relax while the needles did their magic. Today was my 4th visit with the needles and she recommends I do 6 total and then we will re-evaluate. She also started to do cupping/the cupping, I have no idea how you correctly term it, on my right arm and back. Google tells me that cupping is used for pain, inflammation, to increase blood flow, relaxation and well-being. It is bizarre. She lit a cotton ball covered in alcohol on fire, placed it into the cup and let it draw the oxygen out, removed the cotton and then as fast as possible placed the mouth of the cup down on your body. It feels like a giant hickey that does not move. So I am lying there on the warm table with needles all over my hands, arms and ankles and 5 glass cups on my back and arm. Then it is my favorite time, the relaxing. Last week, I am pretty sure I fell asleep. When the cups are removed, they make a suction sound and the feeling of your skin being released is weird, but in a good way. I now have 5 round bruises from the cups; one of them is super dark and Dr. K says that it is doing a lot of good work in that area. I have no idea if it will help me, but it’s worth a try!
Dr. K is also going to work on some herbs for me to make into a tea which should help with the hot flashes. We are waiting on that as I am currently on a break from my “stay the F away cancer” medicine and she does not want me to start the new meds and also new herbs at the same time. I am little frustrated as I had an appointment with my oncologist next week on the 15th to evaluate how I feel without the meds and how to move forward. Apparently my oncologist and his wife are expecting a baby next week so they have to move my appointment until the Friday after Turkey Day. Not what I really wanted to do that day, but it is what it is. And having a baby is pretty important so I will give him a pass. 🙂