Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Does your bucket fill or leak?

One of the wonderful things about the work that I do is the relationships I have with my patients and students. Part of the healing process is this relationship. If you don't like or don't connect with your health practitioner, whether a medical doctor, nutritionist, massage therapist or someone else, it can really affect your response to their care. Health in general is about balance; advice and treatment from a practitioner you connect to and trust is going to be much more beneficial to you than from someone you are skeptical about or don't particularly like.

When it comes to your health, your healthcare really needs to be a give and take. People come to see me to feel better, but they won't get the most out of their treatments unless they participate in their wellness. What they do when they are outside of my office affects them, positively or negatively. If they follow good diet and lifestyle habits, their treatments are going to last a lot longer than if I'm working against their bad habits.

I'll give an example. Fredina comes to see me for stress. She has a very high pressure job, she is living on very little sleep because of late hours and the sleep she does get is very poor quality, she eats nothing but fast food, sugar and caffeine, and she doesn't exercise. Coming to see me for stress management is a good start, but is not going to go very far or last very long if she is not dealing with some of the other contributing factors. Some people come to me to "fix" them, but that is not really what I do. I prefer to be in a partnership with a patient, help them make better choices with diet, exercise and lifestyle so that they feel better on a regular basis. Someone who comes to see me and wants me to do all the work, I refer to them as my "leaky buckets." They come, I fill them up and then they go back to their life which will deplete them again; all of my work leaks out of the hole in their bucket.

What if Fredina didn't realize that what she was doing was contributing to how she felt (or she knew but previously didn't know how to make proper adjustments)? If she decided to make changes, like improving her diet, reducing  (or eliminating) caffeine, trying to work in exercise on a regular basis, then the shifts that happened during her acupuncture treatments would last longer and would start to build up over time to the point where she didn't need to come in as often. I would be able to fill her bucket without everything leaking out all over.

Acupuncture is best used as one of many tools to help you find balance. It is not a magic pill that makes your symptoms go away forever (well sometimes it does, but it depends on the issue). Taking part in your own wellness program is the most powerful thing you can do for your health and longevity.