Friday, June 29, 2012
Needles vs. Needles
The place where my breast used to be swelled up with fluid. My surgeon stuck needles in and drained. This doesn’t hurt because the tissue where my breast used to be is numb.
Three times it filled up. Three times, I let her drain it.
When it filled up for a 4th time, I refused the draining.
This isn’t just swelling and sloshing. This fluid makes it hurt to raise my arm over my head or do other stretches. It hurts from below where my breast used to be up, across my bicep, to my elbow.
I decided it was time for more web research.
My surgeon doesn’t use words like that. I could see and feel that my former breast area and my side were swollen. The web taught me the word for this is lymphedema.
Sloan-Kettering has been doing research on acupuncture to treat lymphedema.
Propaganda on acupuncture sites claims that the skinny needles don’t hurt. Being a needle phobe, this encouraged me.
My husband, the alien, has several students from China. He asked them where they go for acupuncture.
Their favorite doctor was in Chinatown.
I went to him. Those needles hurt going in! And he twisted them, which also hurt. And he left them in for about 20 minutes coming back periodically to twist them again.
None of the needles went into my swollen tissues. They were mainly on my shoulder.
All I felt when I left was relief that the needles were out. The acupuncture doctor said to come back in a week for another treatment. He also tried to sell me some herbs. The American name for his recommended herb is astralagus. It’s much cheaper when sold under its American name.
Over the next few days, the swelling went down.
I went back two weeks later. That was 2 weeks ago.
I can now report that the swelling is nearly gone. When I reach my arm over my head, it doesn’t hurt. If I hang from my hands, there’s tightness below where my breast used to be, and a little tightness in my armpit. But that’s it.
If it stops improving, I’ll give it one more go – acupuncture isn’t cheap.
I’m just glad to find that needles – not sucking stuff out, or injecting stuff in – just small sterile needles that don’t make me bleed – can fix a health problem that regular medicine wasn’t able to help.